By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Globally, and across the total force in fiscal year 2013, the Army could engage in nearly 6,000 different activities, in more than 160 countries, and involving as many as 60,000 Soldiers and Army civilians as part of its “regionally aligned forces” concept.
Brig. Gen. Kimberly C. Field, with Army G-3/5/7, spoke May 30, during a media roundtable at the Pentagon to provide an update on the Army’s regionally aligned forces, or RAF, concept.
The general said regionally aligned forces can include Army capabilities in direct support of combatant commanders, or COCOMs, every day. They also include personnel and units assigned to a theater, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. European Command have the bulk of these.
Regionally aligned forces also include those units in an “allocated” status, given to a combatant commander for a specific mission for a specific period of time and under his direct control, Field said.
“Regionally aligned forces are also the other capabilities that support the combatant commander, but are Army-service retained,” Field said. “These are individuals and small teams providing reach-back support or on regular temporary duty missions to a region, or conducting contingency planning for the combatant commander.”
As the Army draws down from the Middle East, from Afghanistan, Field said the service will likely increase its efforts with RAF.
“We are working hard to respond to the increasing complexity of the global security environment,” she said. “By deliberately aligning forces regionally, the Army meets the enduring needs of COCOMs in a way that ensures responsiveness, consistent availability, and a higher level of training and expertise.”
In April, the Army provided regionally aligned forces to U.S. Africa Command to support the East Africa Response Force there. Stationed in Djibouti, 129 members of the 2-1 Infantry Division are ready to respond as needed to the security of U.S. facilities in Africa, Field said.
“It really was a directive from the Secretary of Defense to look forward, look at these areas that might have a Benghazi-like situation that could happen again, and to pre-position forces to do that,” Field said. “They arrived in April. They train and they stay ready to be able to respond to these crisis.”
The Army total force, including the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, specifically the State Partnership Program, will provide some 4,500 personnel to the continent in order to conduct 660 activities in 34 countries in support of the combatant command in fiscal year 2013. Most of these forces are based in the continental U.S. until they are needed.
Field said aligned forces in Africa have already been involved in providing training support to Nigeriens who are part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali, for instance.
“We’ve deployed trainers to Niger, and are working with the Department of State, and we did that on fairly short notice,” she said. “And then there are the smaller things. There are 37 smaller familiarization exercises, one of which, an example, is training Ugandan military police for route security. There are a range of activities.”
The Army is also discussing with the Department of State the idea of providing training support for the United Nations Mission in Darfur.
In fiscal year 2014, Field said, a brigade combat team from 1st Cavalry Division will provide “European Rotational Force” support to U.S. European Command, and will be dual-hatted as the NATO response force. Additionally, III Corps will be aligned with U.S. Central Command.
Right now 1st Corps is already aligned with U.S. Pacific Command, while the 18th Airborne Corps remains in “global” alignment as the Army’s global response force.
Also in fiscal year 2014, the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, with the National Guard, will be regionally with U.S. Southern Command. The unit is preparing now to send Soldiers to Guatemala to mentor and advise military forces there on command and control operations, logistics, communications, and small unit tactics. About 166 Soldiers will participate.
THE RAF PAYOFF
Field said the goal of RAF is to provide better support to COCOMs by providing them with forces prepared with cultural, language and specific mission capabilities that match up with a commander’s particular region of the world.
Those forces will help COCOMs address mutual threats and interests with partners; build capabilities of partners so they can handle things themselves; and increase influence and ability to have access if needed.
Regional alignment leverages the great strengths built in the past ten years of war, Field said.
“It is a fundamental orientation different from other drawdown periods,” She said. “We are staying externally focused, leveraging all we have learned about the human terrain and what strategic landpower means and we’re building on this.”
While the Army is looking in the future to “habitually align” both division and corps-level headquarters with a particular COCOM in order to provide each geographic combatant command a JTF-capable headquarters, Soldiers themselves will likely pass through several units during their Army careers, each unit aligned to a different COCOM.
Field dismissed the idea that the cultural and language training provided to a Soldier when he is aligned with one unit will be wasted when he moves on to another unit. Simply participating in that type of preparation is a payoff for the Army, she said.
“We will give Soldiers who are aligned for that year some culture, some language, some expertise,” she said. “We think the biggest benefit in regional alignment, to the cultural and language aspect of this, is that you now have a force that is much more culturally savvy. [A force] that can get on the ground in a foreign environment and can quickly get situational awareness, situational understanding, a better understanding of the problem they have to solve, and then come up with solutions.”
WASHINGTON (June , 2013) — The Army published a new handbook this month to provide leaders of all levels with the information and tools needed to address today’s cybersecurity challenges, and to ensure organizations adopt the necessary practices to protect their information and the Army network.
“We must change our culture, enforce compliance, and ensure that people are accountable for proper security procedures,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said in a Feb. 1 memo mandating Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training.
Currently, all Army commands are developing Information Assurance/Cybersecurity awareness training to address areas of weakness identified by the Army Information Assurance Self-Assessment Tool. During the Army Cybersecurity Awareness Week, Oct. 15-18, commanders will train personnel based on command plans and highlight the importance of individual responsibilities.
