The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines study history not to glorify past campaigns (well, maybe a little), but rather to prepare for future campaigns. In that vein, On Point also examines what the implications of the events of spring of 2003 might be. The central question is what do the events of spring 2003 tell us about the conduct of warfare in the 21st century. In suggesting what that might be, there are several cautions--the war in Iraq to remove the regime is over, but the coalition has not achieved the strategic goal of the campaign. Furthermore, individual anecdotes from OIF do not necessarily equate to trends. Still, there are implications for the way the Army and the joint team operate. This chapter suggests what some of the implications may be and what may be done about them. Some implications carry with them "lessons" that can be applied; others are only suggestive of directions that may be explored. Still others are discernible, but with insufficient clarity to suggest solutions or means of application.
The Army has a good system for collecting and then applying lessons at the tactical level. The Army is very good about developing tactics, techniques, and procedures that may be applied in similar conditions. But there are lessons or at least implications that may reasonably be discerned from OIF that transcend tactics, techniques, and procedures. These broader lessons are really only learned when they are applied in training, force structure, and combat developments. This takes time and study to determine whether what works in the short term really has application over time and in other environments. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 reviewed the application of many lessons learned as the Army and the armed forces emerged from the Cold War era, as well as lessons learned from the post-Cold War military operations, at the Combat Training Centers, and from Army and joint experimentation. The success of combat operations in OIF suggests that many of the lessons garnered in the early post-Cold War era were learned and, more important, applied. The unique circumstances of OIF major combat operations also suggest some lessons that must still be learned and some possible implications for how the Army considers the nature of future conflict and how it structures, equips, and mans the force.
Some observers have argued that Army and Marine ground units demonstrated absolute tactical dominance based on Iraqi ineptitude. That argument assumes the difference in demonstrated capability stemmed exclusively from what the Iraqis did or did not do and on their equipment. The evidence suggests that this explanation is inadequate. The Iraqis showed considerable competence in shielding forces, in reaching similar conclusions as their opponents on what constituted defensible terrain, and in demonstrating the ability to maneuver forces despite coalition control of the air and tremendous advantages in technical means of gathering intelligence. The Iraqis successfully shielded some of their equipment and managed to mount coordinated counterattacks such as the one TF 3-69 AR repelled at objective PEACH. The Iraqis also executed ambushes and, in some cases, attained tactical surprise. They found ways to close the range and, in more than one case, fought effectively enough to compel reaction, as they did when the counterattacked the 3-7 CAV on the east bank of the Euphrates during the "mother of all sandstorms" and again at objectives ROMMEL and MONTY in Baghdad. Certainly, their ability to defeat the efforts of the 11th AHR does not suggest uniform ineptitude.
But in intense close combat, they simply could not match the US forces in marksmanship, tactical technique, and the ability to adapt rapidly. The US should not apologize for fielding better-equipped units, but neither should it concede the point on training and the qualitative superiority of US units. Nor should US forces assume a qualitative edge in all domains. The venerable rocket-propelled grenade (a lineal descendant of the World War II Panzerfaust) remains elegantly simple, ubiquitous, and effective.
The sections that follow discuss implications for the future that may apply to the Army and, in some cases, to joint forces collectively. First there are some observations that apply to the peculiar environment of OIF that deserve consideration under the broad heading of the Contemporary Operating Environment. The remainder of the chapter considers implications that fall within the five broad areas or themes suggested in the introduction. These areas tend to overlap in terms of implications for how the Army structures, trains, and equips forces but serve well for organizing general groupings of implications from the campaign. The areas address:
- Command and Control
- Combined Arms Operations
- Joint Integration and Support
- Deployment and Sustainment
- Information and Knowledge
The Contemporary Operating Environment (COE)--Embedded or Not
|"While it is impossible to predict the exact nature of future conflict, it is possible to determine those factors which will have the greatest effects on military forces and thus form the critical variables in future military operational environments."|
|TRADOC COE White Paper|
Chapter 1 introduced the development and publication of the Army white paper that delineated the variable in the COE and attempted to describe that environment. Several years in development, the white paper reflected the Army's assessment of fundamental change in the operational environment following the end of the Cold War. This assessment stemmed from an ongoing internal debate over what the end of the Cold War meant. Specifically, those implications suggested the conditions for which the Army should be prepared and how the Army should train and equip forces. In fact the COE, as articulated in the white paper, followed and codified perceived changes in the environment, many of which had been applied in training, leader development, and acquisition before TRADOC published the white paper. The central argument in the COE white paper is that the variables are dynamic, and thus the COE is continuously changing and requires continuous adaptation by the Army and joint forces.
The OIF experience largely validated the COE white paper and the efforts the Army made to incorporate it in training and as a means to inform force design and combat development. Arguably, OIF also demonstrated that the Army still had not fully internalized and accounted for the implications of COE. The tragic tactical defeat of the 507th Maintenance Company is an eloquent argument for this point of view. Similarly, the 11th AHR experience is very much a reflection of change in the environment not discerned or at least not fully accommodated by the Army.
OIF demonstrated that the COE is not just the enemy, but truly an environment consisting of the enemy, friendly forces, noncombatants, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, neutrals, terrain, weather, and other factors. More important, the Army's experience in--and ability to cope with--the COE as it existed in Iraq in March andApril of 2003 suggests some areas worthy of consideration as the Army determines how to prepare for future combat operations or operations other than war. OIF also lends the Army a direction that transformation could take to maintain current demonstrated battlefield dominance into the middle of the 21st century.
OIF, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, and the many other operations conducted since the end of the Cold War also demonstrate that the COE is dynamic. Friends and foes will make adjustments based on what they observed in OIF. Adaptation is therefore the rule for the Army and the other services. Specifically, adaptation in anticipation of change should characterize the way the Army designs, equips, mans, and trains units.
If the COE is valid for the Army, it has utility for joint forces as well. In the absence of easily defined threats, the COE has some acceptance in the joint community. As a conceptual framework, it has utility for the other services as well. Continuing to study the COE and attempting to anticipate the future operational environment is essential to the joint team. To support developing and encouraging study focused on understanding the implications of the operational environment, TRADOC, along with Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), hosted a joint operational environment conference in June of 2003. JFCOM will also publish the Army opposing forces strategic doctrine as a Joint Opposing Forces strategic doctrine and will begin the work of developing opposing forces doctrine to enable consistent replication of the operational environment in joint training and experimentation. JFCOM and TRADOC understand that the dynamic nature of the COE must preclude "doctrinaire" application of the COE or the development of a fixed "threat" for use in joint training and experimentation. The joint community will profit from developing a joint operational environment (JOE) not only as a means of focusing experimentation and transformation, but also to sharpen the debate on the conduct of warfare and operations in the 21st century.1
A cautionary note on training and readiness is necessary. The US armed forces have often been justly accused of preparing to fight the last war. In considering how to prepare for the next war, the COE and its likely successor, the JOE, is a concept, or context for considering the problem. It is not a specific threat. The COE affirms that each mission, enemy, and scenario is unique and that all of these components are dynamic. The Army should not adopt the Iraqi model as the basis for determining the operating environment. Instead, the OIF experience can inform the design of threats and scenarios. Replicating the operational environment must be so dynamic that operating in conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity becomes second nature to soldiers and their units. What can be imported from the Iraqi model is the range of threats (Special Republican Guard, regular army, Fedayeen, terrorists, etc.); the combination of enemy conventional, unconventional, and information operations; and the variety of conditions. These conditions range from terrain and weather combinations, simultaneous combat and humanitarian assistance, and changing political/social factors.
Considering implications for US forces is fine, but it does not address the implications of OIF from the point of view of potential adversaries. Clearly, the Iraqis learned and applied some lessons from their experiences in DESERT STORM. There is some evidence that suggests they sought to learn from others, including the Serbs and perhaps the Russians, or at least from the Russian experience in Chechnya. Saddam's posturing about killing Americans in Iraqi cities was not without basis in fact. Indeed, the Iraqis did bring US forces to battle in their cities. Friends and adversaries alike watched OIF with keen interest. What did they learn?
There are web pages on the Internet that ran commentary during the campaign and continue to draw conclusions about what worked well for the coalition and what did not. Some of these sites are interested in discovering vulnerabilities. To understand fully the implications of OIF, examining what outside observers concluded from DESERT STORM has utility. Writing in 1991 for publication in the occasional papers of a defense think tank in India, Brigadier V. K. Nair reached some interesting conclusions. Of the United States, Nair observed, "With the technological giant--the United States having "willy nilly" and progressively conducted offensive military operations against Libya, Grenada, Panama and Iraq, developing countries, especially the threshold powers, need to review their threat perceptions."2 During and after DESERT STORM, US operations were not viewed necessarily as benevolent. Nair notes, "While fully appreciating the inadvisability of coming into conflict with a superpower, what are the courses open to third world countries to ensure survival if a confrontation is thrust upon them."3 In short, a thoughtful observer from a country with whom the United States has no quarrel concluded from observing the US that this superpower "willy nilly" attacks countries who are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the US. More important, he suggests that countries may have such a confrontation "thrust on them" by the US.
Nair and his colleagues writing in War in the Gulf: Lessons for the 3rd World suggested possible solutions to this problem of American aggression. Among other things they recommended acquisition of electronic technology, consolidation of research and development, covert acquisition of technology, establishing priority thrust lines, and developing dual- use technologies, to name a few means to close the technological gap with the US. To this technological approach, they suggested practical additions, including deception, increasing automation, developing both passive and active means to protect critical sites, and developing integrated command, control, communications, and intelligence. Of particular interest, they suggested research and development efforts in lasers, electronic countermeasures, UAVs, thermal imaging, and missile guidance technology.4
It is possible, and some of the evidence suggests, that the running start surprised the Iraqis because it broke the pattern of operation inherent in the concept of overwhelming force. Avoiding discernible patterns is sound policy and one that others will respect. What might contemporary observers learn from OIF? They might conclude that apparent US dependence on technical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance may afford opportunity to shield, hide, or deceive. They may conclude that RPGs with more powerful warheads, including perhaps tandem warheads, may offset US armor. For that matter, they may conclude that the Iraqis did not make the best use of urban terrain, and they may confront the next US operation rather differently. They may conclude that the US forces in the field transition too slowly and are vulnerable to classic insurgency operations. They may even believe that US forces are vulnerable in nonlinear, noncontiguous operations.
In June of 2003, members of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences Scientific Council met and presented a number of essays at a conference devoted to "Lessons and Conclusions from the War in Iraq." The Russians found much to learn from and, perhaps more important, much to fear. The academics and soldiers present, like V. K. Nair before them, did not perceive that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was a benevolent activity. One of them, Major General G. A. Berezkin, asserted that OIF represented "the first steps on the path toward the establishment of Washington's absolute hegemony in the world."5 Beyond noting the clear and present danger that the US constituted to the rest of the world, Berezkin asserted that the United States had developed a new form of operations. To Berezkin the integration of joint forces, coupled with precision munitions, had reached a new plain requiring the "invention" of a term to describe them adequately. According to Berezkin, that new form of warfare is "joint operations."6
The Russians found much to applaud from a military point of view in what they perceived to be innovation, adaptation, and effective use of information and an integration among the services that is new. On the other hand, they were critical of Iraq's performance and believed that the Iraqis had the means to defeat US forces in the field. General of the Army M. L. Gareyev argued that the Iraqis did not effectively defend the approaches to Baghdad. He argued that "With thorough camouflage, combined with a large number of decoy targets and minefields, they (troops defending the approaches to Baghdad) could have played an important role in repulsing the invasion of the Anglo-American troops."7 Gareyev also argued that Russia could learn from the US experience in combating guerilla warfare. For example, US operations in Iraq suggested to him that Russia should train and organize units to operate in "maneuver- intensive raids" and that greater attention must be paid to "reliable protection for lines of communication, command and control posts and logistics."8 For the most part, these Russian observers did not believe the coalition handled urban warfare well and felt that a well-executed urban fight would give the US pause. The Russians also noted with satisfaction that the US did not achieve the "contactless" battle that it sought. More important, some argued that the US has a weakness stemming from the effort to fight contactless battles--they perceive that the US may be vulnerable to close combat.9
There are still other possible lessons for outsiders that US forces need to anticipate. The point is as the Defense Department moves on transformation, the operational environment remains dynamic and so must the transformation effort. Equally important, friends, adversaries, and even some who are neither will seek ways to cope with perceived US strengths and exploit perceived US weakness. Adapting to stay ahead promotes adapting to keep up or get ahead. For example, what might outside observers conclude from the CFLCC's effort to build infrastructure to support the arrival and staging of units? Perhaps they will determine that denying or limiting access is the key to surviving--or at least extending--a conflict to attain a favorable diplomatic solution. US transformation must occur in the context of considering what potential US adversaries might have learned from OIF. This is the essence of understanding the implications of the contemporary operating environment and the future operating environment.
The preparation of the theater and ongoing operations since DESERT STORM proved essential to rapid tactical and operational success in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The US staged ground forces primarily in a comparatively robust theater infrastructure. Despite the fact that coalition forces could not stage in either Saudi Arabia or Turkey, they enjoyed the benefits of continued presence in the theater that their predecessors in the Gulf War did not. It is hard to overstate the importance of this fact. The caveat for US armed forces is clear--a decade's preparation adjacent to the territory on which ground combat operations are anticipated may not precede the next operation.
On the other hand, the work the services did to assemble and maintain pre-positioned equipment and improve lift capabilities clearly paid dividends and are independent of the theater. Similarly, the effort the Army made to improve deployment infrastructure at Army posts in CONUS and in Europe also are important preparation tasks independent of the theater. Bases and forces stationed in Europe played a central role in OIF. European bases played important roles as power-projection platforms. NATO partnership for peace and the EUCOM "in the spirit of partnership for peace" initiatives assisted in developing the relationships that afforded overflight, staging, and basing that supported the effort in Iraq. Some nations that joined the coalition arguably did so as a means of clearly stating their commitment to their new relationships with the US. The work NATO and EUCOM did helped assure interoperability with coalition units that participated in the decade following DESERT STORM.
The proximity of Europe and efforts in the US notwithstanding, the fact is that the US forces in Iraq directly benefited from more than decade on the ground in Kuwait. This kind of situation may not apply in other contingencies. For that reason alone, there is much work to be done to assure adequate lift is available and pre-positioned equipment--whether afloat or ashore--is prepared and can be used. Marine and Army gear in those stocks has been used and used hard. Restoring that equipment and perhaps modernizing it are clearly priorities. It is not difficult to imagine contingencies that will require this equipment and contingencies where the US does not have a long-term presence.
