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    FM 3.0 - OPERATIONS - By far, this is the most important document in the USArmy. It details the strategic intent. Without this document as a reference, the rest of the articles would be of little use.



    FM 3-21.38 PATHFINDER OPERATIONS, 01 OCT 2002 , SS FM 57-38

    Stryker Bde Field Manuals also known as the Interim Brigade Combat Team. These FMs provide the basis to which the OBJECTIVE FORCE is the derive from. Since the OBJECTIVE FORCE is still in development and thus still alot of theory, the Stryker Bde provides the practical insight to their effectiveness.

    I will use this thread to provide further articles.

  • #2
    Please refer to this link for the following articles

    Military Review
    Command & General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
    Mil Review Home English Edition Spanish Edition Portuguese Edition

    July-August 2003 English Edition
    Return to the Military Review Homepage

    July August 2003 Cover


    2 The Battle of Taji and Battle Command on the Move
    Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Erickson, U.S. Army, Retired
    with Major General Raymond T. Odierno, U.S. Army
    During the Battle of Taji on 16 April 2003, battle command in the 4th Infantry Division was exercised in a technically new style nicknamed Battle Command on the Move that, in effect, frees the commander to go to the fight wherever it might be on the battlefield. No longer is he tied to a headquarters at a fixed location.

    9 The Victory Disease
    Major Timothy M. Karcher, U.S. Army

    Because of America's vast strength, national and military leaders might become overconfident
    in our abilities and begin to underestimate those of the enemy. This cultural phenomenon manifests itself in the mindset sometimes called the Victory Disease. America's position as the sole global superpower makes it an excellent candidate for the disease. The military must devote itself to diminishing the possibility of falling prey to the disease.

    18 Doctrine for Asymmetric Warfare
    Colonel Clinton J. Ancker III, U.S. Army, Retired, and
    Lieutenant Colonel Michael D. Burke, U.S. Army, Retired

    Any discussion of doctrine and asymmetric warfare must begin by acknowledging the tension inherent between the role of doctrine and the nature of asymmetry in warfare. While asymmetric warfare encompasses a wide scope of theory, experience, conjecture, and definition, the implicit premise is that asymmetric warfare deals with the unknown and unexpected. Doctrine must develop an operational philosophy that takes asymmetry fully into account.

    26 Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen: Muslim Brotherhood
    Lieutenant Commander Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, U.S. Navy

    Without closely examining the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen), it is

    is futile to try to understand modern Islamic radicalism. Most leaders of today's Muslim military organizations are or once were members of the Brotherhood. There is much to be gained through careful analysis of its guiding principles.

    32 The Leverage of Technology: The Evolution of Armed Helicopters in Vietnam
    Commander David Tyler, U.S. Navy Reserve

    In the 20th century, the U.S. military embraced technology as a means of exploiting an advantage over the enemy, and it all began when the Army introduced the helicopter as a means of leveraging technology. From the Vietnam war to the present, helicopter use has evolved and ranks among the great accomplishments in modern warfare.

    38 Renaissance of the Attack Helicopter in the Close Fight
    Major Robert M. Cassidy, U.S. Army

    Subsequent to the capture of Baghdad, 4th Infantry Division units were charged with clearing the area north of the city. The enemy, using asymmetric warfare and guerrilla tactics stymied the use of the attack helicopter in the close fight. However, Army attack aviation adapted tactics to counter the asymmetric threat, and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, one attack helicopter company remained under each ground brigade's operational control.

    46 Precision Firepower: Smart Bombs, Dumb Strategy
    Lieutenant Colonel Timothy R. Reese, U.S. Army

    Since David slew Goliath with a slingshot and a stone, every combatant's desire has been to defeat the enemy from afar. In the 21st century, firepower delivered by air and supported from space has come into its own. Precision firepower delivered with great accuracy against a discrete set of targets can lead directly to the defeat of the enemy and to the attainment of U.S. policy objectives.

    54 Three Revolutions: From Training to Learning and Team Building
    Lieutenant General Frederic J. Brown, U.S. Army, Retired

    Changes in training have accelerated since the early 1990s. Now there is potential for expanding from traditional learning to effective learning and teaching for individuals, teams, and units. The expansion will include building and sustaining high-performing teams of leaders across the Army.


    62 Mentoring: Building a Legacy
    Colonel Jack D. Kem, U.S. Army, Retired

    Proper mentoring allows people to get ahead and make names for themselves. And, not only does mentoring pay off professionally, it can be fun. The right kind of mentoring can produce a real legacy—competent, capable leaders for tomorrow.

    Review Essay

    65 Hamas: Understanding the Organization
    Lieutenant Commander Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, U.S. Navy

    While arguing the righteousness of the Islamist cause of liberating Palestine, it is important to under- stand Hamas's inner workings. Heavily modeled on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas has created community services while maintining military wings that carry out suicide bombings.

    67 Book Reviews contemporary readings for the professional

    Cover 3

    Return to the Military Review Homepage

    Contact the Military Review Updated: 18 Sep 2003
    Proper file viewers can be accessed through here


    • #3
      Thanks. Good articles.

      "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

      I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.



      • #4

        You might be extremely interested in Ethics and the New War by Dr. Ignatieff.

        I disagree with the doctor in that we are constraint by our ethics as warriors. On the contrary, we hold the upper hand. The terrorist can see us coming and there's nothing they can do to stop us, even hiding behind women and children.

        Canadian Military Journal

        Vol. 2, No. 4 Winter 2001

        ETHICS AND THE NEW WAR by Dr. Michael Ignatieff





        THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER by Major André Corbould
        THE END OF INNOCENCE by Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Giguère
        WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE CANADIAN ARMY? by Captain (ret’d) Chris Ankerson
        COMMENTARY by Martin Shadwick



        • #5


          "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

          I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.



          • #6

            'If I Had It To Do All Over Again, I'd...'
            March 2001

            By Col. Kevin C. M. Benson

            So there I was, standing with my wife and daughter on the concrete division patch on the parade field. The change of command ceremony was over, and all the folks in the reviewing stand were going to meet the new commander. Clichés whirled through my mind: "Hero to Zero" and "Just another [expletive deleted] LTC!" I just spent two wonderful years in battalion command, and now it was over. So, since I faced a permanent change of station (PCS) move in a few weeks anyway, I decided to write about what went on during my command, a personal after-action report.

            The after-action review (AAR) process is so ingrained in us by now that the questions came to mind easily: What had we accomplished, where had I failed, and what could I have done better? The purpose of this essay is not self-aggrandizement or a public mea culpa. The Army allows most of us command only once as lieutenant colonels. Once we complete that one chance at command, I believe, it is incumbent upon us to share ideas, pratfalls and the like with those who will follow us.

            So, if I had it to do all over again...

            I'd restate the command philosophy every six months; restate the guidance to staff members every six months; restate the delegation of authority to the executive officer (XO), staff officer for operations (S-3), command sergeant major (CSM) and operations sergeant major (OPS SGM) every six months.

            The personnel turnover in our battalion, and I suppose most others, was between 5 and 8 percent per month. It took me till my last six months in command to realize we had at least a 30-percent fill of new troopers every six months. In our Army's history and doctrine units, 30-percent losses are considered combat-ineffective and taken off the line.

            To ensure that your command philosophy lives within the outfit, you must repeat your philosophy to the troopers and leaders on a regular basis. It goes without saying, too, that you must also live the philosophy.

            Building on a previous tour as a regimental executive officer, I had also written staff guidance. Throughout the two years of command, I had five staff officers for personnel (S-1s), three personnel and administrative center noncommissioned officers-in-charge (PAC NCOICs), two staff officers for intelligence (S-2s), two S-3s, four staff officers for logistics (S-4s), two signal officers (SIGOs) and three battalion maintenance officers (BMOs). We also had a captain in the S-3 section only once, for four months. Given similar turbulence in the life cycle of any battalion because of PCS, resignation, other jobs -- aide-de-camp, brigade (headquarters and headquarters company) (HHC) XO -- you need to restate staff guidance, if you have given any, every six months. In a battalion you must reinforce that the staff works for the company commanders. The guidance then tells the staff what constitutes a crisis, your particular critical information requirements and how you want them to operate vis-à-vis the company commanders and brigade staff. The enforcement function involves issuing and reissuing the guidance at a command and staff meeting in the presence of the company commanders.

            In the two years of command, our battalion had three XOs, two CSMs, two S-3s and only one OPS SGM, who also served as the CSM for two months. There was, is and always will be some confusion when new senior battalion leaders come into the rhythm of battalion life. Given the turnover of personnel, staff turbulence and company changes of command, again I recommend that the commander restate the senior leader's authority and zones of action every six months. Delegation of authority is best done in person and in the presence of both the leader who will receive it and the folks with whom the battalion senior leader will work. You would do well to tell your fellow battalion commanders, brigade commander and staff what the zones of action are and on what matters these leaders can take decisions in your name.

            The magic point, again upon reflection, is restating staff guidance every six months. Your message and vision, stated in your command philosophy, will then take root in the battalion because your longer service troopers will hear it repeated time and again as the new troopers hear it for the first time.

            Upon assuming command I quickly learned that the platoon leaders in the outfit thought that if they moved their platoons, our battalion budget would break and they would get blamed. I was amazed. I immediately required all the companies to push platoons out into training areas every week even if it was out the back gate. What I failed to do was put my finger into every company commander's chest, and those of my S-3s, to ensure that they really heard what I said.

            The toughest part of command, and I assume that this applies everywhere given the perceived and real operating tempo of the Army, is the fact that while we always have time for consideration of others' training or for hosting a neighborhood school or the local Special Olympics, we can never seem to find time to train for war-related tasks. I realize that is a bold statement; I also realize that all of the activities I mentioned are worthwhile. Yet if we are honest with ourselves, we will all acknowledge that the activity that gets canceled quickest is training, other than scheduled major events like gunner training. This is easy advice to give but tough to execute. Push platoons out the back gate, and do not take excuses at all. When the alert comes, no one will care how well you accomplished the red-cycle tasks. Write the training schedule first, and then let the CSM and the first sergeants figure out how we will take care of the battalion police area. I did not do a good job in this area, and this leads to the second point.

            I tried to visit at least one company training meeting a week -- emphasize tried. Our young company commanders all believe that what they put on the training schedule is not worth the paper we use to produce it. I heard this argument for two years. I tried to teach the commanders that if they would go through the effort of really applying the military decision-making process (MDMP) to training meetings, they would reinforce the MDMP in their heads and the heads of the lieutenants and would have real on-the-shelf training packages developed if their training were canceled or diverted by higher headquarters. This effort on their parts would also give me the ammunition to show brigade or division the cost of the latest good idea or late-tasking. Sadly, this was a fight I lost. You must visit training meetings. Insist they be run to standard and in accordance with Field Manual (FM) 25-100. Be ruthless about it. You don't want to go to the staff officer for operations (G-3) meetings anyway.

            Tied to going to training meetings and being ruthless about training, if I had it to do all over again, I would insist that the companies, HHC especially, in the battalion fire small arms more often. Our troopers joined the Army to fire weapons and blow things up. We hear that small-arms training is individual training and, therefore, sergeants' business. I say, "So what!" Empower the NCOs through FM 25-100 enforcement to plan for, forecast and then execute the training. All of us have driven past miles of unused ranges.

            The larger problem here is dealing with G-3 and Range Control. In my experience these folks are not that hard to work with. This does not mean at the last minute grab a range. You'll never get ammunition that way unless you cache it in the motor pool. I do not recommend that as a course of action, by the way.

            Scheduling of target practice can be done through close coordination with the people in G-3 and Range Control. Go to their offices and share a cup of coffee. Take some doughnuts, and I guarantee you will always have a sympathetic ear and advocate in that staff section. If I were going into command, the first question I would ask my master gunner is whether he knew the names of the key players in Range Control and then ask him to take the CSM and me to meet them. It is worth the time spent.

            As to platoon leader notebooks, I am not sure when we got away from the great idea that platoon leaders should carry notebooks. I carried one when I was a platoon leader. I knew all sorts of things, from my troopers' wives' names to shoe sizes of platoon members, to Trooper Smith's last leave. I am sure one could do all of that now with a Palm Pilot. The point is I was not ruthless enough in ensuring that the platoon leaders learned that essential part of taking care of soldiers. They were all quick to learn that taking care of soldiers meant getting time off. The real hard part was the face-to-face counseling requirement, how to build a case against the inevitable dud through painstaking counseling and recording of that counseling, the part of taking care of soldiers that meant making them clean their weapons to standard and getting all the mud off the tanks before leaving the motor pool. Having read a few books about war, I tried to convince the lieutenants that "I'm okay, you're okay" is not appropriate when you must lead soldiers into fire. The notebook came to mean an investment in personal leadership, the kind of leadership we still must have in the digital age.

            Likewise, I kept a journal when I was a company commander; I've kept a journal most of my career. When I was a company commander, the staff judge advocate (SJA) at Fort Polk, La., told me journals were admissible as memory aids in courts-martial. Over time this journal grew into a collection of what I wanted to do when I was an S-3, XO or in command of a battalion. It served to remind me how tough it was when planning for training was a little on the shoddy side. Part of commanding is preparing those young company commanders to become battalion commanders.

            If I had it to do all over again, I would encourage my commanders to record their daily thoughts, impressions, feelings and lessons learned as they watch lieutenant colonels, colonels and flag officers operate. They will watch, think, write and retain these lessons for later on in their careers.

