Monday, March 31, 2008

Letter to LTG McCarthy on an Adequate National Defense

Dear Sir,

I am in the process of distilling my previous articles into a short compilation of recommendations for the Adequate Defense of the Nation as you requested. Most of the ideas below have been treated in greater detail on my blog.

The main issues are not entirely limited to the Reserves, but include all components.

1. The size of the Reserve Components should be a multiple of the Active Components with a floor of the combined percentage of forces deployable in a short time (say, six months) be tied to the size of the population at large such as the one to ten percent figures mentioned on my blog and which have been emailed to you earlier.

2. Adjustments of the size and readiness of the forces above the floor level combined should be threat based as opposed to capabilities based and in accordance with contingency and operational plans prepared in accordance with a National METL based on the analysis of METT-TC in accordance with current doctrine.

3. The forces of the Reserve Components should be, by law, divided into units and individuals ready to deploy in short notice. History historically shows that it is the individuals that go first, and that absent a viable IRR, means cannibalization of existing units. I suggest a statutory requirement for the sum of units and individuals in this category be equal in the aggregate of all components and services. The exact composition to be determined in the budget process by the Congrss.

4. Training of the forces is a balance of the location of the military population base, the availability of training facilities, and the location of threats. Active components normally position themselves with regard to the last two, but the Guard and Reserve should be positioned first with regard to where they live. Not only should the flags be moved to the troops, so should the training.

Using virtual reality in metropolitan bases eases many of the requirements for large maneuver areas, as is command post exercises which can span continents and seas./

This means a focus on metropolitan areas.

a. Every major airline hub should be a Reserve and/or Guard base.
b. Every major port should have a major presence of sea services.

5. The experience of troops in operational environments is the most precious asset for current and future operations. Experience in TOE units should be rated higher than in TDA non academic staff positions. Of this experience and expertise, the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and basic small unit collective activities (survival, movement, etc) are the most critical. While some technical fields (aviation,medical, etc) require specific technical skills that take time, the majority of skill sets can be learned in short order by a competent group of experienced troops as evidenced historically and currently in GWOT.

a. The Up or Out system should be abolished in order to preserve a mobilization base of experience by keeping talent in grade instead of forcing folks out of their areas of competence and expertise.
b. There should be a mechanism, under law, to call into military service personnel whose civilian experience is the primary operational need, such as medical and mechanical.

6. The imbalance between the Pentagon and the Congress, between Federal and State, due to the elephantine effect of Parkinson's Laws needs to be corrected.

a. The QDR should be approved by law, appropriation or resolution by the Congress in keeping with their specified powers in this regard.

b. The distance between the highest military position (Joint Chiefs) and the President and Congress should be reduced to no more than one civilian. All civilians, be they civil service or appointed must, by law, be qualified educationally for a comparable military ranks.

c. The size of the Pentagon staff should be fixed with relation to the size of combat forces. This to avoid the common absurdity in the UK of it's Colonial Officer and Admiralty becoming larger as the size of the empire declined in numbers of colonials and ships.

7. National Defense planning.

a. The state, by the Constitution, is the lead "first responder" to disasters natural or man made through the provision of well regulated militias and of the police power of the state. While military power can be shifted to Federal level, the shifting of Federal power should be done in accordance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

b. Mobilization planning must be multi-departmental including planned regulation of human and natural resources. DoD lacks the authority and interest in running an entire nation as did the German General Staff in WW 1.

More to follow

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Parkinson's Laws and the Pentagon

The Founders of our country had a clear and near experience with the abuses and uses of power and were keen on the idea that a balance of power was needed in the affairs of our nation state. We are keenly aware of the balance of power between the branches of our national government: legislative, executive, and judicial. Likewise a balance exists between state and federal powers as the former has the ability to abolish the other, so long as the right to alter the Constitution rests in a three quarter majority of state legislatures to ratify. When Congress created the Defense Department of the three major services, however, the balance tipped, and is beyond the tipping point.