Finally, Iraq made no direct effort to impede the buildup in the theater. Planners should consider what might have happened if Iraq had attempted a strategy based on denying access to the region. Planners might also wonder what the outcome would have been if Iraq had attacked US forces in Kuwait before they were ready for the running start. The point is that the conditions in CENTCOM in 2003 are unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.
As the US armed forces prepared for operations in Iraq, the specter of large-scale urban operations haunted commanders, planners, and soldiers. There was no doubt that removing the Saddam Hussein regime from power required fighting in Baghdad, and possibly in some or all of the numerous cities along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers en route. It was not unreasonable to suppose that large-scale urban operations would produce high casualties (coalition, Iraqi, and civilian), significant expenditure of resources, and major destruction of the infrastructure necessary for postcombat restoration of normalcy. None of this was far from the minds of those expecting to deploy to Iraq.
In the fall of 2002, when planning started in earnest, the Army's knowledge and understanding of urban operations stemmed from three sources. First, recent Army experience, including urban operations in the 1990s in Mogadishu, Somalia; Panama City, Panama; Brcko, Bosnia; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.10 Of course, none of these operations rivaled the scope, scale, or potential lethality of major combat in Baghdad. The Army drew also on the recent experience of others. The Russian experience in Grozny and Israeli experience in the West Bank and Gaza provided grist for Army planners.11 The third source was historical experience, including Hue in the Vietnam War, and Manila, Berlin, Stalingrad, and Aachen in World War II. These examples did not encourage complacency among planners or units. Not surprisingly, the Army and the joint team sought solutions that could enable the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime without the casualties and destruction historically associated with urban operations.
Eventually that search produced results. Rather than simply viewing urban areas as complex terrain occupied by an enemy force, Army planners took the approach that a city is a system of systems. Political, civil, social, religious, military, power generation and distribution, transportation, water distribution, and a host of other systems combined, interacted, and adapted constantly. Understanding these systems and how they interacted seemed key to understanding how to conduct military operations there. Accordingly, intelligence officers and planners joined traditional intelligence analysis with the system-of-systems approach in an attempt to truly understand Iraqi cities--starting with Baghdad. This drove the development of courses of action intended to defeat Iraqi forces and remove Saddam's regime from power while avoiding killing large numbers of noncombatants and destroying critical infrastructure. This approach held out the possibility of restoring basic services quickly after the end of major combat operations. Further, this analysis aided subordinate, higher, and joint headquarters in their own preparations.
Armed with recently published doctrine and provided with a reasonable understanding of his opponent and urban systems, Lieutenant General Wallace and his staff developed the scheme that would eventually be executed in Baghdad. As in any fight, the details in execution varied from the plan, but V Corps and I MEF applied what they learned--and the results of their own analysis--with great success. Paraphrasing Major General Dave Petraeus, the CFLCC rapidly adapted and fought the enemy they found rather than the one they planned on. When Petraeus said this, he meant that he fought in An Najaf first rather than in Karbala, as he had anticipated, but he would likely also agree that no one anticipated the paramilitary threat that confronted the coalition.Although the concept of isolating Baghdad and reducing the regime by means of attacks from forward operating bases seemed sound and may have worked, it was modified in execution.
Colonel Perkins and his superiors concluded that while raids into the city's core were feasible, seemed effective, and might produce the intended outcome, they also produced unintended outcomes such as "Baghdad Bob" portraying the withdrawal of Perkins' troops after his first raid as a defeat. Equally important, "Baghdad Bob" and people in Baghdad may actually have believed that Perkins' withdrawal meant that his brigade had been defeated. Thus, Perkins planned the second thunder run intending to stay if he could create the tactical conditions that would support remaining. Wallace, having thought through the same problem, underwrote Blount and Perkins on the basis of a few probing questions. The "plan" evolved in execution--as it should have, given the conditions obtained and the implications of not going downtown and staying.
New doctrine, a new way of looking at the problem, and alert leaders went a long way toward resolving the problems posed in the urban venue. But technology also contributed. For example, before they reached Baghdad, Army leaders had learned to trust BFT. Being able to track friendly units in urban terrain eased a classic problem in urban fighting--controlling the fight. Additionally, air- and ground-delivered precision munitions permitted artillery and close air support while minimizing collateral damage and noncombatant deaths. The 101st, for example, developed and executed a technique of attacking point targets with infantry following on the heels of JDAMS. To a large extent, precision munitions offset the advantage that urban terrain accorded to the defenders. Abrams tanks and Bradleys proved themselves nearly impervious to Iraqi weapons and allowed US forces to penetrate the heart of the urban areas.
Rapid fielding of the equipment necessary for urban combat also proved vital. Body armor, elbow and knee pads, and laser pointers seem trivial in comparison to the D9 Bulldozer and improved precision munitions, but body armor, pads, pointers, and similar relatively inexpensive devices protected infantrymen and made them deadly in urban terrain. The Army's decision in the fall of 2002 to procure and issue specialized equipment directly contributed to a quick victory with relatively few casualties. Fielding equipment early enabled units to train with their new equipment--better still, the stuff worked.
Army leaders and units anticipated that urban combat would be characterized by a series of transitions: battles and engagements followed by security operations and humanitarian assistance. They realized that a successful engagement in a city or town had to be followed by successful transition to postcombat operations. In preparation, major Army formations (brigades and higher) received civil affairs and psychological operations units to assist in those transitions. Few anticipated the frequent transitions from major combat to support operations and back again. For example, the 3rd Infantry, 101st Airborne, and 82nd Airborne Divisions each fought successive engagements in As Samawah, with periods of low intensity or no conflict in between.
As the Army fields Stryker Brigades and continues transformation, the OIF experience will influence combat development. Tanks and Bradleys performed brilliantly in OIF, but they did not meet all of the operational requirements. Despite their advantages in armor, tanks and Bradleys evinced a number of disadvantages --they could not elevate their weapons far enough to fire at the upper floors of buildings from close range. But as 3rd ID discovered, the lowly M113, full of engineers armed to the teeth, could engage the second and third stories. Clearly no weapon system is perfect for all environments, and even the superbly equipped forces that fought OIF have vulnerabilities. Adaptation, flexibility, and a mix of capabilities seem vital.
Preparation for the urban operations anticipated in OIF revealed a significant deficiency in Army training capabilities. The Army's premier urban operations training sites--Fort Polk, Fort Knox, and Hohenfels--are really just small villages. The computer simulation that drives the Battle Command Training Program's WARFIGHTER exercises poorly replicates urban operations. Joint and other service capabilities are no better. Fortunately, the "joint" way ahead to improve the nation's capability to conduct urban operations includes efforts to upgrade and enlarge urban operations training capabilities. Just since the buildup for OIF, the National Training Center has built a number of small "towns" in which both the opposing forces and "civilians" confront training units. At Fort Polk's JRTC, the Army has built an Iraqi village, complete with Iraqi mayor. In the fall of 2002, the Department of Defense established a cell in JFCOM to develop and experiment with concepts for urban operations that will also produce benefits. What must be done next is to build a simulation that affords joint commanders the opportunity to plan and execute realistic training in large urban areas that replicate both the urban core and urban sprawl. This task, while daunting, is not out of reach.
Although urban operations in OIF proved intense to the soldiers and marines who executed them, the coalition avoided the high rate of casualties and destruction historically associated with them. Speed, well-trained and adaptable troops, and luck all played roles in delivering this outcome. Coalition troops adapted during execution, task-organizing on the fly when required, overcoming every problem they confronted. However, it is plain that the Iraqis could have made the fight far more difficult had they not committed their relatively fragile forces to successive, suicidal attacks against armored formations. Finally, although outside the bounds of this study, prosecuting a counterinsurgency campaign in the urban venue remains difficult. Urban terrain continues to offer defenders and/or insurgents opportunity.
The initiative to assign JFCOM the responsibility for joint urban operations experimentation will have far-reaching effects because the OIF campaign appears to confirm what most soldiers understand instinctively:
- Urbanization is a trend that is unlikely to be reversed.
- Most potential opponents know they cannot confront American forces symmetrically, so they must consider, among other things, using complex and urban terrain to their advantage.
- US forces must be able to win the "close fight" inherent in urban terrain.
- US forces must be able to integrate fires with minimal collateral damage.
Operation IRAQI FREEDOM affords ample opportunity to consider the ramifications of how the armed forces have organized and prepared for combat operations in the COE. Iraq, however, is not the COE, but instead a subset of that larger context and must be understood as such.
Command and Control
Command and control is a particularly broad area of consideration. It affords the opportunity as a domain in which to consider decision making, organizations, the separate functions of command and control, and leadership, to name a just a few of the possible areas of discussion. Here the focus is narrowed to three separate areas of discussion which, while still broad, sharpen the focus and reflect those areas that could be observed with sufficient clarity and frequency as to warrant suggesting implications. Those are leadership and decision making, battle command, and how forces are echeloned.
Leadership and Decision Making
The quality of leadership and decision making in OIF--from the highest to lowest levels--is striking. Soldiers and their leaders demonstrated courage, compassion, initiative, and sacrifice. The troops and their leaders took care of each other and illustrated the ephemeral concept of unit cohesion. Leaders led from the front and made decisions based not only on enhanced command and control tools afforded by comparatively high levels of digital linkage, but also by seeing for themselves the conditions on the battlefield. Even in the 21st century, warfare is a human endeavor that requires the human touch. In OIF, the leaders and the led both demonstrated they understood this salient fact.
So why did Army leaders from Tommy Franks down perform so well? Several possibilities emerge. The body of work to produce effective leaders includes getting the right folks to join the service and continues through career-long training and education. It is difficult this early after the end of major combat operations to say with certainty what "right" looks like and what developmental assignments, training, and education should be reinforced. What is clear is that the present system of schools for troops, officers, and noncommissioned officers, and training--particularly collective training at the Army's training centers--paid dividends. As Lieutenant General Dave McKiernan put it, "I think in the Army our training, our doctrine, our leader development programs are pretty damned sound and produced soldiers and leaders who made great decisions out there and who are pretty aggressive."12 Obviously, these institutions should remain dynamic to stay abreast of a dynamic operating environment, but they seem sound at their center. Although McKiernan asserted that Army training and education worked, in the same interview he identified the need to ramp up joint education at lower levels and go into "overdrive" at the war college level.13
Leading From the Front
I will remember Colonel Anderson (commander, 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division) and Brigadier General (Ben) Freakley (assistant division commander, Operations, 101st Airborne Division) the rest of my life. Right after the artillery--we received artillery--I hear this "tink," "tink" on the TC (tank commander's) hatch and I open up (the hatch) and look over and there is Colonel Anderson. He said, "What do you need?" I'm like, "What, sir?" He goes, "I got the call, I got the read and everything, I see you're in contact here. I can have Apaches right here to try to loosen up those dismounted infantry positions. I've got three battalions of FA (field artillery) and it's all yours, Gerard."
Later Ben Freakley arrived and Cribb described him as cool among "sporadic machine gun fire" and wanted to know "Is everything ok?"
This is unbelievable. Here we are in contact and both of these guys are asking us what do we need to make our situation better. That was great--definitely made us feel good going into the fight.
After the conclusion of major combat operations, Colonel Will Grimsley wrote to the commanding general of the National Training Center to thank him and his key leaders for the work they did in preparing Grimsley's 1st Brigade, 3rd ID. According to Grimsley, "I told them I could draw a straight line correlation from how we fought in OIF successfully directly back to my National Training Center rotation."14 In anticipation of fighting on the escarpment, the NTC replicated the conditions Grimsley expected to see in the central corridor of the training area and tailored other fights during the rotation against possible OIF scenarios. Although at the training center they trained against an enemy replicating dismounted Special Republican Guard troops, the fact that they confronted paramilitary forces did not matter since the enemy fought generally the way intelligence estimated they would. More important, the opposing forces at Fort Irwin "replicated" the enemy in accordance with that estimate. In a manner of speaking, Grimsley's troops fought the escarpment fight before ever reaching Iraq. Major Mike Oliver, TF 3-69 AR's operations officer, noted that his task force performed much better against the actual enemy they confronted on the escarpment than they had against the "opposing forces" provided by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Irwin in the fall of 2002.15
But this anecdote simply does not tell the whole story. No one anticipated that the paramilitary forces would fight with the fanaticism they showed or that the "mother of all sandstorms" would strike. Training, even in anticipation of highly specific conditions such as the escarpment, cannot alone produce the agility, innovation, and adaptation that the Army's troops and leaders showed. Soldiers from private to general demonstrated "values" the Army has sought to inculcate, including loyalty to each other, integrity, and courage. These must be taught and learned. Similarly, the tolerance for ambiguity that unit commanders showed--that ability to understand that even with great technology there are some things you cannot know, is also, at least in part, learned.
Toleration for ambiguity, innovation, and technical competence all contribute to effective decision making. But while sound decision making is necessary in effective leaders, it is not sufficient. The ability to lead and motivate stems from many factors, including talent. But even talented leaders can be taught how to become more effective. The Army's leaders in OIF showed they understood their business, could motivate troops, respected troops, and handled themselves with the courage, candor, and competence their troops expected. Examining how the training and education system in the Army and in the joint community contributed both to effective leadership and decision making will be an important component of helping US forces maintain the edge.
Battle Command--Enabling Commanders to Lead from the Front
The ability to describe what is to be done, to visualize the end state, and to direct execution are components of the art and science of battle command. Art implies, among other things, intuition and a feel for the battlefield. Because combat operations remain, even in the early 21st century, human endeavors, commanders must also be able to assess the battlefield for themselves and inspire and direct important actions. The best commanders, therefore, also are good leaders who lead from the front. The science of command lends itself more to the technical competence soldiers expect in their commanders, but also to the means of effecting control in execution. Lieutenant General Wallace developed and executed a battlefield circulation scheme to visit each of his divisions daily to see his commanders and look them in the eye. When Lieutenant General McKiernan needed to make critical decisions, he went forward, as he did on his visit to Jalibah on 28 March, to see and hear from his commanders personally. To lead from the front and to command effectively, commanders need support. They need the tools to communicate their vision and aids to command that enable or support control and direction. They need the means to communicate and they need the support staff to assist in assessing enemy intentions, planning operations, and directing execution. The following sections discuss aids to command, battle command on the move, and the way in which staffs operate and organize to facilitate battle command.
