Maintaining Momentum in the War on Terrorism

By McKiernan, David D. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Maintaining Momentum in the War on Terrorism


McKiernan, David D., Army


Third U.S. Army/Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT) remains a fully committed Army service component command in the continuing campaign against terror, supporting nearly 36 months of continuous combat operations, or support to combat operations, as a forward deployed headquarters. As an operational-level headquarters, the command has again reinforced the importance of retaining inherent Army campaign qualities, the ability to set, sustain and support multiple, extended military operations across a very large theater. The soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coalition members of the Coalition Joint Forces Land Component Command (CJFLCC) responsible for that campaign's quality represent the best there is in a long and arduous fight to preserve and protect our national interests.

The last 12 months have been extraordinarily challenging for the command. The headquarters wore four "hats" in June 2003: Third U.S. Army, ARCENTx CJFLCC and Combined Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7). Since then, the command relinquished CJTF-7 responsibilities in Iraq to V Corps, reset the headquarters to perform theater-wide sustainment and theater security cooperation activities essential to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) operations, planned and executed the largest rotation of military forces in more than 50 years, supported a key transition of command and control arrangements in Iraq from CJTF-7 to Multinational Force Headquarters-Iraq, and consolidated all Kuwait-based command and control activities to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. All of this was accomplished while supporting a combatant command in continuous contact, prosecuting a range of activities from high-end combat operations to humanitarian relief operations, across the the. The operational-level warfighting experience of the command, earned the hard way, continues to make its way into joint and service schools, clearly advancing a multitude of Transformation goals and objectives, not the least of which has been to inform and shape the Army's modularity redesign work.

Transitions are always difficult, and the complexity and risk associated with executing them increase when executed in contact. CJFLCC's first transition was a battle handover to V Corps in June of last year. The CJTF-7 hat was passed from CJFLCC to V Corps, along with responsibility for post-major combat operations in Iraq. The transition was characterized by uncertainty and an evolving national postwar policy for Iraq. The new Office of the Provisional Authority was just getting on its feet, and the coalition's post-decisive operations stance in Iraq was still being settled as new coalition members were incorporated and battlespace assigned. As V Corps (later III Corps) took responsibility for the CJTF-7 mission in Iraq, the headquarters was tasked to rapidly reset as the coalition joint force land component command to support the redeployment of the Marine Expeditionary Force and elements of V Corps and the deployment and integration of new coalition members. Concurrently, CJFLCC was tasked to resume its theater support cooperation activities and continue what would become an expanding theater sustainment mission with considerable support to Joint Task Force-180 (JTF-180) in land-locked Afghanistan and support to JTF-HOA (Horn of Africa), largely centered in the Horn of Africa area. Nevertheless, the biggest consumer remained CJTF-7. Theater sustainment was and continues to be a no-fail mission and is executed for CJFLCC by the 377th Theater Support Command (TSC), a reserve component (RC) headquarters with a large RC downtrace. These soldiers performed superbly, but sustaining the headquarters and its manpower required considerable leader involvement-given mobilization constraints and timelines.

Even as the headquarters began to refit and reset in the late summer of 2003, the command was tasked to plan for and execute a rotation of forces in Iraq that would exceed in scope and size anything since World War II. …

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