            If I had it to do over again, I'd make time for staff and command photographs, take time for more officer professional development sessions, take time to explain the why of standards, missions and tasks. Anyone who served in Germany during the Cold War remembers the walls covered with photographs of previous commanders and staffs. You could track the career of some of those men as they went from platoon leader to company commander, then after some years went back as the S-3 or even commander. We took the time to build a history of those who served before we did, as well as a record of accomplishments. Right now in my memorabilia I have candid photographs of my officers, yet while we tried, we never got around to actually taking the command and staff photograph. I heartily recommend that anyone going into command take the time to do this. This priceless record of the officers and soldiers who served in the outfit will help you build esprit de corps.

            Officer professional development sessions -- sure, those were on the training schedule so the inspector general (IG) could see them. We had these in our battalion, but now I wish I would have had more of them. I mean both more of them with more of a focus on battalion-level problem solving -- interpersonal, tactical, technical and conceptual. I should have conducted more of these to train young officers in the battalion to understand how I operated and expose them to how I made decisions. I do not mean "my way or the highway" but, rather, as a means of exposing young officers to the concerns of battalion-level command as opposed to company-level command. This will broaden the experiences of the younger officers and allow them to incorporate parts of how you and others operate. The better we prepare the younger officers, the better off our Army will be later on. What if you do leave command and the junior second lieutenant does end up in command of the battalion?

            I spent lots of time explaining the why of actions we performed. At times I found this extremely annoying, but I realized that the better the officers, NCOs and troopers understood what we were doing, the better off the execution would be in the long run. I recommend that those going into battalion command spend time explaining the reasoning behind standards, such as why it is necessary to make sure that everyone running on Battalion Avenue wears a reflective vest, even when running in formation. This one is relatively easy, yet someone out there at some time will have to explain a really hard issue. Explaining the why is powerful, and I recommend all commanders take the time to do this. Gen. Baron von Steuben allegedly said of American soldiers at Valley Forge that they performed best when they understood the reason for action.

            If I had it to do over again, I'd listen to the music the troopers enjoy, do new-guy briefings sooner, have the command financial specialist really brief me on what he does, be more careful with e-mail and take more time to explain a career path and what a career means.

            The music our troopers listen to is important. Rap is mostly incomprehensible to me, but I tried to discern the words and feelings behind the words to get a picture of how to motivate the young troopers we have in today's Army. The same goes with Spanish lyrics. The CSM had to translate for me. What the troopers listen to gives clues to behaviors to encourage or discourage. Showing an interest also demonstrates to the troopers that the big Army is their Army, as well. Indeed it was our Army. You might also discover some pretty good rock and roll.

            I strongly recommend that any incoming commander talk to his officers about e-mail. Indeed you owe it to yourself to think about what you write and to whom you send it. A part of my AAR was a series of pictures of a Fort Hood tank mishap. We knew about it because we were there at the time. My point was that I had not received these pictures from my fellow battalion commander at Fort Hood but from friends all around the world. Open communication is essential to supporting reasoned debate within the service. It can also be very dangerous, as you cannot call back a message written in the passion of the moment once you hit the send button. As we all mature and gain experience in this electronic information age, I am sure this challenge will diminish. Until then, however, emphasize to your officers, think before you send.

            My final recommendation is to take the time to explain what a career is and how to map one out. This covers both the "how to deal with branch" topic as well as why we serve. I had five captains leave the service while I was in command, each one a valuable member of the battalion. Altruism wears thin at times, especially in the face of friends on the outside making "big bucks." Today's Army places large demands on young captains and expects a great deal from them. We senior officers must reinforce to these great young officers what I hope they want to hear, that is, the value of their service and the excitement of facing the challenges we give them. It is our task as battalion commanders to point out the rewards, especially the intangible ones.

            We all want to leave a legacy; that is human nature. Your true command legacy is what the unit does and how well it performs after you have gone. The other part of your legacy is how well people who have been touched by your leadership style accomplish missions after they work for or with you.

            My purpose in writing this article was to share some of my own shortcomings with those going into command. "If I had it to do all over again, I'd..." is a common theme among fiction writers, but we never get that chance. I hope that by pointing out my own shortcomings, I can light the paths of the men and women who follow me into that great job in the Army, command at the battalion level.

            COL. KEVIN C.M. BENSON commanded 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, at Fort Hood, Texas, from April 1998 to May 2000. He is now the director of plans at the Transformation of the Army Brigade Coordination Cell at Fort Lewis, Wash. Col. Benson has served in armor and cavalry units in the United States and Germany and as the chief of plans of XVIII Airborne Corps and Third U.S. Army.


            Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


            • #7

              Classical Fire Support vs. Parallel Fires
              April 2001

              By Lt. Col. Robert R. Leonhard

              The captain peered through his binoculars and scowled.
              "Papa three six, alpha one one. Immediate suppression. Over."
              "Papa three six. Immediate suppression. Out."
              "Bravo victor 48613288. Troops in wood line; at my command. Over."
              "Bravo victor 48613288. Troops in wood line; at your command. Out."
              "HE delay. Over."
              "HE delay. Out."
              "Direction 088 ... fire!"
              "Direction 088 ... shot. Over."

              Way back when, I used to be able to integrate artillery fires with the maneuver of my mechanized infantry company team. No longer. The kind of precise control and coordination of fires depicted above is a thing of the past. We have replaced classical fire support with a system of parallel fires. Our Army's fire-support doctrine and practice has migrated in the course of the last 15 years, and much has been gained and lost as a result. We must now determine whether the gains outweigh the losses.

              In the early 1980s, the Army employed a doctrine that I shall refer to as classical fire support. The direct support artillery in a brigade combat team existed to fire in support of maneuver task forces and companies. The system was simple: The brigade commander designated a main effort, typically a battalion task force. Normally, that task force commander was assigned priority of fires. The task force commander would plan his concept of operations and designate three or four priority targets along his expected route of advance. As the task force advanced, the artillery would lay on the next priority target when not otherwise engaged. Hence, the main-effort commander could order immediate responsive fires within seconds.

              Fire-control radio nets were voice networks, sometimes encrypted, sometimes not. Although the encrypted nets occasionally restricted accessibility, the commander could nevertheless rely on fairly easy access to his fire-support teams (FSTs), fire support officer (FSO) and even to the fire detection center (FDC) itself, if necessary. When the mission called for it, the maneuver commander could direct shell and fuze combinations and control the lanyard pull for precise timing of fires.

              Under this system of classical fire support, the maneuver commander was the judge of what would be fired. He could unleash a barrage on a suspected enemy position in a wood line, if he felt it was necessary to facilitate the advance of his maneuver units. On the defense, battalion and company commanders were trained to adjust their close supporting fires, including the frightening and devastating final protective fire, so that those fires were intimately tied to the ground maneuver plan.

              All this is ancient history. Our doctrine no longer emphasizes close coordination between task forces and fires, and the technology and the tactics, techniques and procedures we employ in the field absolutely banish the maneuver commander from the now-mysterious world of fire support. Our new doctrines may work better than classical fire support, but this is by no means proven.

              To understand today's dilemma, we must first understand why our fire-support doctrine changed. The forces that combined to destroy classical fire support were the advent of AirLand Battle, technology advances and the culture of the artillery branch.

              One of the best things that ever happened to the U.S. Army over the past several decades was the advent of AirLand Battle. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Army was contemplating the problem of the central battle in Europe. Close studies of the potential battle between the Warsaw Pact and NATO revealed a horrifying conclusion: We could not win -- at least not if we allowed Soviet echelonment and mass to hit us on the enemy's time schedule. Even if we had a really great day of battle and all the intangibles and incalculables went our way, we would eventually lose. We needed a way to extend the fight deep into the enemy's rear.

              AirLand Battle was a concept that had as its centerpiece the concept of deep battle and eventually deep operations. The idea was that, rather than wait passively for Soviet echelonment to overwhelm us, we would instead extend the violence deep into the enemy's vitals, finding and destroying critically important targets to slow, disrupt and wear down the enemy before it could close on us with its mass.

              To accomplish this deep fight, we had to develop new ways of planning and controlling our fire-support assets. Traditional fire support relied on a simple maneuver-based concept of "detect, decide, deliver": The maneuver commanders would detect a threat; then they and the fire supporters would decide to engage the threat; finally, they would deliver the fires. This method works in close battle but not in a deep fight.

              We discovered that to prevail in deep battle, we could not wait passively to detect something. To do so would put the initiative in the hands of the enemy and would structure our fire support upon accidentally finding the enemy. Instead, we chose to revise our doctrine for the deep fight according to the idea of decide, detect, deliver: We would decide which targets in the enemy's array would give us the best payoff; then we would go after them with our collection assets (radars, Special Forces, reconnaissance aircraft and so forth); finally, we would destroy the target. The means of destruction in AirLand Battle's deep fight was primarily the U.S. Air Force, with some participation from Army aviation, missiles, rockets and some long-range tube artillery.

              It was an ingenious system that worked. As we perfected the art of the deep fight, we structured our equipment, doctrine, organization and training toward more efficient operations. The deep fight would begin with a careful analysis of the enemy's order of battle. A high-payoff target list (HPTL) described the most critical targets in the enemy's array. The fire-support planners would then develop target selection standards and an attack guidance matrix to ensure the most efficient use of fires. The system worked very well.

              Then something terrible, yet virtually unnoticed by most of us, happened: Deep battle doctrine was imported into the close battle, a doctrinal disaster from which we have never recovered.

              The decide, detect, deliver concept does not work in close battle for several reasons. The most important point to understand about deep-battle doctrine is that it does not matter who finds the target. As long as the radar or soldier who found the target is reliable, we can engage the enemy and achieve our desired results. In deep battle, the only important issue is the nature of the target itself.

              In the close fight, however, the question of who finds the target is the most important issue. Hence, if the main-effort battalion commander desires to fire upon a single antitank guided-missile team, then that target is more important than the 20 main battle tanks spotted by the supporting effort's task force scouts. This is true because the defeat mechanism in the close fight is getting the main-effort unit into the enemy's rear where it can cause confusion, disruption and defeat. That is called maneuver warfare.

              In maneuver warfare, we attempt not to destroy the entire enemy force but to render most of it irrelevant. We do this by getting tanks and infantry into the enemy's rear, where they can overrun artillery, supplies and headquarters. Most often, maneuver units infiltrate the rear by attacking through weakness and massing fires on that weak spot to speed other units through the enemy's lines.

              If artillery, supplies and headquarters are the targets, why not just use fires instead of maneuver? In fact, that is the script of battle simulations and war games. These fictional scenarios and the doctrines developed from them, however, fail to replicate the moral dimension of warfare. In real battle, conflicts do not end with complete destruction of an enemy force. More often, the destruction level is about 10 percent or less, followed by a moral collapse or weakening. Thus, most successful battles end with retreats, surrenders or routs. The role of maneuver forces is to facilitate, exploit and multiply that phenomenon. Indirect fire cannot take prisoners or hold a piece of terrain.

              As a maneuver commander, I do not want my FSO showing up with an HPTL in hand. That list of targets indicates that the FSO is serving two masters and has intentions beyond putting fires where I want them. In the close fight, there are no such things as high-payoff targets. In their place we have a main effort, and everything opposing it should be the priority targets, regardless of the threat type.

              It is clear that our forces have lost capability in the integration of fires and maneuver that underpin maneuver warfare. In place of classical fire support, there is a system I call parallel fires.

              The current system is parallel because the maneuver system and the fires are operating in the same direction and seeking the same goal, but they are not working together. Modern close combat, American-style, features two groups of people both trying to beat up the bad guys. Yet like two parallel lines, they never intersect. If a fire mission happens to aid a ground movement, it is a coincidence. Maneuver commanders cannot make it happen intentionally.

              Today, digital fire control nets have utterly banished the maneuver commander from the mysterious world of fire support. Tactical fire-detection system and the advanced field artillery tactical data system have increased the efficiency of parallel fires while rendering tactical synchronization impossible. The old days of time-on-target fire missions closely supervised and coordinated by the ground commander have been replaced by the greater mass of parallel fires. Most maneuver commanders today do not understand artillery as their predecessors did, and most no longer even try to coordinate artillery fires with maneuver. It is common practice today to allow the fire support coordinator and FSOs to control FSTs. Battalion and company commanders often totally lose control over what their FSTs are doing.

              As a mechanized infantry battalion S-3, I remember sitting in my Bradley turret looking south toward the Whale Gap and seeing the enemy's AT5s sitting on a little hilltop plinking away at our tanks. I called on both the fires net and the command net to the FSO but could not get him to respond. I leaped from my Bradley fighting vehicle, climbed onto his vehicle and pulled him up through the cargo hatch. He had a combat vehicle crewman mask on and a handset/headset jammed into each ear. After disconnecting him from his web of communications gear, I pointed to the AT5s and shouted, "Fire that now!" Eventually, we brought serious fires down on them, but I thought it was absurd how unresponsive the fires were.

              Another illustration of the disconnect between maneuver and fires is the infamous fire support rehearsal. I sat through one once and will never do so again. I sat up all night next to my FSO while the fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) choreographed a perfect parallel-fires scenario over the radio net. It took hours. Basically the FSCOORD worked his way down the HPTL and assigned FSTs to fire the target list. I was aghast -- a fire-support system divorced from the reality of maneuver, with the FSTs clearly taking their cues from the artillery chain of command.

              It may well be that parallel fires actually work better than classical fire support. It depends in large measure on how better is defined. For sheer volume of fires or tons of burning enemy steel, then parallel fires is a clear first pick. If, on the other hand, we are looking at increasing the speed and momentum of maneuver units' attacks, then classical fire support is better because synchronized suppressive fires make maneuver units advance faster.