“Beyond required security training, we need you to make certain that all of your Soldiers, civilians, and contractors understand the threat they pose to operational security by not complying with IA/Cybersecurity policies and practices,” McHugh said, addressing all Army leaders.
McHugh also directed all commands to incorporate Information Assurance into their command inspection programs.
More information and guidance are on the Army Information Assurance One-Stop Shop portal which is CAC accessible.
By Spc. Margaret Taylor, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), secure a landing zone for Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), board a CH-47 Chinook during a night air assault operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly, Nangarhar Province…
An Afghan National Army soldier from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, poses for a photo while he waits for an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter to transport him back to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing a clearing…
Afghan National Army soldiers with 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, await Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after successfully completing an Afghan led clearing operation near the village of…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had. Soldiers from Alpha…
Afghan village elders gather at the local police station during a key leader engagement at Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 17, 2013. The elders discuss what effect the presence of military forces in Hesarak has had.
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, look out for enemy activity from a watch tower outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The improved fighting position helped the ANA provide…
Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), look out for enemy activity near the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. U.S. Army…
Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters prepare to drop off supplies for Afghan forces outside the village of Hesarak, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2013. The Afghan Air Force continues to increase their support role throughout the province.
Spc. Andrew Landish and Spc. Tyrel Fisher, members of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), prepare to launch a mortar strike from the village of Hesarak…
Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, climb into an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter for transport to Forward Operating Base Connolly after a successfully leading and executing a clearing operation near the village…
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan National Army soldiers, Afghan Uniformed Police, and a smattering of U.S. Army Soldiers serving as mission advisors, sat by their heavy packs on the gravel, talking and laughing in quiet anticipation, waiting for a sound.
After several hours of checks and double-checks, roll calls and final updates from the command center, the punchy staccato of rotors came faintly in the distance. Louder and louder the noise sounded, until the roar deafened and the dusty prop-wash buffeted those waiting at the landing zone for the choppers.
Into the helicopters the Soldiers went, and then, shortly before one in the morning, the air assault to Hesarak began.
Flying from Forward Operating Base Connolly, the mission, which occurred May 15-18, was an Afghan-led operation joining Afghan National Security Forces with U.S. Army advisers to drive back insurgents harassing the inhabitants of Hesarak, an isolated, agricultural district in western Nangarhar.
“They’ve been having problems out there with the district center being constantly under fire, or being harassed,” said Capt. Justin Burney, battalion fire support officer, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), of White Bluff, Tenn. “The objective was to have the ANA (Afghan National Army) go through the area surrounding the district center and clear it of all enemy personnel.”
Burney managed the indirect fire systems to support the operation from Forward Operating Base Connolly.
“This is the ANA and the AUP (Afghan Uniformed Police) trying to establish a base of security,” Burney said. “They go out there and clear an area to show the people that they can still secure them; they can still provide safety and protection.”
Soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 327th Inf. Regt., and Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team Blackhorse, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regt., 1st BCT, 101st Abn. Div., joined ANA soldiers of the 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 201st Corps, and AUP personnel in the effort.
Soldiers and supplies were delivered to Hesarak in three waves. The first landed in a wheat field in the early hours, May 15; the second arrived shortly before noon that same day; the final dropped its passengers and cargo before dawn, May 16.
Under cover of darkness, the first wave slogged its way across freshly watered fields, up and down walled terraces, and through a maze of irrigation systems to the objective.
“That was the worst part of the mission: the movement in,” said Spc. Vang Seng Thao, combat camera, 55th Signal Company, Combat Camera, 21st Signal Brigade, 114th Signal Battalion, of Fort Meade, Md. “There were freshly irrigated wheat fields, it was very muddy. Every time you would step, your boots would get stuck in the mud, or you’d be tripping on rocks.”
Not only was the ground treacherous; the weight of the packs Soldiers carried had a tendency to pitch people off balance.
“Some guys were carrying M240Bs with all the extra ammo for those, so they were carrying well over 100 pounds,” Thao said. “Everything else after that was a breeze because we didn’t have all the extra weight.”
Near dawn on May 15, one of the platoons took enemy contact. Sporadic barrages of small arms fire continued throughout the day, with each platoon eventually making contact with the enemy.
There were no U.S., ANA, or AUP casualties, even with the insurgents’ continued attacks. The insurgents, on the other hand, took several.
Beating back the forces harassing the district center was a key part of the mission, but it wasn’t the only part.
Rotating in AUP replacements — the first in six months or more — meeting with local leaders, engaging the Afghan Air Force to help with the airlift, and allowing Afghan forces to take another step toward the front were critical aspects as well.
May 16, a large group of local leaders got together to discuss Hesarak with Afghan and U.S. forces.
“The ANA commander spoke a lot about how Heserak is just as important to the ANA as, say, Jalalabad or Bagram,” Thao said. “They’re still in Afghanistan, they’re Afghan citizens, and they’re going to be protected by the Afghan Army.”
