View Full Version : Severing Division Ties: Army Band Force Design Update

06-15-2011, 09:29 PM
In August 2010, a Force Design Update (FDU) was staffed through the various commads, proposing a change to the Rules of Allocation (ROA) for Army Bands.

The most discussed changes centered around allocating bands based on the number and type of units supported in garrison, creating several bill payers to plus-up bands at other locations. The FDU standardizes Musical Support Teams (MSTs) and band headquarters, creating a modular organization that can be tailored.

Although the reduction or increase in size of bands has been hotly disputed by several bill paying commands, one issue has not been discussed: the severing of the habitual relationship between division headquarters and their small, direct support bands. Today, the band is an organic subordinate unit of each Army division. The FDU elimintates the ROA associating division bands with their division headquarters.

This change is significant. The FDU allocates bands to support the "senior mission commander." This may not be apparent as most division commanders are likely the senior mission commander on their home fort, but once deployed, this relationship changes. First, the division's historic band may not even deploy with the division. The bands will be modular, so another band or mix of MSTs could deploy instead. Additionally, the band may be assigned to corps or JTF, effectively becoming a GS asset that the band must request support through a "staff bands planner" at higher headquarters.

At this time, only one division has argued against the change in command relationship. It appears that this aspect of the FDU is either not significant, or has been overlooked. Regardless, this design change will very shortly be settled at a meeting with TRADOC Force Design and the few non-concurring units. If it succeeds, it will reduce the division commander's ability to directly influence his troops and his AO.

With all the emphasis on Mission Command as a War Fighting Function, it appears strange that the US Army Band School would be focused on consolidating bands under operational and strategic headquarters, far away from the troops at the tactical level who they've been inspiring for 236 years.

06-16-2011, 03:09 AM
Not to be Debbie-downer but I've never been inspired by the Army Band. But that's not really because they suck or anything like that. It's that the Army really doesn't care about the bands. They say they do but it's all just lip service.

I've been to BN and BDE change of commands where there were like five band members there. That's not going to inspire anyone and it's not going to be good music. Putting a platoon-sized band out there only for one or two events per year is just about worthless if the Army looks to these people to enhance esprit de corps. Need to increase the foot print and number of times the troops get to see the bands.

Either can the whole band deal or beef it up so it's robust and productive at major installations.

06-16-2011, 04:51 AM
I think we also need to take a good look at the "unofficial" bands out there (Yes, I'm looking at you, 82nd Airborne Chorus). These bands draw their strength from units within the 82nd, often robbing them of quality troops.

06-17-2011, 04:12 AM
The meeting with TRADOC has been postponed, but the issue still remains.

TRADOC Force Design states that the Division has "no standing" as bands are already allocated allocated against ASCC, DIV and major installation - not divisions starting in 2004-5 with modular transformation. The ROA from at least 10-15 forward states assigned against ASCC, Div Hq and or major installation. They go on to state that the ASCC couuld take mission command of the 25ID band today if they choose to do so.

Brett Patron
06-17-2011, 12:29 PM
I think we also need to take a good look at the "unofficial" bands out there (Yes, I'm looking at you, 82nd Airborne Chorus). These bands draw their strength from units within the 82nd, often robbing them of quality troops.

At least the 82d Chorus is relatively small and low impact. I'm talking big expenditures like the Army Soldier Show - talk about a drain on resources!


06-17-2011, 01:53 PM
FMSWeb, the website for the US Army Force Management Support Agency (USAFMSA), shows all Division Bands directly under the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHBN), just as battalions are listed under brigades. This seems contrary to what the US Army School of Music (USASOM) is saying. I think the ROA define what can be assigned, but HQDA says where it actually goes. Also, if USASOM was correct, the the Senior Commander would be able to reorganize BCTs, but from what I gather, they only have TACON/ADCON, not OPCON of the units living on their posts.

06-22-2011, 03:40 AM
I agree that the bands are most known for their time as ceremonial organizations and that if the knife comes, they too must have some flesh removed. But I also believe that there is something to be said about this "soft power" revolution we're living through and the Band is soft power when utilized correctly. The Band, like combat camera, MWR, public affairs (PA), information engagement (IE), and even military history are all part of the Inform and Influence (I&I) arm of the Mission Command (MC) WFF. All add nothing if not synchronized. The Band is used most effectively where MWR cannot go. If the Band is treated first as an organization of Soldiers and not as performers, they go where you wouldn't send Toby Keith or the Lakers Cheerleaders. Although not the same type of entertainment (I don't want to see any of our bandsmen in a cheerleader's short shorts), I've seen what happens to fighting strength when you don't get entertainment out to every outpost. That's what this FDU fight is all about. It is about keeping a tool at the lowest level. I believe that the US Army School of Music (USASOM) is trying to make all bands like "Pershing's Own," something akin to MWR functions that must be escorted around the battlefield and only perform for large venues, without synchronization, and without any other purpose than to put on a good show. On the contrary, our band trains as Soldiers, to self move without security (they even own up-armored HMMWVs and M240Bs). They free-up combat power, not sap it way. The bandmaster and first sergeant actively particpate in the CG's Information Working Group. They take the CG's messages and work them into their shows (e.g. safety, physical fitness, ROE, unit mission, etc.). They are tasked with assisting the command with maintaining morale and one of their tasks is to report what they see in that arena. We're still working this piece, but we've made great strides and we're seeing it bear fruit. We're always fighting the controlling fingers of USASOM who require an amazing number of reports and interactions with a staff bands planner at theater, but the Band knows who they work directly for, so the change contiues. Bottom line, if the tool isn't used, it will eventually rust and become useless. That being said, if the tool user doesn't utilize the tool, the skill to do so is lost. I think the most of the problem with the integration of band operations is that we maneuver, fires, and effects (MFE) officers, don't take the time to look at the whole of tools in our toolbox. Rather than creating a symphony of various effects, we lean only on one instrument and hammer away with the insane expectation that it will always work. We still haven't bought in to the whole WFF concept, that combat power is made-up of the whole of the WFFs, not just movement and maneuver and fires. The division band affords the division commander a tool, that unlike MWR, is fully within his control, to effect morale even in the most austere of outposts. I believe pulling bands futher up the command heirarchy will remove them from their intended purpose. “Sound off,” by tradition, is for the troops, not the general in the stands. I blieve the FDU does just the opposite and focuses all bands on the stars in the stands, because MFE officers and even some bandsmen believe the tool is only good for display purposes.