              Whichever option we decide is higher priority, we must at least arm ourselves with an accurate understanding of how artillery fires affect maneuver forces.

              Long-range weapons are inherently desynchronizing. For example, suppose you are a division commander with three brigades, each of which is supported by a direct-support artillery battalion. Suppose also that the tube artillery constituting those support battalions can fire a mere 20 kilometers. This close-range capability satisfies the close-support needs of the brigade commander and his battalion commanders, and as a result, the brigade combat team develops tactics that closely integrate fires with maneuver.

              Now suppose that a technological innovation has increased the range of artillery tenfold. The guns can now fire 200 kilometers, yet this new capability can cause problems. First of all, the brigade commander can now fire at ranges that exceed his ability to see the battlefield. Secondly, fires at such extended ranges will almost certainly cross unit boundaries and affect the operations of other brigades or units. To solve this problem, the division commander, working through his division artillery commander, takes greater control of those guns. The longer a weapon's range, the more likely control of that weapon will go to a higher headquarters.

              The benefits of this option, however, are mixed. On the one hand, the division-supporting artillery can mass fires in a way they never could before. On the other hand, this is desynchronizing for the brigade because the brigade has lost fire support. Longer-range ability diminishes capability. For although longer-range and massed fires help destroy the enemy, the close integration of artillery fires and ground maneuver stands alone as the most difficult tactical task and the one most likely to atrophy. To the maneuver commander, most of those distant explosions are irrelevant and do not positively affect his ground maneuver.

              We can conclude that we should not eschew long-range weapons. There are enormous advantages to extended-range capability. Yet while we employ improved technologies, we must not neglect the close fight. Until proven otherwise, close combat requires classical fire support in most mission, enemy, troops, terrain and time conditions. Before abandoning this concept of tactics, then there must be proof that the system of parallel fires actually works in real combat.

              There is a profound cultural issue at work here. The artillery officer who is conducting classical fire support is clearly in the customer support role: The maneuver commander says, and the artillery officer acts. In this system, the consummate artillery officer is a master of ballistics and positioning, and he excels at assisting the maneuver commander in fire planning.

              In the parallel fires system, the artillery officer is in the driver's seat. He plans, directs and controls the fires. He conducts his own assessments and rehearsals. He controls his own FSTs. He is a major player in determining what will be fired.

              A branch of professional artillery officers that has self-actualized with the system of parallel fires will not desire to return to the ignominy of customer support. The artilleryman of today clings to the HPTL because it is a device of his own making and a symbol of his authority. Warfighting culture within the artillery branch is as powerful a force as it is within the infantry and armor communities, and it will almost certainly resist a perceived reduction of its authority.

              The Army must ask whether the efficacy of parallel fires is worth the cost in close-combat capability. If so, then we should continue to move forward and perfect the art of our new doctrine. But if not, then restore the art and science of close supporting fires responsive to the maneuver commander.

              To answer this essential question, the Army must not rely solely upon computer simulations. Such simulations lack the command and control aspects as well as the moral dimension of warfare, which have an impact on the issue. Experimentation on the ground is a bit more accurate, but even the combat training centers lack the moral aspects critical in close combat. Instead, the Army must look primarily to the lessons of real battle.

              The most obvious answer to the dilemma of diminished fire support is to encourage the maneuver commander to rely on organic mortars. Many commanders admit that mortars are the only reliable fire support available.

              Unfortunately, with only four tubes of heavy mortars and a restricted choice of munitions, as well as limited range, mortars cannot do it all. Supporting artillery fires bring powerful capability to a battalion task force or brigade, and their absence is keenly felt.

              Recognizing a problem is the first step toward solving it. Maneuver commanders today do not have the capability to plan, control and synchronize fires, as their predecessors did 20 years ago.

              Can the Army recover this lost art?


              LT. COL. ROBERT R. LEONHARD, professor of military science at West Virginia University, has published articles and books on military strategy and land warfare.


              Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


              • #8

                That Elusive Operational Concept
                June 2001

                By Col. David A. Fastabend

                "What's wrong with this picture?" To answer this question, we look for a broken pattern: the unmatched color, the ill-fitting shape, the illogical shadow. If the variant breaks the pattern, we can readily solve such problems. It is far more difficult, however, to detect -- perhaps unwittingly -- what is "out of picture" rather than merely "out of place." When attempting to identify a missing element, our perceptions offer few clues, and the potential solutions are infinite. Such problems are difficult to detect, let alone solve.

                Just this kind of undetected problem confronts us today. There is a missing element that handicaps our view of the future. It is our fundamental image of future combat: our operational concept. It may seem paradoxical to label as "missing" a term so prominent in the military media. Query the Internet for "operational concept," and your average search engine generates hundreds of responses, ranging from scores of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) operational and organizational (O&O) concept documents to all the scenario summaries for the Mars Attacks! comic book series. Therein lies the problem: These documents lay equal claim to the title "operational concept." The term operational concept pervades the media as a colloquial expression but is sorely missing as a rigorous legitimate term of military art.

                Although we lack a definition for this phrase, we do not lack enthusiasm. A typical reference breathlessly assures us that "mature combinations of advanced technologies and innovative operational concepts result in new military doctrine and organizational reconfigurations that have the potential to transform the military at its core, fundamentally altering the way U.S. forces conduct the full range of military operations."

                Wow! -- but exactly what is an operational concept? What are its key characteristics? What makes for a good one? By the way, what is our operational concept? Although the phrase operational concept pervades our dialogue on future strategy and force structure, these questions go both unasked and unanswered.

                It was not always so. That elusive operational concept is not undiscovered, merely lost. Napoleon, Grant, Rommel, MacArthur and many others understood operational concepts. We must rejoin their ranks.

                Lacking a rigorous definition, operational concepts are best described through a survey of historical examples. Writing in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings in 1915, Lt. Cmdr. Dudley W. Knox observed:

                The army manuals of a first-class power are written by the general staff, which prepares itself for the task first by an exhaustive study of history and war, as well as of the material, political and other conditions which confront their country. From the results of this study is evolved a conception of war as it should in its opinion be best conducted. When this broad, comprehensive work of information and that of reflection is completed, and not before then, the general staff, having evolved its conception of war, formulates its fundamental major doctrines of war, which are made to flow logically from the reasoned conception.

                As early as the eve of World War I, military observers understood that a fundamental conception of war should inform military thinking. Many of them had studied what Napoleon characterized as mon système: the approach movement over multiple routes, carefully calculated to converge at the decisive point at the decisive time, in a decisive battle, ideally astride an opponent's line of communications. The Napoleonic operational concept informed Robert E. Lee's quest for a battle of decision throughout our Civil War, but it was Grant's understanding of distributed warfare -- a series of battles distributed over vast distances and time, linked in the framework of an overarching campaign -- that proved to be a better match for the emerging era of industrial warfare.

                The Europeans dismissed the American experience as butchery at the hands of amateurs. They developed idealizations of warfare that sought to meld the flexibility of Napoleon's approach with the classical flank and envelopment victories of antiquity. The essence of German Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke's operational thinking featured meticulous deployment planning to support the approach on a broad front with the aim of destroying an opponent's field force. He emphasized maximum freedom of action to his subordinates, all of whom were trained to look for opportunities to effect large envelopments and encirclements. Von Moltke's success in the wars of German unification, as well as in the Franco-Prussian War, greatly colored German thinking in the run-up to World War I. Alfred von Schlieffen believed that "the flank attack is the gist of the entire history of war" and banked everything on it. With unfortunate intellectual disdain the British railed against "a cult of any particular form of action," and many advocated a "doctrine of no doctrine." French doctrine proclaimed, "The French Army recognizes no law save that of the offensive."

                The German operational concept proved to be overreaching, and the Allies found that operational concepts -- or the lack thereof -- really do matter. Disaster ensued in the trenches of World War I. In the intellectual ferment of the interwar years, competing operational concepts shaped the debate. The Germans, shaken by their loss in World War I, developed both a methodology and an intellectual atmosphere conducive to reform. They first began to capture their operational logic in Army Regulation 487, Leadership and Battle With Combined Arms, in 1921. The German operational concept sought innovative means to integrate rapidly evolving combined arms capabilities into mobile formations, the primacy of tactical flexibility and independent action, and retention of the traditional German focus on Kesselschlacten -- battles of encirclement and annihilation. As the interwar debate unfolded, Hans von Seeckt strongly criticized the von Schlieffen School, restoring balance to the German operational concept by relaxing the focus on encirclement to include considerations of breakthrough, thereby completing the basis for blitzkrieg.

                In the Soviet Union, the struggle for Soviet interwar military doctrine was a contest of operational concepts. Gen. Mikhail Tukhachevsky argued for widespread mechanization, a shift of the war to foreign territory and victory "with little blood and a powerful blow" to operationalize a strategy of destruction. Tanks were to be used en masse, and mechanized combined arms formations were expected to make deep penetrations to outflank and encircle enemy forces. Aleksandr A. Svechin argued for an operational concept that facilitated a strategy of attrition in which protracted wars would entail prolonged initial defensive operations characterized by withdrawals on multiple axes and supported by total mobilization of Soviet society. Operational concepts evolved rapidly as participants were drawn into the maelstrom of World War II. It was a war of such unprecedented scope that one single operational concept did not suffice.

                In the Pacific theater, Gen. MacArthur developed an effective joint operational template wherein land forces established operational bases for the air and sea forces, which in turn extended umbrellas of sea and air superiority, thereby isolating the next land objectives for the amphibious invasion of land forces and the subsequent extension of the air and sea umbrella. The conditions of the European theater were totally dissimilar, and even within this theater several operational concepts were applied. The penetration concepts of German and late-war Soviet operations were balanced by the Allies' "broad front" approach on the Western Front. The Soviets entered the Cold War with a vast compendium of European Theater experience and a military-industrial society on a permanent war footing. They developed a robust operational concept characterized by the echelonment of units and formations. They employed first-echelon forces to create ruptures and breakthroughs, while succeeding echelons exploited the successes of the first echelons to execute high-speed multiroute advances to destroy or fix opposing forces. This conceptual framework effectively framed all Soviet doctrine, equipment and resourcing decisions.

                After an abysmal experience with the pentomic division in the early years of the Cold War, the United States developed airmobile operations, an innovative operational concept for the employment of helicopters on the battlefield. It was highly effective in Vietnam, but it was applied against dau tranh, the comprehensive conception of war of the People's Army of Vietnam that integrated the political, economic, informational and military dimensions of conflict. Bereft of an effective theater strategy and operational campaign, the U.S. revolution in tactical mobility was not enough.

                Although much of today's Army is familiar with the post-Vietnam development of Army doctrine, epitomized by the evolution of Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, there is less common understanding of the parallel evolution of operational concepts that underwrote this process. In the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, TRADOC Commander Gen. William DePuy advanced a debate arguing for the inherent superiority of the defense in modern war, the prospect of being outnumbered and outgunned, the new parity in opposing weapons and the superiority of the tank on the modern battlefield. The resultant operational concept of the active defense was the basis for the 1976 version of FM 100-5. Although the Army ultimately rejected the active defense as an operational concept, DePuy's work restored doctrine and FM 100-5 to primacy in Army thinking. In reaction to the active defense, a series of operational concepts emerged with a clear focus on heavy operations against a Soviet opponent in the European theater. From modern armor battle sprang the corps battle, the central battle, the integrated battlefield, the extended battlefield and, finally, AirLand Battle. The 1982 FM 100-5 explicitly presented its underlying operational concept as follows:

                The Army's basic operational concept is called AirLand Battle doctrine. This doctrine is based upon securing or retaining the initiative and exercising it aggressively to defeat the enemy. Destruction of the opposing force is achieved by throwing the enemy off balance with powerful initial blows from unexpected directions and then following up rapidly to prevent his recovery. The best results are obtained with initial blows struck against critical units and areas whose loss will degrade the coherence of enemy operations, rather than merely against the enemy's leading formations.

                In its joint application, the AirLand Battle operational concept encouraged commanders to see deep and attack deep with all available resources, using the joint capabilities of both the land and air forces. The 1982 version of FM 100-5 was the high-water mark of the overt, specific elucidation of an effective operational concept in Army doctrine. Although the 1986 version of FM 100-5 completed AirLand Battle through an emphasis on seizure and retention of the initiative, particularly through an operational reserve, the 1986 FM 100-5 and all subsequent versions have been mute in reference to the actual term operational concept.

                In light of this rich legacy, where is the operational concept today? Although Army capstone doctrine fell silent on the term after 1982, that did not signal its demise. In fact, there has been a veritable explosion in the proliferation of operational concepts. In the aftermath of Desert Storm, the U.S. military attributed much of its success to the efficacy of AirLand Battle doctrine, and this brought about increased attention to doctrine in the other services and the joint community. A capstone document in this doctrinal renaissance was Joint Vision (JV) 2010, which listed not one operational concept but four: precision engagement, dominant maneuver, full-dimensional protection and focused logistics. The Army's corresponding Army Vision 2010 very awkwardly attempted to show the correspondence of these four joint operational concepts to five patterns of operations: project the force, decisive operations, shape the battlespace, protect the force and sustain the force. Concept proliferation still continues unabated. There are umbrella concepts, functional concepts, capstone concepts, overarching concepts and integrating concepts.

                Even the Joint Tactical Radio (JTR) operational requirements document touts an operational concept: "The JTR operational concept is to provide warfighters with digital radio communications throughout the battlespace." That uneasiness you are feeling is the realization that the only element of commonality in these operational concepts is that they have very little utility in helping us visualize the future of warfare. They are typically functional categorizations, useful for listing dimensions of the problem but virtually worthless in actually solving the problem. For over a decade there has been too much word processing and PowerPoint slide building, accompanied by far too little thinking and real debate. We have an irrepressible penchant to declare intellectual categorizations and invoke terminology, all blissfully unconstrained by the rigors of definition or potential utility. The consequence is that the more we communicate, the less we understand -- and we communicate quite a lot.

