Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming in Peace and War

Academic journal article Military Review

Transforming in Peace and War

Article excerpt

A STRYKER BRIGADE company commander conducts an urban counter-ambush against an insurgent cell and gains valuable intelligence from the insurgents he detains. This intelligence is rapidly evaluated and analyzed through internal capabilities and reachback to intelligence agencies in the United States. Within hours, the company is conducting a rapid series of raids using advanced digital capabilities, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fast and quiet Strykers, organic snipers, squad-designated marksmen, and lethal infantrymen. Within a few more hours, this agile, adaptive company, keeping pace with constant changes on the battlefield, detains 8 of 10 insurgent cell members.

We could never have predicted the incredible agility and adaptability required of the combat missions young soldiers now face on the battlefield in Iraq, but leaders at all levels are conducting difficult missions with minimal guidance. They are demonstrating agility beyond all expectations and are having an incredible effect on missions as varied as election support, complex information operations, and conducting multiple raids with special operations forces--all in a single night.

Material lessons learned have been documented extremely well throughout the Stryker Brigade Combat Team's (SBCT's) development, but material lessons are easier to capture and address than nonmaterial lessons learned, which are much more difficult to quantify. The complex issues of how training has changed, the required mindset changes, and the institutional changes required to truly transform are harder to address. Training a soldier on a new vehicle such as the Stryker is easy, but teaching soldiers and leaders to think differently and change training methods they have used for many years is difficult.

Institutional modifications must occur to allow leaders to properly train their units for the complex battlefield they will face. The institutional changes are the toughest to implement and can bring a battalion or brigade staff to its knees if the Army does not significantly reduce its bureaucracies at all levels. Garrison organizations such as Range Control, training aids support centers, simulation centers, and ammunition supply cling to procedures that impede Transformation and the ability to truly train the way we will fight.

A New Level of Responsibility

SBCT transformation requires a new method for fighting the enemy. By using the organization's digital strengths; combined arms capabilities down to the platoon level; and available intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets, it is possible to fight the enemy differently than before. The SBCTs train to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively.

Multiple combat training center (CTC) rotations and field exercises revealed that seeing the enemy first was not a challenge. But understanding the incredibly large amounts of information received is. Staff officers provide the commander with an overwhelming amount of information unless they have learned to analyze the information at a skills level previously above their pay grade. For example, a pre-command captain in the intelligence section now provides analysis equivalent to that of division-level analysis by an experienced major. Staff officers can handle the increased sophistication but, because of a lack of experience, they require significantly more practice and training to become proficient in such analysis. Staffs must go through more simulation exercises and field training to become proficient. However, funds are not often provided to train junior staff officers, and time is always a precious commodity when scheduling training.

The squad leader is making decisions the platoon sergeant made in the past, and the platoon leader makes decisions a company commander made in the past. The force's quality leaders can handle these decisions, but they need more complex and frequent training events than previously provided. …

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