Friday, October 23, 2015

Reconstitution of the US Army

Reconstitution of the US Army

Once upon a time when the Third Reich was young, an enterprising journalist published the complete Order of Battle and mobilization plans for the Wehrmacht.  Himmler had him kidnapped and interrogated as to leads and sources.  His answer was open source, from local papers citing who was being assigned where.  He was warned and let loose

The same use of open sources (OSINT) is available on LinkedIn.  The individual profiles of the members who have a direct or indirect connection with the Services, particularly the US Army show that the Army is in the process of reconstituting its forces to face a new revised and more dangerous array of threats.  Far from the rotational mini-brigade expeditionary model, the new models is restoring the Theater, Corps and full divisions to full capacity.

Projected penetration of Soviet Forces as a model of high speed mechanized warfare

In addition, references in discussions show that the field artillery and air support are being reunited, and the logistics reconstituted under the command of the commander’s intent rather than an acquisition manager’s contract.  The sources are links to a new family of DOD doctrinal publications.

Assignment Algorithms

Some of that which points to this reconstitution is indicated by the assignment of officers to “targeting” and logistics assignments at corps and higher.  This restores what was once called the Air Ground Operations Center at the old Corps and suggests that a restoration of COSCOM and DISCOM may be under way.  There are many references of officers and enlisted to I, III, and XVIII Corps when up until now did not exist, even called defunct, on Wikipedia.  The repeated reference to Theater suggests that the _COM (CENTCOM, etc.) may be replaced by the new Theaters (XXXXX). 

The type of war fighting done right

That a major reconstitution program, normal at any military level after a battle, is not being accompanied by marching bands, cheer leaders, and sonorous intonations from the pompous and egregious is significant.  The most likely outcome is that these new Theaters will be aligned to a specific piece of the world.  That raises the questions of how will the order of battle for these new corps and theaters be constituted.

The Capstone Mission

That which tied unit cohesion to combat mission prior to Transformation was the link between units of all components of the Services and Components into what were called “Capstone Missions” and “Capstone alignments” that brought myself as a battalion commander in contact with the Canadians on my left flank in NORTHAG near where two Roman legions were slaughtered….the Teutoberger Wald. The Capstone program was the result of a Congressional mandate that insisted that each and every unit must have real world mission in order to be funded.  I was at the Congressional House Senate Conference Committee when it was agreed upon.

The Capstone program tying battalions like mine to places in Germany was sabotaged, and a new order of nonsense was sent in harm’s way.  This is what is being fixed.

Un-dropped Shoes (organization and training)

As such several un-dropped shoes remain.  The reality of major commands expected to move or stay in one piece calls for a deletion or elimination of rotational assignments and training. The cost in the degradation of mid and senior level tactical competence in the most recent unpleasantness due to the repression of the chain of command from three stars to three stripes under Transformation and ARFORGEN must be addressed.

The biggest shift in staffing a large force from existing subordinate elements excludes rotations of units, and reinstitutes more individual replacements along with a system to do so.  The individual rotation programs of all wars up to and including Vietnam was costly in terms of the FNG getting killed too quickly which increased the need for more FNG’s (Funny New Guy).  The existing members of the FNG’s unit do not like to befriend one who is about to die, until he has not. Thus the skills of the Good Old Boys are not passed on to the FNG which increased the mortality rate.

As close as one can get without being thre

The one stellar thing attributable to the rotational modular brigade was and is extraordinary unit morale, which after a decade of rotations, is still high.  A balance between the casualty rates, low in this war, must be developed to retain unit identity to enhance cohesion.  The draftee conscript army only works on home turf or next door, otherwise cohesion suffers.  The US Army at the end of the Vietnam War was one step away from mutiny.  The classic work on the Disintegration and Cohesion of the Wehrmacht showed that as long as the primary group is intact, and a sense of identity with the homeland was maintained, no amount of inducement by propaganda worked.

The Eastern Front

The German Army in WW 2 used replacements from the same part of Germany to units also raised from there.  Thus the FNG factor was reduced.  Similar efforts have been done in the British Army through their regimental system which the regiment is the base from where units and personnel were deployed and to where they returned.

One way to restore cohesion is to base replacements through training establishments aligned with specific units and specific areas, like regional or states. The application of All Source Training which includes a training establishment that uses the Chain of Command in each and all training exercises.  Those units and activities can be geographically close to the unit base, or be able to move to the unit.

