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.