                Given this cursory review of operational concepts in recent military history and the present, what are its dominant characteristics?

                An idealization of war.
                It is hard to improve on Knox's 1915 description: A military power views an operational concept as "a conception of war as it should in its opinion be best conducted." The operational concept is the "Aha!" idea that answers the question "What is the current problem of warfare, and how do we solve it?" The operational concept is an image of combat: a concise visualization that portrays the strategic requirement, the adversary and his capabilities, and the scenario by which that adversary will be overcome to accomplish the strategic requirement. It is a governing idealization that addresses those activities necessary to link tactical activities in a purposeful way to address the goals of strategy. As an idealization, operational concepts are rarely realized in their actual application, but the extent to which the operational concept matches actual execution is closely correlated to strategic success.

                A reflection of strategic context.
                Operational concepts vary between nations and over time because they must reflect the wide range of strategic environments for those who would employ them. Svechin noted that "the great commanders, as with all successful practitioners, were first of all sons of their age. In the epoch of Napoleon, the techniques of Frederick the Great were utterly defeated, and now the application of the techniques for the Napoleonic epoch lead only to failure. Successful action most of all must be proper to its place and time, and therefore it must agree with the contemporary situation."

                Roger Spiller has noted that "any armed force operates in accordance with a conception of war that has been formed as a consequence of its history, the state of military knowledge available at the time, the material and technical assets at hand, the objectives to which the force expects to be committed and, certainly not least, the caliber of those who must attempt to give it life in battle." Thus it was that Svechin, in light of the limited development of Soviet industry and its large population and territory, argued for an operational concept of attrition.

                Strategic factors can vary widely even among allies in the same theater. The United States in the World War II European theater enjoyed vast superiority in strategic resources but was less confident of its operational and tactical prowess vis-à-vis the Germans. Gen. Eisenhower, consequently, favored a conservative broad-front approach. The British, on the other hand, their limited manpower bled white, favored a rapid end to the war via a single thrust. Whether the British actually enjoyed operational or tactical superiority was irrelevant to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who had a limitless capacity for self-confidence. In the end, the economic, political and even interpersonal challenges of maintaining the Anglo-American alliance carried the day for the broad-front operational concept.

                A link among theory, strategic context and doctrine.
                Although the strategic context is constantly evolving, military theory, such as the principles of war, is generally constant. Theory is not specific to a military force or nation. Military forces, however, must apply theory within a specific strategic context: their nation's economic strength, geopolitical position, culture, history and state of technological development. The operational concept filters theory through the lens of geopolitical circumstances, national culture, historical context and technology to frame a doctrine of war -- the codification of practice. An operational concept may or may not be explicitly set forth in doctrine, but it drives doctrine nonetheless. Doctrines that can demonstrate their basis in a clear and widely understood operational concept are far more effective than those that cannot.

                A clear choice.
                Most important, an operational concept comprises a fundamental choice: a clear decision that selects, from the endless array of potential approaches, the preferred technique for success. It is a specific articulation of the fundamental components of military action and the interdependence of those components. For Army operations in particular, an effective operational concept has a spatial dimension, a scenario that proposes how forces will be distributed in space and maneuver to positions of relative advantage. It is not merely a generic list of the various functional dimensions of military action. Many current operational concepts are afflicted in this way, offering fractal definitions that merely enumerate a list of subordinate operational concepts. If an operational concept can articulate how it differs from the idealization of war that came before it, all the better. Part of the genius of the 1982 AirLand Battle operational concept description was the simple phrase "rather than against the enemy's leading formations." That simple phrase spoke volumes: no more obligingly concentrating in the path of the Soviet breakthrough effort, no more pseudoscientific exchange ratios, no more "win the first battle." No more active defense.

                A component of conflict.
                Operational concepts are essential components of conflict because they compete with those of our adversaries. In actual combat, the competition of concepts rapidly accelerates. Operational experience pushes everyone up the learning curve, but winners tend to reinforce the status quo while losers accelerate the search for new solutions. In World War II, the results of the early German blitzkrieg victories diminished rapidly as the Allies got the measure of it.

                Operational concepts compete in peacetime as well. Kimberly Marten Zisk defines reactive innovation as a major change in thinking about, and preparation for, future war that occurs because of a change in war thinking or preparation made by a potential opponent. This phenomenon was evident in the closing years of the Cold War as Soviet planners, assessing the efficacy of the U.S. AirLand Battle operational concept, increasingly emphasized operational maneuver groups as the antidote that could wrest the initiative from NATO's deep-attack assets. It is further evident today.

                The success of AirLand Battle in Operation Desert Storm signals the probable demise of this form of operations, as potential adversaries eschew head-to-head confrontation and seek asymmetric means to engage U.S. forces. They are actively seeking anti-access strategies, means to ensure U.S. casualties and ways to engage the U.S. homeland, perhaps with weapons of mass destruction -- and so it goes. The war of operational concepts does not wait for the bullets to fly. It is ongoing every day, and therefore we can never rest, doomed to continual adaptation in pursuit of the operational concept that will best that of our adversaries.

                As today's Army sets itself on a course for transformation and we are renewing our focus on the operational concept, several challenges loom:

                Ideas matter.
                First of all, the operational concept is fundamentally an idea, and ideas matter. Svechin put it succinctly: "In strategy, prophecy may only be charlatanism, and even a genius is incapable of seeing how a war will unfold. But he must put together a perspective in which he will evaluate the phenomena of war. A military leader needs a working hypothesis."

                The operational concept, our working hypothesis, frames all developments in doctrine, organization, training, material acquisition and leader and soldier development. We have to get this right. We cannot assume that our current technological superiority will last or that, even if it endures, a technological edge will outweigh a competitive operational concept. The decisive German victory over the British and French in 1940 cannot be attributed to superiority in technology, equipment or numbers. The German advantage was in their operational concept and the training of their forces in accordance with that concept. With the British wading through the surf at Dunkerque and his own army in collapse, the French army chief of staff was called before his prime minister to account for his failure. Gen. Maurice-Gustave Gamelin blamed "our very conception of war."

                Ideas matter, and joint ideas matter the most. The Army's operational concept must be subordinated to a joint operational concept. The challenge here is doubly daunting because we must not only put forth a good idea but also must first throw out a bad one. The bad idea is that the current Joint Vision (JV) 2020 list of operational concepts -- precision engagement, dominant maneuver, full-dimensional protection and focused logistics -- constitutes a coherent operational concept. It does not. A list of concepts is not an image of future combat; they offer no real choice. Therein lies the challenge for a real joint operational concept, for the history of U.S. joint cooperation has been one of peaceful coexistence rather than the hard delineation of interdependent roles. That is why in Joint Vision 2010 and JV 2020, we find it more comfortable to pretend that four nonintegrated operational concepts, vaguely correlated to the primary functions of various services, are preferable to a solid assignment of specific service roles.

                Debates matter.
                Because ideas matter, good ideas cause good debates. Without debates, in fact, good ideas may fail. It is no exaggeration to state that the quality of the AirLand Battle operational concept and associated doctrine had its origins in the debates induced by the ultimately rejected 1976 active defense concept. The absence of internal debate of the pentomic concept, handed down by fiat of Headquarters, Department of the Army, was a significant factor in its failure. Debates are the crucible wherein ideas are refined, accepted or rejected. Debates identify flaws and generate consensus. Absence of debate is a warning sign, a signal that a real idea has not been put forward, that a real choice has not been proposed, that there is really nothing worth arguing about.

                Svechin and Tukhachevsky dominated the interwar attrition/annihilation debate during a remarkable interlude in Soviet military thought when ideas mattered and debate was acceptable. Although both participants perished as Stalin's purges closed out this era on the eve of World War II, they both found historical justification. Trading casualties and space for time, the Russians blunted the German onslaught with Svechin's attrition approach until total mobilization made practicable the mechanized army that could execute Tukhachevsky's deep-battle operational concept. Their debate brought balance to doctrine, enabling the Soviets to adjust their operations to strategic realities. Debates defeat dogma. Pre-World War I German military planners, driven by an operational concept hinged on strategic envelopment, convinced their political leaders to ignore Belgium's neutrality in order to facilitate an end run around French defenses. This turned the relationship between war and politics on its head, with unfortunate strategic consequences. Operational concepts that are unchallenged to the point of dogma can bring catastrophe.

                Clarity matters.
                Debates matter, but they are not possible if the disputed ideas lack clarity. It would be disingenuous to propose that the numerous concepts described in this article were originally articulated with equal clarity. The truth is that some of these concepts are recognizable only through the lens of historical retrospect. They were not equally apparent to planners and practitioners at the time. In some cases, the operational concept was widely understood, but in others it was not. Every military force is shaped by an operational concept, consciously or unconsciously. Consciously is better. It is not enough if the composite elements of an effective operational concept are unrecognizably buried in doctrine. We have noted that the 1982 FM 100-5 was the last capstone Army manual to cite explicitly an operational concept. Yet a very similar passage was in the 1986 FM 100-5, Operations:

                AirLand Battle doctrine describes the Army's approach to generating and applying combat power at the operational and tactical levels. It is based on securing or retaining the initiative and exercising it aggressively to accomplish the mission. The object of all operations is to impose our will on the enemy -- to achieve our purposes. To do this, we must throw the enemy off balance with a powerful blow from an unexpected direction, follow up rapidly to prevent his recovery and continue operations aggressively to achieve the higher commanders' goals. The best results are obtained when powerful blows are struck against critical units or areas whose loss will degrade the coherence of enemy operations in depth and, thus, most rapidly and economically accomplish the mission. From the enemy's point of view, these operations must be rapid, unpredictable, violent and disorienting. The pace must be fast enough to prevent him from taking effective counteractions.

                This statement omits the reference to the phrase "operational concept" and expands the 1982 language. Its legacy in the 1982 manual, however, is indisputable. Then in the 1993 FM 100-5, buried within the combined arms discussion, we have:

                Modern combined arms warfare puts added stress on maintaining dispersed and noncontiguous formations. Army forces overwhelm the enemy's ability to react by synchronizing indirect and direct fires from ground and air-based platforms; assaulting with armor, mechanized, air assault and dismounted units; jamming the enemy's communications; concealing friendly operations with obscurants; and attacking from several directions at once. The goal is to confuse, demoralize and destroy the enemy with the coordinated impact of combat power. The enemy cannot comprehend what is happening; the enemy commander cannot communicate his intent, nor can he coordinate his actions. The sudden and devastating impact of combined arms paralyzes the enemy's response, leaving him ripe for defeat.

                To compare these operational concept-like statements end to end -- from 1982 through 1986 to 1993 -- is to see an Army that is progressively "losing it." Each attempt at the articulation of an operational concept is progressively more vague, more jargonized and more compromised by genuflection to the Army's numerous stakeholders. Our 1982 "Army" becomes in 1993 "armor, mechanized, air assault and dismounted units." Our 1982 "blows" become in 1993 "indirect and direct fires from ground and air-based platforms." One can discern the logical lineage of the ideas, but not one in 10 officers would be able to locate the U.S. Army operational concept in the 1986 manual, and not one in 100 would be able to in the 1993 version. Ironically, the 1993 statement tells us that "the goal is to confuse" -- mission accomplished!

                We must have clarity. Without clarity there is no idea and no meaningful debate. The first step is to establish some rigor for the definition of an operational concept. The term is absent from Joint Publication 1-02, The DOD Dictionary of Military Terms. Technically, the Army once defined the term. Writing in his Commanders Notes, No. 3 in February 1979, TRADOC Commander Gen. Donn Starry stated:

                All professions have vocabularies of professional terms. Over time, many such terms become establishment "in-words" and are so ill-used that their original meaning is lost. Often it is only necessary to use the words to evoke affirmative head nodding; even though no meaning is conveyed, everyone professes to understand what is meant... Among them is the word concepts... There is visible nodding of heads when the word concept is used. However, it is apparent that the word means different things to all too many of us... I have the impression that concepts are being created, not to describe the Central Battle, but to justify some individual weapon or other system... If this is true, we have got the concept of concepts just exactly backwards.

                Starry went on to define the operational concept as "a description of military combat, combat support and combat service support systems, organizations and tactical training systems necessary to achieve a desired goal" and added that "concepts are and must be the first agreed-upon part of any project."

                Although this definition of the operational concept never migrated from Starry's Commander's Note to doctrine, TRADOC has published scores of Organizational and Operational (O&O) concepts since 1979. TRADOC O&O concepts generally do well at addressing the complete range of combat, combat support and combat service support systems. These are the charters of the various branch schools, and our branch schools weigh in with abandon. The result, however, is that most TRADOC O&O concepts are tomes of many pages that overlook Gen. Starry's explanatory comment that "a draft concept statement should be brief, a page or two." We generally omit a concise, elegant super synopsis that describes our conception of war as it should be best conducted.

                Brevity is the soul of clarity, and there is an acute shortage of brevity in our current thinking. We can easily understand why. The means of combat have expanded dramatically over the last several decades. Armies must now account for a full spectrum of operations, with diverse employment roles. An army with global responsibilities, like ours, must envision operations in a vast array of environments. Add to all this the fact that ground forces operate meaningfully only within the context of a robust joint operation, and the challenge is daunting indeed. Can one operational concept suffice? Even in World War II, U.S. forces exercised fundamentally different operational concepts in the Pacific and European theaters. If clarity matters, then much thought must go into balancing brevity, specificity and scope to depict the image of combat for an Army facing such an ambiguous future.

