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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A look at a major issue in our armed forces....

A friend posted this link on Facebook and it is a very interesting read. Last year, I was reviewing an article on the current state of the Army and the author made the point, the Army is broken. However, unlike in the post Vietnam era, there is no leadership coming up and vowing we will fix this:
...The army is in a free fall and the situation is even more dire than those dark days in the early and mid- 1970’s, when the army was reeling from a myriad of problems: a hostile public who never understood the sacrifices made in Southeast Asia and the heroism of its soldiers there; from drug problems, criminals gangs and race riots in the barracks.

The army was broken after Vietnam, but most of its senior leaders were stronger than those today, and they upheld the values of the institution. With the help of young officers and NCO’s who had survived Vietnam, they vowed to rebuild the army and create an all-volunteer, highly-motivated, modern force which, if called upon to fight a war, would go all the way and never look back.

General Fred Franks, who commanded VII Corps in the Gulf War and who lost a leg in Cambodia in 1970, referred to an almost religious devotion among the army’s leadership to rebuild it. Franks called it ‘the hot blue flame that burned brightly.’

After Vietnam, the problems in the army were mainly at the bottom, unlike today, where the army and the military is a fish rotting from its head.

In the 1970’s, under leadership from people like Bill DePuy, Shy Meyer, Donn Starry, Glen Otis and Dick Cavazos the army developed a new doctrine for war known as air land battle, and received new equipment most commonly known as the Big Five: the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley, the Apache, the Blackhawk and the Patriot. The army now had equipment that outclassed most of what the Soviet Army and its Warsaw Pact allies possessed.

Most importantly, the army had a new breed of soldiers; they were volunteers who wanted to serve; they were tough, smart and better paid. Some wanted to make it a career, others wanted to earn enough money to go to college. Some were there for the mere adventure. Under the leadership of Vietnam vet NCO’s; men who knew what went wrong and more importantly, how to insure the mistakes never happened again, the army was reborn...
Something I learned ages ago, wars are fought by nations, but they are won by men in battle. And as our national leadership looses awareness of that fact, the more dangerous our world becomes.

I've discovered this website, War on the Rocks, and the columns are very interesting. I found this article on the needs for a close combat training facility very insightlfull.
When Dauntless Isn’t Enough: The Moral and Strategic Imperative to Fix America’s Close Combat Units

Nearly 80 years ago, the German blitzkrieg took Europe by storm. Often lost in discussions about the German military’s panzers and Luftwaffe is that the assault on France would have never succeeded had it not been for “the remarkable performance of the German infantry.” Yes, it was the world’s best infantry small units that set the conditions for the German blitzkrieg in Sedan, France, allowing Germany to capture almost all of Western Europe in a month’s time. When the German Army was stopped at the Meuse River in Sedan, these small units, led by carefully selected and trained sergeants, crossed the water obstacle via small boats and then rapidly destroyed dozens of “pillbox” positions that anchored the French defensive system. The speed in which the Wehrmacht’s close combat “storm-troopers” destroyed these positions enabled their armor forces to cross the Meuse and continue their attack to the English Channel faster than the French could respond.

Fast-forward four years to Operation Overlord, when thousands of American and allied infantry formations crossed this channel with a mission to destroy the German military. At Normandy’s landing beaches and in the bocage, or hedgerows, just beyond them, German infantrymen were dug-in and determined to halt the allied assault. Most War on the Rocks readers are likely familiar from watching Saving Private Ryan with what happened to Alpha Company of the 116th Regimental Combat Team at Omaha Beach’s Dog Green Sector. While certainly tragic, what happened to 39,000 infantrymen in the six weeks after D-Day as they attempted to bust out of the bocage was far worse. The casualty learning curve — measured in blood — for multiple U.S. infantry divisions exceeded 100 percent. Infantrymen lucky enough to survive the brutal, close-in combat learned hard lessons, adapted, and taught thousands of combat replacements better ways to fight, including more effective ways to employ combined arms. These efforts eventually enabled the destruction of the German infantry units in the bocage. Similar to the panzer dash to Dunkirk in 1940, the courageous actions and severe butcher’s bill of U.S. infantry units were what ultimately enabled Patton’s race to Berlin...

...Realities for America’s Infantrymen in a World with Nuclear Weapons

Since 1945, U.S. policymakers have sent the nation’s close combat personnel into battle in every decade, including the past 17 years without interruption. In these conflicts, America’s infantrymen have suffered more than 80 percent of the nation’s casualties...