Not only will the ANA and AUP provide support, but the Afghan Air Force will as well.
While U.S. Army Soldiers conduct air assault missions with the support of CH-47 Chinook helicopters from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, ANA personnel came in on Mi-17 helicopters, which are Afghan Air Force assets.
Though Army and Air branches of the Afghan military in this region are just beginning to work on missions together, the combined mission to Hesarak was a success.
“This is the second time, I believe, since we’ve been here that we were actually able to request and get the Afghan Air Force,” said Capt. John Reinke, team leader, SFAAT Blackhorse, of Greensboro, Ga.
With this mission ANA soldiers took another step toward the front of the column, first by reassuring local leaders of continued ANA involvement, but also by leading foot patrols around Hesarak.
“The patrols were, in a sense, run by the ANA to show that they could do their jobs,” said Thao, who accompanied the Soldiers of Alpha Company’s 2nd Platoon to record their particular mission of clearing and securing a portion of the village. “So whenever we did go on patrols, the ANA were in the front to get the experience and show that they knew exactly what they needed to do.”
Afghan soldiers leading all aspects of a mission is something units like the Blackhorse SFAAT have been working toward throughout their time in country.
“What we’re starting to do is have a smaller and smaller adviser footprint forward of the Kandak because they’re capable of providing mission command forward,” said Reinke. “Now we’re starting to work back at the Kandak headquarters to ensure they’re able to mirror the systems that we’ve been able to develop with them over the past six or seven months.”
The approximately 80-hour mission allowed Afghan forces to show just how far they’ve come, but also where they still need to go.
“In the short run, we’ve been successful in establishing a presence and clearing through certain areas,” Burney said. “It is the hope that the ANA will continue to do this, especially pushing out west in places like Hesarak.”
By Roger Teel, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Public Affairs
- TALOS is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection.
Warrior Web Project
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on the Warrior Web Project, which has many of the attributes of the Army’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit concept.
Future force Soldiers
The future warfighter uniform will incorporate new helmet technologies, sensors, communication devices, hearing protection and more.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Army researchers are responding to a request from the U.S. Special Operations Command for technologies to help develop a revolutionary Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection. Using wide-area networking and on-board computers, operators will have more situational awareness of the action around them and of their own bodies.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as RDECOM, is submitting TALOS proposals in response to the May 15 request.
“There is no one industry that can build it,” said SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris during a panel discussion at a conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., recently, reported Defense Media Network.
The request, currently posted on Federal Business Opportunities, is looking for technology demonstration submissions from research and development organizations, private industry, individuals, government labs and academia to support the command-directed requirement issued by Adm. William McRaven, USSOCOM commander.
“[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that — a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in,” said. Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM.
TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently developing armor made from magnetorheological fluids — liquid body armor — that transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. Though still in development, this technology will likely be submitted to support TALOS.
“RDECOM cuts across every aspect making up this combat armor suit,” Borjes said “It’s advanced armor. It’s communications, antennas. It’s cognitive performance. It’s sensors, miniature-type circuits. That’s all going to fit in here, too.”
SOCOM demonstrations will take placeJuly 8-10, at or near MacDill Air Force Base.
The request asks participants to submit a white paper summary of their technology by May 31, describing how TALOS can be constructed using current and emerging technologies. A limited number of participant white papers will be selected and those selected will demonstrate their technologies.
The initial demonstration goal is to identify technologies that could be integrated into an initial capability within a year. A second goal is to determine if fielding the TALOS within three years is feasible.
U.S. Army science advisors, such as Borjes, are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers’ needs. The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program’s 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the RDECOM’s thousands of subject matter experts.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army’s premier provider of materiel readiness — technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment — to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
By Mike Casey, Combined Arms Center
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — The Army is restarting a program to pass on insights and knowledge from the Combat Training Centers to benefit the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command Centers of Excellence and the force.
In May, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno announced the re-establishment of Project Warrior to help the Army transition from a force focused on counterinsurgency operations to a smaller, more versatile one ready for a wide range of missions. Odierno said Project Warrior will assist in the transition by producing agile, adaptive leaders.
Project Warrior calls for captains to serve two years as an observer-coach-trainer, known as an OCT, at a Maneuver Combat Training Center, or MCTC, followed by two years as a small group instructor, or SGI, at a U.S. Training and Doctrine Command Center of Excellence, or TRADOC CoE.
“My intent in reinstituting Project Warrior is to infuse observations, insights, and lessons gained from multiple MCTC Decisive Action rotations against hybrid threats, back into the Force through the TRADOC CoEs,” Odierno said.
Originally, the Army introduced Project Warrior in 1989 as Vietnam War veterans retired, depleting the force of combat-experienced Soldiers. To fill the void, Project Warrior sent participants to the MCTCs, which provide experience that is the closest to actual combat.
Operational requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted the Army to suspend the program.
The re-established Project Warrior will infuse the force with the experiences captain OCTs gain from multiple MCTC rotations. The MCTCs are transforming to Decisive Action training that entails simultaneous offensive, defensive and stability tasks against hybrid threats.