While amongst conspiracy theorists, this imbalance is proof of a vast evil conspiracy bent on sinister purpose. The truce, however, is considerably more mundane. C. Northecote Parkinson, noted political theorist and wag, postulated that organizations grow, regardless of purpose or workload. He cited that the British Admiralty and Colonial Office grew in inverse proportion to the number of capital ships and colonies of the British Commonwealth. He also stated that work expands to fit the time available's_law

The driving mechanism of the expansion of bureaucracy is described by William J Haga in his book “Haga's Law: Why Nothing Works and No One Can Fix It and the More You Try to Fix It the Worse It Gets” because of the basic principle that “anxiety begets organization, and organization begets anxiety”. To relief anxiety, managers hire assistants to spread the work load, but fearing rivalry hire two more to manipulate.

When Haga’s anxiety strikes, Parkinson’s Laws are invoked to the point where an organization of thirty five (according to Parkinson) can be fully engaged with internal processes and produce nothing of value. As a retired City of Houston civil servant, I have seen it done with as few as a dozen. My studies of the budget and acquisition process in local government show that more money is spent in acquiring, accounting and paying for the goods and services that government uses than the total value of the contracts for the goods and services themselves. The military doesn’t have the locks on this nonsense, it’s everywhere.

The phenomenon of full time military establishments working to undermine part time militaries is not restricted to the land of the free and home of the brave, but endemic and persistent making the dire prediction that reserve forces are poorly equipped, trained, and led, a self fulfilling prophecy based more on job security than national security.

An article today (March 27, 2008) from the Associated Press cites that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have informed the President:

Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Behind the Pentagon's closed doors, U.S. military leaders told President Bush March 26 they are worried about the Iraq war's mounting strain on troops and their families. But they indicated they'd go along with a brief halt in pulling out troops this summer.

The “mounting strain” is often blamed on the (small) size of the Regular services, and the leading candidates for President’s staffs candidly report favoring a larger Regular service, The truth, however obvious, evades observation. The Reserves and Guard weren’t large enough to face a Big War or a Long one.

Two large steps are required for those committed to an “Adequate National Defense”. First, make the relationship between the Congress and the Pentagon much closer, and to increase the distance between the troops and the Pentagon. And second, make the Guard and Reserve forces a multiple of the strength of the Active forces by law, tying the sum of them all to a percentage of the population at large.

The Constitution’s balance of powers extends to military power, with a balance between state and federal enshrined in the Second Amendment to the effect that the security of a free state in ensured by a “well regulated militia”. Knowing that a state, left to it’s own devices would raise standing armies or allow it’s militia to become unregulated (meaning trained in accordance with doctrine), the Founders prohibited the states from having ships of war, and standing troops in time of peace, and dictated that the Congress provide for the regulation (know today as doctrine) for the states. The Founders also split the providing forces and the command thereof between the Congress and the President, largely based on dreadful experiences in the English Civil Wars and the confusion of command in our Revolutionary War.

At present, the Congress perceives its mandate regarding the military as one solely concerned with the budget. Reading the Constitution’s allocation of specified powers to the Congress, it is far more comprehensive. The Pentagon is, according to the required reading for the Industrial College of the Armed Services (little blue books), contemptuous of Congressional process and only critical of Pentagon process while the errors of both are in accordance with both Parkinson and Haga. The distance across the Potomac needs to be closer, at Congressional dictate in order to ensure that doctrine, organization, and equipment are in the interests of the national defense.

Likewise, the Congress needs to distance itself from the conduct of foreign relations (save trade) and the conduct of military operations which are the specified prerogative of the President.

The size of the Pentagon, due to the influence of natural laws, has become too large and needs to be trimmed, cut, sliced and/or diced to reach sub-critical pre-tipping point balance. It doesn’t matter parts are affected, only that the dominance revert to the Constitutional balance. Perhaps separating the services, the components, or command vs. administration might do the trick.

The natural tendency of the Pentagon to distance itself from the Congress is complemented by the equally natural tendency to micro-manage the troops. This micromanagement of the minutia of military endeavors is cited as the number one reason for Captains (O-3) to have left the service even before the war on terror creating a huge shortage that now strains and stretches the forces as reported. Congress should limit the size of the Pentagon as a minor fraction of the forces available for deployment. There should be fewer admirals in the British fleet than capital ships.

In as much as the natural tendency to secure job security overrides national security vis a vis the Reserve Components, the Congress should enact laws specifying the relative size of the components and services in accordance with the size of the active force with floors established and relative to the size of the population of the nation as modified by the perception or reality of threats to the national security.

