Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is the US Army ready to move the Reserve Component from a "strategic reserve" to an "operational force?"

We've all heard it many times now. The US military is in a "persistent state of conflict," and General Casey, the Chief of Staff of the US Army, has said that the Army Reserve will be transitioned from its Cold War legacy of a "strategic reserve" to an "operational force." Why is that? Well - the Army didn't wake up last night and figure this out. The constant callup of Reservists began before our current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. in the late 1990's Army Reservists were frequently tapped for peacekeeping rotations in the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo when these commitments caused a drain on the resources of the Active Army.
Has the Army thought through the implications of this new policy shift? I don't think so. Is it going to eventually cause an impact on enlistments into the Army Reserve and Army National Guard? I think it will if changes aren't made.
With the Army's current ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation) plan a Reserve Component (Army Reserve or Army National Guard) unit will be called up for one year once every 5 years. If not handled correctly this plan will drive trained Soldiers to retire early or to stop re-enlisting in the Reserve Component.
While most employers are required by Federal law to give a Reservist his job back after a deployment this causes a strain on most companies - and the Reservist. The company must hire a temporary replacement and often train him. Finding the right replacement who's willing to work for only a year can be hard - not to mention the cost of their training. The Reservist can easily lose touch with the requirements of their civilian job during a deployment and must "catch up" when they return. If a Reservist does this too frequently its easy to imagine their employer seeing them in an unfavorable light.

When a Reservist gets activated he and his family's medical expenses are covered by Tricare. Switching medical coverage every 5 years can be painful - especially for the family that has to deal with it when the Soldier is deployed. What if the family lives in a rural location far from Tricare approved doctors?

What about National Guard Soldiers who are already called up more frequently then their Army Reserve counterparts? National Guard Soldiers in California are often called on for fire-fighting and other state related disasters. What employer would want to hire an employee who will be gone every fifth year, two weeks in the summer, and two weeks whenever the fire season happens?

The United States prematurely drew down its Army after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The constant demands on the US military in this era of persistent conflict and global concerns has strained our Active forces. The Army has done the wise thing by reaching into the Reserve Component often to give it a "deeper bench." A conversation must happen soon at the highest levels of our military to reduce the strain on our Reserve Soldiers before the quality of those forces begins to suffer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Not the Joint Fires Observer?

On today’s battlefield, air supremacy is the goal of the United States and Coalition Forces. Airpower continues to play a major role in today’s contemporary operating environment. On the tactical level, fixed-wing close air support (CAS) and air interdiction (AI) may be the primary means of fire support. So, who controls it – The Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) or the Joint Fires Observer (JFO)?

According to Joint Publication 3-09.3, a JTAC defined as “a qualified (certified) service member who, from a forward position, directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support (CAS) and other offensive air operations.”

The Joint Fires Observer (JFO) defined as a trained service member who can request, adjust, and control surface-to-surface fires, provide targeting information in support of Type 2 and 3 CAS terminal attack controls, and perform autonomous Terminal Guidance Operations (TGO).

Even though the duty descriptions of the two sound extremely similar, the “certified” JTAC maintains the authority to request Type 1 CAS. The difference is that the JTAC is certified on the terminal attack controls, where the JFO is not. How difficult would it be certify and maintain the required level of proficiency of the JTACs as well as JFO on Type 1 controls.

Our Oldest Allies?

Like many Americans, I had put France outside the circle of friends after the behavior of their government during the run-up to OIF. Morally, I thought that they were complicit in the crimes of Saddam by supporting his regime, and actively undermined U.S. policy rather than take a neutral stance on a matter of U.S. national security (especially as the French were intervening in the Ivory Coast at the same time, claiming it to be in their own national interest). See e.g., and I thought them ungrateful for our previous sacrifices on their behalf, and I thought that they were dooming the UN to be a forum of talking rather than doing, which only worked to protect the most repressive and undemocratic regimes in the world. If the UN did not want to face down a tyrant like Saddam, what good were its declarations of rights, humanitarian ideals, and efforts at securing international peace?

It is always important, however, to distinguish between a nation's regime and its citizens, especially in a dictatorship like Saddam's where citizens have very little choice about who their rulers are, but also in a democracy where the democratically elected officials are installed with majority support but must maintain it in order to be re-elected. When the French voted out Chirac and Villepin in favor of pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy, I wondered what it would mean for US-French relations.

