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Thread: A Modest Proposal - National Guard as the heavy force

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    Default A Modest Proposal - National Guard as the heavy force

    Saw this letter in the latest issue of ARMOR magazine, thought it was very interesting. Can't get a link, so figured I'd post it here in three parts:

    Future Force Structure Completely Wrong

    Dear ARMOR,

    The fundamental force structure of the U.S. Army in the Active, National Guard, and Reserve Components is completely wrong for the 40-year war against non-state terrorism. And nothing in the current brigade-based transformation process will fix it.

    At their heart U.S. Army ground forces are still designed to defeat large, mechanized enemy elements through the use of maneuver, shock, and firepower. They are not fundamentally designed to defeat an insurgency and win the hearts and minds of a terrorized local populace. Further, the operational tempo of this Global War on Terror (GWOT) is rapidly deteriorating the entire U.S. Army's force structure skills and recruitment focus. We are not structured or training for the current fight and no longer offer the soldier any real choice among components.

    Bottom-line: the U.S. Army Active Component should be rebuilt, from the ground up, as a generally light force based around the M1114 and the Stryker family of vehicles, and trained to conduct primarily anti-insurgency operations while continually deployed. The Army National Guard should be reconfigured as the primary heavy force, based on Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and field artillery platforms, and trained to break nations and destroy mass enemy forces as the national strategic fist. The Army Reserve should be reset as the support component, trained to rebuild places deemed worthy of rebuilding, and for low-density skills heavily required for occasional operations.

    We are engaged in a GWOT that will boil and cool (much like the Cold War) over the next 30 to 40 years, toppling a dictator here, blowing up some infrastructure there, and covertly whacking key bad guys hither and yon. Sometimes it may require heavily mechanized forces to totally break a country. Other times, it will be a few bombs or individual bullets. The number of young Americans desiring to be forward-deployed warriors on this long-term basis is finite, certainly not enough to sustain the current mobilization tempo of all three components.

    The current war in Iraq notwithstanding, the GWOT will not typically require mass formations of M1s, M2s, and cannons. The Active Duty warrior should reflect this with training and skills as a street-walking, door-knocking, language-talking anti-insurgency soldier. The Active Duty soldier should expect a career that sees him off to land on foreign shores again and again throughout his career; sometimes for a few days and sometimes for more than a year at a time. This soldier should enlist with the understanding that the Army of the 1980s and 1990s, and its normal civilian lifestyle, except with guns and gear, is a thing of the past, and he will be out the door and all over the world as a light, expeditionary ground-pounder, with his M1114 and Stryker to move him around and provide firepower. This Active Army will more reflect the expeditionary forces of the British Empire of the late 1800s, forward based around the world, and ready to move, shoot, and communicate at a moment’s notice.

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    Continued:

    Entire careers will be spent overseas. It will not be a married Army with families – that will have to wait for 20 years and retirement. Critically, this force will specifically recruit young men and women who desire an active, busy, and aggressively mobile lifestyle with hopes of engaging America’s enemies wherever they are, whenever they can.

    National Guard recruitment will focus on young men and women who seek to serve their country at critical times, while maintaining a civilian lifestyle and career. Until the GWOT, this has always been the role of the National Guard. It is only the past five years that the National Guard has been totally mobilized, repeatedly, and it is showing wear and tear. Most people do not join the Guard with dreams of heading out the door every few years for 18 months at a time. They join in support of the Minuteman heritage with the desire to be there at the strategic moments in defense of the Nation.

    As Guard units demobilize now for the second time since 9/11, anticipate tremendous declines in retention and recruiting. Why should anyone join or stay in the Guard when they will not have the chance to maintain a civilian lifestyle? The current operating tempo (OPTEMPO) puts the Active and Guard components head-to-head or recruiting young soldiers. If one is going to be deployed constantly, then one will just join the Active Army in the first place. The current OPTEMPO also cuts into prior service recruiting for the Guard. Soldiers will simply remain in the Active Component until their enlistment expires and then they will be done, not risking a series of deployments during their Guard or Reserve tours. Critically, this force will specifically recruit the young men and women who are willing to fight total war, most likely only once or twice in their careers, enabling them to build and maintain a civilian life.