As an example, the size of all forces available for deployment in six months should be not less than one percent of the national population as determined in the last census. This would mean that today’s military establishment of all services and all components that ready to move out should be not less than three million.

Deployability, however, must be something more akin to wartime needs which often are unpredictable in detail. The essence of deployability is the competence of the forces in the military decision making process and basic collective battle skills regardless of table of organization. Our forces have demonstrated in Iraq the ability to convert artillery and armor units to security forces involved in stability operations in short order due to competence in basic military skills. In short, individual and collective deployability means that one is warm, can take orders, shoot, dig holes, drive, and survive and Uncle Sam owns the contract.

Within that one percent (or larger percent determined by the Congress), the size of the reserve components at such readiness shall be not less than twice that of the active services in with one half of that Reserve/Guard allocation be for the purposes of individual or small unit rapid mobilization and the other half be in trained units. The balance between Guard forces and (Federal) Reserve forces in king favor the location of a trained and deployable “personnel reserve” in the (Federal) reserve forces with the traditional focus of units extant in the Guard remain so with (Federal) reserve units be focused on the needs of the deployed forces of all components mobilized.

Forces beyond the six month deployability window may also be in “drill status” but be beyond the one percent window.

An example of a force at current national population calling for three million deployable in six months may require a small regular force, and by such law, the size of the Guard/Reserve deployable force would be increased directly not less than one for one. A three million deployable force might have one half million on active duty with two and a half million in reserve., but if more than a million were required on active service, the size of the deployable reserve would have to be increased proportionally.

The balance between capabilities and components under such laws would be determined in budget considerations.

Forces needed beyond the six month window, for both individuals and units must also address raising forces from scratch so as to have a prepared mobilization schema to reach the Big War contingency such as a war calling for something akin to a World War in which the forces on active duty were over ten percent of the population and another forty percent in war production industries.

These proposals set in terms of percentages are set as an example only, but close to today’s needs. Any such law and subsequent budgetary constraints would be negotiated n terms of ratios and percentages.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Real Incredibles - Our Troops

GWOT in perspective – Five years later

The War in Iraq and Afghanistan, triggered by 9/11 hasn’t been won, but neither has it been lost, the final verdict may take years to assess, and even then there will be arguments over the verdict. Saddam has been removed from power, but the Baathists and the Republican Guard haven’t given up yet despite the proudly display “blue finger” of those who voted. The Taliban is like St Augustine grass in the flower bed.

But that is more the rule than the exception in war, there being a tangential connection between what caused a war, what were the objectives (if any save survival), and the results:

The American South seceded over slavery, when staying with the Union would have preserved slavery in the South as the South had enough states to stop the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.

The British opposition to Imperial Germany was triggered by a German threat to Britain’s naval superiority defined as equal or greater than any two opposing fleets, yet gave up this notion of superiority to parity in the Washington Naval Treaty on 1922.

Japan went to war over it’s desire to get their “fair share” of China, then divvied up between the English, French, Italians, Germans and Americans in extra-territorial “concessions”. FDR and the China Lobby on the Hill sent supplies and the Flying Tigers to “save” China for US commercial and Christian interests. The Communists won, everyone else lost. But after forty years of Communism in China, China has reverted in fact to more open markets than were the object of their enmity.

The victory of the North Vietnamese over the French, the Republic of Vietnam and the US failed to establish communism in Vietnam shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Chinese went capitalist.

The United States Congress was unwilling to declare war on Germany on the December 8, 1941 despite Japan’s attack. Hitler solved that problem for us. There were serious objections within the US over the wisdom of the war on Germany until the Holocaust was uncovered in the Spring of ’45. WW2 is now justified on evidence found at the end of the war. The political results were determined at Casablanca, Tehran, and Potsdam, while the course of combat had it’s own logic of fire and maneuver.

The contemporary babble over whether there was or was not a connection between Saddam and Bin Ladin, and over whether there were or were not weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sounds like a domestic squabble over who did what to whom first. It isn’t useful in determining what has actually transpired, what effects there have been, or what needs to be done in the future. As usual, intent and effect are marginally connected. This is also known as the Law of Unintended Effects.