                Resources matter.
                There is a common thread linking the history of operational concepts: Resources matter. The British had a rich reservoir of interwar thinkers -- Fuller, Liddell Hart, Martel and others -- but they did not garner resources for their ideas. Even once developed, operational concepts must be fielded and embedded in the force through training. Operational concepts require widespread understanding, the kind that cannot be put together on the fly. Gunther Roth's ("Operational Thinking in Schlieffen and Manstein") account of the French response to the German blitzkrieg in 1940 illustrates this peril:

                The French wanted to block the breakthrough head-on, as they had done in the first world war, so as to crush the attacker with artillery fire. Just when they tried to cut off the German panzer wedges, which had pressed far forward, by counterattacking in the flank of the breakthrough corridor, they realized that they had no instructions, no means of communication. Their staffs were not trained in this kind of operational employment of mechanized forces because, so far, it had not even been played through in map exercises.

                The Germans sliced through the Ardennes in 1940. However, in 1944 the Wehrmacht was at a fraction of its previous personnel and material readiness. German air superiority was nonexistent; ammunition and fuel shortages were severe, and training levels were substandard. Resourcing tipped the balance between success and failure during the Battle of the Bulge.

                Today's austere resource environment is crippling. Outside observers may encourage the Department of Defense to "create slack for innovation," but such slack is not on the horizon. In today's constrained resource environment, each service must compete to show its relative worth to national security, and experiments are not allowed to fail. Experiments become demonstrations doomed to success. The real test is deferred to the crucible of war.

                Leaders matter.
                For good or bad, operational concepts are typically associated with key leaders. Schlieffen had no personal confidence in the ability of a modern industrial society to sustain protracted war and, in the pursuit of a rapid decisive victory, developed an almost maniacal focus on the Cannae-like flank envelopment writ large: the strategic envelopment. This focus, together with his legendary powers of persuasion and influence, shaped German operational thinking even beyond his deathbed. Von Seeckt ruefully remarked: "Cannae; no other catchword has been as disastrous for us as this one." Von Seeckt himself, on the other hand, offers a more positive example. As the commander of the German Army in the wake of World War I, he fostered reforms and debates that shaped the foundations of blitzkrieg. Operational concepts need leaders who recognize ideas that matter, refine those ideas through effective debate, distill them with clarity and bring resources to their implementation.

                Getting the picture.
                "What's wrong with this picture?" We lack the picture itself. The term operational concept has been hijacked and colloquialized. At the joint level, pseudoconcepts occupy the place of something far more important -- a real visualization of the future of joint combat. Some service proponents seek to fill the vacuum by advancing self-serving ideas under the rubric of potential operational concepts, and some professional defense critics advance ideas that are downright silly. Everyone is looking for the big picture.

                The Army has never been in a better position to fill in the big picture. Having set its course for transformation to the objective force, the Army senior leadership understands the value of an operational concept and has expended tremendous institutional effort in its development. All the elements of a truly revolutionary operational concept are at hand: strategic responsiveness and maneuver on unprecedented time lines, the bypassing of traditional seaport and airhead choke points, Army-wide vertical envelopment capabilities, fighting noncontiguously over vast areas, decisive close combat that directly engages enemy decisive points and centers of gravity -- the width and breadth of change is unprecedented. The challenge that remains is simply the articulation, the picture.

                The Army must distill this tremendous effort into a clear message that informs the joint operational concept and shapes our continued transformation efforts. The Army's picture of future war is intuitively obvious to those who have immersed themselves in this effort for the last two years, but it consistently eludes those who restrict their military education to what they read on the Washington Metro every morning. If we do not offer a simple, clear picture of how we will fight, our concept will be supplanted by simpler, narrower images that are easy to sell but impossible to execute. A good picture beats a good concept every time. We can have both; the future demands it.


                COL. DAVID A. FASTABEND is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received master's degrees in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in Military Art and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.


                Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


                • #9

                  21st Century Leadership Competencies
                  August 2001

                  By Lt. Gen. William M. Steele and Lt. Col. Robert P. Walters Jr.

                  They were referred to as Westerners on that brisk November afternoon when they took the field against the collegiate football powerhouse -- Army. For years the game of football had been simple. Two teams would square off on a gridiron. The team with the ball, the offense, would attempt to gain 10 yards for a first down in a series of plays or surrender the ball to the opponent. Most teams would run straight ahead, trying to gain two or three yards on each play. When one team managed to get the ball across its opponent's goal line, six points were awarded. This was the way the game was played in 1913, and the Black Knights of Army were the best team in the game. At least that was the case until the Westerners from an obscure university in Indiana played at West Point and brought a new dimension to the game.

                  On that Saturday afternoon, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame buried the Cadets of Army under a 35-13 score. The Irish had flashed the most sensational football that had ever yet been witnessed. They baffled the Cadets with a perfectly developed forward pass that moved the ball down the field at 30 yards a clip, rather than Army's traditional "three yards in a cloud of dust." Notre Dame's success came from the passes of quarterback Charles (Gus) Dorais to end Knute Rockne, skills they had perfected on the beach the prior summer.

                  That game changed the face of college football. The forward pass became an integral part of football. Defenses spread to cover potential pass receivers, opening up play. Notre Dame became the most famous of all college football teams. How did Notre Dame, Dorais and Rockne generate such revolutionary change? They recognized an opportunity in the 1905-06 rules change that allowed the forward pass. They adapted to the new rule, perfecting their passing skills and incorporating the forward pass into their offensive playbook. In short, the Westerners had developed and gained confidence in the forward pass and adapted it into a new dimension while their contemporaries had ignored the opportunity and maintained their traditional approach to football.

                  Today, the U.S. Army is going through its own evolutionary change. As the Army works through transformation to the objective force, changes to doctrine, organization structure and materiel are well under way. Although these changes are important for the transformation process, they do not specifically address what the Chief of Staff, Army (CSA) referred to as the "centerpiece of our formations" -- the soldier. CSA Gen. Eric K. Shinseki said: "Leadership is the most important thing we do in peacetime. Every day, we train soldiers and grow them into leaders." This emphasis on people at a time when the Army is transforming leads us to ask how our people need to change to be effective in the objective force. What skills, knowledge and attributes are required for a leader to be successful in our transformed Army? More specifically, what are the competencies required for objective force leaders?

                  When trying to determine what Army leaders should be, know and do, a logical starting point is the Army's capstone doctrine for leadership, Field Manual 22-100, Army Leadership. The purpose of FM 22-100 is to establish the Army's fundamental principles by which Army leaders act. The manual's intent is to solidly base the Army's leadership framework on be, know and do -- that is, character, competence and action -- and provide a single instrument for leader development. Clearly, FM 22-100 is a valuable tool for leaders in today's Army. It does not suffice for the objective force, however. The new operational environment, with unknown, poorly defined and asymmetrical threat elements, combined with a standing requirement to operate successfully across a full spectrum of operations, has produced new challenges for tomorrow's Army leaders. Training soldiers and growing leaders in the new operational environment will require Army leaders with more capabilities than those described in FM 22-100. What then are those objective force leadership characteristics and skills?

                  In June, the CSA chartered the Army Training and Leader Development Panel (ATLDP) to look specifically at training and leader development as part of the Army's Transformation Campaign Plan. For three months, the panel conducted exhaustive research and data collection across the Army. Then, over the subsequent three months, the panel assessed Army training and leader development doctrine and practices to determine their applicability to and suitability for the future. On May 25, Gen. Shinseki published the ATLDP Officer Study Report. This candid, comprehensive self-assessment revealed much about officer training and leader development for the Army's objective force.

                  To determine the characteristics and skills required of information age Army leaders who must conduct strategically responsive operations in tomorrow's full spectrum battlespace, we must look at how the Army develops its leader competencies related to effective or superior performance. Competencies provide a common language to discuss leader and unit performance, and leader selection, development and advancement. This common language enables the Army to assess its leadership and units, and feed the results into its training and leader development programs. Competencies also provide a road map, enabling leaders and units to know what they have to accomplish. The Army's current leadership doctrine uses two methods to determine leader competencies, one based on values and the other on research.

                  The Army's values-based leader competencies are irrefutable, even if the environment changes. They are at the heart and soul of the soldier's profession. They are the foundation on which all other leader competencies are based.

                  An example of the values-based leader development approach can be found in FM 22-100. The manual describes the heroism displayed by MSgt. Gary I. Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart on a hot and dusty October afternoon in 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. These soldiers volunteered to assist the crew of a downed helicopter in a hostile part of the city. They knew the situation was dire and that follow-on forces were not immediately forthcoming. These NCOs left the relative safety of their helicopter, conducted a fast-rope insertion, fought their way to the downed aircraft, pulled the surviving crew members from the wreckage, then defended the position until their ammunition was exhausted and they were killed by enemy fire. They gave their lives in this valiant effort and in doing so, personified the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

                  The research method examines the performance of successful leaders, systematically analyzing their behavior and validating them as consistent with superior performers to identify leader skills, knowledge and attributes. FM 22-100 also uses this method when discussing attributes. The manual uses the historical vignette of Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson and his 2,000-man brigade at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) to describe the good effect that a leader displaying self-control under fire can have on a tense situation. Stonewall Jackson and the Stonewall Brigade endure in Army history because of their self-control and discipline under fire.

                  As the Army undergoes transformation, it is also using a new strategy-based method for developing leader competencies. The strategy-based method enables the Army to position itself and its leadership for the future, even when that future is uncertain.

                  The Army depends on leaders and units that have the requisite leader competencies to execute full spectrum operations. They must thrive in a complex full spectrum environment, ranging from high-intensity combat to the ambiguities inherent in stability and support operations. They require skills that are matched to these new operating conditions and that support the requirement for lifelong learning, leadership skills and attributes that will help the leader and unit:

                  become aware of the need for new skills in rapidly changing environments,
                  know how to develop those new skills,
                  transfer that learning and associated competencies to other leaders and units,
                  institutionalize learning in the Army's culture and systems to increase self-awareness and adaptability.

                  Given the ambiguous and dynamic nature of full spectrum operations, Army strategy-based objective-force leader competencies must be enduring and so powerful that they transcend traditional approaches, skills and attributes. The example of Notre Dame's forward pass and Reading, Speaking, Writing and Learning are all examples of powerful, enduring competencies. The ATLDP officer panel determined, and rightly so, that self-awareness and adaptability are the Army's enduring strategy-based competencies of the 21st century. In this context, self-awareness is the ability to assess abilities, determine strengths and weaknesses in an operational environment, and learn how to sustain strengths and correct weaknesses. Adaptability is the ability to recognize changes to the environment, to determine what is new, what must be learned to be effective, and includes the learning process that follows that determination, all performed to standard and with feedback.

                  While the terminology may be new, the enduring competencies of self-awareness and adaptability certainly are not. At the conclusion of World War I, the "war to end all wars," each side, shocked and bewildered by the horrors of trench warfare, sought a solution to the deadlock in the event of another war in Europe. When war returned to the continent in 1939, the Allies prepared to fight the last fight -- World War II -- better. They fortified the Maginot Line in France near the German border, a defensive belt stretching from Switzerland in the south to the Ardennes Forest in the north, and planned for a defensive battle to counter a German offensive in the form of a traditional frontal attack.

                  The Germans, on the other hand, recognized an opportunity to change the operating environment and adapted accordingly. Technical advances in armored vehicles, radios and combat aircraft convinced the Germans to change the way they conducted warfare. They made armored troops the operationally decisive weapon on the battlefield. Using a combined arms approach with combat aircraft, artillery and 10 modernized panzer divisions, the Germans employed their blitzkrieg attack on the Allies in the spring and summer of 1940. The result is well known, but the important fact is that the Germans, on a national level, displayed greater self-awareness and adaptability during the interwar period. The combined arms effect of combat aircraft, artillery, radio and panzer divisions was the German "forward pass" against an Allied defense waiting for a traditional "three yards in a cloud of dust" run into the middle of the Maginot Line.

                  Self-awareness and adaptability are symbiotic, and one without the other is useless. On an individual level, self-awareness without adaptability characterizes a leader who does not understand his strengths and weaknesses in relation to his environment. A person who has adaptability without self-awareness is irrationally changing for change's sake, not understanding the relationship between abilities, duties and the environment.

                  Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman displayed both of these qualities at Atlanta in September 1864. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had given Gen. Sherman the mission to split the Confederacy. Initially, when Sherman attacked toward Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tenn., he employed the traditional tactics of committing combat troops to maintain his ever-extending lines of communication (LOCs) as he progressed.

                  Once in Atlanta he realized his LOCs were an operational weakness that would curtail his initiative and lead to failure. He accepted risk and adapted the environment to his advantage. On September 12, he began the evacuation of the civilian population from Atlanta and then burned the city to the ground. With Atlanta in ashes behind him, Gen. Sherman attacked toward Savannah. He led a force of 62,000 men in two columns, with 40 days of rations, across the heart of Georgia, ignoring traditional tactics and LOCs.

                  His army destroyed everything it encountered, including livestock, farms, railroads, warehouses and anything else Confederate forces could possibly have used to sustain their war effort. By not committing combat forces to guard Atlanta or to maintain his LOCs, Gen. Sherman's "forward pass" caught the defending Confederates on their heels. Gen. Sherman recognized an opportunity to change the environment and adapted. His vision enabled his March to the Sea and broke the proverbial back of the Confederacy.