The one on the left, then, was when I took the picture in Vietnam
That which is not physically present in the task organization up two and down two and sideways, must be represented or replicated.   That includes units on the flanks, sides and in support.  

The hardest part of training army tactical units is the absence of things that go boom anytime of the day or night, as in field artillery and air support, and in the open.  And done off post as well as on.  Perhaps some form of noisy drone system could provide the audio visual once “shot out” is shouted out.  

An All Source Training establishment would rely on visual reality in a major way. It could establish local training centers where a wandering reserve or Guard officer, could plug into an ongoing “war” as a “replacement”. 

An All Source training establishment would focus on the echelon of command (Corps, Division, Brigade, etc) not the branch or specialty (as is planned today).  Individual and collective training must be done in context of all the other players or participants being there.

The 75th Training Command Model

The model for echelon of command level focused training is based on the model used for decades at the 75th Maneuver Area Command (now the 75th Training Command) based on my experience there in the golden days of yesteryear (1979-1983) when command post exercises were the domain of “battle boards” of acetate, green tape and grease pencil. Communications was by wire.  This process was automated about the time I moved on with Battle and from their website:

“The 75th Training Command prepares large military units for deployments and other missions, by conducting live and virtual scenario-based training, while mentoring senior leaders on effective organizational decision-making….the Training Command now offers virtual and gaming formats. Whether stateside or deployed to a combat zone, military commanders do not lead their units in a vacuum.
 Each commander carefully selects, mentors and oversees a team of supporting staff that manages critical areas including personnel, logistics and operations.
 A commander's ability to keep the troops safe and accomplish the mission is directly related to the professionalism, competence, and teamwork of those staff leaders.
 And while the 75th has predominantly supported Army units in the past, the command now provides similar high quality training to other military branches, non-military agencies, and partner nation military forces.”

Those in the 75th have historically been savvier about higher echelon operations than the Combined Arms Center at Ft Leavenworth and logistics than Ft Lee. This is due simply to the extended and repeated use of “All Source” inputs and outputs in the form, format, and content of information from outside the unit.  Those giving the exercises gain more than the exercised.  This also was an excellent resource for the development of real world mission awareness.

The fly in the soup is the old concept of micromanagement from on high of the details of individual and small unit training including what is called Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) which is used to build empires on high ground and sap the purity and essence of unit combat readiness.  If MOS training is that important to Personnel on High, it should be separately funded from unit readiness. 

Taken in 1924
The Tactical Shape Shifters

These are transitional times in which the old and the new intermix. There is nothing new under the sun, but a lot of weird stuff keeps cropping up. The factors of METT-TC with a minor adjustment (adding technology to one of the “t” and replacing the C with Culture), remain constant over time, except technology and its effects on the rest.  The largest change in the tactical milieu in the last 4,000 years is the effect of the bullet and fragment storm that broke first in the Crimean War and came to fruition in Flanders in WW 1.

The same alternatives exist historically when technology affects the means of mayhem, hence the Tactical Imperative and the Tactical Milieu that are the shape shifters.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


All Source Training

Gordon S Fowkes, LTC USA RET

All Source Operations

The term “all source comes from combat intelligence in which all of the various sources of information are included for planning, conducting, processing and distribution of the intelligence produced.  As applied to combat, logistics, and administrative units, activities, and/or personnel in combat (or showtime) all relevant agencies and sources of goods, services, equipment and information come together in a given locus of command.   Locus equals anything between squad leader to CINC WORLD and all points between.

At any given locus, given proper support, there are inputs and connections to a finite number of points of contact who interface with the command process.  This is not peculiarly military in nature, because any given civilian economic enterprise is in a state of continuous, contiguous, and concurrent state of affairs 24/7. If the shipment doesn’t arrive on time, sales and production are inflicted. 
As the sales staff or machine gunners are interlocked with the market or those on the battlefield, so must the chain of command.  As in the real world, the boss of bosses either is involved in what goes on to the lowest level or risks losing market share, as in another city falling to ISIS. 
A common error in both operations and training is to leave a link out of the multiple loops that links the inside to the outside.  That means turning on the electricity, unloading the truck, and ordering new supplies.  In combat terms it means direct communication up two levels, and in the modern world, monitoring several others.  Thus the squad leader must be able to monitor the company net, at least one of them. The battalion commander has a wide range of outsiders that must remain in positive contact including logistics, support, and adjacent units.