    Army Reserve service would be an intermediate position, attracting people willing to deploy more often than the Guard, but less than the Active Army. Their skill sets would be most useful in support of the Active Army on longer missions, but could be sent out for a few months at a time. Civil affairs, psychological operations, public affairs, transportation, engineering, and medical services are among the skills most appropriate for limited, but recurring, deployments. They would most likely use these same skills in their civilian careers and be trained to proficiency to reduce mobilization-site training.

    Critically, this force will recruit specialists generally willing to deploy more often, but for shorter periods, not unlike the Air Force Guard and Reserve model.

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    Continued:

    No one would suggest emasculating Active Duty forces by stripping every heavy weapons system. Certainly tanks, Bradleys, and cannons are required in limited numbers at the right time to prevent a Blackhawk Down from recurring. Every light brigade should have an element of heavy support. It simply turns the paradigm upside down to say those skills become low density in the Active Army, while beefing up the Guard to be prepared to fight the total war. It may be wise to maintain several brigades of heavy combat punch in the Active Component as a rapid response force for high-risk operations, where heavier defensive response could be anticipated, but not more than can be floated to an appropriate beach within two or three weeks. If additional heavy equipment is required, then most likely, we will have time for a truly national response, summoning the National Guard to fight the big war.

    Some will argue the National Guard will not be as proficient in heavy mechanized combat as the Active Army. That may be true, but it is also irrelevant. No force in the history of the world has ever been as proficient as our current full-time Army. The U.S. National Guard is currently second-best, and with the enemies we are going to face in the GWOT, a heavy National Guard with one or two months of heavy training after mobilization will perform superbly. If the time comes for the United States to face another industrialized and heavily mechanized and armored foe, then the Nation will invariably have additional time to prepare and train to an even higher standard.

    Soldiers will remain in components longer, as they will be doing exactly what they choose. If they desire to serve shifts, there are two other distinct components as option: Guard and Reserve soldiers can rely on a stable civilian life until the time comes for strategic action, rather than just throwing bodies into the breech to the load off of the Active Army.

    Fundamental remissioning of the Active Duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve will provide real choices for volunteer soldiers, place the appropriate firepower in the appropriate component, and improve strength throughout the services by eliminating recruiting conflict between the elements. It will best position the United States of America to fight the GWOT, while both building the greatest expeditionary force and maintaining the best, most effective heavy, armored, mechanized force in the world.

    Roger T. Aeschliman
    MAJ, U.S. Army, KSARNG

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    Bra-Vo.

    Nice article/nice find. Not bad for your first three posts!

    I've believed in this since about 1983.

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    Default Interesting

    This sounds great. What are the downsides?

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    Intriguing, but I see at least two issues. The proposal for the Active Army sounds suspiciously like the Marine Corps. They are traditionally the ones that are expeditionary in nature and deploy more frequently. With their history for continually fighting off suggestions of folding them into the Army, they are not likely to go along with this.

    If you think it's a problem getting the USAF to focus on airlift and other capabilities rather than strategic bombing and the like, try getting the Active duty Army to transfer all of its heavy stuff to the Guard! The Army likes their toys as much as we do. Besides, the Army's mission is to fight the big war and break nations.

    Would there be issues transitioning from one mission to another? We've seen the downside of transitioning from preparing for the bug war to fighting in a COIN environment. If the bulk of our Army is geared toward COIN, does it hurt us when the next peer attacks? The author's purpose and argument is valid, but would it make more sense to expand the Marine Corps and have them geared solely to this and used the Army as heavy backup?

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    The question seems to me to be whether we want to produce an army of occupation. British colonial forces spilled (and shed) a lot of blood, but they couldn't keep the empire together forever.

    The underlying assumption here, seems to be that we must be ready to step into third world countries and play hide and seek with GWOT personalities. Going double or nothing on a strategy that, in over five years of application, has yet to bag Osama or shut down the Taliban doesn't seem like the smartest move.

    The Army could certainly use a lot more infantry - and they could stand with getting a lot lighter. But the fact is that this problem is both bigger and smaller than the Army. The real question should be a matter of national strategy, which includes all elements of American power, relating to how we deal with the threat of terrorism. Restructuring the Army won't win the GWOT, it won't even win Iraq. Focusing the efforts of the State Department, the intelligence community, our trade and lending practices, AND the Army might get us somewhere. Restructuring the Army before we figure out precisely WHY we want to be chasing around Africa and Asia and WHAT we expect to achieve while we're there is putting the cart before the horse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    Intriguing, but I see at least two issues. The proposal for the Active Army sounds suspiciously like the Marine Corps. They are traditionally the ones that are expeditionary in nature and deploy more frequently. With their history for continually fighting off suggestions of folding them into the Army, they are not likely to go along with this.

