Academic journal article Military Review

Who Will Fufill the Cavalry's Functions?

Academic journal article Military Review

Who Will Fufill the Cavalry's Functions?

Article excerpt

The Neglect of Reconnaissance and Security in U.S. Army Force Structure and Doctrine.

AFTER NEARLY A decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, counterinsurgency (COIN) theorists have emerged as the most influential voices in the intellectual debate shaping Army doctrine. The Army has gained COIN expertise at the expense of combined arms core competencies. The 2009 Army Capstone Concept (ACC) addresses this emerging imbalance by restoring the concepts of conventional action and initiative as centerpieces of Army doctrine.1 Even as the 2009 ACC promotes the centrality of these themes to future Joint and Army doctrine, the Army has elected to dismantle the last unit organized and equipped to provide full spectrum reconnaissance and security at the corps and Joint task force level. When the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) converts to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in 2011-2012, the Army will face the future without a full spectrum reconnaissance and security force. Army leaders must reconsider the 3rd ACR-SBCT conversion.

Fiscal and manpower constraints stemming from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, inefficiencies in the Army Force Generation model, and a misguided faith in the efficacy of remote sensors and unmanned platforms all contributed to this decision. Analysis of the long-term consequences highlights its shortsightedness. With the 3rd ACR-SBCT conversion, the abstract intellectual debate among Army officers and defense analysts as to whether the Army will be a force geared for counterinsurgency or one that deters and defeats conventional threats now has dire implications. If the Army continues to highlight COIN tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) over core combined anus competencies, the operational and tactical levels of the Army will suffer. Resolving this debate in a manner that considers both current operations and projections of the future operational environment is essential. The experiences of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and those of the Israeli Defense Forces in southern Lebanon suggest that combined arms competence must be a central tenet of an Army that can fight for information and develop situations through action.

The Future of Reconnaissance and Security

The 2009 ACC describes the capabilities that the Army will need to dominate across the full spectrum of operations in the period from 2016 to 2028. It notes technological advances and emerging threat capabilities that will inform the organizational and doctrinal requirements of the future force. To meet the challenges posed by enemies wielding both conventional and unconventional capabilities, the ACC introduced operational adaptability, a concept that emphasizes the fundamentals of mission command and decentralized operations.2

Operational adaptability enables Army forces to accomplish the diverse array of missions that brigade combat teams and subordinate small units will face in isolated, distributed areas of operation. A single Joint task force, for example, may receive the mission to destroy a conventionally armed and organized enemy while simultaneously securing the area's population from insurgents using irregular means and methods. At the core of a Joint task force will be its brigade combat teams with sufficient combined arms combat power to defeat conventional enemies while retaining the ability to apply the hard-won irregular warfare TTP learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. These teams will have to be adaptable and able to fight for information against enemies with diverse capabilities.

Operational adaptability means that Army leaders down to the platoon and squad levels must have an understanding of the situation in context; that combined arms formations must have the ability to act in concert with Joint, interagency, inter-governmental, and multinational partners; that tactical formations have the requisite collection, analysis, and dissemination capabilities to process information needed by commanders and units to continually assess, learn, and adapt; and that units at all levels be sufficiently organized and equipped to exploit opportunities, consolidate gains, and transition efficiently between tasks and operations. …

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