                  As it transforms itself, the Army must use all three leader development strategies to harness its leaders' potential. The values-based method provides the foundation for leader competencies. The research-based method provides successful leader competencies from leaders past and present. The strategy-based method enables lifelong learning, through the enduring competencies of self-awareness and adaptability, for an uncertain and constantly changing environment. The competencies of self-awareness and adaptability are all about lifelong learning. Their mastery leads to success in using many of the other skills required in full spectrum operations. Army leaders committed to lifelong learning and the enduring competencies of self-awareness and adaptability must be the catalysts of our objective force.

                  Above all else, to develop this type of leader requires commitment on the part of the Army and its leaders. The Army must commit to being a learning organization that institutionalizes the organization's learning philosophy and provides the resources necessary to foster continuous education, training and leader development for soldiers and their leaders. Army leaders must commit themselves to lifelong learning and take personal responsibility for their own self-development. Leaders must continually assess their own knowledge and capabilities and aggressively pursue improvement in areas that are not up to standard. They must also be quick to recognize a change, or an opportunity to create change, in the environment and have the initiative and personal courage to adapt rapidly to it.

                  At times in history, armies have learned the hard way: The burning of Washington during the War of 1812, Custer's last stand at Little Big Horn, the 20th century interwar years, Kasserine Pass and Task Force Smith come to mind.

                  At other times, armies adapted more quickly and employed new skills to advantage. For the attacking Germans in the summer of 1940, the combined arms blitzkrieg was their forward pass. Gen. Sherman's forward pass kept all of his combat power on the attack by ignoring his lines of communication. Both these examples reflect the enduring values of self-awareness and adaptability.

                  Notre Dame may have beaten Army that Saturday in 1913, but the Army learned a valuable lesson. On any full spectrum battlefield, Army leaders must be quick to recognize change and rapidly adapt to circumstances and use them to our advantage. We must always be the Westerners, seeking dominance and decisive victory through the latest version of the forward pass.


                  LT. GEN. WILLIAM M. STEELE, study director for the Army Training and Leader Development Panel, is commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
                  LT. COL. ROBERT P. WALTERS JR., a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, is aide-de-camp for the commanding general, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center.


                  Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


                  • #10

                    Making Close Supporting Fires Happen
                    August 2001

                    By Maj. Gen. Toney Stricklin and Col. Sammy L. Coffman; U.S. Army retired

                    An article in the April issue of ARMY Magazine ("Classical Fire Support vs. Parallel Fires") has caused intense debate at Fort Sill and throughout the Army on whether the Field Artillery (FA) has abandoned its legacy of providing devastating artillery support to tactical maneuver forces in close combat. We have not.

                    The problem is that for the past two decades, our direct support (DS) artillery has failed to deliver responsive, effective close supporting fires at the combat training centers (CTCs), primarily for the heavy force. As a result of this lack of performance, we have grown two generations of maneuver commanders who believe that the FA has walked away from the close fight. Although this is not true, we understand why some have this perception.

                    Our ineffectiveness in the close fight at the National Training Center (NTC) caused the author of the April article to accuse the FA of planning and executing fires independently of maneuver -- what he refers to as "parallel" fires. The article states that in the past the FA provided "classical" fire support ... that "the direct support [DS] artillery in a brigade combat team existed to fire in support of maneuver task forces and companies," but not today. The article blames a shift in doctrinal emphasis from close to deep fires.

                    In the April article, the author was searching for causes of our close fight failures, but the problem is complex, and so are its causes. In addition to defining the problem, this article will address its causes and outline some solutions to make close supporting fires more responsive and effective. The problem calls for a set of solutions that must be implemented over time by the Field Artillery, the combined arms community and the entire Army. The FA accepts the challenge of working "our lane" aggressively, but there is enough work to go around.

                    Our solutions include changes that must be incorporated into operations at our CTCs. In no way are our comments intended as criticism of the CTCs, which have been and remain the crown jewels of the Army's training strategy. However, it is time for some changes.

                    Understanding DS
                    Our performance at the CTCs during the past two decades has caused many to look for explanations as to why close support is not what it was in World War II, Korea or Vietnam. The April article blames doctrine. The article suggests that we have shifted our doctrine to parallel fires, where the FA plans and executes fires parallel to maneuver and that the two never intersect. It further says that the advent of parallel fires has "banished" maneuver leaders from planning and controlling their supporting artillery. The article implies that there is a need to return to classical fire support.

                    The fact is that fire support doctrine for DS artillery remains virtually unchanged after almost three decades. That doctrine is neither parallel nor classical. One challenge in defining the problem is for everyone to understand DS and its relationship to close support. The author (and others) incorrectly describes DS as synonymous with close support. In fact, close supporting fires are only part of the DS mission.

                    The support relationships (standard tactical missions) of DS, general support (GS), reinforcing (R) and general support-reinforcing (GSR) as defined in FM 6-20, Fire Support for AirLand Battle, our capstone fire support doctrine, have not changed for decades. The focus of DS is and always has been to provide responsive and accurate fires for the supported maneuver unit, in this case the maneuver brigade. This means the DS battalion provides the fires the brigade commander directs it to provide in close consultation with his fire support coordinator (FSCOORD). However, DS also includes brigade shaping (interdiction) fires and counterfire. All are critical fire support tasks for the maneuver brigade and sometimes generate competition for priority of limited fire support assets. These critical tasks must be integrated and balanced in accordance with the maneuver brigade commander's mission, intent and scheme of fires.

                    Probably the most significant issue in determining if today's direct support is correctly focused is the expectation for immediately responsive fires at the maneuver battalion task force and subordinate companies. These echelons expect responsive planned and unplanned fires at their levels, as well they should. However, although not mentioned in the April article, this expectation must consider mortars first and move on to DS FA. Army doctrine has always emphasized mortars as a major contributor to fires at the maneuver battalion and company levels. This is why mortars exist and are organic to maneuver units. NTC observations note the continuing problems units have integrating mortars into the fight, adding to our close support challenges.

                    Adequate fire support does not mean that the DS FA unit engages every target. Expecting the DS artillery battalion to be the sole provider of close support has never been fire support doctrine. Close supporting fires also include Army aviation and joint assets.

                    Maneuver expectations at the brigade level may be somewhat different from those at the battalion or company levels. DS artillery first must meet the expectations of the supported commander, the brigade commander. The brigade commander is not banished unless he chooses to be. There is no question that some brigade commanders are more involved in the direction of their fire support than others. It is also a fact, however, that when a brigade commander is involved in directing the synchronization of maneuver and fires, his fires tend to be more effective, both shaping and close support.

                    Causes of the Problem
                    As NTC observations indicate, there are two major aspects of the problem: responsiveness and effectiveness. These challenges also surface at the other maneuver CTCs. However, light fighters tend to focus their fire support better at home station through combined arms live-fire exercises and, generally, do better at the Joint Readiness Training Center. Therefore, we use NTC as our example.

                    FA challenges
                    The latest Center for Army Lessons Learned Bulletin for the NTC (March) states that close fires lack responsiveness and "focus and mass of fires in execution," a typical observation of our performance at the NTC for at least the past decade. Accurately locating targets, positioning observers in the correct location to observe and adjust fires, maintaining functional long-range communications (digital and voice) and creating a flexible digital fire support architecture are among the major challenges encountered. These are not NTC challenges; they are FA challenges. The Field Artillery School has stepped up to the plate and is formulating solutions by developing new training, tactics, techniques and procedures, and equipment.

                    At the NTC, we tend to fire targets as directed by maneuver leaders, which is what the April article says happens in classical fire support. We tend to "shoot this" based on spot reports, intelligence fusion and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), without a target location sufficient for engagement or an observer in place to see the mission through. Without an observer, or observers, or another sensor that can see the target, assess the effectiveness of the initial volley and adjust the fires or reattack as necessary, the result is highly predictable: ineffective fires. The shoot-this mind-set calls for a combined arms solution.

                    The complete cycle of a target engagement, which was routinely executed during Vietnam, is no longer the norm at the NTC or in home station combined arms training. Even with observers in the right place, they rarely adjust the artillery. At least to some extent, this is due to simulations that have given the force a false sense of what it takes to engage a target effectively. Unfortunately in simulations, we simply fire for effect against an icon and get good results. It does not work that way at the NTC or in combat.

                    Being able to engage an enemy formation in conjunction with maneuver requires a responsive fire support system. Probably the most demanding requirement is for the FA to engage an enemy armored formation moving in open terrain. Such a formation can cover significant distances in minutes at the NTC. To be most effective with our area munitions, we must have the discipline to track the enemy to the best place for attack. This usually is in canalized terrain or obstacles. Further, we must have an observer or other sensor in place that can track the enemy and access delivery systems with the responsiveness to engage the moving formation at the right time. Under these conditions, radio or digital relays exacerbate the challenge, often causing the fire direction center to be unsure of which observer initiated the fire mission. The responses "shot" and "splash" are often missing, so no observer adjusts fires on those targets.

                    Other challenges
                    Given its vast expanse for live force-on-force maneuver, the NTC is the most dynamic environment our heavy units encounter short of actual combat. It was a major factor in training us for our resounding victory in Operation Desert Storm.

                    This dynamic training environment demands much from our DS units. At the NTC, the DS unit must juggle the competing demands for brigade shaping fires, counterfire against mortars and regimental artillery groups, and close supporting fires. (Although these fire missions seldom occur in that sequence, we approach them that way.) When you add the requirements for special missions -- such as family of scatterable mines, smoke and suppression of enemy air defenses and the inevitable short supply of time -- too often there are not enough assets to fire the missions. Even with a reinforcing battalion, field artillery at the NTC faces a major challenge.

                    The battlespace of today's Force XXI heavy maneuver brigade has expanded to a size comparable to the battlespace of a division or even a corps in the past. During the last 15 years, maneuver brigade commanders, with assistance from their FSCOORDs, have tried to expand to dominate this larger battlespace. The addition of enhanced reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition assets, such as combat observation lasing teams, scouts and UAVs, has given the brigade an unprecedented ability to find the enemy at depth. Brigade commanders want to engage enemy formations as deep as possible to prevent the necessity of a close fight and, if unsuccessful in that, to shape the close fight for their subordinate battalions. Subsequently, the brigade transfers priority of fires to a task force. NTC trends have indicated that the battle handover between the brigade deep and close fights is seldom smooth and sometimes causes competition for fires between tactical depths and close combat.

                    Downsizing our cannon battalions has exacerbated the problem. With the 1996 decision to reduce howitzer battalions from 24 to 18 guns, a 25 percent reduction, the Army accepted what it thought was a short-term risk, pending the fielding of the critical delivery systems of Crusader and the multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) M270A1 and the precision munitions enablers of sense and destroy armor (SADARM) and MLRS smart tactical rocket (MSTAR). Since that time, Crusader fielding has shifted from fiscal year (FY) 2005 to FY 2008 with fewer battalions receiving the system than originally planned. (Only the Counterattack Corps and supporting FA brigades will receive Crusader.) Funding for SADARM and MSTAR has been terminated. Without the continued development of smart munitions, our DS units will be limited to executing missions largely with area munitions into the foreseeable future. These munitions require a fairly accurate target location and rely on volume for lethality. Firing such volumes usually comes at the expense of firing other missions.

                    The problem is complex with no quick or easy set of solutions. The solutions cross the domains of doctrine, training, leader development, material and organization and must be implemented over time. However, work is ongoing today that will serve as a catalyst for change.

                    Organizing for combat
                    We must have the flexibility to organize for combat at the CTCs as we will in actual combat. In 1994-95 the Army Science Board proposed, and the Army approved, changes to the allocation rules that placed two Field Artillery brigades -- six battalions, two cannon and four MLRS -- in support of committed divisions. This allocation significantly increased the firepower available to both the divisions and their maneuver brigades. In combat operations, a DS battalion could have more than one battalion reinforcing its fires. The reinforcing battalions could be both cannon and rocket. Such organization would help to alleviate the competition for close-supporting fires, shaping fires and counterfire by increasing the volume, as well as the range, of fires.

                    The April article suggested that "division-supporting fires Š [are] desynchronizing Š because the brigade has lost fire support." This is incorrect. FA battalions with a DS mission are, for all practical purposes, organic to the maneuver brigades at the NTC -- the brigade combat teams. Those who argue that FA battalions should be organic to their maneuver brigades to enhance their responsiveness should look again at how we fight at the NTC. The DS relationship between the FA battalion and the brigade allows the division to retain flexibility of fires without impeding its level of support.

                    Competition for fire support assets at the division level is not the issue; competing tasks and the synchronization of fires and maneuver at the brigade level are. If we organize as we would in combat, there would be enough assets to mass fires routinely for the division without taking assets away from the maneuver brigades. As we probably will in combat, we should consider having the division's Force FA handle the counterfire fight at the CTCs, except for mortars.

                    Effects replication
                    The Army must move to correct long-standing issues in effects replication at the CTCs. For example, we know it does not take 54 rounds of 155 mm artillery to kill a tank -- but it does at the NTC. No matter how many solutions we implement, we will not be able to change the perception that fires do not make a difference in the close fight if we cannot demonstrate their responsiveness and effectiveness in training. As we become more responsive and effective, the volume of fires required for lethality will decrease, allowing us to shift fires to other targets and priorities, to the close fight in particular. The CTCs must be willing to embrace realistic lethality increases and give full credit where shaping fires and counterfire have greater effects, as well as close supporting fires. The CTC also must replicate the effects of suppressive fires. History tells us that suppressive fires have great psychological impact, yet they have little or no effect at the CTCs.