Aids to Command
Force XXI initiatives aimed to enable commanders to "see" their units and the perceived or actual positions of enemy units. The Army Battle Command System (ABCS) provided the core capability commanders needed to see their own forces, describe what they wanted done and, with adequate communications, talk with subordinates and their superiors. In the fall of 2002, the Army rushed to field key components of ABCS and other tools to support battle command. Many units that fought in OIF had not received the entire ABCS suite. These units bought and fielded workable solutions of their own. Most damning for the ABCS, the V Corps/US Army Europe off-the-shelf solution, Command and Control for Personal Computers (C2PC), worked better than the Maneuver Control System, the cornerstone of ABCS, and became the preferred means of tracking units and effecting command. Arguably, BFT, or as it is technically know, Force 21 Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2), delivered over L-Band satellite, proved the most critical of all the various tools available.
Coupled with BFT, commanders using C2PC, ABCS, and one or two other aids--including the Automated Deep Operational Coordination System--could see their forces, plan and execute fires digitally, track the air space, and achieve high-resolution situational awareness of "blue" activities. Commanders also had access to digital map products that enabled them to produce high-resolution maps for their units and their own use. Using software such as FalconView and Topscene, they could visualize terrain with high fidelity as well. Their confidence in these systems and, as a consequence, their confidence that they understood the "blue" picture, enabled them to view fights in which their units were widely dispersed. This confidence in BFT, in particular, encouraged aggressiveness.
There are three major variables in controlling a combat engagement: "Where are my troops?" "Where is the enemy?" and "Where are we in relation to each other?" BFT enabled commanders to understand one of these three key variables. High-resolution maps on screens that showed their units helped them understand part of the third variable. For the second variable, the enemy, although few felt they had the fidelity they desired, they had sufficient grasp to fight with confidence.
All of this is fine and a plus for the Army and joint forces, but more remains to be done. No commander expressed complete satisfaction with MCS. C2PC received, by comparison, rave reviews, but what is required is a "joint" interoperable system in the hands of every unit. What remains missing is "red force tracking," some means of discerning red activities in relation to blue and identifying or at least estimating red intentions. Obviously, red is unlikely to collaborate by providing that information, so red force tracking is not going to happen, but the means to update perceived and actual red positions inherent in ABCS proved inadequate. For the most part, commander aids the Army fielded proved useful, but there is more to be done and these systems need to be proliferated.
Battle Command on the Move and Dispersed
The Army developed and fielded purpose-built command and control vehicles with broad- band satellite suites that provided the means for commanders to command from well forward and while on the move. But there were very few of these systems, none were fielded below division level, and not all of the divisions had them. Maneuver commanders down to brigade level did have satellite communications, and most combat and combat support (CS) units down to company level had BFT that enabled at least limited email via satellite. Voice communication provided by single-channel wide band (25 kHz) tactical satellite assured communications over long ranges so that brigades could talk to each other and their division. Below that level, units relied on short-range FM radios. Some units remained tied to mobile subscriber equipment (MSE), which meant, in effect, that they had no means to effect battle command on the move enhanced by ABCS until the MSE nodes caught up--which is to say, too late to support them in the advance on Baghdad. Even maneuver units depended on MSE to some extent. Thus, if the nodes were not "in" and able to communicate, maneuver brigades lacked the means to receive updated imagery. Units below brigade level rarely were able to tie into MSE. Thus, while the CFLCC C2, Major General Marks, expressed satisfaction with his ability to provide intelligence products, he noted with resignation that he had no means to "refresh" the picture provided to lower tactical units because of the digital divide stemming from the fact that the Army still relied heavily on MSE in OIF.16
Many of the CS and most of the combat service support (CSS) units depended exclusively on MSE to access ABCS. Similarly, these units often lacked BFT. If the Army is serious about fighting dispersed in nonlinear fights, this issue will need to be addressed.
Operation and Organization of Command Posts
Quite apart from communications and software issues to which Major General Marks alluded, the Army might profit from examining how it organizes, mans, and equips command posts. Although the Army went to war largely "networked," the structure and general concept for establishing command posts that were echeloned from front to rear--with a tactical command post (TAC), a main command post, and a rear command post--is one that World War II commanders would have recognized. These three command posts had discrete functions more or less associated with their proximity to the forward line of troops. Given a nonlinear and noncontiguous fight, reorganizing command posts to associate them by "time" rather than space may be appropriate. Thus, a corps might have an assault command post that would fight the current fight with the capability to direct and coordinate immediate effects throughout the corps battlespace. The corps main, possibly operating many miles away in relative sanctuary, would focus on longer-term planning and sustaining the current and near-term fights. Echeloning command posts may no longer be the best approach if and when the Army is able to solve the problem of generating reliable broadband communications on the move and dispersed.
The way staffs organized also evolved before OIF. Lieutenant General McKiernan reorganized the CFLCC staff around operational functions rather than the traditional vertical staff stovepipes. Thus, although Major General Marks, the CFLCC intelligence officer, developed and distributed operational intelligence, intelligence officers could be found in the other staff sections devoted to supporting intelligence requirements extant in operational protection, for example. McKiernan also rejected the traditional staff update and substituted a staff assessment instead--seeking to learn the "so what" of events rather than a history of events. Other units also organized multidiscipline functional cells, such as fires and effects coordination cells, that sought to apply the concept of effects-based operations. The implications of digital means to visualize, describe, and direct--along with concepts such as effects-based operations--suggest the Army needs to revisit how it organizes staffs and command posts.
The headquarters employed in OIF are larger than most commanders would prefer. During the development of ABCS and various commanders' aids, some have argued that these tools would produce smaller staffs. That goal proved illusive. Automation has not tended to reduce the size of staffs. There is energy and opportunity to examine how to organize command posts now within the present echelons and formations and, as a consequence, consider how to organize and structure echelons and formations. It is possible that developing more effective command posts may not necessarily make them more efficient in terms of size.
There is much more work to be done to fully understand or identify the implications of OIF on the general domain of command and control. BFT, for example, clearly paid dividends-- enabling commanders to "see" their units to coordinate tactical decisions rapidly. Continued effort to proliferate these systems seems warranted but must be accompanied by developing the means that ensure communications pathways to enable units to enjoy the benefits of both digital communications and networks.
How units are structured and how they are grouped to effect command and control and the functions they perform are key components \of command and control. Structure and functions define echelons of command. In OIF, the Army employed echelons with names Napoleon would have found familiar. But to argue that echelons in the Army are the same as in Napoleon's day is as inaccurate as arguing that because we call them ships, the USS Reagan, the newest carrier in the US Navy, and USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned US Navy vessel, are the same and that, therefore, ships have not changed since the 18th century. Echelons are the means by which the ground forces exercise command and control and execute critical functions. Critical functions have remained fairly stable--logistics, fires, and the development of intelligence, for example, are functions that armies have had to perform and will continue to perform in combat operations. Echelons as a means to execute functions are not new either. The term "corps" to describe an echelon of ground forces dates back to Napoleon, but the functions performed by that echelon have varied historically. For example, in World War II, the corps had almost no logistics functions, but in OIF, V Corps had a great many logistics functions. In World War II, the field army had a pool of combat units that it could send to corps and divisions to weight the effort or execute particular functions. Although CFLCC is not an analogue to the field army, it performed many of the same functions but had no pool of "army-level" units. Digital means of communication, coupled with enhanced aids for commanders and emerging operations concepts, will also affect Army echelons.
The Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Study Group did not set out to examine the contribution of echelons or whether they should be restructured to eliminate one or more of them. However, in considering the Army story in OIF, echelons emerged as part of the tale. Because V Corps, as did I MEF, fought decentralized operations, some will argue that division echelon did not prove necessary. Obviously, CENTCOM could have mounted this campaign without the CFLCC as it did in the first Gulf War. Perhaps it is less obvious, but whether CFLCC could have operated without corps-level subordinates is a question that warrants consideration as well. The functions each echelon performed should drive further study and consideration of the utility of combining some functions so that an echelon could be eliminated.
The evidence of OIF does not compel conclusions on this matter except to suggest that there was more than enough work to go around for the echelons and formations fielded. The evidence suggests that all of the echelons played useful roles. For example, the CFLCC performed functions at the theater level that both I MEF and V Corps would have found difficult if they had also retained responsibility for fighting their organic units. In an interview with officers from Joint Forces Command, the OIF Study Group, the Center of Military History, and the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Lieutenant General Dave McKiernan articulated as clear an argument for the current echelons as can be found by describing their functions. In response to a direct question on whether the CFLCC could have controlled divisions without V Corps and I MEF, McKiernan responded, "I don't think so. I don't think you could because I am spending a lot of energy working strategic, theater-wide, operational components, cross- components and tactical (issues)."17
CFLCC also managed the battlespace; oversaw joint intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance; assigned priorities for resources; and dealt with theater logistics and joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration. It is hard to see how either I MEF or V Corps could have managed these functions and its internal tactical operations. Although they often fought with their brigade and regimental combat teams widely separated, the higher headquarters--division, corps, or MEF--integrated and synchronized the air, ground, and logistics efforts that won those fights. Finally, brigades organized as tactical headquarters and not as fixed organizations. They task-organized and integrated units with whom they had never trained and took them into a fight within hours. The actions of 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne, and TF 2-70 AR in the feint on Al Hillah on 31 March epitomize the flexibility of the brigade as an echelon of command. Most important, brigades managed widely dispersed fights and showed great flexibility and initiative in execution.
Still, the Army should examine how it echelons and how it assigns functions and organizes to execute them. For example, there may be ways to leverage digital technology to reduce the number of echelons. But examining formations within echelons may prove even more useful--the Army and joint community may find ways in which joint interdependence can reduce the number of certain kinds of formations. For example, if the air component will commit to attacking deep targets that support tasks assigned to the land component, the land component may require less artillery. As another example, how the Army organizes to deliver theater logistics and how logistics are managed certainly should be examined in great detail.
Combined Arms Operations
The discussion of this broad thematic area is bounded by how units are organized now, but it is not intended to underwrite either the current organization or alternatives presently under consideration. Rather, the focus is on how the Army conducted combined arms operations in a joint context. Joint concepts and joint doctrine both reflect and affect how the Army organizes and operates now and are essential to how the Army transforms. What is clear from OIF is that combined arms and tailoring or task-organizing to create combined arms worked in OIF. Combining the battlefield effects of engineers, maneuver units, and fires clearly produced synergy. The Army proved able to task-organize on the move to create combined arms teams tailored to mission requirements and could do so on little or no notice. This stemmed from training, education, doctrine, and practice that produced a culture which supported flexible organizations on the basis of the analysis of the mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and the proximity of civilians or critical infrastructure that might affect execution. In OIF, this produced lethal and flexible task-organized formations stemming from the complementary effects of effective battle command, intelligence, maneuver, indirect fire support, close air support, Army aviation, engineers, tactical logistics, and integration with special forces. All of this, coupled with world-class training received both in theater and prior to arriving, made for a dominant force.
As the Army considers what conclusions may be drawn from OIF, reflecting on just how these lethal, flexible, and adaptive combat teams came to be seems appropriate. Task-organizing for specific missions is possible because of inherent flexibility in the way Army units are organized. Army doctrine and concepts for the design of units provide the foundation for flexibility. Specifically, units are built on the basis of not only what they will be asked to do, but also how they will do it. Design principles include concepts of "pooling" some resources, while making others organic. Some of those principles stem from doctrine. For example, the notion that artillery is never in reserve is a doctrinal concept that leads to pooling artillery at the division echelon and higher so that artillery can be moved rapidly to support operations wherever it is required. Thus, each division has divisional artillery, and the Army fields artillery brigades that can be assigned to support corps and divisions as needed.
That design decision produces advantages in training artillery and making the maximum use of a limited resource. It is not the only way to do business, though. Artillery could be assigned as units organic to a brigade. Following World War II, the Army moved away from fixed regiments toward brigades that were assigned units as required. In practice, and to accommodate reductions to end strength, Army brigades have gradually evolved toward fixed organizations with tables of organization and equipment (TOE) and modified tables of equipment (MTOE) to accommodate a "semi" fixed structure. For example, a forward support battalion in an "armor" brigade of two tank battalions and one infantry battalion has an MTOE assigning tank automotive and turret mechanics that reflect the routine "semi" fixed status of the brigade it is assigned to support. In fact, the BCT really is an aphorism that reflects the increasingly fixed nature of brigades and stems from the regimental combat team usage current 50 years ago. Fortunately, commanders did not allow this quiet evolution to prevent them from task-organizing as required.
Choosing a concept for structuring forces based on efficiency is not inherently wrong, but neither is it inherently right. Structuring units for tactical effectiveness rather than efficiency is appealing. Many of the arguments for fielding an Army based on the fixed brigade as the basic module stem from this notion. Fixed organizations at brigade level produce both benefits and risks. The benefits in training combined arms are fairly obvious; but fixed structures may produce reluctance to task-organize and may not be affordable in the long term. Lieutenant Colonel "Rock" Marcone developed and trained "combat patrols" in TF 3-69 AR composed of tanks, Bradleys, and engineers. Whatever structure is developed should not constrain commanders from reorganizing to accommodate their analysis of mission requirements that may be discrete.
Of course, building a doctrine and concept of operations reliant on frequent task reorganization to match combat team capabilities to the specific mission requirements came at a price. The most obvious is that members of these transient combat teams rarely had the opportunity to train together before joining the fight. The initial friction between the 173rd Airborne Brigade and JSOTF-North stemmed from the fact that conventional units and SOF generally do not train together. Training and rehearsing together is clearly a key element for building effective combat teams that can adapt to the ever-changing battlefield. The second difficulty was the overuse of the low-density/high-demand units, such as military intelligence, special forces, psychological operations, and civil affairs units. As priorities shifted, these units often moved around the battlefield to meet demand.
How the Army organizes to facilitate combined arms and take advantage of joint integration and interdependence also affects modularity and therefore deployment. Weight and volume are key components of determining lift requirements, but determining what needs to go is also important. Army units, as they are organized now, often require "plugs," some of which are quite small detachments. Fixed organizations that include these plugs could simplify deployment planning and execution. Equally important, developing a fixed module at some level will enable the Army to communicate deployment requirements more quickly and clearly. Thinking through the matter of both echelons and formations within them is a key part of developing "modules" that support contingency deployment.
Generating SOF-like Qualities
Examining formations within the current echelons may prove fruitful. Fixed organizations offer advantages on the battlefield logistically, and if they include civil affairs, psychological operations units, and other low-density plugs, they provide part of the solution to assuring the Army can deploy and field tactical "modules" rapidly. These studies and experiments obviously should also consider just how these "new" formations should be equipped to assure that the Army's tactical formations retain the edge they have now.