To succeed, Project Warrior must attract the right leaders. Project Warrior officers should rank in the top 10 percent and show potential to command a battalion and perhaps a brigade.
“We’re looking for our best and most talented captains,” said Brig. Gen. Mike Lundy, deputy commanding general of the Combined Arms Center-Training, or CAC-T, at Fort Leavenworth.
“At the MCTCs, they’ll have the opportunity to observe multiple unit rotations. Then they’ll take the skills, knowledge and lessons they learn to train our future company commanders and staff officers at the Centers of Excellence.”
“It’s a great leader development program for the Army, the Project Warrior participants, and for the captains whom the Project Warrior officers will instruct at the proponent schools,” he said.
Project Warrior is open to officers in: Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, Air Defense, Aviation, Engineer, Signal, Military Police, Military Intelligence, Chemical, Logistics and Medical Service.
Project Warrior participants must complete key-development qualification assignments and have a minimum of three years at the company/battalion/brigade levels. Officers can volunteer for Project Warrior, but must be endorsed by their battalion or brigade commander.
Human Resources Command Branch/Career Managers review each candidate’s file to assess quality and to ensure participation does not disadvantage the candidate’s professional development timeline.
The Army plans a phased implementation:
• By June 2013, the Army will identify and select captains for OCT assignments.
• By December 2013, the Army will screen and select officers, currently serving as OCTs, for Project Warrior and follow-on assignments for summer 2014 as SGIs at TRADOC CoEs.
• By fiscal year 2016, the goal is to have 50 percent of Project Warrior officers teaching as SGIs and 100 percent by fiscal year 2017.
At end state, Project Warrior will have 66 officers serving at the MCTCs and another 66 serving as SGIs at various CoEs. The MCTCs are the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.; the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.; and the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels, Germany.
HQDA G-3/5/7 will serve as the program’s lead agent for policy, while HQDA G-1 will serve as the lead agent for personnel management.
CAC-T manages Army training support and training development, and provides training and leader development programs and products to support Army readiness. One of its subordinate organizations is the Combat Training Center, or CTC, Directorate, which facilitates validation, administration and integration of the CTC Program, and has been the lead to reinvigorate the Project Warrior Program.
By David Vergun
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — “This is the most uncertain time in my 37 years of service,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, referring to an increasingly complex global environment.
During a think tank discussion at The Atlantic Council, May 29, Odierno described that environment and what the Army needs to do to in order to remain relevant and ready.
The Army no longer has the luxury of long preparation times as events around the world unfold “at the speed of Twitter,” Odierno said, illustrating the way information and ideas flow and impact events.
The tools of social media have enabled “non-state actors” to shape attitudes and collective actions of people across borders. Uprisings can bubble to the surface with little warning, he said.
A very recent example he cited is the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which has voiced its support for the Syrian government. Its actions and ideology hold sway with many in the region.
The Internet has enabled Hezbollah, a non-state actor, to have a public voice, influencing events on the ground in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere in a way that was not possible 20 years ago, he explained.
Since Hezbollah and similar groups around the world are not nation states they are not held accountable to international laws in the traditional sense because such laws don’t yet exist to deal with this new type of threat, he said.
In the future, “we could have more groups like this coming forward, and that’s a problem,” he said.
Other potential problem areas include Bahrain and Iraq, where sectarian tensions remain, he said, as well as Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, where an explosive mix of instability and nuclear weapons threaten regional security and destabilize world peace.
If those issues are not enough to cause concern, Odierno said, there are unresolved budget issues at home that bode ill for Army modernization, training and manpower. Included among those issues are shortfalls in operations and maintenance accounts, shortfalls in overseas contingency operations funding, and the cumulative effects of continuing resolutions and sequestration.
Odierno outlined the Army’s plan for dealing with some of those problems.
After a dozen years of war, “we don’t want to go back to our corners,” Odierno said, meaning the U.S. doesn’t want to squander its security gains in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To protect its investments there and elsewhere requires building and strengthening partnerships and continuing personal relationships and dialog, he said.
He defined the word “partnerships” in a broad sense, including not just military-to-military ties, which he said are vital, but multia-gency and multi-government relationships within the U.S. and with other countries.
Within the U.S., the joint capabilities of the other services are already being leveraged to the nation’s advantage, he said.
The focus should now be on integrating the capabilities within agencies such as the Department of State, Department of the Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security in ways that improve national security outcomes.
Some of this will require legislation and public dialog, he explained. And within the Army, “officers and senior leaders need to begin thinking in those terms.”
Internationally, a lot can be done, Odierno said.
Allies in Europe and Asia are feeling the impact of reduced budgets and manpower, he said. More often than not, this will require a multinational response to global crisis he said, adding that he’d like to see an improvement in relations with China.
The U.S. should not simply “put half a million people on the ground” every time a crisis erupts, he said.
Odierno said he’s encouraged by the commitment the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has shown in using its forces outside the treaty area.
NATO and U.S. forces are also cooperating in other ways.