The effects of the war have had substantial impact on military doctrine, theory, and practice. Of the most significant are the role of women in combat, the recognition of the military and political value of the Guard and Reserve, the evolution (resurrection) of a new paradigm of military doctrine called Full Spectrum Warfare, and the evolution of a new paradigm in the sophistication of military operations in and beyond battle.

The old argument that women have no place in battle loudly proclaimed five years ago is silent today. Women, it has been found, can be more deadly than the male. Many volunteered for the gunner’s position on HUMMV’s and due to their lower center of gravity, holistic view of the world, and maturity have caused the early transfer of many a terrorist to Paradise.

At the beginning of expanded military operations in the Balkans and early on in Iraqi Freedom, Guard and Reserve (RC) personnel were deployed as a personnel reserve for the Active military. It has been found, however, that often RC personnel have more combat experience than their full time counter parts and additional talents from civilian life immediately useful in the protracted war of insurgency. Defense against cell phone detonated IED’s was crafted by a Reservist who worked with the cell phone industry as a civilian.

Military doctrine in place at the beginning of the war was focused on Expeditionary war which called for a quick solution for small conflagrations deemed the dominant for of battle after the Fall of the Wall. It took four years for the US military establishment, mainly it’s school system, to realize that “Protracted War” of Mao and Giap had returned with a turban and AK47.

Protracted war is multi dimensional and multi leveled including military, economic, political and social operations. This was the dominant form of war in the religious wars between Catholic and Protestant, and of the Communists until Pestroika. The new Army Field Manuals FM 3-24 on Counterinsurgency and FM 3-0 on Full Spectrum operations stress a multi handed approach in which economic stability, essential services (water, sewer, roads) , effective governance are just as important (often more) than combat operations.

LTG William Caldwell, Commander of the Combined Army Center where Army doctrine is developed appeared in the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on March 10, 2008 and described both the eclectic nature of counterinsurgency protracted war as requiring our troops in any one given area (town, village, province) to be, at the same time surveying for a water well, having tea with a tribal sheik, fixing up a market place and engage with a hostile foe with firepower.

That’s the doctrine, and that’s the new paradigm. Never in American military history have troops been required and been able to function on so wide an array of missions and skills. In short, the real “Incredibles” are our troops.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From an Operational Reserve to a Personnel Reserve

The Committee on the National Guard and Reserves report (aka CNGR) is an illustration of the folly of placing Reserve Affairs under the Secretariat for Personnel and Reserve Affairs (M&RA). The CNGR recommendations to disarm the National Guard and reduce the Reserves to that of a Repple Depple (Replacement Depot) for individuals and units no larger than a company are consistent with the actions of those secretariats even before the Bush 43 Administration. The CNGR report continues to beat a drum that is broken and already halfway into the dust bin of military history.

The grouping Reserve Affairs under M&RA transformed an Operational Reserve into a Personnel Reserve. The concept of contingency planning expressed in Operation Plans (OPLAN) is not that of the Personnel World of rotating assignments for career management and of replacing losses. In short, Transformation which is billed as an Operational concept is in fact more personnel driven. The National Guard and Reserves were an Operational Reserve and the effort has been to convert them into a Personnel Reserve.

The Laws of Inverse Attribution dictate that the new Personnel Reserve be labeled an Operational Reserve and the old operational reserve be labeled a Strategic Reserve as if such concept actually existed before (which didn’t). The Laws of Inverse Attribution call for emphasis on the worst of one’s virtues, and project the strongest of one’s vices on one’s opponent. Rewriting the Past is also a very old gimmick used to redirect the future.

In the days when BDU’s were new, I was a USAR tactical MI Battalion Commander with a Capstone alignment with the 49th Armored Division TXARNG which was aligned to III Corps at Ft Hood which had a contingency mission with NORTHAG in northern Germany. We trained to that mission. As a member of the 75th Division (then called the 75th MAC) I participated in dozens of exercises in which Guard, Reserve, and Regular units of all services and a few foreign forces worked together to test and refine doctrine, operating procedures, and tactical prowess.

These exercises ranged from Brigade and Group to that of Corps and Theater Army and exposed flaws in assumptions and trained several generations of officers and troops in what was expected in case of war. It is this expertise that sustains our combat operations overseas and, had there not been these exercises, our forces could not have done what they have done particularly given the ad hoc nature of the War on Terror. The announcement that these “Big” exercises were a thing of the past back a few years ago were a harbinger of the conversion of a highly competent operational reserve into one used for personnel.