...Yet, today, only 19 percent of the Marine Corps’ 648 active-duty infantry rifle squads are led by the appropriately trained, sergeant squad leader that they are required to have. No, that wasn’t a typo. Only 19 percent of what are, in theory, the most important units in the Marine Corps are led by someone with the currently required training and experience. But even when that standard is met, it is not enough. Multiple Marine War on the Rocks authors, including an infantry sergeant, have described how current Marine training is insufficient and unrealistic. While the U.S. Army has figured out ways to place more experienced soldiers in charge of their infantry squads, small unit leadership development is insufficient and realistic training deficiencies are also systemic, as highlighted by Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, a recent Maneuver Center for Excellence commander, and John Spencer of West Point’s Modern War Institute. Special Operations Command appears to have figured out how to meet both the small unit leader experience and training requirements. But that command doesn’t have the necessary capacity to meet American policymaker demand on its own.

Most of the costs involved in fixing these problems would be rounding errors in the defense budget. So why do these problems persist? Simply because the simple solutions to fix them are routinely met with resistance. And this resistance comes either from misinformed priorities or inaccurate claims of insufficient funding...

Something’s got to give. And, to date, manning, equipping, and training (and optimally supporting) the nation’s close combat forces has borne the brunt of the cost. Rep. Niki Tsongas, the ranking member of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, recently highlighted her concerns with this funding imbalance: “While the Marine Corps certainly has a need for aircraft of many types, the ratio of spending on aircraft compared to ground equipment is striking.”

I would add the Pentagon itself has often missed out on defense cuts. The Army has lost divisions and brigades, but the staff of DA just keeps getting larger and larger. For some reason we need "diversity specalists," but we won two world wars without them.
...Is this what is best for America?

Ultimately, this is why fixing the described infantry manning problem, as senior Army and Marine leaders have discussed for years now, is central to achieving the goal of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ “Close Combat Study.” We will explain in a future article what’s being done across the board to fix these problems, but now we want to focus on one vital solution: the creation of a world-class, joint close combat leader training center to certify those given the privilege to lead the .02 percent of the American population that serve in U.S. infantry units.

Why a Joint Close Combat Leader Training Center?

To answer this question, let us consider a bit more history. During World War II and the Korean conflict, the “exchange ratio” for American air forces was extremely favorable. The ratio between enemy and friendly killed in air-to-air combat over Europe versus the German Luftwaffe was nine to one and, against Japan, 13 to one. In Korea, against North Korean and Russian pilots, the advantage was also 13 to one. For a time in Vietnam, however, the ratio dropped embarrassingly: In 1967, it approached parity.

The response within the Air Force and Navy was immediate and dramatic. Both services began to restore traditional dominant ratios by creating advanced tactical fighter schools, made famous by Tom Cruise: Top Gun for the Navy and Red Flag for the Air Force. These services’ air components, joined in 1978 by the Marine Corps’ aviation combat element’s MAWTS-1, quickly developed new tactics for air-to-air combat. The shock and embarrassment of this tough era also led to the development of a new series of aircraft, such as the F-15, F-16, and F-18. Since Vietnam, these aircraft, in the hands of American and Israeli pilots, have achieved incredible exchange ratios, well over 200 to one...

...Time for a Joint Close Combat Leader Training Center

This center’s primary mission should be to certify America’s joint close combat leaders. This should be done by providing annually three 14-week long certification courses. This is slightly longer than Top Gun and almost half the length of the Air Force’s Weapons School. To ensure sufficient capacity for all of the services and key allied infantry leaders, each course should have space for 450 students, who, upon graduation, return to lead their pre-assigned units for a period of no less than two years. The center’s secondary mission should be to lead joint close combat experimentation efforts. These experimentation efforts can occur during the close combat leader certification courses and in the time periods between classes.

The center’s commanding general should be a follow-on assignment for the commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Bringing this level of experience and expertise to the mission is increasingly critical as the U.S. defense secretary continues to emphasize the need for Marine and Army close combat units to perform missions that have typically been thought of as falling in the domain of special operations. The general’s instructor cadre should comprise the most capable and successful non-commissioned and staff non-commissioned officer close combat leaders from across JSOC, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, the Army, and America’s closest allies’ military forces. An elite cadre of civilian personnel should support the commanding general by operating the command’s combat conditioning and health center, as well as the immersion simulation, additive manufacturing, and experimentation laboratory facilities.

Fort Bliss in Texas would be an optimal location for enabling close combat leaders to gain maximum proficiency in employing live ordnance, including from long-range, joint firing platforms. Fort Bliss also enables close combat leaders to train with the variety of information warfare capabilities that can support their units. Equally important, Fort Bliss is home to the Army’s world-class Sergeants Major Academy. The joint force’s top enlisted leaders attend the Sergeants Major Academy. These senior enlisted leaders can provide countless benefits in the development of the nation’s future close combat leadership.