If any link is broken or not present, things that should happen at the right time, happen at the wrong time or not at all. Such is the case of responsive fire support in comparing such to the paradigms of previous wars.  The table of organization for a tank company had two tanks, one for the company commander and one for the US Air Force fighter pilot. The older mechanized infantry units rarely had a reap pilot so the vehicle became an S3 asset.  The existence of co-located fire support assets linked to a given unit gave rise to the position of fire support coordinator (FSCOORD).

1969 Vietnam - 2/2 Mech Infantry in War Zone C, and my OB notebook
All Source Organization

The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) becomes the central nervous center linking the brain to the spinal column, the nervous system (motor, sensor, sympathetic and parasympathetic included).   In the prehistoric times of my generation, that meant every radio net in the TOC was monitored by all.  Phones required a written note, distribution and carbons as needed. 
In ancient times, like in Vietnam, Korea, WW2 and Desert Storm, the commander was immersed in multi-source inputs in the back ground, ears tuned to key phrases on any of them for information of immediate interest. Thus any medivac indicated to the commander that forces were in contact, before the report, if any, was forwarded.

In fact, in my tour in the DTOC of the 1st Air Cavalry Division 1968-69, the absence of a steady flow of middling reports was a clear indicator that someone was too busy fighting to engage in reporting.  That called for listening to the nets the forces in contact used.  We even used the EW assets of the division to listen in just to stay up to snuff. The non-combat variant is management by walking around.

All Source Training

A rifle squad does not operate in a vacuum except when in deep doo doo.  And that happens when Murphy interjects gremlins and chaos on well prepared intentions.  Any realistic training must also replicate Murphy based on the vulnerabilities of the current mission, operations and forces not under the control of the unit in the hot box. 

That means an array in training of those who replicate the world outside the hot box of the unit(s) in training, and on site where realistic. That especially includes the enemy, an enemy that operates in accordance of an enemy plan at least two levels above.  It a link is missing, it must be replicated realistically.  This is the normal organization with those units that give large command post exercises. In a defensive scenario of a brigade enemy forces up three levels must be replicated in the office and three down in the case of defense.  This is the proper role for military training organizations, that of replicating the outside world.  And, if one must, contractors that specialize.

Since the commander of a unit does not decide on what courses of action to take in combat, except as the result of what the situation in existence calls for as in METT-TC.  The unit commander’s actions to attack, defend, withdraw or call for reinforcement are based in the Real World not under the control of the trained unit.

All Source Planning

Since all operations in the field depend upon missions assigned from above, so must All Source training. The usual mode of training is based on the commander’s estimate of what his unit’s mission essential task list (his own, not the nonsense from on high) consists of.  The normal mode is for the Operations Officer (S3/G3) then determines what will be done in training, based on available ranges, gas, ammo and threat of high level visitors.  The intelligence officer has no role in commander/operations planning.

Since the enemy order of battle and plans are determined at the level of the exercise, or in accordance with next higher’s whim or whimsy, there is no intelligence to trigger the events.  And, when A company attacks B Company, their tactics, equipment, strength that comprise enemy order of battle are common knowledge.

In Vietnam, officers were assigned to the S2/G2 position by those shot up, screwed up, short or the FNG (funny new guy).  Every once in a while a trained S2 or MI guy was accidentally assigned as the S2/G2 and the results were astounding.  The Tet Offensive’s post mortem conducted by the Target Acquisition, Combat Intelligence, Surveillance in Vietnam (TACSIV II) to fix the problem that all the necessary information to predict Tet was already  in the system.  I was a ride along observer. 

The TACSIV solution was drawn from a CDEC experiment in an organic MI Battalion to the division, removing from ASA control and placing a qualified MI officer in S2/G2 slots with additional MI personnel in support. The difference before TACSIV there was no intelligence which resulted in not so intelligent command decisions, to one in which the Commander had real intelligence.  This modus operandi is what I believe has been fully integrated and implemented in our ground forces today. 

All training must be situation initiated, which includes intelligence reports, change of mission, and/or of terrain and troops available.  The control of All Source stimuli should be done with the plans of two levels up, or if they are too busy filling out charts and PowerPoint graphics, do it yourself.  When I was commanding an Army Reserve MI battalion some decades ago, I did the creation of new circumstances myself, acting as if something new had just come up.

It was at Ft Hood when the 304th MI Bn was in ANACDUTRA (Summer Camp) given the remnants of the old training cycle modus idioticus which wasted the opportunity to go straight to battalion level operations. This was facilitated by the fact that the Commander of the 49th Armored Division TXNG sent his entire division to the field which gave a target rich environment for MI/EW.  I had ensured that a sense of hostile Speznas troops were in the area, requiring full security including outposts were in place.  

