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Thread: Transition Teams in the Field

  1. #1
    Council Member Xenophon's Avatar
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    Default Transition Teams in the Field

    There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Army's TMAAG, the Marine Corps MSOAG and MCTAG, and other issues regarding fielding and training of transition teams, but not too much on their actual implementation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Before I'm accused of being hard on the Army, the Marine Corps is now planning on pulling MTTs at the battalion level, and having only large, brigade-level MTTs. Considering the state of Iraqi NCOs and company grade officer leadership, battalion level MTTs may not be enough as it is. Let alone having only brigade level MTTs. Additionally, that takes away the battalion's ability to get CASEVAC and fire support assets, a capability that is nonexistent in the IA at this point.

    I'm not trying to sound negative, and I know I'm just an Lt. throwing up the BS flag on something above my paygrade, but it seems to me there are some serious problems across the board with how transition teams are being utilized. I think having standing advisor organizations like those mentioned above will eliminate these problems in the future, but too far in the future. Hopefully someone is paying attention to the current transition team issues as well.
    Last edited by SWJED; 04-14-2008 at 08:54 AM.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Before I'm accused of being hard on the Army, the Marine Corps is now planning on pulling MTTs at the battalion level, and having only large, brigade-level MTTs. Considering the state of Iraqi NCOs and company grade officer leadership, battalion level MTTs may not be enough as it is.
    It sounds like you've got the grist for a Gazette article. Go at it...you'd be surprised at the interest a good article could summon.

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    Concur with JCustis 100%. Strongly recommend putting something together for the Gazette. Check out the site for the Gen Hogaboom writing contest: http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/hogaboom.asp. I think you'd be very pleased with the response an article discussing the issues raised in your initial post would receive. Equally important, things rarely change without thoughtful critique and recommendations for a better way forward. Best of luck. Semper Fi!

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Interesting, I don't doubt it, but it does vary by AO. A little history ...

    In 2006, my CO HQ was located in Tal Afar on the same combat outpost as my IA BN HQ. (1/2/3 IA) My TOC was 200m from the IA TOC. The MiTT lived with the IA BN HQ. We had constant interaction between the three elements. My men shared perimeter duty with the IA, and all but one of the IA companies were spread in COP's across west Tal Afar. (due to leave, an IA company is really an overstrength platoon)

    We were under 101st at the time. That summer, the CG of the 101st (at least that's who I was told ordered it, the ADC(S) gave the word to me personally) ordered all MiTT's back to the FOB's for force protection. I was ordered to establish an ECP between my HQ and the IA for the same reason. This came straight from the top, because one MTT somewhere was attacked inside of the compound. The PTT living at the Tal Afar IP station was also withdrawn. We protested, but a two star is a two star. We complied (mostly, my ECP to the IA HQ never was fully completed)

    Once done, these policies are hard to reverse, esp given the risk-adverse culture of the Army that is left over from the 90's. No one wants to be the first to explain why a MiTT was murdered while sleeping in his IA compound.

    I will say that Diayla and Ninewah were the former 101st AO, not sure if it is everywhere. A good friend leading a PTT in Samarra right now is living at his partnered IP station, but the previous PTT would/could not. However, his active partner unit thinks he is crazy. (Which he is, in a good way)

    Sad but true.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 04-13-2008 at 11:47 PM.
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  5. #5
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default I thought I had replied to this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Xenophon View Post
    There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Army's TMAAG, the Marine Corps MSOAG and MCTAG, and other issues regarding fielding and training of transition teams, but not too much on their actual implementation in Iraq and Afghanistan...

    I'm not trying to sound negative, and I know I'm just an Lt. throwing up the BS flag on something above my paygrade, but it seems to me there are some serious problems across the board with how transition teams are being utilized. I think having standing advisor organizations like those mentioned above will eliminate these problems in the future, but too far in the future. Hopefully someone is paying attention to the current transition team issues as well.
    From what I understand (Army comrades can confirm) TMAAG isn't going to happen. That's all I really know. MSOAG (Marine Special Operations Group) belongs to MARSOC and is Special Forces. You must take an screening then RSAS. If your not combat arms don't bother. Unlike SF in the Army, you have to be combat arms in the Marine Corps to play (experience/skill level notwithstanding). From what I understand MSOAG is not involved in Iraq at all.