He cited joint, multinational training centers in Germany where the U.S., NATO and other partners come together in high-level exercises intended to familiarize themselves with each other’s capabilities and better synchronize tactics and strategies not only for operations but for other things like natural disaster and humanitarian response.
The Army is responding to the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and is working on ways to reduce the likelihood of them falling into the wrong hands, Odierno said. To that end, the Army is training and equipping conventional and special operations forces to respond with a range of options.
As service chief, Odierno said he tries to balance end strength, modernization, readiness and compensation.
However, the balance he seeks is currently lacking, he said.
Right now, for instance, the Army spends about 45 percent of its budget on personnel costs, that’s funding that cannot be used for research and development, training and weapons systems.
The Army realizes that cuts are inevitable, he said, but funding “needs to come down in a measured and deliberate way,” he said.
To that end, the Army is working with Congress and the administration to achieve that goal.
SOLDIER AS CENTERPIECE
The centerpiece of the Army is the Soldier. And the success of Soldiers depends on their non-commissioned officers and officers, he said, adding that to ensure continued excellence, he’ll announce a new leader development program within about a month.
Besides having good leaders, those Soldiers need the best training and equipment to succeed.
To accomplish that goal, he said, the Army wants a force that has the mobility as well as the protection it needs when put into harm’s way.
The Ground Combat Vehicle, a replacement for the Bradley, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a replacement for the Humvee, will ensure squads move more effectively throughout the battlefield.
That rapid movement in turn necessitates Soldiers having the communications and network capacity needed to ensure they have the right information and intelligence needed to exploit opportunities and take the initiative down to the squad and platoon levels, he said, describing the Army’s budget priorities in this new technology.
The Army also needs to better develop and integrate its cyber-warfare and human dimension capabilities, he said. The human dimension includes ways of increasing social and cultural understandings among various people.
COUNTERING THREAT WITHIN
In addition to discussions on meeting the challenges of global threats, Odierno also touched on a different kind of threat to the Army: suicide.
Suicides in the Army are a “perplexing problem” that doesn’t seem to go away, Odierno admitted. He gets briefed on every suicide that occurs, “including one today,” he said.
“Incredible assets have been thrown at the problem,” he said.
Suicide plagues civilian society as well as the Army, but Odierno said researchers have not yet discovered its “rhyme or reason and there’s no golden trail we can follow that solves the problem.”
If suicide numbers following Vietnam are any indication, he said, then an elevated number of suicides will likely continue for the next 10 or 15 years.
One of the bright spot on the suicide prevention horizon, he said, is the Army’s recent investments in the holistic ready and resilient approach to strengthening Soldiers’ physical, mental and emotional capabilities so they and their families can deal not only with personal relationships, deployments and financial issues, but “the incredibly complex situations we sometimes put them in.”
Other steps the Army is taking in suicide prevention, he said, include training to spot warning signs of suicide, elimination of the stigma of seeking help, increasing the number of behavioral health specialists and ensuring Soldiers have a smoother transition between the Army and Veterans Affairs.
By Amy Walker, PEO C3T
The advanced capabilities of Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 provide network mobility and reach down to the company level for the first time. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), utilized this WIN-T…
The mobile Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 network is being fielded as part of the Army’s new capability sets. A WIN-T Increment 2 Point-of-Presence vehicle was part of a convoy during 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division…
Shown here supporting command post operations, a Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 Satellite Tactical Terminal + (center), sits between two mobile WIN-T Increment 2 Tactical Communications Nodes during 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th…
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — As the U.S. mission in Afghanistan evolves from full spectrum combat operations to a support role in helping Afghan forces take hold of their country’s security, unit commanders emphasize the need for network mobility.
Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 2, the Army’s improved tactical network communications backbone, was designed to fulfill such a mission.
“As we reduce our presence in Afghanistan, it is absolutely critical that we continue to understand what is happening around us, to understand the operational environment,” said Col. Sam Whitehurst, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), during a recent training exercise at Fort Drum, in preparation for his unit’s possible deployment to Afghanistan. “My ability to take the information that I am hearing from my team leaders, and then share it with all of our Afghan partners, so they can correspondingly help confirm or deny that information and share what they are seeing, is one of the most critical elements as we go forward into Afghanistan over the next year.”
The mobile WIN-T Increment 2 network is being fielded as part of the Army’s new capability sets. Capability Set 13, or CS 13, is the first of these fully-integrated fielding efforts, which are scalable and tailorable in design to support the changing requirements of current and future missions. CS 13 includes radios, satellite systems, software applications, smartphone-like devices and other network components that provide connectivity from the stationary command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier. WIN-T Increment 2 is the tactical communications network backbone that binds the capability sets together.
The Army began fielding CS 13 in October 2012 to 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, which is based at Fort Drum, and to the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Polk, La. The two units are training with these advanced capabilities and preparing for possible deployment to Afghanistan with them later this year. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Headquarters has already been fielded with WIN-T Increment 2 elements, and two BCTs from the 101st are slated for full CS 13 fielding later this year.