Joint Integration and Support: Effectiveness, not Efficiency
Perhaps the biggest accolade on the relative success of joint integration is offered by the Russian observer cited earlier, who argues that in OIF the US armed forces executed a new form of warfare, "joint operations." Obviously, that is the result of serious effort to improve joint integration since the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols legislation. Much remains to be done, but OIF shows how much has been achieved. The term "integration" used here differs from another term used to describe joint operations--interdependence. Integration is about combining resources in such a way as to produce synergy or results greater than the sum of the parts. Integration does not suggest efficiency so much as it suggests effectiveness. Interdependence, on the other hand, does suggest efficiency and therefore the elimination of capabilities in one service that may be redundant if they can be provided by another service. There are instances where interdependence makes absolute sense, and one instance was suggested in a preceding paragraph in the discussion on whether air power might enable the Army to reduce the amount of artillery that it fields. However, it is not appropriate in this effort to mandate solutions, but rather to suggest what implications might be drawn. Accordingly, integration is the term used in this discussion rather than interdependence.
Army Support to the Joint Team
By law, the Department of the Army is not a warfighting organization. Instead, the Army provides trained and ready forces to combatant commanders. The Army also provides forces to other services that enable economies across the Department of Defense. For example, the Army provides special forces, psychological operations, and civil affairs units to the Marines or elsewhere as required by the combatant commander. Similarly, theater air and missile defense units extend land-based air and missile defense wherever the combatant commander requires it. The same is true for certain kinds of support, including processing and securing enemy prisoners of war. The Army also provides port-opening, terminal management, and logistics over the shore services and thus is a major contributor to JLOTS operations. Finally, the Army provides certain common user commodities to all of the services. For example, the Army is responsible for providing fuel and bulk water to all forces ashore.
The Army did all of this and more in OIF. It provided both mandated support and support that it volunteered to provide. More than 40,000 soldiers either supported the joint team or were assigned directly in support of other services. Some 6,200 soldiers served in or supported the Coalition Force Special Operations Component Commander. More than 2,700 soldiers served with I MEF, doing everything from chemical reconnaissance to manning rocket artillery units.18 The Army and the Marine Corps also collaborated to solve serious logistics problems. The Marine hose and reel system, the Army pipeline, and "bag farms" provided the means to assure adequate fuel reached Army and Marine ground units. Similarly, the Marine Corps provided air and naval gunfire liaison teams to the Army to assist the Army in requesting and employing Naval and Marine air.
This campaign not only illustrated the power of the US armed forces, but also showed how much more powerful the parts are when integrated rather than merely deconflicted. The campaign also suggests that the missions of the Army and Marine Corps may be converging. These two services should find more ways to collaborate and train with each other. They may also find ways to achieve interdependence that could result in efficiencies that make them more effective as well. In some ways, this might prove painful for the Army. For example, to provide marines and the joint team the ability to sustain joint land campaigns and to do so quickly may force reallocation of force structure to provide active units to theater support and CS operations in lieu of Reserve Component units that are not able to respond as quickly. That structure is not extant in the current force.
There are various solutions, but none are easy. Determining the right end strength, mix of units, and mix between Active and Reserve Component units are interrelated and not without political implications. More important, the "right" mix will be dynamic as long as the JOE remains dynamic.
Theater Air and Missile Defense
The development of theater air and missile defense (TAMD) following DESERT STORM proved successful for a number of reasons. First, the services developed joint solutions to the problem. The USS Higgins, an AEGIS destroyer, provided the fastest means of early warning and effectively linked the Navy's missile defense capability to the Patriot defense umbrella. Second, the Army designed and organized a formation to fight TAMD. The 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command afforded the means to exercise battle command over the many units that provided TAMD and supported the commander of Coalition Force Air Component Command, serving as his deputy for TAMD. The Kuwaitis added their own Patriot defenses to the fight, freeing the US Patriots to defend other friendly nations in the theater. Equally important, the 32nd afforded the CFLCC the means to maneuver Patriot units to protect the V Corps and I MEF as they advanced. Finally, the Army invested a great deal of time, money, and effort to improve the Patriot. The performance of joint TAMD in OIF validates these efforts. The resulting improvement in operational protection afforded the ground forces the ability to operate and, when required, the freedom to concentrate virtually free from the specter of enemy missile attack.
The work is not necessarily complete however. Missiles are a relatively inexpensive means both to challenge US access and to threaten US interests in a theater. The enemy adapts just as surely as the US does. In OIF, planners assumed that, as in 1991, Iraqi Scuds would be the main threat. As one Patriot battalion commander put it, "We spent four months doing a defense based on three absolutes--the primary threat to Kuwait would be theAl Hussein [Scud] missile, coming out of Baghdad, and fired at night. So, of course every one of our engagements was the Ababail or Al Samoud, out of Basra, during the day."19 Moreover, land-attack cruise missiles emerged as a dangerous threat. Patriot and short-range air defense units can protect against the cruise missile threat, but work needs to be done to integrate these efforts into airspace management.
Other problems with TAMD warrant mention as well. Using the term "maneuver" in association with the movement of Patriot battalions to support offensive operations in OIF is kind to the point of exaggeration. Patriot is mobile, but not designed for cross-country maneuver in support of offensive operations. Examining solutions to this problem will absorb some energy in the coming years. Shooting down two friendly aircraft marred an otherwise brilliant performance. Sorting out friend from foe is unlikely ever to become foolproof, but "zero defects" is the right goal when lives are at stake.
Patriot battalions identified an implication of operating in the "rear" area in a noncontiguous fight. Lieutenant Colonel Joe De Antonna put it this way:
There is no rear area anymore. And I think we have to adjust our training to reflect that, but we also have to adjust our resources to reflect that. I do not have hard-top HMMWVs with ring mounts. I have only a couple of crew-served weapons per unit. We only get to fire our weapons once per year. But, at the same time, I saw the expectation for us to be able to do the same thing the infantryman does. We've got to figure out how we are going to do that, and it's not going to be cheap, but if that is the expectation--and I see it as being a legitimate expectation--then we need to address that.
Special Forces and Conventional Forces Integration
The successful integration of SOF and conventional forces is one of the great stories of OIF. Effective integration took place at every echelon, from A-teams (ODAs) to the joint special operations task forces (JSOTFs). Integration occurred throughout the length and breadth of the Iraqi Theater of Operations--on land, in the air, and at sea.As a result, both SOF and conventional forces were more effective and presented the Iraqis with significantly more and different challenges. In the V Corps area, the ODAs of 5th and 19th Special Forces Groups and conventional brigades from the 3rd, 82nd, 101st, and 4th Divisions shared intelligence, fire support, medical treatment, and other support as the corps advanced toward Baghdad. For example, when the lead elements of 3rd ID approached the bridge across the Euphrates at An Nasiriyah, SOF already had "eyes on" and passed valuable intelligence that enabled a rapid and successful operation.
In the north, the JSOTF organized around 10th Special Forces Group served as the controlling headquarters for both the 173rd Airborne Brigade and a battalion of the 10th Mountain Division. A National Guard infantry battalion also supported the effort by providing security for forward operating bases. JSOTF-North performed the operational preparation of the battlespace necessary for the 173rd to conduct its operational maneuver from Europe into Bashur Airfield in northern Iraq. Units from the 10th Mountain Division's 2-14 IN provided the conventional punch and staying power for JSOTF-North to defend against Iraqi divisions counterattacking along the Green Line. The failure of those counterattacks so demoralized the Iraqis that the Iraqi V Corps surrendered to JSOTF-North. Special forces from JSOTF-North and 2-14 IN also combined to attack and destroy the terrorist camps of Ansar Al Islam.
CENTCOM assigned JSOTF-West the key mission of denying western Iraq to the Iraqi forces so that Scud missiles could not be launched against Jordan, Turkey, or Israel. To accomplish that mission, they were assigned National Guard conventional light infantry. A SOF task force employed tanks of C/2-70 AR(-), flown in by C-17s--demonstrating SOF, Army, and Air Force flexibility and integration executed in the middle of the campaign. After attacking into As Samawah one day, the troops of C/2-70 AR found themselves en route to operate with SOF forces more than 270 miles away the next. The combination of Abrams tanks and SOF proved extremely powerful and mobile in controlling the vast expanse of western Iraq and interdicting LOCs as Iraqi leaders and forces attempted to flee to Syria. And of course one of the first operations of the war took place offshore, where Army watercraft supported SOF troops in seizing oil platforms in the gulf.
Special Forces in Action
At 0430, the raid convoy departed its base en route to Ghamas. The task force consisted of an assault team, a security team, a command and control element, and three blocking forces composed of troops from a scout platoon and antiarmor company of the 101st Airborne Division. At 0515, the convoy hit the release point outside Ghamas. The 101st vehicles moved to their blocking positions at three bridges surrounding the town. The rest of the task force moved into the town. An interpreter quickly found a local guide who knew where the house was. He took the SF team to a walled two-story dwelling with a courtyard. The security team isolated the objective and provided overwatch while the assault team forcibly seized the dwelling and apprehended three adult males. Among them was Abd Hamden, the target of the raid and a senior Ba'ath Party official from Baghdad. After a tactical interrogation, one of the men provided the location of a Fedayeen major nearby in Ghamas. The SF and conventional force raided this house minutes later but only found his relatives. As the Americans left the town with their captives, they were cheered by locals throughout the town. A thorough interrogation of the prisoners was conducted and documented, and the prisoners were handed over to higher authorities.
The success of SOF-conventional integration was not assured by any means. After the failure at Desert One of the aborted attempt to rescue the hostages in 1979, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was formed, and Army Special Forces soon became a separate branch. The services resisted losing their unique, special operations-capable units to a separate command. Similarly, the regional combatant commanders resisted losing control of special operations in their respective areas of operations. Despite lukewarm reception and sometimes outright opposition, the creation of SOCOM, with its dedicated resources and mission focus, significantly improved the conduct of special operations missions but with unintended consequences. Through the 1980s and early 1990s, a physical and cultural gap grew between Army conventional and special operations forces. Once NCOs and officers joined Army Special Forces, they were separated from their conventional counterparts for the remainder of their careers. They followed different career paths, attended different schools, served in compounds or remote corners of Army posts, and deployed on separate missions around the globe. More important, they seldom operated together. In the end, special operations and conventional forces grew apart to the point that they did not always work well together.
The shift toward integration of SOF and conventional operations began with US involvement in the Balkans, and Haiti in particular. SOF units supported operations effectively, and conventional units learned to work with SOF. In Afghanistan, the momentum drawing the two types of forces closer together continued to build. By Operation ANACONDA, special forces, conventional, and interagency leaders were sitting side-by-side planning, coordinating, and executing operations. It was not always smooth or elegant, but soldiers on both sides worked to tear down the barriers between SOF and conventional soldiers.
Integration continued to improve during the planning for OIF. Collaborative planning between Third Army and USSOCOM units began early in 2002 and continued right through the campaign. The Special Operations Command and Control Element (SOCCE) embedded in V Corps served as an active participant in all V Corps planning, preparation, and deployment. Throughout 2002 and the spring of 2003, 3rd ID brigades and special forces units executing Operation DESERT SPRING worked and trained closely together. When the time came for execution, 3rd ID and its SOF colleagues were ready. As other conventional units arrived, the pattern of integration continued.
In the 1990s the mark of success for an Army unit was to conduct a successful training rotation at a Combat Training Center, combining heavy and light forces (called a heavy-light rotation). Conventional units believed that heavy-light rotations were the most complicated, but critical combination of forces because the capabilities and requirements of the two are so different. Eventually, though, training and employing diverse units, most of which had no chance to train together at home, became second nature. In OIF, the Army illustrated the benefits of heavy-light training.
Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq raised the bar for integration. In the future, effective integration must be the standard. This will require cultural, doctrinal, organizational, and training changes across the Army. In that regard, there is much to be learned from the execution of OIF in terms of SOF and conventional force integration and interoperability. Some lessons are subtle, some are easily discerned; all must be resourced and translated into action if true integration is to be achieved.
The effective conduct of SOF-conventional operations requires trained leaders and units. For example, battalion and brigade pre-command courses are already effective at teaching how to integrate combined arms and contributed significantly to the lethality of Army brigade combat teams in OIF. Adding instruction on integrating SOF and conventional forces would build on that success. OIF experience suggests that captains' education also ought to address the tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to integrate these operations.
Effective joint SOF and Army conventional operations are dependent on common doctrine and training, understood and practiced by all. Currently, Army doctrine does not provide for integrated operations. For example, FM 3-90, Tactics, fails to address joint SOF and conventional operations for offensive or defensive operations. This lack of common doctrine can have disastrous effects. In OIF the SOF and conventional units' approaches to planning and execution varied, requiring adjustments on the way. As joint and Army doctrine development moves forward, it must draw SOF and conventional forces toward a common language and integrated operations. Training together at the CTCs can further the cause of integrating SOF and conventional operations. Presently, conventional and SOF elements rarely train together. Although Army SF units regularly train at the CTCs, their training rotations are usually not linked directly with conventional units. Training together will produce the trust and confidence required to assure that successful integration is the rule rather than the exception.
Liaison between Army special forces and conventional forces assured effective integration. Special forces paid a greater price than conventional forces since relatively small special forces units must liaise with conventional force units that are both more numerous and larger. In the past, when the two forces rarely worked together, liaison generally occurred at the corps level. In OIF, the number of special forces and conventional forces working together was so large that special forces units were hard-pressed to provide sufficient liaison to Army and Marine Corps formations. In fact, some entire ODAs (normally combat units) served as liaison teams. For example, ODA 916 divided into three sections, simultaneously serving as Special Forces Liaison Element (SFLE) for 3rd ID Headquarters, 3rd Brigade of 3rd ID, and 3-7 CAV. Lacking digital battle command systems that could "talk" to each other further exacerbated liaison. For example, ODA 915, providing the SFLE to the 101st, did not have C2PC, BFT, ADOCS, or other command and control systems used by the 101st.
If the trend toward greater SOF and conventional force integration continues, generating, training, and equipping liaison teams will require effort and investment. Across the area of operations and throughout the OIF campaign, the integration of SOF and conventional forces was a tremendous success. In the south, north, and west, missions were accomplished more effectively and with fewer lives lost as a result. The Army has the opportunity to build on this success.
