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by Senior Observer Controllers, JRTC


Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Annex: The PSYOP annex is the most important document produced by the Brigade Psychological Support Element (BPSE). Most BPSEs use the annexes found in the JTF/21st ID OPORD as a guide to write their generic annex. Using the JTF/21st ID OPORD PSYOP annex as a guide and format for the BPSE PSYOP is incorrect. BPSEs should produce this annex based on the five-paragraph field order and not the format found in FM 31-1 and the JTF/21st ID OPORD. The FM 31-1 format is for division and above PSYOP annexes. Information contained in the JTF/Division PSYOP annex must be used to focus the PSYOP support required within the brigade's area of operations. Paragraph 4, service support, and paragraph 5, command and control of the PSYOP annex, require particular attention. Often, they are written as "one liners" with an adverse impact on mission execution with incomplete information.

Civil-Military Operations (CMO) C2

Very few units prepare or submit a CMO estimate. Key "assumptions" and "courses of action" are often not considered. When the CMO estimate is done, the focus is usually on the entire nation instead of the designated area of operations. The CMO estimate is rarely updated during training at the JRTC. It tends to be done by the Direct Support Team (DSTM) in isolation. There is little evidence of support from the division-level CA element or Bn staff members. The CMO estimate should be another deployment SOP item that involves more than the DSTM.

The CMO estimate, described in both FM 101-5 and FM 41-10, is a valuable planning and diagnostic tool for the CMO section, the staff in general, and the commander. It is a vehicle that demonstrates the need for good CMO, outlines potential problem areas and possible areas of support in the AO, and should give a concise, accurate description of the civil populace and infrastructure in the AO. To be a useful tool, the CMO estimate must be timely and updated as new information becomes available. At the JRTC, the CMO estimate is a deliverable product due at noon, local time, on D-2. In reality, it should be delivered to the supported unit in time to be part of the initial OPLAN, not later than D-45.

Special Operations Aviation (SOA)

Safety: Of all the aviation units participating at the JRTC, Special Operations Aviation continues to have the best safety record. The continued emphasis on detailed mission planning/briefings, proper crew selection, and detailed risk analysis has ensured safe mission success in complex flight environments.

Support Operations Team Alpha (SOTA)

Soldier Loads: SOTA soldier loads have been excessive, both in weight and bulk. The attributing factors are numerous, but primarily include the following: heavy equipment, quantity of power supply needed for equipment, lack of planning for resupply or caches, and extraneous or nonmission-essential equipment. The average weight of SOTA rucksacks is 98 lbs with the average size of SOTA soldiers being 71", 178 lbs. SOTA soldiers are carrying an average 56 percent of their body weight during training at the JRTC. These figures do not include the additional weight of LBE and weapons (normally in excess of 30 pounds). Excessive loads have affected SOTA mobility and survivability. The weight of equipment cannot be avoided because of what exists in inventory and TO& However, all other factors can be attributed to faulty planning and lack of pre-mission inspections. SOTAs should plan for resupply and equipment caches to increase their mobility and survivability. A review of FM 31-20 and TC 31-29 will assist in this area. Pre-combat inspection is a leadership responsibility and is most often accomplished by the SOTA team sergeant. Only mission-essential equipment and supplies should be taken on any operation.

Operational Detachment A (ODA)

Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R & S) Plan: While preparing for special reconnaissance missions, detachments often construct only a basic R & S plan. They identify the number of personnel and tentative target observation points, but fail to focus on the significance of the priority intelligence requirements (PIRs) and intelligence requirements (IRs) while developing the indicators that drive the plan. This lack of focus magnifies problems during execution that lead to mission failure.

The PIRs/IRs must be translated into indicators (answers to the PIRs/IRs) on which the R & S assets can collect. These indicators provide the focus on the specific information requirements (SIRs) and specific orders and requests (SORs). SIRs/SORs ensure collection of information that will answer the PIRs/IRs. The event template, the IPB product showing when and where the enemy could go, is compared to the SIR to determine when and where to send friendly R & S assets. This is used in the development and comparison of courses (mission analysis).

Detachments must consider the use of all assigned equipment including optical sensors. This expands the area of surveillance, provides security to observers and covers dead space. Three hundred and sixty-degree coverage of a point target is ideal, but not necessary when critical nodes can be observed from one site. Once surveillance is established, it should be continuous unless the higher command directs the focus to another target or NAI. FM 3-2-1 covers R & S planning in detail.

Operational Detachment C (ODC)

Message Handling: Overall, Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) are doing a much better job with receiving, dispatching and recording messages and correspondence. By collocating the message center with the operations center IAW FM 31-20, duplication of effort has been eliminated. The tracking of messages still requires emphasis but is improving.

Message handling remains a significant problem because systems are not put in place to ensure that messages are routed to the proper staff members for action and information. Further, no controls are in place to ensure prompt staff action and distribution of information. Review of FM 101-5, as it pertains to staff message control, will assist in improving the system already in place.
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