    MCTAG belongs to MARFORCOM which is MCTAG's HHQ's. They deploy conventional advisers.
    Last edited by SWJED; 04-14-2008 at 08:54 AM.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boot View Post
    A few things; I actually worked out of the building you occupy. I am guessing you are MiTT 2-2-1. I worked with the Team you replaced in your AO. I know Zagania (sp) well. Nice to know your LAN problems seem to be fixed being as though you can contribute to this board.
    Wrt the way MiTT's conduct business. I had the unique perspective of working with BTT's (had my own for a short time), MiTT's and NPTT's. All were different and all were in different AO's. A friend of mine who had a NPTT was ordered by the MND-B CG that he was not to leave the FOB. He was the only other Marine TT working under an Army BCT. They were in Sadr City. I think there was/is somewhat of a disconnect between the MNF-I CG's intent and what perhaps some of this BCT Commanders were allowing. I concur with the adviser/Advisee relationship. Its critical for success. If your IA's see you departing every day, they will get the feeling or start to think, that you really can care less what happens to them and that you are only there because you have to be...anyhow...Wrt to MSOAG, MCTAG and TMAAG.

    From what I understand (Army comrades can confirm) TMAAG isn't going to happen. That's all I really know. MSOAG (Marine Special Operations Group) belongs to MARSOC and is Special Forces. You must take an screening then RSAS. If your not combat arms don't bother. Unlike SF in the Army, you have to be combat arms in the Marine Corps to play (experience/skill level notwithstanding). From what I understand MSOAG is not involved in Iraq at all.
    MCTAG belongs to MARFORCOM which is MCTAG's HHQ's. They deploy conventional advisers.
    Xenophon and Boot,

    I would ask you to be a bit more considered in what you post in these forums. Your threads contain detail or suggestions of TTP, unit locations, unit designation and CF policy and CF morale in the ITO. All of which are the type of detail covered by MNF-I and MNC-I opsec guidance. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me. Or look my name up on NIPR or SIPR if you are in theatre,

    Thanks

    Mark

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Thanks Mark

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    Xenophon and Boot,

    I would ask you to be a bit more considered in what you post in these forums. Your threads contain detail or suggestions of TTP, unit locations, unit designation and CF policy and CF morale in the ITO. All of which are the type of detail covered by MNF-I and MNC-I opsec guidance. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me. Or look my name up on NIPR or SIPR if you are in theatre,

    Thanks

    Mark
    Edited posts to delete operational details.

  8. #8
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default With the exception of...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    Xenophon and Boot,

    I would ask you to be a bit more considered in what you post in these forums. Your threads contain detail or suggestions of TTP, unit locations, unit designation and CF policy and CF morale in the ITO. All of which are the type of detail covered by MNF-I and MNC-I opsec guidance. If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me. Or look my name up on NIPR or SIPR if you are in theatre,

    Thanks

    Mark
    naming the MiTT, I don't see any pertinent Op Info. Even with that its well known info by the IA BN his MiTT is partnered with.
    All the information given can be found on open source reporting
    The village given isn't classified or even FOUO. It can be found on a map.
    Understand your concern.

  9. #9
    Council Member Xenophon's Avatar
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    Agree with boot. Mentioning which province we were in isn't an operational detail. I pretty sure the bad guys know we're there.

    I have submitted an article to the Gazette and it was approved for publication, but it hasn't hit yet. It covered how screwed up the MTT work-up is. I'm hesitant to write one saying how screwed up MTT implementation is and become "the guy who says everything is screwed up in the Gazette."

  10. #10
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I'm hesitant to write one saying how screwed up MTT implementation is and become "the guy who says everything is screwed up in the Gazette
    Points are well taken - However, its not across the board - there is some good and some bad. Send me an email through SWJ - it will go to my AKO address, lay out all the issues as you see them and we'll see if we can help bridge the gap - we have several Marines at JCISFA as well with good tie ins to the MEFs, and there are many of us with good tie ins on the Army side. Remember, part of your job is also to lay out the pros & cons to your CF partner unit (be it a BCT or RCT, etc.) in such a way that they understand benefits and risks - maybe I can help you with that some - I've had some successes and some frictions there. Yours is a tough job to pull off. You might also download the piece I did up on The BCT CDR's role in SFA, it might facilitate a discussion between your TT and the BCT - we all have to work for unity of effort - it does not come easy.

    Best, Rob

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    I have just started my training package for a MTT and am very interested in any additional tips/secrets/additional guidance I can get "straight from the horses mouth!" I have done fairly extensive research and have tried to gleam the best TTP but any additional help would be useful. Specifically, exactly what articles do you recommend that would fall into the "laminate it, put it in your cargo pocket and take it to Iraq" category. I do not want to follow in the footsteps of Xenophon and reproduce articles that are never read.

    For Xenophon, I am definitely interested in seeing your Gazette article and definitely encourge you to write the additional article on implementation. MTTs have been around for a few years...but only a few years!

  12. #12
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Crusoe,
    shoot me a PM and I'll show you how to get access to the JCISFA web site on JKO. There are a number of post tour interviews, training resources, a long list of advisors with their information on where they served, when they served, what position they served in, etc - these folks have all volunteered to work with new advisors on helping them prepare and execute their duties. There is also the information on the many POIs from the many centers where advisor training takes place. MSG Mike Beemer is the POC - he has done a huge service to us all by connecting folks and sorting out what is most relevant and then making it easily accessible.