Air Power: Flexible, Responsive, and Central to Decisive Joint Operations
Coalition air forces and ground component attack aviation drove home the qualities of flexibility and decisiveness that air power brings to the battlefield. The Coalition Forces Air Component Command demonstrated flexibility right from the outset when, for sound reasons, A and G days merged. Everyone, including the Iraqis and coalition ground troops, anticipated that a lengthy air campaign would precede any ground operations. When it did not, the air component commander still had important tasks to execute in support of his campaign to meet CENTCOM objectives. The proliferation of precision guided munitions and the fact that the coalition enjoyed air superiority enabled the airmen to undertake five separate tasks at once, some of which they may have preferred to do sequentially.
The airmen still needed to defeat or at least suppress Iraqi air defenses, attack strategic targets, attack theater ballistic missile sites, execute deep shaping operations, and provide close air support. To their credit, air component troops managed all of that and provided what the ground units acclaimed was first-class support to them. On more than one occasion, responsive, accurate close air support turned the tide for Army ground troops or, as a minimum, reduced their vulnerability to enemy combat systems. All four air forces (USAF, USN, USMC and RAF) flew for Grimsley's 1st BCT, destroying artillery that Grimsley could not defeat with his organic artillery. Instead, his artillery dealt with targets immediately to his front. Again at objective JENKINS, airmen attacked columns of paramilitary troops on the east side of the Euphrates, interdicting them before they could close with ground troops. In the fight at TITANS, airmen supported Lieutenant Colonel J.R. Sanderson's TF 2-69 AR, attacking targets at the head of the column while artillery struck targets on the left side of the road the TF was traveling. Time and again during OIF, airmen intervened at critical points on the battlefield.
Although some of the sources remain classified and therefore cannot be discussed here, the evidence suggests that the high rate of desertion among Iraqi units can be directly attributed to strikes by fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft. The Iraqi military learned to fear attack from the air in 1991. Airmen striking without warning in 2003 reprised the lesson. Air power demonstrated its efficacy once again.
Effecting Joint Integration
Joint integration in OIF stemmed from the effort to secure a commitment to joint warfare across the services, from improved joint doctrine and education, but also from investing in personal relationships. At CFLCC, Lieutenant General McKiernan believed that joint warfighting stemmed not only "from the doctrine and technical interoperability, but it is also the personal relationships."20 Joint training and education support developing personal relationships, as does training together in service training, including the Army's Battle Command Training Program, the Army's training centers, and at the counterpart institutions of the other services.
Deployment and Sustainment
Deploying Troops: Issues and Possible Solutions Across the Department of Defense
The commitment of the services to improve deployment following DESERT STORM was sustained and effective over the last decade. Developing and fielding fast sealift, USMC Maritime Pre-position Squadrons, Army Pre-positioned Stocks, the C-17, and single port management all paid dividends during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Much remains to be done. The Request For Forces initiative, intended to afford greater flexibility to the regional combatant commander, did not work. Yet there is no question that the system in place did not meet the needs of commanders in contingency environments.
According to McKiernan, that system is "a peacetime efficiencies based system. So every airplane and every ship is validated and loads are validated and efficiencies gained so no space goes unvalidated. To me, it doesn't work worth a damn in contingency operations."21 Few could be found in the theater who would defend either the Request for Forces process or the more traditional means of moving troops. Contingency operations require more flexibility. Organizing the Army in more modular fashion may also enhance deployment planning and execution.
Designing a deployment system and determining lift requirements are not for the Army alone. This is a joint matter of compelling importance to national security. The Army will play a role, but this matter will be driven by joint requirements. Arguably, the issue is so important that it will require Department of Defense leadership to determine lift requirements and develop a system that meets the needs of regional commanders.
Operational Maneuver from Strategic Distances
Operational maneuver from strategic distances is an important concept for Army transformation and relates both to how the Army organizes formations and to the general topic of deployment. Both the insertion of the 173rd Airborne BCT into northern Iraq and the accelerated deployment of the 2nd Armored Cavalry illustrate the promise inherent in this concept. While executed largely using today's doctrine, organizations, and equipment, this operation provides several insights that can be used to refine and make the concept a practical tool for joint commanders.
Simply stated, operational maneuver from strategic distances seeks to introduce new forces into the fight from outside the theater, upsetting the opponent's correlation of forces and forcing him to deal with an unexpected threat. The concept assumes that an operationally significant force, a brigade as minimum, can be delivered by air to an unimproved airfield or airfields, and "fight off the ramp." This early-entry capability complements the forcible-entry capability provided by airborne forces and the Marine Corps. Fighting off the ramp means that rather than going through deliberate buildup of combat power, staging, and preparation, the force is configured, trained, equipped, and prepared to engage in combat operations almost as soon as personnel, vehicles, and weapon systems exit aircraft.
Employment of the 173rd Airborne, although successful, was not without difficulties. "Fighting off the ramp" and supporting the force logistically proved problematic. The Army, together with the Air Force, planned, prepared, and executed the airborne assault superbly. They also executed follow-on air landing of heavy equipment and reinforcing troops professionally and effectively. But the United States has a limited number of transport aircraft with the strategic range and cargo capacity required. The 173rd jumped from the same C-17 aircraft that supported all other missions in the Iraqi theater of operations. Making operational maneuver from strategic distances routine will require difficult decisions and/or more aircraft.
One way to address the lift problem is for the Army to develop formations that provide greater lethality, survivability, and mobility than current units while reducing lift requirements. The Army's ongoing efforts with the Stryker BCTs and Future Force Units of Action are designed to do exactly that. The 173rd BCT, including TF 1-63 Armor, required 89 C-17 sorties to deploy two infantry battalions, five M1 tanks, four M2 Bradleys, a battery of 105mm howitzers, three platoons of 120mm mortars, and two Dragoneye UAVs.22 In contrast, for the same number of sorties, a Stryker BCT can deliver one Stryker battalion of 700 troops, 65 Stryker variants, along with an artillery battery, organic CS, supporting CSS units, and seven days of supply. Finally, a brigade assault command post would provide command and control. Once landed, the Stryker package would enjoy greater lethality and mobility than its counterparts in the 173rd.23 On the other hand, the 173rd has a forcible-entry capability by virtue of its ability to do an airborne assault that the Stryker does not have.
The 173rd did not fight directly off the ramp. Since the end of the Cold War, campaigns have been relatively short, high-tempo affairs. Major combat operations in 1989 in Panama were over within 24 hours; the Kosovo air campaign took 78 days; and major combat operations in DESERT STORM and OIF each lasted about six weeks. In OIF, the 173rd BCT closed the combat elements of its airborne infantry battalions within 96 hours of deployment and could have conducted light infantry offensive operations at that time. It was another 10 days before the full BCT and sufficient supplies for brigade-size operations were available. Fighting off the ramp is a doctrinal, as well as a physical and materiel, challenge. Both the 173rd and Stryker Brigades can be configured to fight off the ramp. Of course, this requires more lift since combat loading is never as efficient as cargo loading. Fighting off the ramp requires tailoring lift based on the scheme of maneuver. Doctrine and techniques to achieve this end do not currently exist, although amphibious, air assault, and airborne doctrine and techniques can provide the inspiration and starting points. Similarly, these techniques can also stimulate developing intelligence and logistics systems to support fighting off the ramp.
Last, learning from the 173rd BCT should not stop with operational maneuver. With some HMMWV motorized infantry and TF 1-63 Armor, the 173rd BCT represents an embryonic middleweight force, the forerunner of the Stryker BCT. As such, the Army can learn from this experience and refine its concepts for such forces. For example, Army transformation set a standard of 96 hours to deploy a brigade-size force anywhere in the world, and the Stryker BCTs are designed with that requirement in mind. The 173rd BCT deployment to northern Iraq demonstrates that 96 hours may not be just a "mark on the wall," but legitimate and feasible as well. The mission-scenario set that the 173rd faced was similar to the high-end small-scale contingency (SSC) missions envisioned for the Stryker BCTs, suggesting that is the appropriate focus for the design of those brigades.
Logistically, OIF tested the Army. The size of the theater, tempo of operations, complexity, distribution of forces, nature of the threat, terrain, strategic constraints, paucity of logistics forces, and requirements to support other services proved daunting. Despite these difficulties, Army CSS troops turned in a heroic performance by providing "just enough" to sustain the fight. Significant lessons can be drawn from the OIF campaign that will enable future campaigns to be supported more effectively across the full range of logistics functions, no matter how challenging the circumstances.
From an Army logistic standpoint, the theater of operations encompassed Kuwait, Iraq, and parts of other countries in the region. The pace of operations was high, with whole brigades moving more than 100 kilometers in a single day. Customers included Army, joint, special operations, and coalition units across a vast expanse, and the pace of operations only amplified the burden on the logistics systems. Additionally, strategic and policy constraints limited which countries could be used for basing, transit, or host nation support. These same constraints had the effect of distributing the joint force across the length and breadth of the Persian Gulf. As a consequence, nearly all of the supplies and equipment required to support combat operations had to come through the relatively small Kuwaiti ports. Mobilization and deployment decisions slowed arrival of many logistics units or resulted in their elimination from the troop list altogether. As a result, the major theater logistics command, 377th Theater Support Command, was not fully operational with its required units until after the conclusion of major combat operations.
For these reasons and others, logistics in OIF were less than an unqualified success. Most logistic functions and classes of supply during the campaign functioned just barely above subsistence level. For example:
- For most of the major combat operations and into the summer of 2003, the theater stocks of food barely met demand. During major combat operations, there were times when the sup- ply system was incapable of providing sufficient MREs for the soldiers fighting Iraqi forces.
- Early in the mission analysis and planning process, and as a result of their DESERT STORM experience, leaders at every level focused on the necessity to provide fuel to the force during the long march up-country. While there are no recorded instances of units running out of fuel during offensive operations, success was achieved by nondoctrinal petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) resupply efforts. Some of these included combat arms commanders retaining control of POL tankers rather than returning them to support units.
- Package POL products such as grease and lubricants rarely reached units after they crossed the berm. Requisitions for replacement stocks went unfilled long after major combat operations ended. Units resorted to using Iraqi lubricants acquired by foraging parties and draining oil from non mission-capable equipment.
- The logistic system failed to resupply engineer explosives and barrier material to units in Iraq. Once initial supplies were depleted, units used what they captured from Iraqi forces or improvised. For example, some units disassembled explosive Mine Clearing Line Charges (MICLIC) and used the charges to destroy captured Iraqi equipment.24
- Ammunition resupply was also problematic. At one point in the fight, 3rd ID was forced to ask the 101st Airborne Division for an emergency resupply. After coordination, the 101st fired the missions with its own artillery as a more efficient means of accomplishing the fire support missions.25
- Resupply of major items of equipment was extremely limited. The one positive example of effective resupply was provision of six Apache attack helicopters, flown in from Fort Hood, Texas, to replace those severely damaged or destroyed.
- The medical supply system failed to work. Units were forced to resupply their unit medical platoons from the stocks held by the combat surgical hospitals.26
- Repair parts for vehicles and equipment simply didn't make it forward to attacking units. Brigades that attacked north from Kuwait and defeated the Iraqi forces in Baghdad did so without receiving any repair parts whatsoever.27
- To meet transportation requirements, the V Corps deputy commander personally approved the allocation of trucks daily.
- Soldiers across the theater did not receive mail from the time they crossed the berm until well after the fall of Baghdad.
The difficulties outlined above are not the result of any single deficiency in the logistic system. On the contrary, a number of converging factors degraded the support provided to units in combat. Despite a decade of transitioning from a Cold War defensive system, current logistics doctrine and systems do not support offensive operations across distributed battlespace. Many classes of supply are still managed as independent systems. All classes were supposed to be transported from the port as far forward as possible, ideally to the forward brigades. Medical supplies have traditionally been handled in a separate supply chain, so that the life- saving supplies could move faster. In OIF, that approach complicated supply management and distribution. In a high-tempo, long-distance operation, handling supplies at each echelon made it practically impossible for logistics leaders to streamline their efforts across the theater.
Combat developers spent the dozen years after DESERT STORM attempting to establish digital and automated logistics processes to improve logistics by establishing distribution management practices, installing in-transit visibility and upgrading automated information systems. Among other things, the intent was to reduce the infamous "iron mountains" of supplies that were pre-positioned in Saudi Arabia before DESERT STORM, by shipping supplies straight from the United States and Germany when required during the campaign. For the most part, these initiatives did not work in this complex and high-tempo campaign. As in other campaigns, logistics in OIF succeeded as a consequence of sheer hard work.
The physics of combat theaters complicate all operations, and perhaps logistics most of all. Requisitions for supplies had to make their way from the requesting unit back to the source; in some cases this meant all the way to the overseas depots. Inadequate communications and the chaos of the battlefield conspired against even getting requests through the system. Assuming all went well, critical parts, supplies, and equipment moved by air into the aerial port at Kuwait City and then to the Theater Distribution Center (TDC). Ideally the part or supply item was then placed on a truck to bring it forward. However, because attacking units continued to move away from Kuwait throughout the process, supplies did not catch up to the units that requested them. Requirements for fuel, ammunition, food, and water are easier to predict than requirements for parts, but moving the large quantities required remained difficult.
This physical problem grew worse due to cybernetic disconnects across the logistics system. Investments in "in-transit visibility" during the 1990s failed to pay off. Visibility of supplies was particularly problematic at transload points, including the TDC. Repair parts and other supply items simply disappeared from view. The automated management system lost track of whole units, as the codes designating each individual company or battalion changed as units deployed into the theater. Frustrated unit commanders compounded the problem by sending foraging parties to camps in Kuwait to try and find items they had requested. Automated systems designed to pass requisitions and track status of requests simply failed to work under the extreme stress imposed in this large and difficult theater of operations. Finally, there were not enough trucks to move supplies forward. In-transit visibility and the other initiatives of the past decade have promise, but they had not matured adequately by March of 2003 to deliver on their perceived potential.
Perhaps the most important issue contributing to the myriad problems that confounded delivering parts and supplies, from paper clips to tank engines, stems from the lack of a means to assign responsibility clearly. In the current logistics system, there is no single cargo distribution manager. Quite apart from the confusion generated by the separate management of classes of supply, there is currently no one person or unit that is directly responsible for delivery of all things large and small. Just as the Military Traffic Management Command had to organize units to provide a single port manager capability to TRANSCOM, so must the Army at least consider developing functional cargo distribution capability with the means to track and assure that supplies are distributed.