                    Maneuver brigade priorities
                    The brigade commander is responsible for fires throughout his battlespace, not just the close fight. He sets the priorities for the DS unit accordingly, which may not always include a shift in sequence from brigade deep to close. His approval of his essential fire support tasks (EFSTs) sets this prioritization in motion and is the basis for his scheme of fires. The fidelity, executability and linkages of these EFSTs to the mission and the maneuver brigade commander's intent have much to do with knowing when to shift between shaping fires, close support fires and counterfire.
                    We must have combined arms solutions for attacking EFST targets that will accomplish the fire support tasks at different levels. Today, the high payoff target list approved by the brigade commander does not always accomplish the EFSTs of his subordinate levels. Maneuver commanders' defining EFSTs that mortars can execute will help. Adding artillery by realistically organizing for combat will be key.

                    Enhanced simulations
                    One of the most difficult -- and effective -- solutions to make fires more responsive and effective is to replicate, and practice overcoming, the challenges associated with providing indirect fires integrated with maneuver at home station training. Because of resource limitations, much of our combined arms training must be conducted in simulations, but given the state of simulations, we have a long way to go. Enhanced simulations would allow units to identify issues, develop procedures and train at home station to prepare for the "graduate level" CTC rotations. For example, enhancing the close-combat tactical trainer to more fully replicate all fire support systems would help us work through target engagement and attack challenges and allow fire support and maneuver leaders to understand the consequences of target location errors and unobserved fires.

                    Better digital fires
                    The April article correctly states that our digital fire support architecture blocks the maneuver commander's ability to know what is going on with his fires. Operating digitally does not provide the same level of understanding as existed with voice networks. We need digital capabilities that will let the entire combined arms team have visibility over where fires are being focused at any time during the fight. FA units must not return to the voice era to do this, however, although many have.

                    The advanced field artillery tactical data system's new client software will begin to restore that visibility digitally. When maneuver battalion task forces can see where indirect fires are being focused and the types of targets being engaged, they can help fire supporters shift the focus. With such real-time knowledge of the big picture, maneuver subordinates may conclude that shaping fires in support of the brigade or counterfire is the most important task at that point in the fight.

                    As part of the digital solutions, we need a more flexible digital fire support architecture. Today, that architecture is too oriented on process and hierarchy. We are working to streamline the architecture to reduce the nodes, or intervention points, between the sensor and the shooter while simply informing others. We need to be able to stream target location data to the howitzers for firing data updates as the enemy moves to the engagement area. We also need to reduce the time needed to clear fires. Better situational understanding of fires and a more flexible architecture will help us shift fires at the right time and with the right delivery assets, not all of which are artillery.

                    Better target location
                    We must improve our accuracy in locating targets. We must field an accurate and portable target locating device soon. Unfortunately, the Bradley fire support team vehicle with an enhanced target location capability is fielding at a very slow rate, which is another resource issue. We are looking at commercial alternatives for a partial solution, pending fielding of the lightweight laser-designator range finder.

                    In conjunction with these efforts, we need an observation device by which the observer can drag a target icon to its new location and automatically update the fire plan as he tracks the enemy formation. Functioning like today's air defense artillery "slew to cue" capability, these updates would be routed automatically to the howitzers so that they can rapidly recompute the firing data to accurately engage the moving formation. Tankers use the same technology to engage targets today, so why can't the FA?

                    Doctrine decentralization
                    We may need a shift toward decentralization of fires down to the maneuver battalion to attain more responsive close support. Organizing for combat with more artillery will facilitate this decentralization. Crusader could make this a profound shift, given the number of missions it can handle with its rate of fire, range, accuracy and mobility.

                    In the near term, perhaps a battalion or battery, or batteries, of Paladin howitzers sometimes could be placed in DS to a maneuver task force, as the situation dictates, or attached for a period of time. The relationship established should not matter as much as the outcome. We need to become more agile in establishing command or support relationships at different tactical levels. Optimum support for a maneuver brigade at the NTC may be an MLRS battalion firing most of the brigade's shaping fires while two Paladin battalions fire close supporting fires and counterfire for the battalion task forces. The fires of part or all of these units could be massed, close or deep, as required, given that the system and munitions to achieve the desired effects are available.

                    Long-Term Consequences
                    The problems associated with close supporting fires have created the perception that we are less concerned with supporting maneuver in the close fight. Just because we may not always get it right does not mean we are not concerned about close support. If distributed operations become dominant in the future, this perception may become more widespread. Reverting back to the old days when close support was all a DS unit did will not solve the problems; this, in fact, would only create new problems.

                    The responsiveness and effectiveness of firepower that characterized combat operations in World War II, Korea and Vietnam must be routinely visible at the CTCs. We must implement the solutions outlined in this article and regenerate combined arms commanders' faith in fires -- Armor, Infantry, Aviation and, yes, Field Artillery. We also must show future generations of combined arms commanders that firepower can be applied with great coordination, and this coordination and synchronization between maneuver and fires must be replicated in all training environments.

                    The Field Artillery has not walked away from close support. We understand our many challenges and accept them; however, we also need the commitment of the combined arms team and the Army to make effective, responsive close supporting fires happen.


                    MAJ. GEN. TONEY STRICKLIN is the chief of Field Artillery and commanding general of the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill, Okla. COL. SAMMY L. COFFMAN, USA Ret., is a consultant on future concepts to the U.S. Army Field Artillery School and has 26 years' experience as a field artilleryman.


                    Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


                    • #11

                      Is it Time For a 360-Degree Officer Evaluation System?
                      November 2001

                      By Lt. Col. Mike Galloucis

                      In his book Eisenhower's Lieutenants, respected military historian Russell F. Weigley tells an interesting story about Gen. George C. Marshall, the World War II Army Chief of Staff and someone who wielded almost complete control over the promotion of general officers, and Col. James A. Van Fleet. Although Van Fleet had performed brilliantly in the European theater as commander of the 8th Infantry Regiment at Utah Beach and his senior field commanders had submitted his name to Marshall for promotion to brigadier general more than once, Marshall kept rejecting the recommendation. As the story goes, "General Marshall had confused him with somebody else of a similar name whose competence Marshall distrusted." Once the confusion was cleared up, Marshall approved Van Fleet's promotion to brigadier general. Shortly after, Van Fleet was placed in command of the 90th Division. He played a prominent role in the final year of the victorious European campaign, and Gen. George S. Patton Jr. would later call Van Fleet his best commander and predict that he'd eventually be promoted to four-star rank.

                      This story illustrates that the promotion system the Army uses to select its senior leaders is not -- and never has been -- infallible.

                      Fast-forwarding from World War II to today, we've all seen a similar scenario played out each time promotion, command and resident Senior Service College or Staff College lists are published. While it's true a majority of officers whose names appear on these lists are respected and considered deserving of their promotion, battalion or brigade command, advanced military schooling and so forth, there are always more than a handful of officers on these lists whose presence causes many to ponder: "How did so and so get selected for ... ?" Perhaps even more disconcerting, a second line of questioning typically goes, "Why did so and so not get selected for ... ?"

                      Before going any further, I want to say up front that I'm not now and have never been a disgruntled soldier who feels he's been treated unfairly by the Army or someone who claims to have all the answers to every dilemma facing the Army or a malcontent who sees it as his divine duty to flood the Internet or Army Times with long dissertations on what's wrong with the Army. To the contrary, I'm now proud and have always been proud to be an officer in the world's best Army. Like most of you reading this article, I've benefited immensely, both professionally and personally, from the Army's officer personnel management systems that have been in place during my 20-plus years on active duty.

                      On May 25, the results of the Army Training and Leader Development Panel (ATLDP) were released to the public. This was a comprehensive study involving more than 13,500 soldiers, including more than 9,000 officers, done by the Combined Arms Command (CAC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

                      The apparent willingness on the part of the Army's senior leadership to candidly address concerns identified in this study's findings suggests that the time for the Army to review the way we formally evaluate officers and select those best suited for senior-level schooling and command may not be too far down the road. The ATLDP study concluded:

                      The [current] OER [Officer Evaluation Report] is a source of mistrust and anxiety. ... The OER is not yet meeting officer expectations as a leader development tool. The leader development aspects of the OER are seldom used, and senior raters seldom counsel subordinates. ... Field feedback indicates that officers are concerned about the impact of a center-of-mass rating on career progression. ... They see the term "center-of-mass" as negative and believe that a center-of-mass OER in a branch-qualifying position is career-ending. Many junior officers simply do not trust the system or what their leaders are telling them about the OER.

                      The CAC survey provided formalized empirical data supporting what anecdotal data have indicated for several years: There is a large and growing population of officers of all ranks, including many general officers, who believe our current officer evaluation system has serious flaws and should be replaced.

                      The Army's current OER (DA Form 67-9) was fielded in October 1997. It includes a centralized senior rater tracking system designed to hold senior raters more accountable for their ratings and eliminate the systemic senior rater inflation that existed during much of the Army's most recent drawdown, from 1990 to 1997, when the previous OER (DA Form 67-8) was used. However, like all of its predecessors, the Army's current OER remains a formal leader evaluation tool that involves only senior ranking officers making assessments of the leadership qualities and potential of subordinates. In other words, an officer's leadership attributes and potential continue to be assessed by people they are following -- not leading.

                      OERs used by the Army have always been somewhat paradoxical. No doubt, senior-ranking officers in the chain of command are experienced and fully capable of identifying highly competent subordinate leaders with tremendous potential. However, this senior-ranking population is clearly not the only one suited to identify superb leaders with great potential. There are other groups, such as peers and select senior-ranking subordinates, who are also capable of making these judgments, or at least contributing significantly to them.

                      As an adaptive, innovative and people-centered organization, why should the Army continue to place so much faith in an officer evaluation system that only "looks down"? It's true there are some perspectives that can only be gained from this long-standing OER methodology. The principal drawback to such a top-driven system, however, is that it all but ignores -- and officially it does ignore -- the perspectives of peers who would serve with us in combat or on peacekeeping missions, as well as the perspectives of key subordinates whom we lead on a daily basis and who would be charged with carrying out our decisions and directives. Simply stated, Army officers must exhibit more important attributes than just merely "keeping the boss happy."

                      It's healthy for successful organizations to periodically examine their sacred cows -- to differentiate between those who continue to serve the organization well and should be sustained and those who have outlived their usefulness and should be revised or eliminated. History, especially the history of warfare, has proved countless times that organizations which don't follow this fundamental axiom ultimately fail.

                      It is from this philosophical perspective that I put forth this basic thesis: In both the near term and especially the long term, the Army will benefit from implementing an officer evaluation system that, in addition to looking down, also looks laterally and up. In other words, the Army should consider implementing a 360-degree OER system.

                      The ATLDP study is not the only fairly recent and comprehensive study that identified shortcomings in the military's current assessment tool for the Officer Corps. In a January 10, 2000, press conference aired on C-SPAN announcing the release of the publication American Military Culture in the Twenty-first Century, several prominent former Army officers, speaking on behalf of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), described the shortcomings of the military's current evaluation systems.

                      Those speaking at the time included three retired Army officers: Lt. Gen. Walter Ulmer, a respected commanding general of III Corps in the mid-1980s and later president of the innovative Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C.; Lt. Gen. Howard D. Graves, whose last assignment on active duty before retiring in June 1996 was serving as the 54th superintendent of the United States Military Academy (USMA); and Col. Joseph J. Collins, whose final assignment on active duty was serving as a special assistant to Gen. John Shalikashvili, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

                      "The current officer evaluation system focuses on and rewards immediate goals," said Gen. Ulmer during the press conference. "The perception of a zero-defects mentality stems more from institutional and organizational shortcomings than from individual shortcomings. We've actually demotivated some people by our leadership and managerial practices."

                      Relevant to this discussion, the CSIS publication had two key findings in Chapter 6. First, "Present leader development and promotion systems are not up to the task of consistently identifying and advancing highly competent leaders." Second, "The services have yet to master an optimal system for consistently identifying, promoting and developing their best leaders." Two of the publication's key recommendations in Chapter 7 were:

                      "Improve procedures for developing, selecting, evaluating and promoting officers in all of the services."

                      "Encourage and reward appropriate risk-taking at every level; this will help eliminate risk aversion and a zero-defects mentality."

                      Many successful private-sector companies already use variations of the 360-degree evaluation system to identify their up-and-coming leaders and have for years. General Electric (GE), which has been one of America's most successful companies, uses nontraditional formal assessments to determine the best candidates for upper management positions. GE's net worth was $12 billion, and it was losing customer confidence, when recently retired CEO John F. (Jack) Welch was hired for its top post in 1981. Today, the company's net worth is around $300 billion, and GE's shareholder value remains strong. Welch was named "America's #1 Manager" by Business Week on June 8, 1998, and he is now a best-selling author. GE considers peer assessments in selecting its upper management, and while he was GE's CEO, Welch encouraged subordinates to assess his own performance in three-week development sessions he hosted periodically for high-potential managers.

                      In his article "Military Leadership into the 21st Century: Another Bridge Too Far?" published in the spring 1998 edition of Parameters, Gen. Ulmer compares the way the Army and corporate America identify their future leaders.

                      The leading American corporations are ahead of the Army in using best business practices in making promotion decisions. Many companies have evolved to a system of multiple sources of information to support promotion decisions. The evaluation of people for either development or selection ... by anybody but the boss has long been considered intolerable. ... The more closely we scrutinize either theory or practice, the more inadequate the exclusively top-down assessment of performance and potential appears.

