The Survival Of Unit Deployment CSC 1993 SUBJECT AREA - Manpower EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Title: The Survival of Unit Deployment Author: Major Michael T. Edwards, United States Marine Corps Thesis: The Unit Deployment Program (UDP) must continue in order to provide the most combat ready and cost effective source of manpower for WestPac units. Background: Currently, the combination of, 1-year unaccompanied tours, 3-year accompanied tours, and the UDP sustain manpower in WestPac. The UDP began in 1977 to reduce personnel turbulence and increase combat readiness of WestPac units. Eventually every combat unit in WestPac entered the program. These units deploy every 18 months from CONUS to WestPac for a 6-month period. Since its implementation, the UDP has strengthened unit cohesion, enhanced continuity of training, and increased the manning levels for all combat units in the Marine Corps. Additionally, family turbulence has decreased, retention has climbed, and the Marine Corps has saved millions of dollars annually. The continuation of the UDP is in jeopardy because of a reduced force structure and an increase in operational tempo. A return to individual assignment policy for combat units, weather it is 1-year or 3-year tours, is counterproductive. Individual assignments do not adhere to National Military Strategy or recognize the realities of budget austerity. Recommendation: The UDP is cost effective and a proven combat multiplier. It must remain an integral part of the three-tiered system for manning combat units in WestPac. OUTLINE Thesis: The Unit Deployment Program (UDP) must continue in order to provide the most combat ready and cost effective source of manpower for WestPac units. I. The beginning of the UDP A. Success of the UDP B. ATWP II. Drawbacks to all-ATWP option A. Infrastructure 1. Housing 2. Cost of living 3. Civilian jobs 4. Medical care B. Restrictive training areas 1. Availability 2. Cost 3. C-1 training status C. ATWP assignment goals D. ATWP costs 1. Cost analyses 2. Congressional concern E. Personnel turbulence III. The threat and military strategy A. Individual assignment policies B. Expeditionary Marine Corps C. UDP under combat conditions D. Force structure reductions in WestPac IV. Adjusting current method of sustainment A. Higher operational tempo B. Full implementation of ATWP C. Conversion of billets to ATWP 1. Reserve participation 2. Total Force concept The end of the Cold War and the downfall of the Soviet Union have brought about monumental changes throughout the world. These changes are not finite but continue, like an unchecked chain reaction, affecting everyone to some degree. Our military forces are undergoing the most visible and extensive metamorphosis of any U.S. institution. Although force structure reductions, base closures, and loss of civilian jobs dominate the news, this paper will focus on a manpower issue that will determine how the Marine Corps, given a reduced structure and a National Military Strategy (NMS) based on uncertainty, will forward base forces in the future. Notwithstanding CINCLANT's experimentation with the adaptive force planning concept (the piecemeal deployment of Marines as Special Purpose MAGTFs aboard carriers or on a single amphibious platform, not part of an ARG) the current deployed MEU (SOC) program remains viable and even desirable as the likely force of choice when dealing with most Third World regional problems. The forward basing of Marine Corps units in WestPac is coming under the greatest scrutiny and subject to possible change. The Unit Deployment Program (UDP) must continue in order to provide the most combat ready and cost effective source of manpower for WestPac units. Prior to 1977, all Marine Corps personnel assigned to WestPac served 1-year unaccompanied tours. This created an unacceptably high personnel turnover rate throughout the Marine Corps. A majority of U.S.-based units experienced up to a 15 percent turnover rate per quarter trying to provide WestPac units sufficient personnel; moreover, WestPac units experienced an annual turnover rate of nearly 100 percent. This caused a lack of unit cohesion, lowered morale, and degraded combat readiness throughout the Marine Corps. The UDP and the Accompanied Tours WestPac Program (ATWP) replaced many of the 1-year tours to help resolve this situation. The UDP, a well-documented success, currently provides the ground and aviation combat units to WestPac. The dramatic improvement in unit cohesion and Marine Corps wide manning that the UDP provides over individually based assignment policy has greatly enhanced the main goal of the UDP, combat readiness. (6:3) Additionally, the program is more cost effective than any other method of manpower sustainment. (2:2,3:2) Unit deployment has allowed units to remain in the U.S. for 18 months between 6-month deployments to WestPac but that rotation requires a base of four like units. However, force structure reductions have reduced the rotation base to three for many UDP units, resulting in only 12 months between deployments to WestPac. Recent conflicts, like Desert Storm in Southwest Asia and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, disrupted the UDP rotation cycle causing a temporary suspension of all or part of the program. The main goal of the ATWP is to provide continuity within the support units and command elements in WestPac by assigning key personnel to 3-year accompanied tours. Not only does the ATWP cost less than 1-year tours, it also increases family stability. Unfortunately, the ATWP has met with only moderate success. Although assigning the total number of personnel needed for the program appears possible, getting the right person in the