There is still another distribution issue that should be examined. Brigadier General Stultz, who worked literally around the clock attempting to get supplies forward, complained with some bitterness that hauling water consumed an inordinate amount of line haul because units preferred bottled water to water they produced in their own reverse osmosis water purification units. That is partly true--soldiers will swear that water produced from purifying river water has a chemical taste. But the truth is, even if purified river water tasted as good as boutique bottled water, there is currently no effective means to distribute water at the tactical level. Water is delivered to tactical units by 450-gallon water trailers, generally apportioned one to a company whether the company has fewer than 100 soldiers or as many as 200 soldiers. Every tank company, infantry company, and artillery battery is authorized a single water trailer. There are simply too few means to haul bulk water to the fighting troops. Bottled water, on the other hand, while bulky to the point of waste, can be hauled by everything that moves. That is why units in the field want bottled water. Water distribution is emblematic of the overall distribution problem.
There are some good news logistics stories. Under incredibly difficult conditions, logistics troops made sure that food, fuel, and ammunition got forward. Logistics troops and their leaders literally fought their way forward to get the vital supplies in the hands of the combat soldiers. The scope and scale of their effort are hard to grasp, but it was truly monumental. Joint logistics functioned across 8,000 miles and met the theater's needs without a long buildup of stocks. As one logistician put it, there were still some "iron hills," but there were no "iron mountains."
The Army Theater Support Vessel moved supplies or units from one end of the Persian Gulf to the other. The TSV and the Navy equivalent, the HSV, were responsive and capable, achieving great success in their combat debut. Army watercraft performed brilliantly, supporting everything from clearing debris from the channel into Um Qasr to supporting SOF operations. Army logistics over the shore (LOTS) capabilities also proved particularly effective, supporting Army, Marine, and UK forces and relieving pressure on the few, crowded Kuwaiti ports.28
The "air bridge" supporting the 173rd JSOTF-North demonstrated the tremendous utility of both strategic and tactical airlift and the enormous flexibility they provide the joint commander. Although the Turkish government ultimately allowed fuel to be supplied from Turkey, airlift met all of the 173rd's requirements initially. Other supplies, parts in particular, were requisitioned electronically through the brigade's home station in Vicenza, Italy, and its servicing logistics centers in Germany. The Army brought the required supply items and repair parts to Ramstein Air Base, where Air Force transport troops assembled and packaged them for daily delivery by air.
Setting the Conditions for Early Deployment of Logistics Units
Finally, sufficient Army logistics capabilities must be deployed early enough to meet theater requirements for joint, coalition, and Army units. Some of the tension in deciding when to deploy CSS units stemmed from a shortage of theater-opening units in the Active Component. Accordingly, the Army may need to examine whether a theater-opening organization equivalent to the 7th Transportation Group's port-opening capability is required in the Active Component. In fact, the Army has guidance that will take it in this direction. On 9 July 2003, the secretary of defense sent a memorandum to the secretaries of the military departments, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the undersecretaries of defense. In this document, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed, "the balance of capabilities in the Active and Reserve components today is not the best for the future." He further ordered the services to "eliminate the need for involuntary mobilization during the first 15 days of a rapid response operation (or for any alerts to mobilize prior to the operation)."29 Secretary Rumsfeld's guidance is clear and cuts to the heart of the matter where theater logistics are concerned.
Learning From the 507th Maintenance Company Experience: Implications of the Noncontiguous Battlefield
The home at 301 Sherman Avenue on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is the quarters designated by the Army for the director of the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). This 3-story, red brick Federal, built in 1888, is situated on a historic site on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River. From the front door, one sees the very spot where ferries carried settlers and their wagons across the Missouri, leaving behind them the security of the East. From the back door, one sees the plain where those same settlers assembled into "trains" of wagons to begin the march west along the Oregon, Santa Fe, or California Trails.
Why the brief historical lesson? Because those wagon trains were heading into a dangerous operating environment. The 19th-century "battlespace" in the West was noncontiguous, nonlinear, and of varied terrain and weather. This was an environment in which a mobile, lethal, and determined enemy, prone to acts of "terrorism," could attack at any time and from any direction. This environment consisted of long lines of communication, along which there were relatively few friendly forces available to provide security. Every wagon master and every family knew that the wagon train must be organized and prepared to conduct its own defense. In the same manner, every Army supply column knew it also must be prepared to defend itself.
The ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company and subsequent rescue of some of its soldiers was one of the more dramatic events in OIF, but not the most lethal and certainly not the most decisive. Still, if it serves as a catalyst for real change, the 507th could have a positive and lasting effect that saves lives in future conflicts. Changing a culture is difficult, and in a large organization such as Army, with very definite collective opinions about serious issues, it is even more difficult. Often it takes a cathartic event to initiate such a change. The 507th ambush may be such an event, causing the Army to pause, seriously examine the provisions for security of its CS and CSS units, and initiate changes that enable logistics and support units to make contact with the enemy, survive, and continue their mission.
A Short Discussion of the 507th
Anytime armies are able to cut their way through a country rapidly in a "blitzkrieg"-like offensive, the result is noncontiguous warfare and nonlinear fights. But what briefs well at a war college or in a think tank is fraught with practical problems on the ground. Belton Cooper, a World War II maintenance officer, writing in his memoir, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II, described the area between the advancing legions of 3rd Armored Division tanks and the "rear" as the "void." According to Cooper, then a lieutenant, in the fast-paced attacks of the fall of 1944, the gap between the "front" and the "rear" often contained no friendly troops, as the infantry could not keep up. Going to the rear with his maintenance reports required what Cooper called "running the gauntlet." As he put it, "It was logical to assume any units that we met on the road at night would probably be German." Cooper also found Germans in his way during the day. Nonlinear warfare is neither good nor bad, but it brings a special set of conditions soldiers cannot ignore, and one of them is that there is no safe place on a nonlinear battlefield.30
What happened to the 507th reminds those who wear the uniform and those who send them in harm's way that any defeat, however small, is catastrophic for those in the fight. More important, no one thing doomed the 507th. Instead, there was a series of events and missteps that led to this tactical defeat of a small unit-- a defeat that somehow, from the safety of television studios in America, seemed incomprehensible. But this does not take account of the conditions of combat. Combat operations, even at their best, are confusing, frightening, and exhausting.
Following the incident, the Army launched a series of investigations and studies to determine the cause of the tragedy. Determining why Captain King did not understand that he was to transition from Route BLUE to Route JACKSON is one aspect. One possible cause is that he joined the 600- vehicle convoy under the control of the 3rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd ID, after its rehearsals. It is unclear if there was any requirement or time for him to back-brief the plan to demonstrate that he understood what his unit was required to do.
A second contributing factor is the ad hoc nature of the convoy and a lack of realistic tactical road march training. The 3rd FSB is a tactical support battalion that trains at the NTC. There, logistic troops "fight" to defend their support areas and even their convoys. However, the 507th belongs to a Patriot unit that gets no opportunities to undergo the same highly realistic combat training. The 507th never trained at any of the Army's combat training centers: the NTC, the JRTC, or the CMTC. A third contributing factor may be the distances, routes, and the duration of operations. Out of radio range with the 3rd FSB and eager to catch up, Captain King and the 507th took the shortest, most direct route to get to Highway 8 on 22 March. This shortcut, only 15 km cross-country, took 5 long hours to travel with trucks designed for paved roads. However, the entire convoy had already traveled cross-country to reach the point from which he departed, so what seems like a bad decision now may have looked prudent to King on the evening of the 22nd. Farther behind, the 507th finally reached the traffic control point at the crossover of Routes BLUE and JACKSON, but no one was directing traffic. Soldiers were present at the traffic control point, but they made no effort to turn the 507th and so, King, believing he was to continue on Route BLUE, drove past the turn and headed into An Nasiriyah. Some commentators have wondered why the 507th did not fire on the armed Iraqis they passed on the way into An Nasiriyah. One reason may have been that the soldiers were expecting to be greeted as liberators. Moreover, the rules of engagement (ROE) were not as clear as they might have been. With some 13 sections detailing when one could fire, the ROE card concluded with guidance to "attack enemy forces and military targets." These ROE are clear enough when soldiers are well rested and when one is certain he is in hostile territory, but if the situation is ambiguous and soldiers become tired and lost, then they might, as those in the 507th did, choose not to fire. Even if they had fired on first contact, the outcome is not certain. What is clear is that once Captain King and First Sergeant Dowdy recognized they were in a hostile environment, they locked and loaded and assumed the worst. Once the 507th entered the firefight, several other challenges hindered its defense. Several of its weapons jammed repeatedly. The sole .50-caliber machine gun did not function at all. Nonetheless, they never stopped fighting. Soldiers who might have escaped went to the aid of those who were injured or whose vehicles had been disabled by enemy fire. Surrounded, they attempted to resist until resistance seemed futile.
Carl von Clausewitz would find none of this surprising. Nearly 200 years ago, he described exactly the phenomenon that dogged the 507th. He would have described this chain of mistakes, confusion on the route, inadequate weapons maintenance, potentially confusing ROE, difficult terrain, and a traffic control point that no longer operated, as "friction." Friction produced by humans, physical conditions, and ambiguity, remain constants in warfare regardless of how sophisticated the technology of war has become. The CSA understands this, as he demonstrated in his first message to the Army. On 1 August 2003, General Peter Schoomaker observed, "War is ambiguous, uncertain, and unfair."31
The last point to recall about the 507th soldiers concerns the way they and the marines of Task Force Tarawa comported themselves. The marines did not pause to ponder why the 507th had been in An Nasiriyah or wonder whether they should take responsibility for rescuing them. Rather, they honored their predecessors' exploits at Tarawa and launched north to rescue their fellow Americans. Perhaps the lesson of the 507th soldiers stopping to help one another and the marines rescuing the survivors are the best things to remember about this darkest day of OIF.
Some have argued that what happened to the 507th is easily explained. They assert that the 507th was poorly led, poorly trained, and poorly disciplined. Others said that the 507th reflected a CSS culture of lackadaisical approach to security and that this never could have happened to a combat unit or to their CS or CSS unit. These are possible explanations. Another possibility is that the 507th is indicative of an Armywide problem. This view holds that the some CS and most CSS units are generally not equipped, manned, or trained to defend themselves while stationary, let alone when on the march. CSS units are generally the last units to field night vision, armor plating for "flak" vests, and other combat gear. They also have fewer radios, crew-served weapons and far less armor protection than their colleagues in combat and CS units. Finally, they do not get either the focus or resources to conduct tactical simulations or live-fire training that their colleagues in combat and CS units receive.
None of this is a problem if the 507th is a singular example of a poorly equipped, poorly trained and poorly led unit. Nor is it a problem if the Army expects to operate with clear demarcation between "front" and "rear." If, however, the 507th is indicative of an Armywide problem in training, equipping, and manning CS and CSS units, and if the Army expects to operate in a nonlinear, noncontiguous operational environment, Army leaders may need to examine everything from culture to equipment in CS and CSS units. Equally important, the Army should examine any concept that envisions operations in nonlinear and noncontiguous battlespace to determine how forces should be manned and equipped to operate in the so-called white spaces and on LOCs. Assuming that technical means of surveillance will protect those units may not be justified. The culture and expectation in the Army should be, to borrow a phrase from the Marines, that every soldier is a rifleman first, and every unit fights.
Despite these criticisms, Army CSS soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and officers overcame one of the most challenging campaign situations possible to meet the needs of the warfighting units that defeated the Iraqi armed forces and removed the Hussein regime. They did so through dedication, courage, and innovation that overcame any obstacle in their path. General Dave McKiernan offered the best testimony to the logistics troops when he noted on 1 May 2003, "the truth of the matter is we did not stop operational tempo because of any class of supply, and what was accomplished was never impeded by logistics, and I think that is a remarkable story."32
Information and Knowledge
This broad domain cuts across every other area discussed. Developing and communicating information and generating knowledge from information are at the heart of what the Army and other services tried to achieve in the years since DESERT STORM. Attempting to leverage information to maneuver out of contact with the enemy and to apply overmatching combat power at a time and place that US forces choose is at the heart of emerging joint and Army concepts. Communications technology, information technology, and how units are structured and equipped are all part and parcel of implications on information and knowledge. Effects-based operations and joint integration also stem from the ability to share information and knowledge. Effects-based operations, including the ephemeral domain of information operations and subsets such as perception management and electronic attack, are concerned with information and knowledge as well.
Grouping so many capabilities in the realm of information operations and the more general theme of information and knowledge complicates discussing them, but seems essential to preserve the essence of their interdependence. So while no attempt is made to separate the various components that merit discussion for purposes of organization, they include the following general areas.
- Toward Netcentric Warfare
- Information Operations
- Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
Toward Netcentric Warfare
Information has always enabled warfare, and the fight to protect information and to gain information has always been critical to success in battle. DESERT STORM and subsequent operations vividly demonstrate the power of information. The Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled coalition forces in DESERT STORM to maneuver with confidence across the trackless expanse of the Iraqi desert. Simultaneously, Tomahawk cruise missiles and laser-guided bombs struck targets with seemingly unerring accuracy. Leveraging the power of information became one of the central tenets of the 1990s' Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), the defense establishment's campaign to continue US dominance in warfare.
Theorists, pundits, and decision makers, both within and outside the military, began to examine the opportunities to transform America's military forces into an information-age force. What evolved was a concept known as Network Centric Warfare (NCW). The proponents of netcentric warfare perceived revolutionary change in how warfare would be conducted. To netcentric warfare theorists, warfare would no longer be about fighting for terrain or to destroy forces, but would instead be a fight for information. Whoever won the fight for information would win all conflicts. For traditional theories of warfare, such as that of Clausewitz, they substituted new constructs such as systems theory, chaos and complexity theory, and nodal warfare. Each of the services also saw the net as a means to empower commanders and units with information. Service initiatives, including Army digitization and Force XXI, the Air Force's Effects-Based Operations, the Navy's Cooperative Engagement, and Marine Corps Sea Dragon, all sought to move from Industrial-Age warfare toward what Alvin and Heidi Toffler termed "Third Wave Warfare."
But what does this mean? Is the net really only about information and the amount of it that can be made available to commanders? There is at the heart of netcentric warfare an important concept--that anyone on the network has the information, the means to act on it, and the authority to do so. Netcentric warfare, then, is not about moving digits and ever-larger communications pipes, but rather a self-adapting system of thinking participants who are able to act rapidly on the basis of understanding both the commander's intent and the situation around them. The focus then is on waging war and not on the net as an end in itself. It is possible to lose this distinction in the pursuit of the means to move the digits.33
The Army's evolution toward a digitally net-enabled force actually began long before the emergence of the concept of NCW. In the 1980s, the Field Artillery branch led the Army into the information age with the adoption of TACFIRE as the means to coordinate and execute fire missions in a digital network. TACFIRE provided the Army both a proving ground for digitization and an opportunity to understand the DOTMLPF implications of net-enabled warfare. Following the lead of the artillery, each battlefield operating system (BOS) developed a digital command and control system. These disparate BOS communications tools were then loosely integrated into a broader Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS).