If called upon to deploy, Army BCTs armed with CS 13 capabilities will serve as Security Forces Advisory and Assist Teams, or SFAATs, who will work with Afghan National Security Forces to improve their capability and help the Afghans secure their country as coalition forces reduce their presence. The coalition forces’ footprint continues to decrease and many of the forward operating bases and fixed sites used to access the network are being dismantled.
As U.S. forces take down their fixed infrastructure and become more dispersed and mobile in conducting these support operations, they will rely on WIN-T Increment 2 for critical reach-back communications.
“If you take a look at what we’re doing in Afghanistan right now, as U.S. forces start to reduce their presence, we’re still partnered with the Afghan National Security Forces and continue to focus on their development, but we’re doing it over greater distances,” Whitehurst said. “We are distributed throughout the area on a much greater scale than we were before.”
Having the capability to command and control the brigade on-the-move gives commanders the ability to extend their reach even as the Army reduces its presence. It will enable them to focus on the mission of developing the Afghan Security Forces, Whitehurst said.
WIN-T Increment 1, formerly known as the Joint Network Node-Network, began fielding in 2004 and provides Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications down to battalion level units, at-the-quick-halt. It utilizes both satellite and line-of-sight capability for optimum network connectivity and bandwidth efficiency. WIN-T Increment 2 improves upon these technologies by providing Soldiers with an integrated network, which for the first time, provides mobility and reaches down to the company level. It further increases capability by introducing network radios to the architecture and enhancing Network Operations, a suite of integrated monitoring tools used by communications officers to command and control the network.
When it comes to combating the communication challenges created by Afghanistan’s harsh and expansive terrain, WIN-T Increment 2 provides an advantage over previous capability. It enables communication signals to better reach over mountains and across deserts, said Capt. Jesse Ellis, commander of C company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
“It is important to be able to communicate quickly and effectively so Soldiers can get the message back and have more support from higher echelons if they need it,” Ellis said. “[WIN-T Increment 2] will close the gap in the terrain and the distance, and make things a lot easier for these Soldiers as they become [increasingly] more spread apart.”
As SFAAT missions evolve, Soldiers will no longer be tied to fixed U.S. bases and secure network infrastructure, so maintaining communications through WIN-T Increment 2 while assisting the Afghans is a “tremendous capability” to bring to the effort, said Maj. Graham Wood, brigade communications officer for 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division.
“It can give a mobile team, such as an SFAAT, the data capability traditionally only available at the brigade and battalion Tactical Operations Centers,” Wood said. “Soldiers are not tied to a single point; they can take that upper tier phone and internet capability and can move it wherever they need to go to support their mission.”
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov., 2012) — The Army has a window of opportunity that will help shape the force for the next 20 years, said Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, the Army’s G-1. The general also said challenging times were here in terms of personal stress and personal loss.
“It’s absolutely critical that we focus on resiliency and readiness because they’re definitely, inextricably linked,” Bromberg said during one of the final sessions of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., last month.
Bromberg headed up a panel of senior leaders who gave overviews on a variety of “health of the force” concerns and highlighted plans to move the Army ahead.
“We have an executive order coming out, in the final stages now, that will precede the campaign plan,” said Bromberg, who referred to a multi-installation tour in the summer with the vice chief and other staff to assess the health of the force.
“We really focused on some of the things we saw that we could change in terms of policy and procedures — [things] that can be handled very quickly without a lot of fanfare,” he said.
Another major concern for the Army is suicide, Bromberg said. Service leaders hope to tackle the problem by improving Soldier resiliency and coping skills. Also part of the solution is learning to better identify problems with Soldiers so the service can intervene earlier.
The G-1 also addressed the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault and Response and Prevention program, which he said the Army was “deeply, deeply committed to fixing.”
“This is a commander’s program, and we have enabled our commanders with additional resources,” he said. Those resources include such things as crime labs, additional victim advocates and additional response coordinators. He said the Army would be hiring more civilian advocates and response coordinators this fiscal year.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said the “Health of the Force” trip for him was about the Army’s problems with sexual assaults, hazing and suicides and how young Soldiers and more senior NCOs viewed the problem. He was encouraged by the engaged leaders who understood their roles and responsibilities.
The Army’s “Ready and Resilient Campaign,” scheduled to roll out in January, will focus on discipline and standards. It will be tied into NCO and leader development programs, Chandler said.
Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, who also sat on the panel, said the focus of Army medicine has been shifting toward prevention, intervention and rehabilitation.
The Army has been conducting a pilot program that imbeds behavioral health providers with brigade combat teams, something Horoho said would become a standard across the Army and would also be included in the sustainment and support units.
“One of the things as we move toward prevention is instead of waiting for a Soldier to come back and deal with issues and challenges that they may have faced we now are able to use tele-behavioral health in theater and connect with some of our most forward [combat outposts and forward operating bases],” she said.
The surgeon general also noted, “eighty percent of those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder actually heal and return to duty, so we’re looking at about 20 percent who are really going through our disability process.”