I then called my OPFOR squad to attack which brought the battalion to wide awake, and then I issued the order that the battalion was to create a direction finding base at a distance from the present location.

Reality, and unintended consequences worked in my way.  It appeared that my focus on following regulations and doctrine was undermining the machinations of the local REMFCOM. So they sent the Deputy Commanding General on a night raid by helicopter to my position.  This came to light when a very worried Operations Sergeant told me in the middle of the briefing that one of the guards had placed the Brigadier General in the Front Leaning Rest Position. Doomed, I was, until the BG showed up grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  This was well before BMNT.  

And he loved it.

The growth of simulation and command post exercising to date, is often remoted, and plugged into anyone’s command if needed.  This allows a Full Spectrum All Source training capability to replicate combat against the Little Green Men on Mars, or step back in time to Cannae.  All under the command and control of the participating unit. 

All Source Support

There is, at present, a huge investment in personnel and activities to run the micromanaged ARFORGEN system which as an unintended consequence, leaves out the chain of command in each and every step of the present ladder of skills which also has the unintended consequence of dumbing down the chain of command.  As such, the collective combat capabilities in combat have degraded to the level once reached just before Korea.

Those same assets can be cross trained and exercise much in the manner of what the 75th Maneuver Command did, as well as the III Corps Battle Simulation Center did in previous century. This support can be fixed and/or roaming.  Fixed assets would be the locations where a local units (AC, RC, NG) can plug those who are to be trained.  Roaming assets go to the unit, and usually consist of experts in specific fields. I have used both on both sides of the battle board.
Left, the Vale Cento, a Templar Galley in 3D,
Right is the Kobayashi Maru exercise in Star Wars

A full blown All Source training organization can be created by a modest change of direction of the present ARFORGEN and service school system.  In this modality, since the missions involved All Source and Full Spectrum operations the development of emerging doctrine can resume and forces deployed with little or no delay. I had 72 hours to move my battalion to the port of embarkation. My mantra was that we had to fight with what we had.  This was training to fight in accordance with current estimates of the strategic point of view.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Gordon S Fowkes, KCTJ

October 16, 2015
For a decade now, the US Army has been training and deploying forces absent an effective collective spinal cord, nervous system and battle mind.  That this combination has failed is evident in the collapse of all that was put in place in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places oft classified.  The root causes of the deterioration of the collective combat capacities goes to rotational training and deployment of units (ARFORGEN) of an Army in which the General Officer Corps was excluded, or marginalized.

A root cause of transformational rotation goes to the concept of a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) which has been driven off the battlefield by the counter revolutions in warfare from insurgency to full spectrum environments.  Like ISIS and the Russians.   The concept of a fixed revolution or form of warfare readily predictable in fantasy or crystal ball, is sadly, the norm and normally wrong to the extent of national extinction. 

The ARFORGEN model had a multi-year rotational cycle starting with individual training, ending with collective training in a minor fraction available for collective training, and that according to fixed scenarios instead of the come what may.  This produced a steady stream of well-trained troops with inexperienced leaders, inexperienced in the hurly burly of wartime operations. In short, the quality of collective combat operations showed a serious degradation from that quality found routine in the Army from 1942 until Baghdad. 

Training cycles are inherently defective while continuous collective and concurrent operations is the norm on the battlefield, and hence the model for training.  Rotation of units breaks the collective competence of the forces committed, which does not translate to successive generations in the fashion of commands in continuous combat, oft for years.  Those commands matured and evolved while the rotated withered.

 The exclusion of General Officers from the Chain of Command was the product of “Transformation”, a process which broke up the Army Corps (XXX, LTG Commanding), the Army division base (XX, MG Commanding), and the disappearance of the Separate Brigade (X, BG Commanding).  That disassembly broke up the logistics and fire support commands (Corps and DIVARTY; COSCOM, DISCOM) and parceled up suboptimal elements to modular brigades (COL Commanding). The modular brigades default had two maneuver battalions and an artillery battalion of two batteries.
 The dilution of field artillery lead quickly to the degradation of effective fire support of committed units from the old war standard from interlocking fragmentation and flame to that of intermittent if at all. Too many medals for valor have been awarded because the artillery was not there, or was ineffective.  