                      I would be disingenuous if I didn't point out that Gen. Ulmer is a vocal supporter of what this article refers to as a "360-degree officer evaluation system." In the same Parameters article, Ulmer emphasizes the need for some form of subordinate input in leadership evaluations: "Only the led know for certain the leader's moral courage, consideration for others and commitment to unit above self. If in fact we prize these values and want to ensure that we promote those who have routinely demonstrated them, some form of input from subordinates is required."

                      SHOULD WE CHANGE OER'S AGAIN?
                      I believe the Army should consider asking some tough questions pertaining to the way we rate officers. The institution will probably be better served in the long haul if the following questions are answered not only by the well-intentioned people working in Washington, but also the entire officer corps:

                      Given the fact that we introduced the current OER just four years ago and that the previous OER was used for nearly two decades, can it be possible that we already need a new OER?

                      The current OER has been praised by promotion, school and command boards, and others within U.S. Total Army Personnel Command (PERSCOM), but it has not been universally accepted by the Army Officer Corps. Should the "center of gravity" for any Army OER be what works best for PERSCOM boards or what is accepted and works best in the field?

                      Should we do away with DA Form 67-9 and replace it with a new OER that includes some form of peer and subordinate input?

                      If there is not enough momentum to totally replace the existing OER with a 360-degree OER system, should we, at a minimum, consider significant changes to the current OER?

                      Let's ask every company-grade, field-grade and general officer in the Army to answer those questions or similar specific questions. The Department of the Army, the Department of the Army Inspector General and PERSCOM routinely send surveys and questionnaires to officers and conduct "sensing sessions" with different populations. Let's disseminate a short survey aimed at getting feedback on the perceived long-term utility, or lack thereof, of our current OER; thoughts on a 360-degree OER system or revisions to the current OER; impact of evaluations on Army career decisions; and provide ample space for other comments. The responses from the survey can serve as our guiding light.

                      The Officer Corps has heard lots of rhetoric over the years pertaining to OERs. Our core Army value of selfless service mandates that we should all work as hard as we can in the toughest positions, accomplish the missions we've been assigned while properly caring for the soldiers and government resources we've been entrusted with, be a team player and have confidence that the Army will take care of the rest -- which in the context of this article, would include promotion, selection for resident military schooling and senior-level commands.

                      STAY OR GO?
                      There have traditionally been two critical decision points when most Army competitive category officers decide to stay or leave the Army: after initial obligations expire from Reserve Officer Training Corps or USMA commitments and following company command.

                      Under the previous OER (67-8), the unofficial ground rules were fairly clear and generally well understood. If an officer did not have what the Army considered a successful command -- generally defined by a top-block OER -- the officer would not likely be selected for resident Command and Staff College or battalion command. The officers who had successful commands knew relatively early in their careers that almost every Army door remained open to them, and the converse was also true. As such, the months following company-level command became a decision point for a whole generation of officers.

                      Many of today's field-grade officers, and just about all present and recent battalion and brigade commanders and current general officers, went through nearly a decade, 1989-1997, when all they got were top-block OERs under the previous OER. All but the most egotistical and pretentious officers in our ranks knew these reports were highly inflated. Nonetheless they praised our virtues, downplayed our shortcomings and gave us cause for optimism that a rewarding Army career was possible.

                      Is that still the case today with the current OER (DA Form 67-9)? The answer is no, at least for 51 percent of the Officer Corps and in many cases an even higher percentage, depending on how the senior rater interprets the Army's guidance on the current OER. The fact is, regardless of how hard officers work, how tough their jobs are, how well they do or how much they're respected by their peers and soldiers, more than half of the officers today are being told that they are "center of mass" officers. Why is this problematic? because the typical person who enters the Army as an officer has not been center of mass (COM) in most things he or she has done in life, so such an evaluation is an antithesis of what so many officers stand for and is almost always demoralizing.

                      We all know about statistical bell curves and the natural dispersion among any population. However, regardless of an officer's rank, it never feels good to be told, "You're center of mass," which is instantly interpreted as run of the mill and no longer competitive for the best positions in the Army. Seasoned field-grade officers are not affected as much by a COM assessment. These more senior officers already know for the most part what Army opportunities remain available to them, based on their past performance and the positions in which they've served, and they've already made the decision to make the Army a career.

                      In contrast, almost every time one of our lieutenants or captains is given a COM report, a different dynamic occurs. This younger officer, who typically has not yet decided to make the Army a career, is likely to mentally balance that COM assessment against the future prospect of lots more of them, a mental backdrop of the 65-hour weeks they worked during the rated period, amount of time they've been away from friends and family, a soul-searching assessment of how much fun they're currently having and the $75,000 salary and $10,000 signing bonus they have already been offered, or could be offered tomorrow, by corporate America. A COM OER, especially in company command, can be the final impetus for a young officer to decide it's time to leave the Army.

                      We certainly hope other dynamics, such as a sense of patriotism, duty, camaraderie and so forth, will also enter the stay-or-leave equation, but a 1999 Army Research Institute (ARI) study estimated 36 percent of the company-grade officers they surveyed intend to leave the Army. That represents a 14 percent increase over a similar population a little more than four years before. It is true that any ARI survey, or any survey for that matter, represents just a snapshot of a sample population. We shouldn't ignore these numbers, however. While it appears to be leveling off now and getting back within acceptable levels, the recent trend line for captain attrition was a concern for the Army's senior leadership not that long ago. That number is projected to be somewhere around 9 percent this year, noticeably higher than what it was a decade ago. Is our current OER part of the problem, or worded differently, could a new OER be part of the solution?

                      If we hope to reverse this trend, maybe we should consider developing a 21st century 360-degree OER system designed from scratch instead of using a top-down assessment vehicle, which may have already outlived its usefulness after only four years and that models others like it that have been used in the past.

                      Will it be easy to change? Will there be opponents to change? There will always be people who will immediately say it can't be done. There are also some officers, who would never have survived under such an enlightened system, who will say it shouldn't be done. The fact is, however, more and more junior officers are dissatisfied with the status quo, and they're letting their feet do the talking and going to work for innovative private-sector companies.

                      WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
                      First, I believe it's in the best long-term interest of the Army that we make the transition from our current officer evaluation system to some form of a 360-degree evaluation system, or at the very least make major changes to our current OER. As envisioned, a new 360-degree OER would factor in the senior leaders' perspectives, as we do today, but it would also include official OER input from peers serving in similar duty positions, as well as input from select subordinates, commensurate with the rated officer's position and rank. For example, under a 360-degree OER system, a battalion commander would no longer be rated only by a colonel and a general officer.

                      Several fellow battalion commanders at the same post, his or her field-grade officers (for example, S-3 and XO) and his or her command sergeant major would all also have official OER input, which would be visible to future Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) boards.

                      Second, I recommend doing away with the current system where block checks are used to identify rated officers as being either above center of mass (ACOM), center of mass (COM), below center of mass (BCOM) [retain] or below center of mass (BCOM) [do not retain]. Replace the current blocks on the back of DA Form 67-9 with some fundamental statements and questions, along the lines of those shown below, and give an officer's rater, senior rater, select peers and select subordinates official input. The expanded pool of people with input would "rate" the rated officer on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best rating. For example:

                      This officer possesses the moral, physical and intellectual capacity to continue to serve this nation as a commissioned officer.__________

                      This officer is always ethical and cares more about the Army, this command and his or her soldiers than for his or her own military career and advancement.__________

                      Where would you assess this officer's leadership skills in comparison to his or her peers (others of the same rank and position)?_________

                      This officer leads by example and exudes the Army's seven values. _________

                      This officer has made the organization to which he or she is assigned a better organization. _________

                      I'd follow this officer in combat and trust this officer leading my family members or close friends into combat. _________

                      This officer is an asset to the Army and should continue to be promoted and placed in positions of increased responsibility. _________

                      This officer should be placed in command of soldiers. _________

                      By adopting these subjective criteria or some thematically congruent variation and allowing a bigger population to make these assessments, we will increase the likelihood that an even higher percentage of outstanding officers will reach their full potential. We can also more accurately separate the self-serving officers from the truly superb leaders who have earned the respect and admiration of their superiors, peers and subordinates -- which should be the same population we want leading America's sons and daughters in the 21st century.

                      Should the Army's senior leadership not be receptive to the total OER revision described above, another possible interim option is to modify the current senior rater portion of the OER. Specifically, change the current ACOM, COM, BCOM (retain) and BCOM (do not retain) categories on the back of DA Form 67-9 to the new categories and additional descriptive verbiage shown below.

                      By using the revised format shown above in lieu of the current wording on back of the OER, or the more comprehensive subjective statement/ question format and expanded pool of people with OER input discussed earlier in this article, we could eliminate the negative labeling that comes with being called "center of mass," as well as the individual and institutional self-fulfilling prophecy that is frequently derived from such labels.

                      Today's officers need to be recognized for what they're doing for today's Army, but the current system tends to keep people on the same glide path, positive or negative, based on OERs they got years ago. Maybe more junior officers will decide to stay in the Army if they're not placed in a "box." With a more diverse population having input to their OERs, these changes could lead to a realization that their competence, caring, candor and courage would be recognized and lead to increased responsibility.

                      With such an enlightened OER, maybe our junior officers, and maybe even some more senior officers, would become more innovative and start taking more prudent risks, which is exactly what we need them to do -- given the daily challenges that abound in today's Army.

                      WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
                      In considering whether or not to implement an unconventional 360-degree OER system, a logical question for everyone to ask is, "What are the historical benefits of this type of system?" According to John Feenor and Jeffrey M. Prince's Using 360-Degree Feedback in Organizations, its benefits can be grouped into four categories:

                      1. 360-degree assessments offer new and wider perspectives by which an individual's skills, behaviors, abilities or performance can be judged.

                      2. 360-degree assessments alleviate some recognized deficiencies of top-down single-source assessments.

                      3. 360-degree assessments provide the unique opportunity for individuals to rate themselves.

                      4. 360-degree assessments can be used to reinforce organizational values and vision.

                      THE ROAD AHEAD
                      One option is to prepare a questionnaire and canvass all Army officers to gauge their thoughts on the current and possible revised OERs. Then let an organization with experience analyzing military data, such as the Rand Corporation or ARI, analyze the feedback. It is important during this phase of the process to preclude the Washington bureaucrats, uniformed and civilian, from overanalyzing the feedback until they find something they don't like, which they invariably will. Keep it simple -- use basic statistical data analysis. If a significant majority of officers support the 360-degree OER or some derivative of it, start with a pilot program at a post where there are a lot of officers. Use the lessons learned from the program to make refinements, and then implement it Army-wide. Maybe during its infancy, the wider feedback of peers and select subordinates would initially only go to the rated officer as a self-development tool. However, at some point, in order for the Army to accrue the maximum potential of the 360-degree OER system, the entire expanded report should be seen by HQDA boards.

                      The Army's senior leadership might determine, however, based on the ATLDP conclusions and recommendations, that an additional survey of the Officer Corps is unnecessary. In this vein, one of the ATLDP's recommendations was for the Army to "conduct a review of the OER this year to examine its leader development aspects, the terms 'above center of mass' and 'center of mass,' and the counseling and forced distribution requirements. Involve the field in the review. ... Reinforce the leader development aspects of the OER to increase communications between junior and senior officers."

                      By all accounts, the current OER is an asset to the officers who sit on HQDA boards. For years now, we have all heard reports of how pleased board members are with the current OER because, in essence, it makes their jobs easier. However, the center of gravity for an OER should be how well it serves the entire Officer Corps and the Army as an institution, not merely the relatively small number of officers who sit on boards.

                      Changing the Army's OER is always a complex challenge involving not only changes in administrative procedures, but also significant cultural changes -- which are always emotional, complex and met with resistance -- but the prospect of keeping high-performing officers in the Army is also a formidable challenge.

                      When it comes to officer evaluation reports, let's for once think outside the box -- both literally and figuratively -- and find an evaluation system that produces, recognizes and retains the type of officers we need this century.


                      LT. COL. MIKE GALLOUCIS relinquished command of the 924th MP battalion at Fort Riley, Kan., in July and is currently assigned to the Army Staff in the Pentagon. This article was submitted for publication before the terrorist attacks on September 11.


                      Copyright © 2004 by The Association of the U.S. Army Back


                      • #12
                        you sure do a good cut and paste job OoE!


                        • #13



                          Read the title of the thread.

                          For Christ's sake don't spoil for a fight and clutter this thread. Have you nothing else to do?

                          "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

                          I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

                          HAKUNA MATATA


                          • #14
                            I only read the first part of the article and understand where he's coming from.

                            In an ideal world, it would work however this is not the ideal world. There's no perfect solution, only the best one available. The 360 degrees, in my opinion, is a bad idea. It will pave the road for a "popularity" contest with the subordinates. That is worse than following the higher ups. The essence of leadership and command is to have the subordinates follow the orders no matter how unpopular it is. Thus it is imperative that officers make decisions without having to worry how bad it would be with the subordinates and how the subordinates would grade him. If the author wants to use subordinates as a tool in evaluating the officer in question, he should only count the morale of the unit and how combat effectiveness the unit is, meaning, can the subordinates do their job without the officer in question in presence, can the subordinates do their job with the officer in question in presence. We should not evaluate officers partly based on subordinates' opinions. In my opinion, that's just a pandora box waiting to be opened.


                            • #15
                              To the Brigadier,

                              Sir, there are several articles that I've posted since the last time you've read this thread. I hoped you got them all.

                              To Blademaster,

                              The Colonel raises a question on how we judge leadership. I've posted the article to ask those questions. His answers are not universally accepted. The British/Canadian/Australain and even Indian Army answer is to bump the command requirements up - ie, having a Major command a company instead of a Captain.

                              To Vision

                              FUCK YOU!