    If you think it's a problem getting the USAF to focus on airlift and other capabilities rather than strategic bombing and the like, try getting the Active duty Army to transfer all of its heavy stuff to the Guard! The Army likes their toys as much as we do. Besides, the Army's mission is to fight the big war and break nations.

    Would there be issues transitioning from one mission to another? We've seen the downside of transitioning from preparing for the bug war to fighting in a COIN environment. If the bulk of our Army is geared toward COIN, does it hurt us when the next peer attacks? The author's purpose and argument is valid, but would it make more sense to expand the Marine Corps and have them geared solely to this and used the Army as heavy backup?

    Exactly. I don't see the Army reverting to their 1900 model anytime soon. Though I think it would be useful in the current world environment.

    However, I disagree on your Marine Corps issue. The USMC's raison d'etre is forced entry. The Army has had, and continues to have the long-term deployment thing. I'm guessing you misunderstood the "many deployments" issue as being something other than individual soldiers, deploying often.

    Expeditionary Army, is what he is talking about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jones_RE View Post
    The question seems to me to be whether we want to produce an army of occupation. British colonial forces spilled (and shed) a lot of blood, but they couldn't keep the empire together forever.

    The underlying assumption here, seems to be that we must be ready to step into third world countries and play hide and seek with GWOT personalities. Going double or nothing on a strategy that, in over five years of application, has yet to bag Osama or shut down the Taliban doesn't seem like the smartest move.

    The Army could certainly use a lot more infantry - and they could stand with getting a lot lighter. But the fact is that this problem is both bigger and smaller than the Army. The real question should be a matter of national strategy, which includes all elements of American power, relating to how we deal with the threat of terrorism. Restructuring the Army won't win the GWOT, it won't even win Iraq. Focusing the efforts of the State Department, the intelligence community, our trade and lending practices, AND the Army might get us somewhere. Restructuring the Army before we figure out precisely WHY we want to be chasing around Africa and Asia and WHAT we expect to achieve while we're there is putting the cart before the horse.
    I think that this accurately hits the nail on the head.

    On another, more offbeat note - men and women serving 20 years as zealous military monks, forever overseas, without getting married or having kids? Unless young people in the USA are way more different than ours in Australia (and I have not seen evidence of such a large difference), I cannot imagine this happening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    On another, more offbeat note - men and women serving 20 years as zealous military monks, forever overseas, without getting married or having kids? Unless young people in the USA are way more different than ours in Australia (and I have not seen evidence of such a large difference), I cannot imagine this happening.
    I was thinking the same thing. I can't see this being a huge selling point for recruiters. "Join the Army! Visit foreign lands! Stay there until you retire or ETS!" It would be hard enough to get first termers to come in never mind getting anyone to re-enlist. Not that it matters, there is no way you could convince the regular Army to give away all of our heavy combat power.