The Army has over-hired behavioral health providers and focused 136 of them on Soldiers who are going through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.
Horoho said Army medicine has $2 billion with which to do research across many forms of health, including a variety of ways in which to possibly diagnose whether a Soldier suffered a concussion.
The general said 90 percent of the Army’s concussions occurred in garrison. Of those who suffered a concussion in Afghanistan, 97 percent were returned to duty just by following clinical practice guidelines at one of the 11 concussive care centers there.
The Army is exploring rapid bio-marker testing which may be able to determine if a Soldier has suffered a concussion. There is also a binocular vision test to see if a Soldier has suffered ocular impairment. Finally, the Army is looking at the possible benefits of a brain scope that could register findings which could then be downloaded into a smartphone.
Horoho said the Army is looking beyond taking care of those who become sick, and look toward finding ways to keep them from becoming sick.
“We’re looking at sleep, activity, and nutrition as being a performance triad,” Horoho said. “We really want to improve the health of our force and have leaders look at sleep in the same way they do water discipline and personal protective equipment.”
Danny Pummill, deputy director Compensation and Pension service under the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the VA was focusing on increasing vet access to benefits and services while ending veteran homelessness and claims backlogs by 2015.
Pummill said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki has met more than 10 times over the past 20 months with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense, to discuss the proper transition of service members from their services to the VA.
Pummill added that the VA was working to identify and take care of the problems veterans and their families have had in transitioning from active duty, the Guard and Reserve to civilian life and that the only way to do that was to be “inside the decision loop” with the DOD and military services.
“All of our priorities in the VA are absolutely contingent upon that warm handoff, that transition,” he said. “If we can get that right, we can lessen the impact when the service member moves from the military into their civilian life.”
Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, commander of Army Installation Management Command, said the Army was piloting a “total Army sponsorship” program in Hawaii, Germany, Korea and at Fort Lee, Va., for the next several months to ensure before a Soldier and his family move, they have sponsors who help them integrate into their new installation.
Ferriter also said the Army was also working on reinvigorating intramural sports programs to get Soldiers involved and engaged in healthy lifestyles.
“We’re teaming with the VA and Department of Labor for execution of the transition program ‘Soldier for Life,’ so that beginning one-year out from end of service commitment or retirement our Soldiers are counseled and then brought through a program for transition,” he said.
He said part of that transition included hiring fairs at installations and that over the last four months the Army had sponsored more than 100 such events.
By Jacqueline M. Hames
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III said he believes the Army has drifted away from educating Soldiers about energy conservation.
Chandler made a guest appearance Tuesday at the “Enhancing Mission Effectiveness Through Power and Energy Advancements” panel at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.
Chandler said he believes conservation is of strategic importance to the nation, and one person can make a difference that can change the country.
“That’s our challenge,” he said. “That’s my challenge as sergeant major of the Army, is to make our Soldiers understand that turning the tactical vehicle off in the motor pool is actually okay, and that that pint of fuel they’d save magnified by however many tactical vehicles we’ve got is a huge, huge, huge economic impact to the Army.”
The panel discussed advancements in alternative energy sources, resource management and how operational energy feeds into combat power and mission effectiveness.
“The success of Army missions and the security of our Soldiers is dependent on reliable access to energy and to water,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack. Because of this dependence, and the potential threats to that dependence in theater, the Army is aggressively perusing energy alternatives and resource management strategies.
“We committed to deploy one gigawatt, 1,000 megawatts, of renewable energy by 2025. That is solar, geothermal, wind, or biomass on Army installations,” Hammack said. “One gigawatt of renewable energy is enough power to power 250,000 homes.”
Through the Net Zero Initiative and the energy initiatives task force, the Army is seeking ways to reduce the total installation energy consumption and generate renewable energy.
Net Zero is an initiative to have installations consume only as much water or energy as they can produce and to eliminate solid waste, she explained.
“Our focus on energy security is all about implementing an energy culture,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the Army’s assistant chief of staff for Installation Management and IMCOM commander. “The key is really executing our Net Zero strategy, ensuring installations efficiently manage our energy and our water resources and (reduce solid waste).”
“We have to change ‘energy on demand’ and start using business processes,” he added. “We must be more efficient. Energy is an issue for today’s leaders, not to be put off to the future.”
“As we become a more expeditionary Army, we’ve got to get smarter in our use of energy at the point, at the edge,” Maj. Michael Tucker, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, agreed. “You’ve got to make Soldiers and commanders understand that they don’t have a 10-inch diameter power cable following them where ever they go.”
The four major focus areas of energy management are the Soldier, basing, or outfitting installations with energy conservation tools, vehicles and aircraft, Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, deputy chief of staff for the G-4 explained.
Mason said the Army is focused on the squad level for the Soldier, and providing them with better capabilities: “We’re giving them solar blankets, rechargeable batteries, and a way to recharge them.”
The Army is also transforming its vehicles and aircraft with updated systems maximized for energy conservation.
