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ILW publications examine the squad and Pacific command

Thursday, December 01, 2011

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare has recently released two new publications.

The first is "The Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force" (Torchbearer National Security Report, October 2011), that examines the Army’s efforts to build small-unit capability as a foundation for battlefield success.

The second publication is "U.S. Army Pacific Contingency Command Post: A Theater-Army Expeditionary Capability" (Torchbearer Issue Paper, October 2011). This paper discusses the U.S. Army Pacific’s contingency response headquarters and the capability therein.

The Army squad is a building block for all higher formations and forms the foundation of the United States’ decisive force—the Army.

The squad has evolved over the past 60 years to balance mobility, firepower and survivability.

Today’s squads are operating in challenging combat theaters that demand peak performance sustained over time. Ultimately, squads enable higher-echelon success at wide-area security and combined-arms maneuver; Army resource and development strategies should be focused on the lowest tactical level as much as they are on major weapon and vehicle systems.

Efforts are underway to train, equip and network squads to provide them with combat overmatch—the ability to dominate an enemy regardless of time, place or conditions.

Training is the base of battlefield success. Revitalizing home-station training by expanding live, virtual and constructive opportunities is required. Army squads must conduct complex, realistic and challenging training to prepare them for the unpredictable nature of combat.

Further, individual training must embrace new functional skill areas, such as ethical decision-making, cultural awareness and situational awareness, alongside traditional physical, technical and tactical skills.

The Army is also working to prepare its junior leaders for the dynamic environment of future battlefields.

Army squad leaders must be comfortable with ambiguity and initiative. One part of the process is restoring the length of Noncommissioned Officer Education courses; these courses have been shortened over the past ten years in response to force requirements from combat theaters.

Adjusting the lengths and pairing formal courses with unit-level development and mentoring will establish a career development model that provides the correct training at the proper time while building on experience.

Finally, the Army is providing material solutions to raise squad effectiveness. New weapon systems, body armor and individual equipment are improving the squad’s ability to engage and defeat today’s determined enemies.

Other efforts are aimed at reducing the power burden at the forward edge. Solar technologies, fuel cells and light-weight batteries are examples of initiative underway to provide soldiers the energy they need while reducing the logistics chain.

The Army network will link the warfighter with enabling assets from higher echelons. More responsive fires, intelligence and surveillance will enable squads to detect the enemy sooner, defeat it quicker and keep track of friendly forces more effectively.

The end state of these efforts is a strengthening of the human dimension of trust. Leaders at all levels must empower and trust subordinate leaders to execute complex missions with more intent and less specific direction; technically and tactically competent squads and leaders enable that trust.

The Army is looking at its future force from the bottom up. Small units lead by expert professionals, equipped with the best technologies and rigorously trained are the foundation not just of the decisive force but also of victory.

The U.S. Army Pacific Contingency Command Post (USARPAC CCP) provides the U.S. Pacific Command commander with a rapidly deployable command, control and liaison capability for regional emergencies. The command post is a 96-person first-responder cell that can deploy an initial element within 24 hours of a contingency in theater. It can then expand to control responses to a breadth of non-kinetic events, such as noncombat evacuations, humanitarian assistance, peace operations and theater security cooperation.

When not deployed, the CCP serves as a separate but subordinate command and control element within USARPAC’s main command post; this provides the theater-army commander with an added measure of operational flexibility. The CCP’s operational certification was the result of a work-up process that began in 2009 and included several multinational and bilateral exercises throughout the Pacific area.

The training events with Japan, Thailand and the Philippines emphasized the different potential missions, locations and environments the command post might encounter. Looking to the future, small, rapidly deployable units like the CCP will become more central to executing partnership building and rapid-response missions.

The CCP fills a critical need to help allied partners build the skills to manage the complex, modern fight; it also provides the opportunity to transform initial response operations into enduring partnerships. The fast-moving and unpredictable nature of contingencies foretells a strong need for decisive capabilities. The ability to react quickly with dedicated forces will do much to build enduring U.S. good will and strategic flexibility in the Pacific.

This and other ILW publications are available online at http://www.ausa.org/ilw and can also be obtained by calling (800) 336-4570, Ext. 630, or by e-mailing a request to [email protected].