The fire request radio nets tied the forward observer or grunt directly to the Corps air-ground support center.  All echelons in between monitored and the rule was that “silence was approval”.  This removed the delays in fire support from getting to where it was needed.  Two minutes from call to “shot out” was the minimum to preclude unnecessary casualties.

The Army’s distrust in the capacity of General Officers in command extended to the colonels, full and light by task organizing their forces by table of organization (MTOE) instead of in accordance with the Principles of War and the Estimates of the Situation regarding mission, enemy, terrain, troops (technology), time and culture.  

The “combined arms battalions” were intended to be committed without regard to the situation on the ground by denial of the options to the commander. Fortunately, those in charge over there did what they needed to do without regard and in spite of lunacy to the contrary.  Headquarters units were busted up to provide enough boots on the battlefield. 

This normal process of developing doctrine traditionally begins in the field or combat in which the experience of those at the cutting edge as it is passed on to successive replacements and carried back to the Service School Systems for post basic training for officers and noncoms.  Thus the interface between experience and doctrine is tied to the ground instead of fantasy.
What has changed from before when we used to win battles, is the introduction of transformation and rotational warfare, which was not developed in the field and refined in the service schools. It has been dictated from a Pentagon in which the uniforms of the uniformed services were marginalized and ticket punched.


The ARFORGEN concept limits the size of the force deployed to that fraction of the ARFORGEN cycle designated as such.  The size of this force compared to all available forces ranges from a fourth to an eighth of the total forces on hand.  The concept of fractional commitment inherent in ARFORGEN would have reduced the effective combat strength in combat in WW 2 of 98 of 100 combat divisions to 33 divisions.  Or equivalent.  In Vietnam from ten to three divisions.  

The concept that a combat experienced unit is suddenly fully dumbed down to require a repeat cycle wastes the experience, the time, and the mission.  That the most experienced now become the dumbest is a seriously crazy notion.  And given the duration of the dumb down cycle, the rotation of personnel out of the collective environment does in fact dumb the force until whomever gets the command starts to learn his/her job. 

Despite heroic efforts of TRADOC to bring the essence of the battle to the training base, does not include the full spectrum of forces tied to the battle, as is the case in concurrent and collective operations.  Everyone tied to the battle must be tied to the training, for real or replication. Any link left out, breaks the chain.  It is only in large scale collective and concurrent training that the small unit understands the larger context that is the default in combat.

The concept of a hierarchical evolution of skills in any field presumes that the human mind is a file cabinet similarly structured.  This is a logical conclusion except that the mind-body is not a filing cabinet nor does it rely on logic. The mind-body is primarily analogic, by comparison of analogues to what seems to be the case. This includes arithmetic.

And it is concurrent and collectively a full sensory experience, with the oldest of senses is smell.  A major part of the combat related skills are already coded into the DNA which only requires certain triggering events, normally called play.  This is proven conclusively by the fact that recess and lunch room are the most valuable of activities.   Games such as hide and seek, keep away, sports and extra-curricular are fundamental combat skills to survive in an earlier world when that was combat survival vs being lunch.  This is where combat training should start.

At any point of time and place, a tactical milieu consisting of a rapidly shifting array of tactical imperatives creates a change in means, modes, tactic, technique, and procedures:


1.     1.  All units must have one or more real world missions (as opposed to DARPA fantasies). All training must be related to these missions including all units related laterally as well as vertically to the mission. What is not there must be replicated.  That means artillery and resupply.

2.      2.  All training must replicate combat missions as spelled out in action, condition, and standards dictated by the mission.  Subject matter orientation must be replaced by concurrent and collective training

3.     3.   Only “officers of the United States” whose commission or position has been confirmed by the US Senate shall command and/or rate.  This means putting the Generals and other officers in the chain of command and coordination.

4.      4.  The Congress has the specified power to “provide for the regulation” of the forces, and as such require and authorize direct communication with Service School Systems.  Command interference with doctrine is performed by the determination of the assigned missions as determined by the President.   In short, the President commands the force the Congress give him/her.

5.     5.   Only uniformed personnel should be authorized to command, lead and/or rate uniformed personnel. This may mean the creation of new uniformed services, but under the UCMJ.
6.       Further use of deceit, fabrication and misrepresentation in the uniformed services to members of the services and/or the Congress and President result in criminal charges pursuant to provisions of law, custom and the UCMJ.

Early indicators suggest that many of the problems noted above are in the process of correction, albeit without the bullshit.