After DESERT STORM, the Army embarked on a deliberate effort to leverage the power of information in warfare. In Force XXI, the Army sought to field nothing less than a digital, net-enabled force. Comparing a DESERT STORM tank battalion to a Force XXI tank battalion illustrates the magnitude of change the Army sought. A DESERT STORM tank battalion employed four Fire Support Teams (FISTs) that were digitally connected through TACFIRE to supporting artillery batteries. In contrast, a Force XXI digitized task force has 74 entities digitally connected to supporting artillery batteries, including: FISTs, scouts, Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and dismounted infantry and engineers.
The Army's investment in digitization paid off in OIF, or rather showed promise. Army units fought enabled by a digital network that allowed them to see their units and their activities, which let to situational understanding. Confident that they knew the location of their units, commanders could decide rapidly where, when, and how they would be employed. Additionally, because of joint initiatives in communications and networking and the provision of selected Army systems to other services, coalition ground forces could fight joint net- enabled operations.
In OIF, a combination of command and control aids provided Army commanders timely and accurate situational awareness of their units and their activities, which led to situational understanding. BFT allowed them to pass to their subordinates orders and graphics necessary to describe how they intended to fight. BFT supported joint operational commanders by providing current positions of Army forces via the Global Command and Control System (GCCS). Similarly, other components of ABCS, when combined with join systems, enabled integration of the "friendly" air picture.
A typical artillery engagement in OIF illustrates the power of the network. When an Iraqi target appeared, Army tactical forces in contact sent a digital call for fire through the AFATDS. The call for fire, including target description and desired effects, stimulated two simultaneous digital processes at the controlling headquarters. The first involved clearing fires. Using BFT, the operations staff verified that no friendly unit occupied the targeted space. This capability varied by unit depending on the how far down they had BFT. As a minimum, fire supporters could usually verify clearance with a single radio call. Using accurate mapping systems, the effects cell verified that indirect fires could be safely employed without endangering civilians or creating collateral damage to protected sites such as mosques or schools. Using the AMDWS, representatives of Army aviation, air defense, and the Air Force ensured the artillery would not adversely affect air operations. While the effects staff cleared fires, the artillery used AFATDS to execute the fire mission. AFATDS determined the optimal firing unit for the commander to approve or override. AFATDS also computed firing data for each howitzer, including ammunition type, range, direction, and number of rounds necessary to achieve the desired effect. Using these digital means, units routinely were ready to fire in less than a minute. Army net-enabled tube artillery fires generally could be cleared and delivered in less than 2 minutes.
The efficacy of net-enabled means to clear artillery fires did not apply to clearing CAS. CAS was available, responsive, and effective during OIF; but generally speaking, clearing CAS was not net enabled. Developing the systems to clear CAS digitally rather than only by voice may be an avenue worthy of exploration as part of joint transformation. If the means to provide the "blue" picture to pilots, the tactical control parties, and airborne command and control nodes existed, presumably CAS could be cleared more quickly and made even more responsive than it was in OIF. More important, shared situational understanding between air and ground forces may enable more effective combination of fires than currently possible. Finally, shared situational understanding may well further reduce the possibility of fratricide.
On the other hand, limited functionality of some of the core ABCS elements inhibited netcentric warfare. The Maneuver Control System (MCS) was the core system of the overall ABCS, but V Corps' C2PC proved more effective. As a result, only those units that had no alternative routinely used MCS. Similarly, few units used ASAS-RWS, the core intelligence system of ABCS. Due to ASAS limitations, Army units resorted to processing intelligence over secure networks using other systems. CSSCS, the core logistics system, also proved too difficult to use in a complex, overburdened network. Simpler systems, such as the Movement Tracking System, were employed instead, and CSS units accepted loss of function as the cost of utility.
Interoperability remained a problem as well. Major General "Spider" Marks recalled that at one point, he and Major General "Tamer" Amos, commanding the 3rd Marine Air Wing, became action officers to pass images Amos and the marines required because Marks could not do so digitally. Similarly, at one point the marines generated great data from one of their unmanned aerial vehicles, which V Corps needed but could not access since it had no means to link to the data stream. Interoperability proved even more difficult for coalition members, partly for technical reasons and partly for security reasons.34 For all of these of reasons, joint and coalition forces did not fight a netcentric campaign in Iraq. It is accurate to say they fought a net-enabled campaign.
The Army employed its only digitized division, the 4th ID, in OIF. Although the 4th ID did not undertake major tactical engagements prior to the end of major combat operations, its experience tends to validate the idea of digitally networking maneuver divisions. Designated as the Army's experimental force for digitization in 1994, 4th ID has spent most of the last decade experimenting and training with a full suite of digital, networked capabilities. Largely reliant on terrestrial-based communications, the vast distances and rapid pace of operations reduced most of the functionality of the 4th ID's core ABCS components. However, as the war transitioned from mobile warfare to stability operations, 4th ID largely regained full use of its networks and their advantages. The 4th ID operations demonstrated the power of organic net- enabled surveillance and reconnaissance at the brigade level. Only 4th ID brigades employed networked UAVs, Long-Range Acquisition and Scout Surveillance Systems (LRASSS), and Kiowa Warriors. The 4th ID's BCTs often could see the enemy, develop the situation, and make contact on their terms.
Several implications are implicit as the services look toward a networked future. First, the forces must be able to maneuver the net, and like the Stryker Brigades, they must train to do so. Although today there is some network coverage nearly everywhere, there will probably never be enough resources to establish a complete and functioning network of communications, sensors, and systems everywhere in the world. As OIF demonstrates, the network must be built, shaped, and then maneuvered to ensure necessary connectivity and capability.
Along with maneuvering the net, OIF suggests that for fast-paced offensive operations, ground forces need to break free of terrestrial-based, line of sight (LOS) communications. The pace of operations, global reach, and noncontiguous battlespace of 21st-century military operations demand that all except the lowest-level tactical voice communications be space based. This will require significant joint investment in military satellite capabilities to ensure the entire joint force has access with sufficient bandwidth to support networked systems.
The OIF experience also suggests that networks do not have to provide a vast array of functions to be effective. Clausewitz observed, "War is a very simple thing, yet in war the simplest things are very difficult." In OIF, networks eliminated some of the difficulty of doing simple things. Commanders need to know where their forces are, where the enemy is, and how to coordinate the actions of their subordinates through passing messages, orders, and graphics. The most useful systems in OIF (C2PC, BFT, ADOCS, AFATDS, AMDWS, and MTS) provided the basic capabilities the force required.
OIF's TMD network and joint use of BFT and AMDWS reinforce the value of joint digitization initiatives. Such initiatives, and those designed to standardize networks, are vital to achieving a true NCW capability. The Army's Future Force research and development is already headed in the direction of full and complete joint connectivity.
Meanwhile, the challenges of integrating US armed forces with allies and coalition partners continue to grow. The provision of BFT and robust LNO teams to the 1st UK Armoured Division assisted in bridging the digital gap in OIF, but the growing post-Cold War disparity in technology between the US armed forces and allied forces is a fact. As the Army moves toward the Future Force and joint transformation proceeds, the gap is likely to grow wider. This is particularly likely in the area of networked battle command, where the US is investing heavily. Some likely coalition partners are unlikely to catch up, and others are investing in battle command systems of their own that are not interoperable with US systems. Solutions that facilitate integrating coalition operations will have to be found.
OIF also suggests that simply winning the fight for information will not be enough to ensure victory. Early in OIF, the US employed operational fires (air, Tomahawks, ATACMS) to destroy much of Iraq's strategic and operational communications infrastructure and to neutralize Iraq's integrated air defense system. Yet, the defending Iraqi forces continued to fight fiercely. Primarily using simple instructions, they continued to maneuver and continued to fight. The lesson is that although the Iraqis lost nearly every engagement, they did not give up simply because they had lost the war for the networks.
While not yet a truly netcentric force, the Army in OIF was clearly a net-enabled force, one that was significantly more effective because of digitization efforts since DESERT STORM. Additionally, the Army's efforts toward joint battle command enhanced the joint forces' capabilities for net-enabled operational maneuver, fires, and protection. These investments in technology should be continued. They must include education in doctrine, organization, and leader development to assure that joint forces are truly able to wage netcentric warfare.
Operation OIF is another step, but neither the first nor the last step, along the path of US armed forces from Industrial-Age to information-age operations. While DESERT STORM is generally considered the first information-age campaign, virtually every aspect of Army and joint information operations (IO) was more mature and robust in OIF. But much remains to be done.
Information Operations in the Campaign
Throughout the era following DESERT STORM, CENTCOM continued to conduct IO against Saddam's regime. Operation SOUTHERN WATCH had IO components inherent in maintaining the no-fly zone. Similarly, operations in the north included IO. Identifying and refining targets and building an audience for IO messages continued virtually without respite over the decade preceding OIF. However, the tempo of operations accelerated in the fall of 2002, characterized by increasingly bold efforts such as a large leaflet drop in December.
IO planning supported tactical and operational objectives, including encouraging Iraqi units to surrender, keeping civilians off the roads and out of harm's way, and preventing the destruction of the oil infrastructure. Kinetic and electronic warfare attacks focused on disrupting command and control discretely while minimizing collateral damage. Generally, CENTCOM, CFLCC, and the tactical forces fully integrated IO planning and execution during OIF. Assessing success in IO remained difficult, and it is still too early to draw many conclusions with confidence. Frankly, with a few exceptions in electronic warfare and intelligence, it is hard to make the case that US efforts in the broad category of IO produced any dramatic results. US IO may have been more successful than suggested here since success in most of the domains of IO is difficult to measure. "Battle damage assessment" is, to say the least, difficult in this arena.
Psychological Operations (PSYOP) achieved important success but experienced some disappointments as well. PSYOP units can point with satisfaction to success in minimizing damage to the oil fields and keeping civilians off roads. However, they do so with risk since there is very little evidence available yet to support that contention. It is entirely possible that the Iraqis chose not to fire their oil wells for their own reasons. Moreover, the PSYOP effort enjoyed far less success in encouraging Iraqi units to surrender. Clearly the regime respected the effort since Iraqi security forces worked hard to collect leaflets as quickly as they fell. Nonetheless, it is clear that on the whole, PSYOP produced much less than expected and perhaps less than claimed.
Kinetic and electronic attacks to disrupt or destroy critical command and control infrastructure proved more effective. The continued dramatic improvement in the accuracy of precision-guided munitions afforded planners a scalpel that US forces applied throughout the campaign. "Surgical strike" was a useful and accurate term in the conduct of IO in OIF. The means to conduct electronic attack also proved useful during the campaign. Even so, the Iraqis managed to move some units and, on the whole, retained control over the country until ground forces physically took control of the centers of power. Following the end of major combat operations, the regime's survivors and perhaps others have shown resiliency and have been able to mount a serious insurgency effort against the coalition. To do this they retained or built at least some ability to communicate, both to coordinate operations and to affect perceptions in Iraq and around the world.
Although not planned as a component of IO, the Department of Defense decision to embrace the media's desire to accompany the troops paid dividends. Embedded media showed the American public the quality of American troops and often counteracted Iraqi propaganda. Journalists embedded in Army units were given unprecedented access to information and plans. Access allowed the media to apply context to what they were reporting. Stories filed by embedded reporters tended to be better balanced than those by reporters covering the Pentagon, Central Command (CENTCOM), or Coalition Land Forces Component Command (CFLCC). Reporting during the now-infamous sandstorm is a perfect example. Reports coming from outside of Iraq often claimed that US forces had become bogged down and that the campaign was in trouble. However, journalists embedded with 3rd ID units in the field generally filed less pessimistic stories than their stateside colleagues. Journalists in the field reported the "pause" in context, thus balancing reports suggesting the campaign was coming unhinged.
Near-term Implications of Army Information Operations in OIF
Even after a decade of emphasis, IO planning, coordination, and execution remain ad hoc. The formation of 1st Information Operations Command and an IO career field are promising steps toward improving Army IO. As the Army and joint forces consider OIF and the future of IO as a discipline, the Army should examine how it organizes and resources IO planning and execution in tactical formations.
IO doctrine remains mostly unwritten. The Army's FM 3-13, Information Operations, begins to fill the void but was published months after major combat operations. The doctrinal void hampered planning and the education of combined-arms officers and senior formation commanders in the planning and conduct of IO. The resulting IO effort was often disjointed and not well integrated with maneuver, fires, and other combat activities. Most important, there is no joint consensus on IO, which hampered planning and execution of the joint campaign. For example, in preparing for operations in Baghdad, there was significant disagreement between Air Force and Army planners on how to approach information operations. Army planners tended to favor "soft kills," while the Air Force favored "hard kills."35 A joint experimentation aimed at developing and testing joint concepts will prove helpful. The Air Force may well be right, at least in the effect hard kills had on fielded units.
The one clear point in IO doctrine, at least as it applies to psychological operations, is that top-down development of themes and messages often inhibits opportunity for tactical success. In OIF, as in the Balkans, centralized themes and messages sometimes proved irrelevant to local populations and situations, and centralized control of active IO was not responsive to rapidly changing situations. For example, Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) were provided capitulation leaflets for the first 48 hours of the conflict. After that, the centralized message approval process proved unable to provide leaflet texts appropriate to the situations V Corps confronted.37 TPTs were reduced to using their loudspeaker capability. The Army and the joint team should revisit PSYOP doctrine and organization to find ways to provide commanders PSYOP support that is as agile as their combat units.
There are some obvious OIF implications for Army public affairs. First and foremost, the bar has been raised with regard to media access to Army operations. The media and the American public now see embedding as the standard for reporting combat operations. Embedding provided unprecedented access to leaders and soldiers, and the American public got to see their Army accomplishing great things. From the perspective of the services, the embed program was an enormous success. Neither mission accomplishment nor the integrity of the media was compromised. The big winners were the soldiers, who fought bravely, and the American public, who got to see it first-hand. After the fact, some of the media believe they were manipulated effectively by the services or that because they could see only their part of the story, they failed to report on the context. This demonstrates more than anything else that a free press will always be wary of government and the instruments of government. The Army and the services should not expect a free ride and, for good reason, will be as wary of the media as the media are of them. The key now is to put into practice systems that will enable smooth embed operations in future contingencies and major operations. Leaders and soldiers alike must be educated in embedded media and how to assist them in the performance of their mission, while recognizing that the media's mission is not the same as their own.