    SFC W

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    1. Regardless of the problem of attracting recruits to an expeditionary Army, the proposal has other flaws I think. Our current mission distribution across the components is wrong. Combat maneuver forces in the Guard do not really match the Guard’s primary use in CONUS—they do restoration/enforcement of civil order and disaster relief/recovery missions for their governors. Having combat forces in the Guard only makes sense if we expect the governor of New York might want to invade Vermont and want to allow that to happen. Rather than having the USAR provide the “tail” units to round out a maneuver force, we should put the additional heavy maneuver units there and have the ARNG get the additional CS/CSS force structure. It makes more sense for governors to have MPs, transportation units, and construction engineers at their disposal than for them to have a rifle battalion or an Armored Cav Regiment.
    2. I propose that we adopt a solution similar to that of the British Cardwell Reforms, which instituted a 2-battalion regiment. One battalion remained in the UK at the recruiting base while the other was deployed to the colonies. I would not keep the Territorial Army concept that “fleshed out” the Army to a larger combat force in times of great national crisis (like WWI). This approach is what has landed us in our current predicament.
    a. I propose an AC/RC mixed maneuver unit organized as a regiment or brigade (I will call it a Bde from here on in). This Bde would have a heavy battalion (like the old British Grenadier companies in the 18th C English regiment) that would be based in CONUS or OCONUS—METT-TC dependant. The Bde would also have 3 light Battalions, one in CONUS and the other two deployed to Combatant Commander AORs or at home station, depending on current world situation. Battalions would rotate on a fixed schedule—every year, two years, whatever works best in a given situation—commanders (could be that the Bde Cdr or, more likely, theater commanders/CJCS/SECDEF/POTUS) get to make that call.
    b. Whether the battalions are “component mixed” or “component pure” is an open question. I propose that the heavy Bn be a mixed AC/RC unit, probably pure at the company/troop level, but the platoon could also be the lowest level of component purity. My rationale is that I would not want to limit soldiers’ options to being either just a light fighter or just a heavy fighter based on the soldiers’ decision about what component they have chosen to join.
    c. Rotating units fall should in on pre-positioned sets of equipment owned by the Bde, equipment that the departing Battalion has been using and maintaining. On a first time deployment, the Battalion brings the equipment. We might want to continue to use Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) systems, but I would argue against that notion. By having a Bde own the equipment, I think much of the accountability issues that occur at RIP/TOA would go away. Additionally, a deploying battalion should fall in on a set of equipment exactly like what they train on in CONUS because the Bde commander has that level of control over the equipment in the entire Bde.
    d. As needed, commanders and/or FORGEN staff can apply tailoring. Need a heavy Bn TF? Take assets from the heavy bn and attach it to a deploying light Bn. Same thing applies at the company team level. Tailoring up is also possible. Need a heavy Bde?—pull the heavy Bn from several “composite brigades.” Nothing new here—just a reemphasis of Army doctrine on tailoring that has been around for decades.
    e. The Army already uses dual component organizations at the company level (or did a few years ago when I was planning chem-bio equipment fielding). Some Army Chem-Bio Recon Companies are AC/RC split at the platoon level.
    3. Problems
    a. The only significant problem that I see with a composite Bde that rotates bns is with the C2 HQs at the deployed location. A wide range of means could accomplish this. For example, we could try rotating the various Bde HQs from CONUS; we could also try creating a unique group of Bde HQs specially designed for C2 of deployed units; or we could fatten up the Div HQ enough to allow them to create Bde level CPs to manage the expeditionary forces.
    b. A less serious problem would be determining the components of the various commanders and staff officers across each brigade. I doubt we could keep each Bn staff either pure AC or pure RC and have adequate career progression opportunities for each component. I also do not think it would be desirable to do so from the standpoint of junior officer mentoring and training; I would want a lot of cross-component interaction among my leaders and staffs.
    4. I think my proposal is really little more than a force structure realignment that takes the BCT (AKA unit of action) transformation to its logical conclusion.

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    An enlistment of 20 years seems excessive.

    I could see an increase of enlistment lengths from 4 years of active and 4 years in the IRR (a typical enlisted contract) to perhaps 6 active/2 IRR or even 8/2 or 8/0.

    As far as contracts for commissioned officers, I wouldn't mind seeing contracts kick in once initial schooling is complete. I know that most commissions with flight contracts don't start their EAS clock until actuall winging. I know several officers who languish in initial training while providing absolute no combat power forward. No sense in training them for a single deployment, only to have them EAS. Why not a 4 or 5 year committment once an MOS is awarded?

    A few reforms like that can greatly increase our combat capabilities. It also focuses the officer on getting to the operating forces ASAP, as it should be, rather than wasting time in holding pools. We're here to fight, afterall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    1. Regardless of the problem of attracting recruits to an expeditionary Army, the proposal has other flaws I think. Our current mission distribution across the components is wrong. Combat maneuver forces in the Guard do not really match the Guard’s primary use in CONUS—they do restoration/enforcement of civil order and disaster relief/recovery missions for their governors. Having combat forces in the Guard only makes sense if we expect the governor of New York might want to invade Vermont and want to allow that to happen. Rather than having the USAR provide the “tail” units to round out a maneuver force, we should put the additional heavy maneuver units there and have the ARNG get the additional CS/CSS force structure. It makes more sense for governors to have MPs, transportation units, and construction engineers at their disposal than for them to have a rifle battalion or an Armored Cav Regiment.

