Saturday, January 13, 2007

Victory Transformed into Defeat

If Transformation had not mangled the Army’s force structure AND that force structure had been mobilized and deployed in accordance with the Army’s then existing doctrine for Stability and Counterinsurgency, we would be back home already with the Iraqi’s having a functioning government. That previous force structure had first been formalized by George C Marshall who created the first true modularized army, the modules being two kinds of battalions: divisional and non-divisional. Group, Brigade, Regiment, Division, Corps, Field Army and Theatre Army headquarters had no force structure except as the conditions of Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops and Time and Technology available (METT-TT). Over time, there was a tendency to create fixed tables for these higher levels of command, largely to enhance the grade of the CO.

Marshall’s structure worked from Pearl Harbor through Desert Storm through desert tank warfare, jungle counter insurgency, mountain warfare, urban and just about everything else. As we stood down from previous wars, the size of the Active Army was reduced, sometime very painfully, and many functions were transferred to the Guard and Reserves, The Reserve Forces Act of 1957 established a mobilizable force of 35 divisions organized into Corps and Divisions. After Vietnam, there was a functional division between the Guard which favored the kinds of forces states need, combat, MP, artillery, and engineers while the Reserves took on functions requiring a wider base of talents, and of the combat service support functions.

Under MacNamara, Guard and Reserve units specified organizations went through a crazy quilt of branch and functional changes. A MANG tank battalion I served in had been a regimental tank company converted to a TC personnel carrier battalion and thence back to tanks. The Congress ended the confusion by requiring all reserve and Guard units to have a specified mission tied to a specific contingency. This was called the Capstone alignment and it revolutionized the training of the entire army.

As an MI battalion commander, I supported the 49th Armored Division TXARNG, which supported III Corps in a counterattack mission in NORTHAG in northern Germany. Later, as a MobDes officer, I served as Chief of Intelligence, US Army Japan which itself was split into two components USARJ and XIth Corps, the remainder of the Corps headquarters was HIARNG. Everyone knew where they were intended to go, but that was less important than the training which everyone learned what the expectations were at each level of command. The fact that Saudi Arabia was a relatively minor change as it affected the terrain more than any other factor. Saddam obliged by fighting in a desert with a Soviet manner with Soviet Equipment.

The whole structure was trained to fight under the AirLand Battle concept which was the result of the Command and General Staff College’s effort to rescue the field army from Mathemetactics, a Think Tank abortion. Some mathematician found out that in a typical nine battalion division, only four battalions would be on line with two in brigade reserve and three in division reserve. Such a waste, they thought and the school system was obliged to teach all officers the mathematical formulae to win battles on simplified maps that assumed the Russians were idiots. Fortunately, large scale command post exercises revealed the inevitable collapse of any such formation without a reserve.

Since ThinkTanks are Pentagon auxiliaries, and since the Army’s educational system and font of any serious thinking threatens the sense of control the Pentagon has over the fate of the world, Transformation was invented to wrest control from those who have fought the battle, lived to talk about it, to the ranks of the Civil Service SuperGrades who run the place and keep the brass and the appointees rotating in and out too fast to fix anything.

Additionally, as the major war games showed, the Guard and Reserves were showing a remarkable grasp of the fine points of higher level operations, which was a lot higher than the levels the personnel management people in the Pentagon were aware of, as personnel management ends at the grade of O6 where the General Officer system takes over. The initial deployments to the Balkans and other contingencies began to shock the Regular Establishment to the point that I heard many a Regular (Army, Navy, Air Force) complain that they(the Regulars) couldn’t do anything without a G****m Reservist! Their command post exercises tended to rely on the Log Fairies Four to keep tactical play going with a click of the heels! These are the Gas Fairly, the Ammo Fairy, the Truck Fairy, and the Fix It Fairy …. All in the Army Reserves.

This was an unacceptable allocation of machismo, and during Desert Storm, four ARNG brigades were kept back in the states because they weren’t ”ready”…unlike the hospitals, engineer bridge units, fighter squadrons, etc. There were just too many field and general officer graded non-union heroes about. That had to stop.

From the Korean War on, senior Army commanders have admired the cohesion of Guard and Reserve units in a time when cohesion itself is considered a virtue. Thus was created the concept of rotational unit warfare with big stateside bases to stabilize the rotation of troops. Logically this would apply to the already stable Guard and Reserve units ….but it didn’t with units dismembered with derivative UIC’s and combined into Ad Hoc units. Which, due to the previous training in Capstone alignments actually was made to work.

Rather than call up full transportation groups (which would entail an O-6), this function has been contracted out to unarmed, overpaid (and overweight) civilian truckers. Rather than call up Guard and Reserve Movement Control Centers, Material Control Centers, Rear Area Operations Centers with Guard Lt Brigades and MP Brigades to protect them we ran unescorted convoys on unguarded roads into IED’s and ambushes.

Rather than call up the PYSOP and Civil Affairs Brigades and Groups (too many O-6’), the Pentagon relied on the statements of refugees and political exiles, a source that any MI interrogator would tell you is unreliable, and both Bremer and Sanchez rejected the advice of the few mobilized CA reservists.

Transformation focused solely on combat brigades and has given only a sidelong glance at what the echelons of command about brigade look like. Fortunately for Capstone and the Army’s Educational System, there are enough people to cobble together a working command and control system. Transformation envisioned that the Modular Brigades would be employed in the fixed task organization designed in the Pentagon. Fortunately, no one in the field is that stupid.

If Pre-Tranformational doctrine had been used, there would have been a Theater of War established with a Field Army and perhaps two or three Corps headquarters. The structure of the Combat Support, Combat Service Support and order of battle would have been task organized as needed, with as many Civil Affairs groups and brigades as combat.

The existing doctrine on the books back them is included in the new FM3-24.

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