“Yes, to put a lot of energy efficiency into a vehicle is very expensive, and it costs money upfront, and it costs the unit price of each vehicle or each system we buy to be higher, but in the long run, in the tail, it saves you money. Less fuel, less fuel trucks, less maintenance units fixing fuel trucks — you can just see the second, third and fourth order of effects,” Mason said.
He hopes, like Chandler, to get an energy-informed culture at the noncommissioned officer level. With the noncommissioned officers leading the way, junior Soldiers will be more likely to participate in conservation and change the culture from the bottom up.
ByCapt. Richard Barker
PASAB, Afghanistan (Oct. 21, 2012) — When I was asked to meet and capture the lives of the medevac crews of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, located at Pasab, a small outpost in a highly-active and dangerous region of Afghanistan located west of Kandahar Airfield, I was slightly concerned.
I expected to meet a rag-tag group of medevac crews. It would have to make sense, I thought. Pasab has the most challenging medevac missions in Regional Command-South due to the high frequency of missions and traumatic nature of the injuries common in the area.
Pasab averages 30 percent of all Category Alpha medevac missions in RC-South. The medevac crews at Pasab also see the worst injuries as they only respond to urgent medical calls, known as CAT-A missions. These are calls with injuries, such as a multiple amputee patients, that require a response from mission start to medical facility delivery of less than one hour – known as the golden hour.
When I arrived to meet the medevac crews, I was greeted by a very energetic Capt. Margaret Larson, a pilot and the executive officer for C/ 3-25. She gave me a two-minute tour of their footprint. There were two sleep tents and a third tent that served as an operations center and crew rest area.
As Larson introduced me to the Pasab flight crews, I noticed my expected vision of them was way off. These were professional Soldiers with overall impressive statures.
“We send our strongest flight medics out here because of injuries we see,” explained Larson. “This area is the worst, so we need soldiers that can handle it.”
I sat down with many of the crew members who were eager to share their experiences.
The Soldiers explained some of the challenges of life in Pasab.
First was the secret behind their high levels of energy and calm. Due to the nature of the Pasab mission, no single medevac crew is allowed to stay in Pasab for more than two weeks at a time. Instead they rotate out to Pasab from Kandahar Airfield, on an either weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on the mission tempo.
The one to two weeks they are at Pasab, though, are rough, as the crews cannot leave the small area they operate in. There are two full crews at Pasab, which rotate every 24 hours from being first responder to second responder. As a result, if there are two missions, everyone is flying.
Members of the crew explained this can mean long times without showers, and that they find the time to sleep and eat when they can. Sleeping sometimes comes in spurts while food comes from piles of care packages stacked in the corner of their operations tent.
Regardless, they all expressed a love for what they do.
“I like doing what I do,” said Spc. Arnell James, a flight medic for C/3-25, from Savannah, Ga., who has been on the Pasab rotation five times. “I like the mission tempo and being able to do our job, to be able to use the skills we trained for.”
I was informed that some of the medics on the crews were not flight medics, rather medics who served as a second hand to the flight medics. While this is not a common practice, it is deemed necessary in Pasab.
Spc. John Hill, a medic with 209th Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th CAB, and a native of Austin, Texas, is one of the selected “second-hand” flight medics at Pasab.
“I signed up to be a medic to help other people,” said Hill, who is on his second rotation to Pasab. “That’s the kind of person missions like this need; someone who wants to help but doesn’t expect anything in return.”
The crews began to share their lighter and humorous stories. One involved a miscommunication where a call over the radio to request a replacement crew chief due to losing one from “intestinal distress” was wrongly heard as “emotional distress.” To make a long story short, the poor crew chief, who was simply trying to relieve his “intestinal distress” in a nearby portable bathroom, was surprised to find an army of leadership was outside trying to talk him out before he hurt himself from “emotional distress.”
The humorous stories continued when a loud, alerting sound came from the operations desk where all medevac missions and updates are monitored. Everyone was on their feet in an instant, many gone with amazing haste. Others stood ready to take action as they waited for the official call.
“It’s just a weather update,” yelled the operations sergeant. The Soldier standing closest to me took a deep breath, placed one hand on his heart and another on my shoulder as he told me the adrenaline was always pumping around there.
The crews slowly returned to sit around and share some more. For some reason, the false alarm caused the crews to start sharing their sadder stories.
“The harder days are when we have to go pick up kids,” said James, as he stared down at his feet. “It hits close to home. I picked up a girl once who looked just like my daughter.”
The crews started to discuss other challenges at Pasab, ranging from extreme, dusty environments to the threat of land mines on landing zones and common instances of random gun fire.
The discussion turned to treating Afghan National Army soldiers.
“Treating local nationals can be a challenge,” said James explaining they sometimes resist treatment. “Some have never seen a helicopter and they get scared, and on top of that we have the language barrier. But we push through it, we do our job and we are successful.”
The Pasab medevac crews have a 98-percent success rate of retrieving, treating and transporting their patients to a medical facility within the golden hour.
The conversations continued into the night as I chuckled to myself about how wrong I had been about this group.
No medevac calls came through while I was there, but, sometimes that’s just how it is.