right billet does not. The total number of ATWP assignments was only 6 percent below the 1992 goal, but failed to provide the right Marine in over 40 percent of the designated key billets. (4) The ATWP is a voluntary program, and WestPac is simply not the most popular duty location. The ATWP is currently scheduled for full implementation in 1994 with a total of 3,700 Marines assigned to WestPac. The combination of the 1-year tours, the UDP, and the ATWP has proven to be an effective method of providing manpower to WestPac, accounting for more than 12 percent of all Marine Corps billets. (5:8) Despite the success of this three-tiered system, Headquarters Marine Corps is currently considering an initiative to convert all assignments in WestPac to the ATWP. The intent is to treat an assignment to WestPac essentially no differently than an assignment to Hawaii. Supporters of the all-ATWP solution commonly cite the reduced rotation base for unit deployment and the temporary suspension of part or all of the UDP during Operations Desert Shield/Storm and Restore Hope to promote the all-ATWP option. Advocates of the all-ATWP initiative have not fully considered the overwhelming disadvantages of that plan. The all-ATWP option has five significant drawbacks: 1. The infrastructure cannot support additional personnel. 2. Training areas are very restrictive. 3. Headquarters Marine Corps cannot fill current ATWP goals. 4. ATWP cost is significantly higher than that of the UDP. 5. An increase in personnel turbulence will degrade combat readiness. The evidence belies the assertion made by the leadership in WestPac that the infrastructure, particularly on Okinawa, can support an all-ATWP option. Approximately 51 percent of the Marine Corps is married and that translates into an additional 10,000 dependents arriving in WestPac if the all ATWP option is implemented. (7:5) Claims that the Japanese Government will build adequate housing ignores the fact that even now, despite not meeting current ATWP goals, the waiting time for family housing approaches an average of 6 months. Off-base housing in WestPac and Hawaii is expensive but unlike in Okinawa the housing in Hawaii is adequate. Like Hawaii, WestPac's cost of living is extremely high, but unlike Hawaii, junior Marines in WestPac are not experiencing major personal financial hardships. In 1990 the Commanding General of FMFPac went as far as to request a ban against married sergeants and below from being assigned to Hawaii. Additionally, civilian jobs are severely limited in WestPac and statistics show that 45 percent of military spouses work. The chance of a dependent child acquiring a job is virtually nonexistent. Medical care for active duty personnel is already slow, characterized by 6-month waiting periods for orthopedic consultations. The influx of dependents can only exacerbate the limited medical capability that now exists in WestPac and CHAMPUS medical coverage is extremely limited. The Navy has no plans to expand the current medical facilities in WestPac and it is not in a position to support an initiative that would require any expansion. (4) The FMFPAC staff has identified several concerns surrounding the deteriorating training environment in WestPac. The closure of Philippine ranges and rigid restrictions on dropping and firing ordnance elsewhere severely restrict aviation-specific training. Okinawan land agreements continue to shrink available training areas and that, coupled with increased restrictions on live firing and military movement, makes it imperative to conduct more off-island deployments to maintain combat efficiency. However, the cost of transporting equipment and personnel for that training is rapidly becoming prohibitive. Although UDP units arrive in WestPac MCCRES tested and fully trained, maintaining a C-1 in training readiness while deployed is becoming more difficult. (7:4-5) The permanent assignment of combat units, based on individual replacement policy to WestPac, will only aggravate this difficulty. Despite that, the last three Commanding Generals in WestPac considered filling the key billets in the ATWP as essential but the program has met with overall resistance from the beginning. The ATWP is a voluntary program and has never achieved annual goals. Past efforts to direct assignments to the ATWP have failed. Even the Commandant's initiative in 1988 to force assignments of colonels down through majors to the ATWP met with such strong resistance that the initiative was quickly withdrawn. Assignment policy states that those Marines refusing to execute ATWP orders will receive orders to execute a 2-year unaccompanied tour or, in the case of officers, be given the option of resignation. This policy has existed for years but has never been enforced. Exhaustive cost analyses prove that the UDP, regardless of the measurement used, is far less expensive than any other method of providing manpower to WestPac. Converting all tours in WestPac to the ATWP will cost over 40 million dollars more annually than the current method of manning those units and that figure does not include the additional 25 million dollars that the UDP saves through a decrease of more than a 1,000 transient manyears per year. (6:3) Furthermore, the U.S. Congress continues to express concerns about the cost of dependents overseas. In 1990, the Secretary of Defense began taking steps toward reducing such costs. The Marine Corps supported the Secretary's position in 1989 by capping the ATWP program at 3,700 versus the original goal of over 4,000 tours. (1) In today's atmosphere of budget austerity and continuing budget cuts, to think that any initiative, such as the all ATWP option, that would significantly increase spending, can be