    In one way, I agree; National Guard units need to have CSS for their CONUS mission. In the other, I disagree. The chances of needing heavy forces to actually "fight" in Active Duty is low and the spin-up time is long whether active or reserve, so it makes sense to use the National Guard as a heavy force.

    2. I propose that we adopt a solution similar to that of the British Cardwell Reforms, which instituted a 2-battalion regiment. One battalion remained in the UK at the recruiting base while the other was deployed to the colonies. I would not keep the Territorial Army concept that “fleshed out” the Army to a larger combat force in times of great national crisis (like WWI). This approach is what has landed us in our current predicament.
    a. I propose an AC/RC mixed maneuver unit organized as a regiment or brigade (I will call it a Bde from here on in). This Bde would have a heavy battalion (like the old British Grenadier companies in the 18th C English regiment) that would be based in CONUS or OCONUS—METT-TC dependant. The Bde would also have 3 light Battalions, one in CONUS and the other two deployed to Combatant Commander AORs or at home station, depending on current world situation. Battalions would rotate on a fixed schedule—every year, two years, whatever works best in a given situation—commanders (could be that the Bde Cdr or, more likely, theater commanders/CJCS/SECDEF/POTUS) get to make that call.
    b. Whether the battalions are “component mixed” or “component pure” is an open question. I propose that the heavy Bn be a mixed AC/RC unit, probably pure at the company/troop level, but the platoon could also be the lowest level of component purity. My rationale is that I would not want to limit soldiers’ options to being either just a light fighter or just a heavy fighter based on the soldiers’ decision about what component they have chosen to join.

    I've been the victim of mixed AC/RC units twice in my career. Basically the RC side of the unit is treated like a cheap whore on Saturday Night, and the AC side which already sees the RC side as their "real" enemy applauds this kind of abuse.

    c. Rotating units fall should in on pre-positioned sets of equipment owned by the Bde, equipment that the departing Battalion has been using and maintaining. On a first time deployment, the Battalion brings the equipment. We might want to continue to use Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) systems, but I would argue against that notion. By having a Bde own the equipment, I think much of the accountability issues that occur at RIP/TOA would go away. Additionally, a deploying battalion should fall in on a set of equipment exactly like what they train on in CONUS because the Bde commander has that level of control over the equipment in the entire Bde.
    d. As needed, commanders and/or FORGEN staff can apply tailoring. Need a heavy Bn TF? Take assets from the heavy bn and attach it to a deploying light Bn. Same thing applies at the company team level. Tailoring up is also possible. Need a heavy Bde?—pull the heavy Bn from several “composite brigades.” Nothing new here—just a reemphasis of Army doctrine on tailoring that has been around for decades.

    As a former Cavalry Officer, I've been fighting Army "tailoring" for my entire career. You just can't graft a "Heavy" mindset and a "Light" mindset together and expect them to "play nice." And that is what you are doing when you graft units "on the fly."

    e. The Army already uses dual component organizations at the company level (or did a few years ago when I was planning chem-bio equipment fielding). Some Army Chem-Bio Recon Companies are AC/RC split at the platoon level.
    3. Problems
    a. The only significant problem that I see with a composite Bde that rotates bns is with the C2 HQs at the deployed location. A wide range of means could accomplish this. For example, we could try rotating the various Bde HQs from CONUS; we could also try creating a unique group of Bde HQs specially designed for C2 of deployed units; or we could fatten up the Div HQ enough to allow them to create Bde level CPs to manage the expeditionary forces.
    b. A less serious problem would be determining the components of the various commanders and staff officers across each brigade. I doubt we could keep each Bn staff either pure AC or pure RC and have adequate career progression opportunities for each component. I also do not think it would be desirable to do so from the standpoint of junior officer mentoring and training; I would want a lot of cross-component interaction among my leaders and staffs.
    4. I think my proposal is really little more than a force structure realignment that takes the BCT (AKA unit of action) transformation to its logical conclusion.
    The real problem, which you don't address, is that the Active Army is using up its reserves at a prodigious rate. And that is fine by them, as they see this as a golden opportunity to expand.

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    From a distance, it seems like this Legacy/Heavy vs. Future/Light debate is much like the bifurcation described by Tom PM Barnett (Leviathan vs. SysAdmin). Thoughts on this?