    For those interested and able to navigate JKO

    - go from AKO to JKO (on the left under DoD organizations)

    -then go over to the Joint Communities of Interest on the right and scroll down to what is currently the 9th link - Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance

    -that will open up a new window on a JCISFA cover page. Go up to the right hand corner under quick links and open "JCISFA Home Page". You may need to becoe a JCISFA subscriber for full acces - easy to do just click on the subscribe button on the left.

    -That will take you into the FOUO page. On the right hand column is all the info I mentioned earlier. In the left are tabs that will take you into Advisor University ( a self paced development tool with links to more resources)

    If you have a .mil address or are in need of access and do not have an AKO account we can work a sponsorship. Just let me know through the SWC "email" function.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Default MiTT A to Z

    I returned from Iraq last September having served as a maneuver advisor to a mechanized brigade deployed to Baghdad. The advisor experience was... interesting and a tremendous discovery learning process. The Transition Team mission has the potential to be incredibly rewarding and meaningful in its contribution to success in Iraq and I believe that our tour was successful.

    The single most frustrating aspect of the Transition Team mission two years ago was the lack of historical knowledge, TTP and best practices despite a significant history of advising operations dating back at least to the Jedburgh teams in World War II and likely before that. In addition to the lack of available historical information with which to prepare the Army was manning teams with less than qualified personnel. Fortunately the situation is improving and we are sending better qualified personnel, and by extension higher quality teams to perform this absolutely critical mission.

    As more and more Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen return from performing this mission, in all of its facets, the body of knowledge expands and subsequent iterations of advisor teams will benefit greatly from the experiences of those who have gone before them. Several institutions, such as the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), the Joint Center for Security Force Assistance (JCSFA), and Battle Command Knowledge System (BCKS) have begun to collect and archive information to assist future Transition Teams in preparing for their mission.



    Eric Lindsay
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    Last edited by Tom Odom; 08-22-2008 at 11:59 AM. Reason: Remove attachment

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    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    We were under 101st at the time. That summer, the CG of the 101st (at least that's who I was told ordered it, the ADC(S) gave the word to me personally) ordered all MiTT's back to the FOB's for force protection. I was ordered to establish an ECP between my HQ and the IA for the same reason. This came straight from the top, because one MTT somewhere was attacked inside of the compound. The PTT living at the Tal Afar IP station was also withdrawn. We protested, but a two star is a two star. We complied (mostly, my ECP to the IA HQ never was fully completed)
    Once done, these policies are hard to reverse, esp given the risk-adverse culture of the Army that is left over from the 90's. No one wants to be the first to explain why a MiTT was murdered while sleeping in his IA compound.
    I'm pretty sure you and I were there at the same time. I think that decision by the CG (Turner) may have only applied regionally. I know that of the 4 "out of hide" MTTs in my BDE (1st), two lived with the IA, many miles from any other CF. My MTT was on a small Iraqi base that had just been turned over by CF in DEC 05. We had our own little compound that we stayed in, but the base was guarded by the IA. Of course we were also augmented by a Platoon for FP, maybe that was the difference...and we also had to have an ECP between our compound and the IA; although I'd offer that we were pretty liberal and let the IA come and go to "our side" as they pleased. I say that on many overnight ops, as little as 5 or 6 of us slept in a hasty patrol base with a Company-sized element with the IA. I guess if they wanted to kill or kidnap us, that would have been a good opportunity. I always felt 100% safe with them.

    Further down south, one of the other MTTs also live with the IA. Since you were in Tal Afar, considering the mission and scope, maybe that is why the decision was made, I don't know. Not that I agree with it...I think all MTTs should live with their IA counterparts. I really don't know how you could do it otherwise; for all of the times my Motorola went off at 0300: "Can CPT Jake please come over here to help us?" When I did go over, it was always by myself. Depending on who the IA battle captain was, I would take a 9mm or my M4 with me sometimes. Otherwise, I went over unarmed.

    I've never heard of a MTT being overrun or anything like that. I didn't know if that had actually happened. We had heard the story at the Phoenix Academy about a MTT in Anbar in '04 that was held at gunpoint while all of their weapons and vehicles were stolen by the IA. I think the story is BS, just a tale invented to scare new MTTs when they arrive into theater. Maybe someone on here had heard that tale at Phoenix, also.

    Any policies degrading the MTTs ability to assist and advise their IA counterparts should be scrutinized heavily. I hope they have lifted some of the silly and unnecessary requirements for Force Pro. If the MTT is truly the "pointy tip of the spear", then there are just going to have to be inherent risks involved. I know that will be hard for some of the "zero defect" types, but they just have to get over it.
    Last edited by jkm_101_fso; 08-22-2008 at 03:36 PM. Reason: opsec
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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