acceptable is not realistic. Personnel stability is the critical element in deciding the most effective method for providing combat units to WestPac. The Marine Corps leadership appears to agree that a return to 1-year unaccompanied tours is regressive and unacceptable. The 3-year accompanied tour offered by the ATWP provides greater unit cohesion than the 1-year tour but would still result in a minimum quarterly personnel turnover average of around 10 percent. Based on assignment history and individual assignment policies, that percentage will more than double during summer months. The loss of 10 percent of a units' manpower in combat is considered neutralization. The definition of decimation is the loss of one tenth of a force. Chistopher C. Straub in his book The Unit First agrees that concern over the slightest bit of personnel turbulence is not being too melodramatic: Individual rotation systems diminish a unit's effectiveness whenever a key individual leaves (and in a good unit everyone is key), but they also damage cohesion before anyone leaves. As soon as the rotation policy is announced, soldiers who are eager to get out of action (in other words, virtually everyone) start defining themselves in terms of the rotation criteria: how many medals or days each soldier is away from rotation. Soldiers become that much more preoccupied with their personal status, and less with the unit, and the unit becomes less cohesive. (8:28-29) Congressional testimony given by the Marine Corps leadership since the inception of the UDP is replete with praise about the personnel stability provided by the UDP. This stability has strengthened unit cohesion, enhanced continuity of training, and is directly responsible for maximizing uniform readiness of tactical units throughout the Marine Corps. The threat has changed. U.S. military strategy stresses general uncertainty throughout the world accented by the probability of regional conflicts, which will result in a Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) as the most likely scenario for the future employment of U.S. forces. The Marine Corps response to this new strategy stresses the expeditionary nature of its forward deployed/based combat ready forces -- forces which are unit deployed, not individually manned. In the last three wars (WW II, Korea, Vietnam), we have had personnel systems designed for political effectiveness. Because a perception of fairness to individuals is key in the American context, individuals are the system's building blocks. This is one reason why our system can fairly be termed "individual-centered." But the primacy of the individual is not solely based in concern for equity. The way we man our forces reflects the society and culture of America, the country more dedicated to individualism and more concerned about the fate of the individual than any other. (8:33) The personnel systems used during those three wars proved ineffective. Personnel shortcomings were overcome by superior American firepower, advanced technology, and industrial capacity. Potential adversaries can now match, in some cases even exceed, those former sources of dominance. (8:85) In terms of operational effectiveness the individual assignment policies used during Vietnam have been termed a handicap. (8:32) The Marine Corps must not return to an individual assignment system for forward based combat units. The UDP gives the operational forces an expeditionary posture, while supporting the standardization and interoperability of the interchangeable parts of a MAGTF. It also supports the MPS concept of deploying combat and combat support units to pre-staged equipment, an unprecedented success during Operations Desert Shield/Storm and Restore Hope. Marine Corps tactics and concepts of employment continue to evolve in support of national interests. In turn, manpower assignment policies must reflect operational effectiveness over political effectiveness (equity to individuals) in order to respond rapidly to crises with the most combat ready force -- the essence of the expeditionary concept. The UDP passed this test under combat conditions, demonstrating flexibility and adaptability. The temporary suspension of all or part of the UDP during regional crises in Kuwait and Somalia showed that the UDP can successfully and efficiently change from a peacetime deployment to a wartime employment with no deterioration in combat readiness or efficiency. Units quickly returned to a normal rotation cycle with no material difficulty. If projected force structure reductions through 1997 take effect without a compensatory structure reduction in WestPac, the continuation of the UDP will not be possible. However, force structure reductions already made throughout the Marine Corps have been proportionally applied to WestPac. The current structure in WestPac conforms to a Marine Corps end-strength of 177,000. If the Marine Corps reaches the planned end-strength of 159,100 by 1997, it is reasonable to assume that a commensurate force structure reduction in WestPac will also occur, allowing UDP to remain viable. The current method for providing manpower to WestPac needs adjustments that must focus on three areas: acceptance of higher operational tempo, enforcement of current ATWP policy, and conversion of some combat units to either the ATWP or the 1-year unaccompanied tour. The Marine Corps must first recognize that a higher operational tempo is the future. Shrinking budgets and reduced force structure in a rapidly changing world mean the Marine Corps cannot afford to hold on to the idea of a 3:1 deployment cycle. No combat unit can any longer expect to spend 3 months in CONUS for every month on deployment. A 2:1 deployment ratio is now the norm and