Led by Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of Army Forces Command,
the panel of seven Army officers and Nathan Freier, of the Strategic Studies Institute at the Army War College, primarily fielded questions from the floor concerning the status, implementation and value of the Army's Regionally Aligned Forces concept in both the active and reserve components.
As defined by FORSCOM, the concept is the Army's vision for providing combatant commanders with tailored, responsive and consistently available Army Forces. Regionally aligned forces will meet combatant commanders' requirements for scalable, tailored capabilities to support operational missions, military exercises and theater security cooperation activities.
Allyn noted that concept affects the “human domain” and will complement the Army's stability efforts among partners worldwide. He said the concept grew in part from the Army's experience following Operation Iraqi Freedom and the drawdown from that country and will follow a similar tack when the United States withdraws combat forces from Afghanistan.
In response to questions from the floor, Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, commanding general U.S. Army Africa / Southern European Task Force, explained that these forces will allow for a “sustained personal relationship” that reinforces developing cultural proficiency, including some linguistic understanding. Much of this is achievable through partnering in training exercises with host nations.
While the concept is relatively new to the U.S. Army, it has been an ongoing policy of the French army. Maj. Gen. Olivier Tramond, director of the French Army Doctrine Center, noted that the French implemented such partnership nearly 25 years ago. In part, he said, the practice grew out of France's worldwide “empire,” which accounted for language familiarity in instances when French was the common language among the local population. In addition, the initiative has been successful because the “French system is configured for a modest size” military. Tramond cited the relief efforts in Haiti as an example of the speed and effectiveness with which French forces were able to respond to the disaster of a few years ago. The forces in Haiti, he said, were preconfigured to respond in such a manner.
In addressing culturalization, Lt. Gen. James L. Huggins, Jr., deputy chief of staff 3/5/7, said “we don't intend to create cultural understanding throughout the world, but the learning of cultural awareness helps prepare soldiers for future cultural learning.”
Regionally aligned forces, said Frieier, “allows the force to exercise engagement” in a foreign venue, where it is most significant, which is highly preferable to attempting to achieve the same effect in garrison.