It is obvious that the first thing the next Administration and Congress do to restore a real operational reserve is to break the link between Personnel and Reserve Affairs except for those issues dealing with personnel. Operations and Training of all components should be under the same staff supervision.

That leaves the question of Reserve Advocacy up for grabs, but it has been a disaster of major consequence to lump it with Personnel.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

ARFORGEN - not the dumbest idea, but close

ARFORGEN, the Army’s force generation model, isn’t the dumbest thing ever to come out of the Pentagon; it is one of the most unrealistic ever devised. ARFORGEN adopts the failed strategy of a training cycle in which skills of an already trained unit repeat on a cycle from individual skills to collective skills in ascending order of organization. The training cycle approach has the capability of dumbing down a sterling combat experienced Army to one incapable of effective collective action focused on eye wash and administrivia in about five years as was done by the Army to itself after WW2 and after Korea. This approach was wisely abandoned after Vietnam.

Unique amongst training cycle approaches, ARFORGEN is predicated on fixing the personnel turmoil continuum by fixing it in place in year one of three for the Regulars, and year one of five in the Reserve Components (RC). This assumes that no one gets promoted within the cycle, no one goes off to school, no one is transferred to another unit, no one is rotated out of key positions for career advancement purposes, and everyone reenlists. If such stasis is not achieved, the concept of a multi-year training cycle never gets skill competence at any and all levels.

Reserve units with a longer five year cycle face the likelihood that the company commander changes due to command tour limitations at least twice, and at least once for Regular units. To the normal turmoil found in all components must be added the turmoil of the Citizen Soldier’s civilian job, or lack of it. ARFORGEN assumes that all civilian careers can be synchronized with the needs of the service. No one gets a new job out of town, no one’s spouse gets transferred likewise, no one graduates from college who doesn’t get a job in the same town and that all career requirements are met with the current assignment.

At the bottom four grade level, enlisted folks cease to be bottom four grades in the five year cycle and a large number in the three year cycle. The bottom four grades are also the least stable in both components, with a high turnover rate in the Reserve Components due to job changes, and loss of interest and commitment.

The dumbest idea I personally am aware of actually didn’t come out of the Pentagon but out of FORSCOM for training Reserve MI units. It was a cycle of seven years in which companies were built from the bottom up, leaving out the company commander until a following year. Even the idiots at the 90th ARCOM, then in San Antonio were smart enough to arouse the two star level and scratch it. This idea was called the “living TO&E”. It died.

The Living TO&E was, however, based on a Pentagon idea that intelligence skills were “perishable” alone amongst skills, attitudes, and knowledge than in any other field of endeavor including flying and brain surgery. This was welcomed by the MI community as it garnered additional funds for training and allowed the MI units to opt out of many of the nonsensical “mandatory training requirements” invented by strap hangers at higher level to serve as the basis for their OER and end of tour chest lettuce.

The core discipline of intelligence, the intelligence cycle is known in academic circles as “critical thinking”. The best proof that critical thinking is perishable is widespread as demonstrated in the current election cycle, and in the very idea that critical thinking is perishable is self proving. That it is unique amongst skill sets in a fine example of academic arrogance so prevalent on the Viet Cong base campuses. While such nonsense is appealing for the internal PSYOP, it isn’t verified by scientific evidence, be such science be intelligent design or evolutionary.

What is most distressing is the support for the ARFORGEN fantasy is that well trained and experienced officers to accept it at face value. Unlike the enlisted evaluation system in which the rating system of superiors has minor impact, that of the officers is more dependent on pleasing one’s superiors (rating and reviewing officer) than is found in civilian life and with near permanent effect. The net result of such requisite sycophancy is analogous to that described in the “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen. But with a potential impact far more serious than a naked emperor prancing about in the streets.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Facts on Tranistioning to Civilian World

Veterans of extended active duty operate at a disadvantage in the other Real World:

1. There isn't anyone in charge out here, and those that are don't know what they are doing.

2. There is no such thing as a mission statement.

3. Staff coordination is a battlefield.

4. The paranoids are out to get your job.

5. "Double dipping" is resentment for getting a real retirement when everyone else isn't going to get one any time soon.