not a signal that the system is failing. Restructuring the incentive pay system to recognize deployed Marines, regardless of MOS, and restricting privates through corporals as well as junior officers from being married are two significant policy changes that would support a higher operational tempo. The ATWP is a support program, not a substitute for the UDP. Not all units, particularly headquarters staffs, are organized for unit deployment; however, in a support role, long term individual assignments can contribute significantly to combat readiness. (8:112) Headquarters Marine Corps must adopt a more aggressive approach to filling key billets, as designated by FMFPAC. Enforcement of current policy, already outlined, requires the direct involvement of the Commandant to enforce that policy. Neither the ATWP or the UDP is fully effective unless they are completely implemented. The ATWP enhances the attributes of the UDP and full implementation is long overdue. Together, they provide an effective combat personnel assignment program, responsive to the NMS. Today, the Marine Corps has sufficient ground combat units available to provide a 2:1 deployment ratio for all UDP units and those units required for MEU (SOC) commitments. Aviation combat units can achieve that same ratio except in the case of the EA-6 and the F/A-18D squadron in WestPac. Unfortunately the only viable solution for those squadrons, at this time, is to convert their billets to the ATWP or 1-year unaccompanied tours. The Commanding General of III MEF will designate key billets that will become part of the ATWP. However, a long term unit deployment solution is possible. The unit deployment of Marine Corps reserve forces to augment the UDP is a radical alternative to increasing the ATWP or 1-year tour at all. Implementation of such a policy will require Congressional action and is likely to encounter significant political obstacles. The Marine Corps reserve garnered much deserved acclaim for its participation in Operation Desert Shield/Storm and the NMS stresses the increased importance of the nation's reserve forces. As the active force continues to undergo fundamental changes, the reserve forces cannot expect to return to the status quo (1 weekend a month plus 2 weeks in the summer). The Total Force concept, tossed around at Headquarters Marine Corps, must become reality versus a catchy phrase in order to meet the military challenges ahead. The deployment of a reserve unit every 2 years for a period of 3 months in order to augment like units in the UDP supports the NMS and would further strengthen combat readiness throughout the Total Force. The deployment of reserve forces to Desert Shield/Storm was a political success. However, at the user level, the actual effectiveness of those units is debatable. Senior Marine Corps leaders, at the start of Desert Shield, expressed deep reservations about the competency of reserve units to operate effectively next to their active duty counterparts. Those reservations still exist and will until the reserve force fundamentally changes its concepts of training, deployment, and employment to support the current military strategy. Although it will lead to an increase in their operational tempo, the integration of reserve units into the UDP will increase their combat readiness and reduce the operational tempo for active duty units. The UDP must take precedence over individual assignments to WestPac. Increasing commitments, such as the none traditional missions of peacekeeping and peace-enforcing, compel the Marine Corps to move towards stricter assignment policies even at the cost of a higher operational tempo. Expeditionary combat readiness has never been more important and unit deployment is a proven combat multiplier. The UDP has increased the combat efficiency throughout the Marine Corps, and is unquestionably the most cost efficient method of providing manpower to WestPac. The current three-tiered system for providing manpower to WestPac can continue to function efficiently with the number of ground and aviation combat units available throughout the Marine Corps. Despite the impending requirement to convert some billets in UDP to 1-year tours or to the ATWP, the UDP will still account for more than 22 percent or more than 5,000 of the nearly 22,000 Marines in WestPac. (5:8) The most UDP ever accounted for was 28 percent. The UDP must continue in order to provide the most combat ready and cost effective source of manpower for WestPac units. The inclusion of reserve units into the UDP rotation base will eventually allow all combat units in WestPac to participate in unit deployment and reduce the operational tempo for the Total Force. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Accompanied tour WestPac Program (ATWP) - Family Housing Units. Action Brief. Headquarters Marine Corps: MPP-56. 27 December 1989. 2. Accompanied Tours WestPac Program (ATWP); PCS vs UDP Cost on Okinawa. Point Paper. Headquarters Marine Corps: MPP-56, 2 March 1989. 3. Force Study Group (FSG) PCS moves and costing for two and three years tours with and without UDP. Memorandum. Headquarters Marine Corps: MMOS, 5 September 1991. 4. Personal interview about ATWP with Manpower Action Officer. Headquarters Marine Corps: January 1993. 5. Unit Deployment Program. Briefing. Headquarters Marine Corps: MPP-50, 1993. 6. Unit Deployment Program (UDP). Information Paper. Headquarters Marine Corps: MPP-56. 1991. 7. Unit Deployment Program vs 3-year accompanied/2-year all others tours. Information Paper. Headquarters Marine Corps: MPP-56. 1989. 8. Straub, Christopher C. The Unit First. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1988.
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