    I question the whole utility of the Leviathan vs. SysAdmin bifurcation. I don't view light formations as peacekeeping units, nor do I view heavy/SOF/TACAIR units as primarely warfighting units. Likewise I don't think that throwing all your Heavy Legacy eggs in the AC or RC or NG is necessarely the right thing to do.

    It seems to me that heavy units probably need to be in both components in sufficient numbers that actual combat by such heavy formations in the total force components will not strain the bureaucratic resourses of said components. That means giving each heavy formation some light troops, and giving each light formation some aspect of a heavy component. Also, establish habitual relationships between the functional units (tank units with other tank units in different divisions or brigades), so that if you need to form such a tank-heavy or tank-pure unit, you can.

    An example of this would be the provisional LAR regiment used in the taking of Tikrit during Phase III in IZ. The 3 LAR Bns, which are split among 2 seperate divisions were formed into Task Force Tripoli, which provided the requisite shock action and speed while negating the excessive logistical tail required by a heavier unit. Likewise, I suppose a provisional Marine Tank regiment could be formed. Or even a Civil Affairs Division once the secondary missions of 10th, 11th, and 12th Marines are fleshed out.

    So, it seems to me that the RC and NG should mirror the Active force.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    In one way, I agree; National Guard units need to have CSS for their CONUS mission. In the other, I disagree. The chances of needing heavy forces to actually "fight" in Active Duty is low and the spin-up time is long whether active or reserve, so it makes sense to use the National Guard as a heavy force.
    I suspect the spin up time to make an NG heavy brigade combat ready would be just as long or longer than it would take to have a USAR unit spin up. I say this because State Adjutants General have different priorities for spending the funds allocated to their NG units than a USAR unit would have--the ARNG is being pulled between its Federal and state masters while the USAR has only one. Speaking of spin up times, the RC is not the only component with uissues. I believe the current "reset" time for an AC unit returning from an OIF deployment is over 6 months. I know reset took almost a year just a few years back.
    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    I've been the victim of mixed AC/RC units twice in my career. Basically the RC side of the unit is treated like a cheap whore on Saturday Night, and the AC side which already sees the RC side as their "real" enemy applauds this kind of abuse.
    This is a lick on the keadership. I was in an AC division with an NG roundout Brigade. Our senior leadership was at great pains to foster cooperation and interoperability with our NG units. In fact, the NG was better equipped (had M60s) than the AC brigades (some Bn's still had M48s).
    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    As a former Cavalry Officer, I've been fighting Army "tailoring" for my entire career. You just can't graft a "Heavy" mindset and a "Light" mindset together and expect them to "play nice." And that is what you are doing when you graft units "on the fly."
    I am surprised that a former Cav guy would take such an approach. At the Platoon level in Cav, you already have a mixed heavy/light force, especially if you dismounted your "light" section from their APCs. The real differences, IMHO, between the heavy and light force mindsets, focus on speed of operations and sustainment issues. Light fighters have less to worry about in terms of their logistics tail while heavy fighters seem to think they can get to and through the engagement faster. But, both of these items are a myths.
    Light guys can move fast using airlift (both fixed and rotary wing) and, with properly allocated CAS, they have just as much punch as their heavy brethern. Sustainment problems are a difference in degree, not a difference in kind--light forces have less transport capability, which greatly affects the timeliness of their resupply (think the British Paras at Arnhem, for example)


    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    The real problem, which you don't address, is that the Active Army is using up its reserves at a prodigious rate. And that is fine by them, as they see this as a golden opportunity to expand .
    I suspect that the real issue is that the we are going through the ttime-honored cycle of build-up for war/build down after war. This is is not a uniquely American phenomenon--we inherited it from our continental forbears. Armies are like doctors--we curse the high cost of their services when we don't really need them. But, we sure are glad they are around and will pay whatever price when it's a matter of life-or-death.

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    Perhaps a better organization would be to give the different components different regional focuses (foci?). National Guard units would prepare for the least likely areas of interest. Active units would prepare for deployments to more likely theaters. This would involve soldiers and officers in understanding language, history and culture and how it impacts military operations (at high and low intensities). By splitting the world up into regions, we'd have a good base of working knowledge for pretty much anywhere a conflict could arise. Reserve components would probably end up saddled with the job of knowing and teaching this stuff to the active guys - which requires more experience and less equipment.