Two observations about IO as a whole seem important. First, because IO as a domain is so broad and cuts across so many other domains, it is conceivable that the ability to develop a coherent IO campaign as the concept is presently conceived is illusory. Second, if IO objectives need to be developed at the top and driven downward, then execution of IO as presently conceived may mean that netcentric warfare is not desirable after all, since that form of warfare presumes anyone on the net with the means to act may do so.
The Future of Army Information Operations
IO must support reducing the uncertainty about enemy and friendly conditions on the battlefield. IO, in conjunction with intelligence, may enable deliberate attack--that is the vision for the Future Force. IO in the Future Force may enable future commanders to develop the situation before making contact, maneuver to positions of advantage largely out of contact, and, when ready, initiate decisive action with initiative, speed, and agility. To support tactical and operational requirements, IO must bring full-spectrum capabilities and effects to the fight. Future Force IO organizations must be able to operate with greater competencies in multiple disciplines and develop unique effectiveness and purpose to perform the full spectrum of IO missions and tasks. More important, the joint force must provide the tools to execute these operations and the means to measure effectiveness.
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance
Much has been made during the campaign and since about the "failure" of intelligence to estimate accurately the intentions of the Iraqis and the location of--or even whether--the Iraqis genuinely had the means to employ weapons of mass destruction. It is too early to assess fully whether the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction, but it is clear they had the means to deliver them in the form of artillery and various short-range ballistic missiles. That issue is not within the province of this study, beyond reporting that the 75th Exploitation Task Force apparently did not turn up weapons of mass destruction. Generating intelligence, and whether or not CENTCOM, CENTCOM components, and ground units generated useful intelligence, is within the province of this study.
Clearly the various intelligence means within the theater produced effective and actionable intelligence that enabled planning and execution, including successful attacks on fleeting targets. CFLCC's soldiers and marines went to war with a fairly accurate idea of the location of the enemy's conventional units, Special Republican Guard, and many of the paramilitaries. Estimating intentions and tracking discrete Iraqi military units proved difficult, and paramilitary units proved nearly impossible to track and even harder to assess in terms of intentions. Even so, both technical and tactical means of generating intelligence proved effective. For example, at Objective JENKINS and again at PEACH, TF 3-69 AR benefited from warnings of enemy activity and profited from those warnings. At PEACH, the task force, thanks to intelligence, anticipated an attack from commandos. Prepared for that attack, it also defeated an unanticipated attack from conventional units.
Assessing intelligence success proved more difficult than arguing that the estimates proved inaccurate. As debriefs of captured Iraqi generals and their soldiers become available, a more accurate assessment will be possible. After seizing SAINTS, 3rd ID attacked south against suspected enemy units, and they found them, or rather, found enemy equipment oriented south and mostly unmanned. The intelligence system had detected these positions, some of which were well hidden. But that same system lacked the ability to assess their readiness and intentions with high resolution. On the other hand, 3rd ID attacked with small units, based on high confidence that the Iraqi units' lack of activity indicated they were destroyed or combat-ineffective. These attacks intended to verify assumptions based on intelligence estimates.
Major General Marks, the CFLCC C2, notes that CFLCC could generate and pass intelligence with great success within the limitations of communications technology and the systems units had to manage information. For example, the links that enabled V Corps to receive and process national and joint intelligence were in many cases not available in I MEF. Marks recalled that to solve that dilemma, "we stripped away XVIII Airborne Corps capabilities," and provided them to the MEF.37 As noted in a preceding paragraph, the problem cut both ways. A second difficulty stemmed from what the Marine Corps' lessons learned team called the digital divide. Often units below division level simply lacked the communications means to receive updated images and other kinds of intelligence that could be shared at higher echelons. Nonetheless, units generally found ways to work around the problem via telephone or secure email. Still, there are seams based on communications, interoperability, and the structure or architecture within the CFLCC and its subordinates.
No one anticipated or estimated the intentions of the paramilitaries accurately. As Marks put it, " We did not predict that (the paramilitaries) were going to come out of the cities and expose themselves to armored vehicles and armored formations without similar protection."38 Finally, no one believed that US forces could remotely identify and continuously track Iraqi units that chose to move by infiltration and to shield themselves where and when possible. The ability of the Iraqis to hide, with some success, from the incredible array of technical intelligence available to the coalition may give pause to those advocating that US forces will be able to develop the situation out of contact and attack from standoff distances.
Most tactical unit commanders claimed that they made every assault as a movement to contact. There is no reason to dispute that claim, other than to argue that most of these same commanders generally anticipated when contact was likely, whether they knew precise locations of the enemy or not. They knew or could anticipate where to expect contact for two reasons. First, the intelligence system identified with a fair degree of accuracy starting locations of the uniformed forces and tracked them with some success. The intelligence system also identified many of the paramilitary formations and where they might be expected, with several notable exceptions. The second reason commanders were able to anticipate contact stemmed from their own analysis of what constituted danger areas. Concealment and cover afforded in complex terrain is unlikely, at least in the near term, to become transparent to technical means of surveillance and reconnaissance. Technical means to shield tactical units are affordable, as are passive means, including camouflage, decoys, and emissions control. It is likely that the final assault in close combat will continue to feel like a movement to contact to soldiers in the lead unit for years to come, just as it did to tactical units in OIF.
The problem of locating accurately the enemy in the close battle is the justification, indeed the requirement, for the means to generate tactical intelligence and to field tactical reconnaissance units. But here too, seams exist. For example, scout platoons and brigade reconnaissance troops exist to provide the means for tactical commanders to "see" the enemy. Mounted in lightly armored HMMWVs, battalion and brigade scouts are vulnerable to RPG and cannon fires. This design is intentional and reflects a widely held view in the late Cold War era that armored and armed scouts would fight rather than conduct reconnaissance. As a consequence of this, if contact seemed imminent, commanders often chose not to use their scouts and brigade reconnaissance troops. In short, they elected to give up their "eyes" rather than risk losing them. Put another way, commanders chose not to employ scouts and brigade reconnaissance troops in the role for which they were intended. This phenomenon warrants study and arguably action to correct problems commanders perceived. Heavier scout vehicles may not be the answer; perhaps the answer is how reconnaissance units are trained and supported.
The Army should also assess long-range surveillance units. Lightly equipped helicopter- inserted long-range surveillance units organic to conventional maneuver divisions and the corps military intelligence brigade did not produce great effect for the investment of talent and the risk to those involved. There may be nothing inherently unsound in the structure of long-range surveillance units. Perhaps the issue is whether the Army is prepared to risk these relatively fragile units in fast-moving, ambiguous situations. These same units might prove useful in some other environment, but in any case, assessing the utility and the means of employing these units makes sense based on their apparent lack of utility in OIF.
On balance, military intelligence and national intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance means worked well. For the most part, CFLCC knew where the Iraq uniformed forces were, could target them, and could provide data on their whereabouts to tactical units. Tracking the paramilitary forces and estimating Iraqi intentions proved more difficult. Units in contact generally acquired information that, coupled with reports from higher echelons, enabled them to develop useful intelligence. Colonel Arnie Bray's paratroopers at As Samawah and the operations of the 101st at An Najaf demonstrate the efficacy of analysis of enemy patterns developed over time. Discerning patterns and developing intelligence from combat information still takes time and is likely to require time in the future as well. Structuring units to be able to do so and enabling them to receive information and intelligence generated from higher echelons seems indicated. Finally, the experience of OIF seems a reminder that the enemy gets a vote. Ambiguity is likely to remain a factor in combat operations indefinitely.
The Way Ahead for Considering Implications
It is just not possible to reach fully supported conclusions this early. For this reason, observations based on the data available do not result in conclusions, but instead are suggested as implications. Without the benefit of fully understanding enemy actions and enemy intentions, it is not possible to proceed with confidence in several areas for which implications are suggested. To some extent then, the implications suggested here are areas that may require further study. Nonetheless, taken as a body, the implications of operations for the Army in OIF are important, particularly for concepts fundamental to the way the Army and the joint team consider the execution of future combat operations. For example, what does the running start suggest about the utility of shaping and decisive operations? Are effects-based operations really feasible if the services are unable to develop and apply metrics to enemy actions that are sufficiently accurate to gauge whether the effects intended have been obtained? Is the Army notion of developing the fight out of contact feasible? Can the Army expect to develop and field forces on the basis of see first, know first, understand first, or should the Army expect the kind of ambiguity in the future that characterized the location, capability and intentions of Iraqi units in OIF? Moreover, how do forces in the field assess enemy actions as reactions to friendly actions and do so with certainty? In OIF accounting for why the enemy did some of the things they did proved difficult, if not impossible. More important, it is potentially dangerous to impute motivation for enemy actions on the basis of the intent of friendly operations. Recognizing this, Lieutenant General Wallace eventually stopped trying to make sense of discrete enemy movements and operations and focused on what the needed to do, regardless of what enemy reactions might be.
- JFCOM and TRADOC are moving on converging axes in developing a common approach to understanding the COE. J7 will republish TRADOC's strategic-level Opposing Forces Doctrine as a joint publication, setting the stage to a common approach to replicating the COE, at least in the context of opposing forces. In June 2003, JFCOM and TRADOC sponsored a conference on the COE to develop some ideas on how to proceed and to consider early implications of OIF on the COE.
- Brigadier V. K. Nair, War in the Gulf: Lessons for the 3rd World (New Delhi: Lancer International, 1991), 97.
- Ibid., 13.
- Ibid., 100, 101-111, and 121.
- Compilation of essays presented at the Russian Academy of Military Sciences Scientific Council in Moscow on 6 June 2003.
- An important benefit of low-intensity and stability operations in urban areas in the 1990s was to raise a crop of noncommissioned and company to field-grade officers in the US Army with a firsthand appreciation of the challenges of urban operations.
- Study of Chechyan urban defenses in Grozny and Palestinian actions in the West Bank and Gaza indicated the new directions irregular forces were taking in the defense of modern cities. In contrast, Russian and Israeli forces took decidedly different approaches to defeating those threats. In their successful offensive into Grozny, Russian forces essentially leveled the city with artillery and air power, largely ignoring destruction and civilian casualties. Far more responsive to world and Arab opinion, Israeli offensives in Palestine were extremely surgical in nature.
- Lieutenant General Dave McKiernan, commander, CFLCC, interview by Colonel James Embrey, Colonel James Greer, Colonel Neil Rogers, and Colonel Steve Mains, 1 May 2003.
- Colonel Will Grimsley, commander, 1st BCT 3rd ID, interview by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army, Retired, 19 November 2003.
- Major Mike Oliver, S3, TF 3-69 AR, discussion with Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army, Retired, 11 December 2003 at the OIF Lessons Learned Conference, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
- Major General "Spider" Marks, C2, CFLCC, interview by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army, Retired, 14 June 2003. Marks goes on to remark; "We can get oven-fresh imageryas the young analysts call itinto the hands of the users but we cannot refresh it...Intel on the move is a challenge, so battle command on the move remains a problem...Static, we can provide anything; on the move is a challenge."
- "US Army Contributions to the Iraqi Theater of Operations," Department of the Army briefing to the Secretary of Defense, 4 June 2003.
- Lieutenant Colonel Joseph De Antonna, commander, 2-1 ADA, interview by Major Jim Houlahan, 12 June 2003.
- Lieutenant General Dave McKiernan, commander, CFLCC, interview by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army, Retired, 8 December 2003.
- McKiernan, 1 May 2003.
- Deployment data for 173rd and TF 1-63 AR provided by USAREUR Movement Operations Center, Lieutenant Colonel Brad Wakefield, 16 September 2003.
- SBCT Ready Force Movement Data (undated), provided by TRADOC Integration Cell, Fort Lewis, Washington. Sixty-five C-17 sorties deliver the Stryker Ready Force (one battalion task force); the other sorties could deliver addition brigade-level command and control, as well as combat, CS, or CSS capabilities.
- Colonel Robert W. Nicholson, division engineer, 4th ID, interview by Colonel James Greer, 16 May 2003.
- Colonel William L. Greer, commander, 101st Airborne Division Artillery, interview by Colonel James Greer, 15 May 2003. This confirms similar comments in interview conducted by Colonel James Greer with the 3rd ID DIVARTY commander, Colonel Thomas G. Torrance, on 12 May 2003.
- Lieutenant Colonel Erin Edgar, division surgeon, 82nd Airborne Division, interview by Colonel James Greer, 4 May 2003. After exhausting critical medical supplies treating Army and Marine Corps wounded, and unable to obtain resupply through Army Class VIII (Medical) resupply, the 82nd medical units scrounged needed supplies from the 28th CSH. Another unit, the 212th MASH, resorted to foraging for supplies. See also interview with Colonel Canestrini, commander, 212 MASH, 30 MED BDE conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Robinson at FOB DOGWOOD on 24 May 2003.
- Confirmed by Colonel James Greer during interviews held separately with all the brigade commanders in both the 3rd ID and 101st Airborne Division (total of 13 brigades) during 9-16 May 2003. Most brigade commanders reported receiving no repair parts at all. In an interview on 15 May 2003, Colonel Ben Hodges, commander of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, stated that in the month and a half since his brigade was committed to combat, it had received a total of five repair parts. That was the most repair parts reported received by any of the brigade commanders who had fought the major combat operations.
- Although Army watercraft did perform many operations well, port operators believe they could have performed the mission without them. While this assertion may be so, Army watercraft won the acclaim of theater logisticians because they provided flexibility and eased the logistics burden. See MTMC feedback re: On Point and Colonel Victoria Leignadier interview.
- Donald H. Rumsfeld, Rebalancing Forces, memorandum dated 9 July 2003.
- Belton Y. Cooper, Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II (New York: Random House Ballantine Books, 1998), xix.
- General Peter J. Schoomaker, chief of staff, US Army, Arrival Message, 1 August 2003.
- There are a number of possible definitions for netcentric warfare. This one is derived from several sources with the help and advice of Dr. James Ellsworth, US Naval War College.
- Major General James A. "Spider" Marks, C2, CFLCC, interview by Colonel Gregory Fontenot, US Army, Retired, 17 November 2003.
- Discussions taken from Baghdad City Planning Conference held by Third Army/CFLCC at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in October 2002.
- Master Sergeant Courtney Mabus, noncommissioned officer in charge, V Corps IO Planning Cell, discussion with Colonel James Greer, 26 April 03.
- Marks, 17 November 2003.
- Brigadier V. K. Nair, War in the Gulf: Lessons for the 3rd World (New Delhi: Lancer International, 1991), 97.
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