The center’s core complex should include a world-class training facility comprising a combat conditioning and health facility similar to elite collegiate Division I sports’ programs. It should also have an enhanced and expanded, multiple hundred-thousand square foot infantry immersion simulation laboratory. This simulation facility should take the Camp Pendleton “tomato factory” and tactical decision kit models to an entirely new level: Think “tomato factory on steroids.” Additionally, the center should have combined arms urban and subterranean facilities similar to Marine Corps Base 29 Palms’ Range 230 and Range 220, as well as an artificially created jungle warfare training area. The complex should also include an additive manufacturing shop modeled on those recently used by ISIL, although projected forward to what a group like this will have in ten years. This shop should be part of the command’s joint close combat force experimentation laboratory. And the headquarters should have a subordinate command located at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California, where each class will conduct three weeks of mountain and cold weather training.

The course design should consist of the following five phases:

Phase I: Core Foundation (four weeks in length and then integrated throughout the course, with a train-the-trainer approach)

Physical training and nutrition on par with Division I collegiate athletes;

Hand-to-hand close combat instruction;

Teaching the students how to train their small units;

How the brain works, with emphasis on decision-making and the brain under extreme stress;

Human factors and Killology;

Threat doctrine focused on China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, as well as Al Qaeda, ISIL, and other violent extremist organizations;

Marksmanship, day and night (daily repetitions);

Joint command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance;

Joint kinetic combined arms integration;

Joint non-kinetic, or information warfare, capabilities integration;

Joint assault support — waterborne, surface, and aircraft — integration;

Manned-unmanned teaming integration;

Additive manufacturing impact on combat;

Tactical combat casualty care;

And Phase I comprehensive physical, mental and psychological exam; must pass to advance.

Phase II: Urban Combat Foundation (three weeks, with JSOC operator mentors)

Case Studies: Monte Cassino (1944), Okinawa (1945), Seoul (1950), Hue (1968), Baghdad (2003), Najaf (2004), Fallujah (2004-2007), Ramadi (2004-2007), Al Qaim and Tal Afar (2005), Sadr City (2008), and Mosul (2017);

Eighty small unit, force-on-force, combat simulation repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;

Eighty small unit live-fire repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;
Inter-service and Special Operations Command urban combat competition;

And Phase II comprehensive physical, mental and psychological exam.

Phase III: Thick Vegetation and Jungle Combat Foundation (three weeks in length, with JSOC operator mentors)

Case Studies: Guadalcanal (1942), Normandy bocage (1944), Leyte (1944), Ia Drang Valley (1965), Binh Nghia (1966-1967), Cu Chi (1966-1967), Khe Sanh (1968), and Sangin (2010-2011);
Eighty small unit, force-on-force, combat simulation repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;

Eighty small unit live-fire repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;
Inter-service and SOCOM thick vegetation and jungle combat competition;

And Phase III comprehensive physical, mental and psychological exam.

Phase IV: Mountain and/or Cold Weather Combat Foundation (three weeks in length, Bridgeport, California, with JSOC operator mentors)

Case Studies: Liri Valley (1944), Ardennes counter-offensive (1944-1945), Chosin Reservoir (1950), Khe Sanh (1968), Dong Ap Bia (1969), Shah-i-kot Valley (2002), Abbas Ghar (2005), Wanat (2008), Ganjgal (2009), and Kamdesh (2009);

Eighty small unit, force-on-force, combat simulation repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;

Eighty small unit live-fire repetitions for each student based on the above case studies;

Inter-service and Special Operations Command mountain and/or cold weather combat competition;

And Phase IV comprehensive physical, mental and psychological exam; must pass to advance.

Phase V: Certification Week and Graduation Ceremony (one week in length, with JSOC operator mentors)

Every student must pass a final comprehensive physical, mental and psychological exam to receive certification as a U.S. close combat leader;

Graduates are given special recognition in their records as one of America’s close combat leaders, promotion priority, and monthly close combat leader pay.

Establishing a joint close combat leader training center with the proposed leadership and instructor cadre, who have access to world-class facilities on par with those that exist for collegiate athletes and the services’ aviation components at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nellis Air Force Base, and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, is a long overdue and vital step. This step will ensure that Gen. Dunford’s intent to never again send America’s close combat units into a fair fight is met. Additionally, in one of, if not the most rapidly changing and complex security environment the U.S. military has ever encountered, this step will ensure America’s close combat units can constantly learn, adapt, and share the best tactics, techniques, and procedures to gain maximum advantage against all potential adversaries.

Retired Major General Bob Scales is a former Commandant of the Army War College, an artilleryman and author of the book Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk, published by the Naval Institute Press.

Scott Cuomo is a Marine Infantry Officer and MAGTF Planner currently participating in the Commandant of the Marine Corps Strategist Program at Georgetown University.

Jeff Cummings is a Marine Infantry Officer and currently serves as a Military Faculty Advisor at The Expeditionary Warfare School, Marine Corps University.
I think this is a great idea for training a new generation of leaders in our ground forces. I only pray something like this would not be corrupted like the Army's elite training schools have (forgive me, I don't belive two women "passed" Ranger School). A good ides for debate, but we must again understand what we have the armed forces for:

"...to win our wars."

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