    So, a national guard unit might have a focus on South Africa. The politically correct way to go about it is as an exercise in reinforcing a possible ally (rather than toppling a possible target). Another might draw the Congo. Studying likely missions, knowing ethnic groups, following the news, etc. would be part of everyday unit training. Even if we don't want to deploy a full sized 'Guard unit to the middle of wherever for some peacekeeping job, it'd be handy to have the active guys look at their files and borrow some staff officers.

    Obviously, some theaters pose REAL issues for how you do this delicately. China, for example, and Iran, for another, would not be happy to hear we had units studying their language and working on how to fight in their country. Of course, we could point out that we're preparing units to DEPLOY anywhere in the world - they might be conducting humanitarian relief or a scientific expedition. It would probably settle the PRC's nerves if we also pointed out that it was only an understrength unit of the Nebraska National Guard that drew the unfortunate duty of learning Mandarin phrases and studying all fifty centuries of history . . .

    I think a setup like this would also enable the unit commanders to decide their own force mix. For example, the Brigade which draws Libya will want to be set up with a heavy mix due to the terrain there, while the guys who get the Congo may want a lighter mix more suitable for air deployment and dealing with the lower technology involved there. Also, special units like MPs, engineers and civil affairs might be more rationally apportioned - or unit commanders might provide their soldiers with extra training to cover the shortfall.

    Language, culture, history and current events can be a tremendous asset to a military unit. However, there's far too much of it to expect our combat commanders to know it all. Splitting the work up among different units should give a good head start. In the event of a major operation involving multiple brigades, having one ready to go will at least give the other units fair warning on what to expect.

  17. #17
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I am surprised that a former Cav guy would take such an approach. At the Platoon level in Cav, you already have a mixed heavy/light force, especially if you dismounted your "light" section from their APCs. The real differences, IMHO, between the heavy and light force mindsets, focus on speed of operations and sustainment issues. Light fighters have less to worry about in terms of their logistics tail while heavy fighters seem to think they can get to and through the engagement faster. But, both of these items are a myths.
    Light guys can move fast using airlift (both fixed and rotary wing) and, with properly allocated CAS, they have just as much punch as their heavy brethern. Sustainment problems are a difference in degree, not a difference in kind--light forces have less transport capability, which greatly affects the timeliness of their resupply (think the British Paras at Arnhem, for example)


    I wasn't too clear on this point. Units need to be used as units. My CAV Troops were designed to be Heavy/Light interoperable and they operated that way every day, and worked quite well together. It's when you ask an infantry battalion to accept a company of armor that the wheels come off. Ad Hoc Task Organized organizations will fail, imho. I agree that habitual relationships are the only way to go.

    In addition, the author wasn't asking to put all the heavy forces in the National Guard. He was asking that the Guard be heavy force concentrated and the Army retain less heavy forces than it does now.

    The "state mission" is 4 hours of training, a year, tops. So using that as a reason why the Guard couldn't take the preponderance of heavy forces is a non-issue. I disagree completely with the idea that CSS troops are somehow more useful in a state emergency. To be sure, you can't make an infantry guy into a doctor, but a National Guard infantry soldier is not mentally restricted to task. Chances are, in any National Guard infantry unit, you have more truck drivers than an Transportation unit, more cooks than a DFAC, more police officers than MPs in an MP unit and a variety of skills that are superior to the CSS unit you can name. Of course, equipment is another issue, but heavy units have internal transport and trucks are not a high dollar items; likewise blankets, tents and plywood sheets.

    The main problem with using NG/Reserve soldiers as a heavy force, is that there is not a really competent Battalion level and above NG/Reserve staff out there. The active component can just assume that they need to fire the senior officers and replace them with folks who "get it".