As a military student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, I recently had the great privilege of participating in a military cooperation program with the French Army. From 4 to 18 October 2008, twelve U.S. Army majors traveled to France as part of a staff college exchange. During the course of our two week visit, I learned many things and admit that I was wrong in my harsh judgment against the French nation. The French nation was divided about our involvement as was the United States. The media lens made it appear that France was united in its opposition. I learned, however, from our French counterparts that they do see the world as a dangerous place where threats like international terrorism must be confronted. Like us, the French military is undergoing a transformation to meet these new threats in a global environment and with shrinking military resources. A recent White Paper outlines the measures they will take. In addition, during our visit to the battlefields of Normandy, it remained clear that the French people do remember the assistance the Allies rendered in liberating their country from the Nazis.

The exchange with the French Staff College was a great success. The exchange confirmed that France is the oldest ally of the United States, and that our shared beliefs in democracy, equality, and the rights of man bind our nations together. French and American forces are fighting shoulder to shoulder in many conflicts around the world, including most importantly in the Balkans and in Afghanistan. We may have disagreements, as brothers do, but we can be sure that the blood of patriots runs through the veins of both of our nations.

We look forward to the French military officers traveling to the United States in January 2009 to participate in an exercise at our Command and General Staff College here at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I will long remember the graciousness, generosity, and hospitality of the French Commandant, the professional staff and instructors at the French service schools, and that of our French counterparts. I’d be proud to serve with any of them, anywhere, anytime.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is the correct structure of HUMAN Intelligence?

The U.S. cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. We must pursue the hard right over the easy wrong and develop new formations that are capable of fighting a counterinsurgency along side of a high intensity conflict. The combined arms fight will continue into the future and the military soldiers of old and the politicians must find a common ground to operate in a conventional and unconventional conflict.

Intelligence is one of GEN Petreaus's critical areas in creating a stable environment for Iraq. Over the course of the last 6 years, I have witnessed the stove pipe of intelligence (HUMINT and CI) both with good reason. The foremost is the protection of our Soldier's and the Sources that provide the information. However, with the increase in demand for timely information gathering, the Intelligence and Security Command is struggling to keep pace with the COE. These problems have been identified in manpower, training, and systems capabilities, but the larger problem still remains with proper handling of intelligence.

The intelligence that I speak of is the raw information that is obtained on the battlefield. In Iraq, we do not have enough HUMINT Collection Teams to provide every commander their own asset. Instead we over task Soldiers with little experience and attempt to control Sources at the Battalion Cmd level. This environment is not productive for the HCTs and the Brigade S2X, who must manage and task these assets to answer the BDE and DIV PIR. One method that can piggy back off of training that I developed in the 25th ID, is the formation of company tactical site exploitation teams. These teams were trained in biometrics, tactical questioning, fingerprinting, evidence collection, detainee operations, and limited language training. Other units integrated the use of trained Soldiers for intelligence analysis at the company level.

The implementation of these teams has become the SOP for most units deploying to OIF and OEF. However, we are still falling behind in HUMINT Collection. Over the course of a units training cycle, commander's can identify 4 Soldiers per company to attend a two week course that will give them the skills to conduct basic HUMINT operations. The tools necessary to accomplish this already exist at FT Huachuca, it is merely a matter of developing new operational guidelines by the Defense Intelligence Agency to assist the collectors and the managers of Source operations. Reporting procedures would allow the Battalion to receive concise reports from organic HCTs and have the SME available to continue operations beyond the skill set of the basic collector. In addition, reports could now be sent to the Brigade S2X for approval and proper vetting to determine the accuracy of the reports.

In summary, the Army must change to meet the demands of the COE and in doing so we must train non-intelligence personnel on collection and reporting methods to reduce the risk to our Soldiers, Sources, and also circular reporting.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Welcome to our blog site!

Welcome! While our group has an academic requirement to blog, I think this website gives us a great opportunity to talk about something we all love (and sometimes hate) - the US Army.

- Major Ted Arlauskas

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Five Alpha's Blog Goes Live!

The Five Alpha Blog site provides an opportunity for a student group from the US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) to sound off on their perspectives of happenings in the US military establishment.