Army Asymmetric Warfare Office (AAWO)
The mission of the Army Asymmetric Warfare Office (AAWO) is to rapidly organize, train, and equip Army formations with the inherent ability to apply and defeat asymmetric threats while simultaneously changing the culture of our Army to a more mentally agile and adaptive force, emphasizing a “how to think” rather than “what to think” focus. The AAWO develops the Army’s service-specific broad perspective and policy/planning efforts in asymmetric warfare.
Department of Defense Directive 2000.19E, dated January 2006, established the Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which absorbed the Army IED Task Force. Headquarters, Department of the Army Executive Order 158-06, dated May 2006, directed the establishment of an Army Asymmetric Warfare Office to centralize all IED functions, as well as force protection, information operations, electronic warfare support, asymmetric warfare policy and related program management. As a result, the Army established the AAWO as both its service component representative to JIEDDO and a single Army Staff focal point for all asymmetric warfare to include IED policies, programs and resources. This link was intended to function both in regards to the existing counter-IED (C-IED fight to fight fight future IED threats. The AAWO was initially a major component of the Army Staff's Directorate for Operations, Readiness and Mobilization (G-33).
When it was created, the AAWO consisted of 5 Divisions: Improvised Explosive Device-Defeat; Electronic Warfare; Force Protection; Operations and Intelligence Integration; and Plans. In addition 2 pre-existing organizations were subordinated to it, the Rapid Equipping Force (REF) and the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG).
The Adaptive Networks, Threats and Solutions Division (IEDD) coordinated all service IED-Defeat actions and championed all Army IED Defeat initiatives. It provided oversight and management of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program to support Army strategic and operational requirements. The Electronic Warfare Division (EW) worked to establish electronic warfare as a core warfighting capability within the Army, enabling the Army’s ability to fight in a Joint environment with capabilities commensurate with other services. EW trained soldiers at all ranks and at all tiers in electronic warfare skills. The Protection Division (FP) directly managed Army protection policy; Headquarters, Department of the Army continuity of operations; installation preparedness/emergency management and critical infrastructure risk management programs to protect soldiers, civilians, their families, infrastructure, and information from all hazards. The Operations and Intelligence Integration Division (O & I) gathered and monitored both friendly and enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to integrate asymmetric threats and responses that enable the AAWO to help organize, train and equip Army formations that can defeat asymmetric threats while simultaneously changing the culture of our Army to a more mentally agile and adaptive force. The Plans Division addressed asymmetric threat evolution affecting the employment and long-term shaping of Army forces. It communicated the Army (and the AAWO) asymmetric warfare vision and goals and assisted in shaping the Army force structure to meet existing and future asymmetric warfare requirements. It also managed strategic communications, public affairs, and legislative liaison efforts within the AAWO.
The Army Vice Chief of Staff subsequently made a decision directing the reassignment of the AWG to the 20th Support Command. In 2008, the decision was made to have the Electronic Warfare Division report directly to the G-33, thought it remained closely linked with AAWO's operations and objectives. The IEDD and FP divisions were also retitled. IEDD became Adaptive Networks, Threats and Solutions (ANTS) and Force Protection became the Protection Division (PD).
The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) took over Asymmetric Warfare Office (AAWO) and the Fort Meade, Maryland-based Asymmetric Warfare Group on 11 November 2011. TRADOC was tasked with refashioning the office into a smaller outfit that could be expanded for use in future conflicts. The transition marked the end of AWG's existence as a so-called field operating agency attached to the Army headquarters staff. Then-Army Secretary Francis Harvey created the group in 2006, primarily to help combat improvised explosive devices in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Part of that restructuring plan would involve determining the group's relevancy in the "future operational environment," and putting in place a mechanism that allowed for the rapid restoration of the full capabilities in the case of future conflicts with an asymmetric slant. Also required was an assessment on how best to retain an "action arm" for working with combatant commanders and keeping training and rapid-capability development channels operational. The AWG's focus included counter-IED activities, particularly in the intelligence arena, as well as information operations.
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