6. Free medical care is an oxymoron.

7. Nobody gives a sh*t about the time the bad guys almost got your scalp in the Battle of U Phuc 2.

8. "Responsible for", on a resume, means you sat on your A$$ while someone else did the job.

9. Seeking out and taking responsibility is poking your nose into what is some one else's turf. Something to indulge in while blaming others is, however, essential to a paycheck continuum.

10. Divide and Conquer is a key management tool and skip the "one for all"bit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Ghost of Failures Past - ARFORGEN

One of the programs cited by the CNGR report as an example to be emulated is the Army’s program for generating troops units which program is called ARFORGEN. This program is a throw back to training theology that failed to provide adequately trained forces for combat in Korea and Vietnam, and was dropped as Army doctrine after Vietnam.

The training cycle approach assumes that there is a hierarchy of skill sets that build on each other in a logical fashion with individual skills upwards. I experienced this model when I was stationed with the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) posted on the Hessian Corridor opposite the Fulda Gap. My sectors as a platoon leader on the FEBA (what we used to call the “front line”) was about two kilometers long overlooking Bad Hersfeld and one just north of Fulda itself. Hardly a speed bump for the swarms of Soviet tanks.

Our training cycle started in the Spring with NBC and marksmanship, upgrading to squad training and platoon training before we went to our “summer camp” at Hohenfels or Grafenwohr. By the time we were training companies, our skills at squad and individual levels were already deteriorating. When the ground froze, the time for battalion, brigade and division level training had arrived and we spent increasing amounts of time being deployed in a more realistic set of Conditions (as in Action, Condition, Standard) that provided the proper mix for the effective training at lower levels.

Our perception of maneuver for a training model for squad, platoon, and company done at those levels was the same scheme: lay down a base of fire and maneuver on the flanks. We didn’t know it then that Soviet defensive doctrine was designed to create fire pockets on the flanks of their squads, platoon, and companies. ARVN was trained with this model only to be shot to pieces after our retreat from Vietnam when they had to go up against a peer force of NVA in places like the Iron Triangle and Michelin. Our favored maneuver plan worked only with isolated pockets.

All training in successive levels for the attack were based on hill tops fit for whatever unit level was being trained. There were squad sized hills, platoon sized hills, etc. The problem was that squad training was rarely done in the context of a platoon formation, but alone.

The favored plan of maneuver at battalion to division level was the “mobile” defense with a presumed penetration in the center of the sector to be followed by a smashing counter attack by the reserve which accounted for at least half of the deployed units combat power. I never saw this plan ever successfully used.

The environment for platoon training improved as the size of the exercise increased as the tactical environment became more eclectic with lots of rapid movements determined on the fly. Unlike Ft Benning’s concept of troop leading steps, I rarely saw my company commander more than once or twice a day except in a laager in between movements. We typically would put fifty miles a day on our odometers switching from one part of the battle to the other.

My platoon rarely sat still for more than four hours. All training was focused on battle drills from which only a verbal frago was needed to modify a standard maneuver. It was only in the context of a platoon maneuver that the squad’s tactical environment started to evolve. The only meaningful training that still sticks in my mind, was that done in the context of the division level exercises. I used this experience in the Third Herd to train my MI Battalion in it’s role as a division tactical intelligence battalion some twenty years later.

After Vietnam, the Army dropped the training cycle approach, and adopted what became known as BTMS (Battalion Training Management System) which gave the battalion commander the primary authority to determine the training requirements of his/her command. Unfortunately this cut out the control freaks on higher level staffs, and ARFORGEN has returned mini-micromanagement back from it’s Pentomic grave.

As an instructor at USAICS (the intelligence school) at Ft Hootchy Kootchy on the Mexican Border, the concept of “systems engineered performance oriented training” was stolen from SAC and applied in the Service Schools, later morphing into BTMS. In this approach, all jobs for soldiers and unit were broken out spread sheet wise, and lumped into skills, knowledge, and attitudes, further parsed into whether these were appropriate to school or unit training.

The fusion of these approaches also gave primacy of training to the leader at the level being trained. It put squad leaders in charge of training their troops and required all leaders to have “hip pocket” lists of tasks to train for when the optempo allowed it. Every time my battalion paused in the conduct of training operations (fully deployed in the field) the lower unit commanders and leaders were expected and did train those skills on the spot.