    But in Corps level and higher, the trend reverses, and the Active Component "Peter principles" out. The Reserve Corps level and higher staff are superior to their Active Component counterparts. At least in my experience.
    Last edited by 120mm; 03-03-2007 at 10:51 AM.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I don't agree with the regional focus idea for conventional forces. For one thing there are not enough conventional forces to go around and they will go where they are needed regardless of regional focus. For another you will have hard time convincing a big army commander to spend time and resources doing cultural training on a country that they probably won't be going to. This is especially true for the ARNG who have even less time and resources to spend. If it is between training on battle drills or cultural training most big army commanders are going to go with the battle drill training. SF has regional foci because we will operate in small teams where one ODA will cover down on the same size sector as a big army battalion. It makes some sense to have one or two ODAs or a company who are focused on China because, in theory, they could operate there autonomously for an extended period of time. That isn't the case with big army. If they go into China, they are going big. One company or battalion with a focus on China will make little or no difference. If we had a much larger army I could see regional focus but not with the current size of our army.

    SFC W

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post

    I wasn't too clear on this point. Units need to be used as units. My CAV Troops were designed to be Heavy/Light interoperable and they operated that way every day, and worked quite well together. It's when you ask an infantry battalion to accept a company of armor that the wheels come off. Ad Hoc Task Organized organizations will fail, imho. I agree that habitual relationships are the only way to go.
    I completely concur. With the new CAB concept with every BN consisting of 2x IN CO and 2x AR CO hopefully we will finally crack the code on this like the Cav has. If we could only get organic aviation support into an HBCT...

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    Units need to be used as units. My CAV Troops were designed to be Heavy/Light interoperable and they operated that way every day, and worked quite well together. It's when you ask an infantry battalion to accept a company of armor that the wheels come off. Ad Hoc Task Organized organizations will fail, imho. I agree that habitual relationships are the only way to go.
    If you create a TF out of "organic" units within a Bde, as I proposed, the habitual relationships in AC units should be pretty much already created. If you were to try this in most Guard units, the establishment of habitual relationships across the Bde become much tougher. Tough to train together outside the 2 weeek AT sessions when the various battalions of a Bde are scattered across an entire state at various Armories. As a hypothetical example, take New York State--1 maneuver Bn could be in Buffalo, another down on Long Island--that's over 400 miles apart--the travel time alone would preclude working together during a weekend drill period. If you think establishing habitual relationships is tough in the AC, how could it be any easier in an RC organization with such geographic dispersion? At least AC brigade level organizations tend to be all on the same post.

    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm
    The "state mission" is 4 hours of training, a year, tops. So using that as a reason why the Guard couldn't take the preponderance of heavy forces is a non-issue. I disagree completely with the idea that CSS troops are somehow more useful in a state emergency. To be sure, you can't make an infantry guy into a doctor, but a National Guard infantry soldier is not mentally restricted to task. Chances are, in any National Guard infantry unit, you have more truck drivers than an Transportation unit, more cooks than a DFAC, more police officers than MPs in an MP unit and a variety of skills that are superior to the CSS unit you can name. Of course, equipment is another issue, but heavy units have internal transport and trucks are not a high dollar items; likewise blankets, tents and plywood sheets.

    The main problem with using NG/Reserve soldiers as a heavy force, is that there is not a really competent Battalion level and above NG/Reserve staff out there. The active component can just assume that they need to fire the senior officers and replace them with folks who "get it".

    But in Corps level and higher, the trend reverses, and the Active Component "Peter principles" out. The Reserve Corps level and higher staff are superior to their Active Component counterparts. At least in my experience.
    If others view the state mission training as a max of 4 hours per year, that might explain the p-poor response of some units in response to recent relief missions. I still have a pretty vivid picture of General Honore hollering at disaster relief forces to put down weapons in the aftermath of Katrina. Maybe a little more training, or the use of predominantly CS/CSS units rather than "trained killer" combat arms units might have produced a different approach.
    If your assertion that Guard command at Bn level is true (which I doubt), that might be because those commanders are too busy being police officers, civil engineers, etc. to practice the craft of commanding a combat maneuver bn. But, their civilian work does map quite well to CS/CSS command positions. At the higher levels of command, you might find more success in RC leadership because the folks who reach that level have learned management skills and also tend to have more time to go to training to hone their military skills. (Take a peek at the civilian jobs of RC general officers.)

    If equipment is an issue, maintenance of that equipment is even more of an issue. The skills needed to maintain a deuce and half or Humvee are more likely to be replicated in the civilian jobs of RC soldiers. Not too many folks have a day job maintaining the thermal imagining/targeting systems on a
    M1A1, Bradley or Stryker (unless they happen to work at Tobyhanna Army Depot, which might tend to make them excused from deployment anyway).

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