As a trainer in the 75th Division in the early eighties, this program was working in all of the components Army wide. I watched as Guard units reach heights of excellence above that which I experienced in either Germany or Vietnam with Regular Army units. This approach is responsible for creating the best trained Army this nation has ever fielded.

ARFORGEN, by returning to the failed policies of the past threatens the sustainment of the “band of excellence” necessary for forces to retain to meet the historically persistent need to drop what you are doing and go to war “as you are”.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Put the Troop Units where the Troops Live

This last month saw the last F-16’s of the 147th Fighter Wing TXANG leave Ellington Field located close to the Houston Ship Channel which is not only one of the top four ports of the nation, but the home of a couple dozen petrochemical plants. Houston, not only is the world capitol of the energy industry, it is the fourth largest city in the nation. The loss of these fighter aircraft, replaced by a more expensive fighter element from out of state, and unaware of what’s worth defending.

It makes too much sense to place troops in places where something dangerous this ways come for the Pentagon to grasp such subtleties. The stationing of troops stateside to be able to react faster to threats overseas than forces already overseas is a bit of Rumsfeldian quixotry hard to match in the annals of military lunacy.

The stationing of standing troops is typically based on the location of threat(s) first, followed by the location of adequate training facilities, security, and sustainability. To that, RC units need to be based geographically near where the troops live. While a fair number of officers and noncoms travel long distances to attend drill (aka training assemblies, et al) the bulk of a unit needs to live nearby, like less than an hours commute for rapid activation and deployment in emergencies.

The 75th Division (TS) in Houston is commanded by an MG from Chicago. My former stock broker in Hoston, a Navy Commander, used to drill in New Orleans now drills close by in San Antonio. I know other Houstonians that drill in Florida and in San Diego. This testifies as to the professionalism of the troops in the Guard and Reserves. But you can’t rely on long commutes to field large units, and despite the call for funds to support such commutes by the CNGR, those funds will be diverted to pay for TDY for strap hangers to advise the lowly unit commanders on how to save training money.

More fundamentally, one takes advantage of the geographic dispersion of the talents needed to fight and win wars in stationing RC units and activities. Houston is a town full of aviators and aviation mechanics, yet the aviation assets of all services are conspicuous for their absence. This should be the first principle of stationing Guard and Reserve units, that of being close to the talents needed for both state and national needs.

Units that are boat based should be stationed where there are boats and sailors, and other boat handlers even if those boats are really big and carry airplanes. Current combat in built up areas show that urban troops survive much better than rural troops when the bullets start to fly. Historically, rural units have specialized in combat roles which needs to be enhanced by combat units in cities. One never has enough infantry and never enough cargo craft (air, land or sea).

Yet, the BRAC commission specialized in moving units far from where the troops live. This is a process started long before BRAC, which I noted when my intelligence battalion moved from Houston to be closer to the training facility in Austin originally designed to give employment to unemployed reservists in the San Antonio-Austin area. Houston could raise a brigade of linguists in six months to meet all the requirements for critical language and cultural sensitivities. So could New York City, Chicago, LA and the San Francisco Bay area. Those cities should also be home to major units based on water craft and aircraft.

The over-all stationing of units beyond the needs of the states for military units, needs to be based on an overall assessment of mobilization staffing requirements for a full out peer to peer showdown such as was planned before the Pentagon decided not to fight guerilla wars and those they did could be handled 10-30-30. This would work out as additional Guard units that fit traditional Guard proclivities and additional Reserve units to meet the need for critical masses of specialties found geographically.

Of particular note is the requirement for a Green Water and Brown Water “navy”. The US Navy is by default Blue Water and only reacts to the Green and Brown when embarrassed and when career advancement is served thereby. In short, the Coast Guard needs to regain it’s units, and naval small boat units restored (where there is both water and the need).

Of a heretical cant, there is need for water craft under state control to meet the various needs of flood, hurricane and man made disaster handling, and the best way to do this is for the National Guard to get into the Brown and Green Water game. While it is too much to expect that a Navy National Guard to have traction, those same boats and personnel could be assigned to the Army National Guard which is not far from where things are in the Army Reserve units with boats.

Let’s put the troops where the talent is, as well as where the danger is, and fund the training areas to fit.