Challenging Army Force Design

Challenging Army Force Design

E.J. Degen and John Spencer

As the Army resets after protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it is an appropriate time to challenge  existing Army beliefs about force structures and design. Many inside and outside of the beltway have opined on the optimum force structure and design the Army should have for future conitingencies. Most of these arguments  are based on “best professional military judgement” as opposed to thorough analysis and expirmentation. The present opinion-based discussion relating to the “McGregor Transformation Model” is a perfect example of this.[1] Fortunately, the Army has recognized a time of change and has begun to look towards the future. For Army planners to consider what the Army of the future should look like, they need to shift to a model based on  experimentation and analysis.

The optimum force structures for the full range of military operations (ROMO) in an uncertain future will only be obtained if we challenge the “facts” and “assumptions” used in previous transformation efforts, apply available science to force design, and develop different models and practices for experimentation. There are also gaps in the analysis tools and processes that are needed to support decisions about shaping the future force. All of these concerns, combined with constraints on thinking about force design and force structure, may prevent the Army from preparing the force adequately for the future.

There are thirteen critical facts and assumptions that underpin thinking about Army force design, structure, management, and employment (tactical and operational). All of these should be explicitly recognized and then analyzed to determine if they should continue to guide Army thinking. If the Army does not grapple with these, the Army of the future will likely evolve into a smaller version of what it is today. We will address these in separate discussions of force design, force management, and force employment.

Force Design

Assumption: General purpose forces best allow the Army to react to emerging threats and requirements. The Army’s Brigade Combat Team (BCT) structure is designed for a specific, generally offensive mission, but it can also adapt to any mission along the ROMO. Three BCT types (light, stryker, and armor) are believed to provide the most optimum menu of force capabilities for senior leaders to apply against most military problems. Even with the variety of equipment, training, and organization of these three types of designs, each design is still a generalized model (as opposed to a specialized model). The general purpose force (GPF) is by nature not specialized against a mission, environment, enemy, or problem. This is not optimization, but rather generalization. It is not possible to optimize for general purposes.

Assumption: If you man, equip, and train a unit to conduct combined arms maneuver (CAM) all other missions are of lesser difficulty. As stated above, Army formations are designed for a specific, although general, mission. The scenarios and plans used to design army units center primarily on major combat operations. These operations involve both of the Army’s core competencies of combined arms maneuver (CAM) and wide area security (WAS), but the underlying premise to the army’s organizational designs (to include equipping and training) is that if units can execute the high end of the spectrum of military operations (specifically combined arms maneuver) they can also do and accept risk in all other missions because they are less difficult.

Assumption: The Army is designed, structured, and sized to Win from the operating concept of Prevent, Shape, and Win. This assumption combines both previous assumptions about a general purpose force and a force designed for combined arms maneuver. If the Army structure and units were truly designed and optimized for combined arms maneuver oriented at Phase 3 of joint operations, it would have a specialized design.  Such a design would focus doctrine, organization, training, leadership, personnel, and other variables on direct action combined arms maneuver rather than a combination of multiple compenticies such as those required of wide area security.

Assumption: The frequency, the echelon at which it takes place, and the extent of task organization should not be viewed as a symptom of faulty organizational design.[2] If this assumption held true, no matter the amount of task organization or reforming an organization did, it would not be an evaluation of its design. Force design is intended to minimize the amount a specific force structures will have to change (measured in time and energy) against their assigned missions. There is no informed knowledge on whether the design is appropriate to the problems the Army has been given without feedback regarding the amount of change occurring.

Force Structure

Fact: The Brigade Combat Team (BCT) is the building block of Army force structure and one of the major force elements for joint processes. The Army has a modular, brigade-centric force structure, and it is the major building block used in almost every planning or decision making venue concerning army forces, including: Army Force Design, Force Management, and Total Army Analysis and joint processes such as the Quadrennial Defense Review, Strategic Choices and Management Review, and Joint Forces Analysis.

Fact: Before the implementation of modularity in the Army, the prevailing orthodoxy was that the division structure provided commanders a depth of capabilities that readily enabled them to shape the battlefield, react to contingencies, and exploit opportunities. Redundancy seemed prudent if one was to slug it out with a peer adversary.[3] This fact is an attribute of a force structure designed towards peer or near peer adversaries. The transformation to a modular-brigade centric force structure included decisions to orient against the enemy and environment the Army faced at that time (insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan); not a near peer adversary.

Force Management

Fact: The Army develops force packages of capabilities that are expected to shape the environment rather than shaping force packages for the environment. Army concepts state that the Army will “shape the operational environment and win the Nation’s wars as part of the joint force.”[4] The Army’s self-imposed force management and design processes attempt to optimize for general problems in general environments. It assumes the capabilities designed for these situations will allow military units to shape most operational environments in a way conducive to success. In the future, perhaps a more relevant approach may be to to let the environment shape the force package sent to deal with the adversary and environment. This may be especially true in mega-cities.

Assumption: Full unit replacements in combat operations are better for relative combat effectiveness than individual replacements. This assumption is mostly based on unchallenged beliefs and antiquated research regarding unit cohesion, Soldier and leader resilience, and on what collectively contributes to the most combat effective units. It superimposes the context of the draft Army operating in Vietnam on the current all-volunteer force. Mission variables and force requirements are vastly different between Vietnam and today’s conflicts. The societal factors, motivations of Soldiers, and the  professional NCOs and officers of today’s all volunteer Army are vastly different. If knowledge of the operating environment proves to be crtitical to combat effectiveness on tomorrow’s battlefiled, full unit rotation may not be the most effective model to build, maintain, and manage that knowledge.

Fact: Reserve and National Guard forces will not be as “ready” for employment across the range of military operations (ROMO) at speed as the Active Forces. There are many deeply held views about Reserve and National Guard forces in imagining future force designs and structures. The fact that the reserve forces will not be as ready (as defined by Army readiness metrics and deployment times) is a product of past and current practices. These practices date back to the Abrams Doctrine when Army Chief of Staff General Creighton Abrams believed that dependence on the reserve component would prevent future national leaders from committing forces to combat unless they were confident they enjoyed robust domestic support for the decision.[5]

Force Employment

Fact: There has been a degradation in the effectiveness and efficiencies of Training and Readiness Oversight (TRO)/Training Readiness Authority (TRA) since the implementation of Modularity. Many Army senior leaders and historians cite a general degradation in the Army’s ability to provide training oversight of its subordinate units as a result of the sheer span of control and number of warfighting functions found inside the present maneuver brigade structure. If the Army must be postured with trained and ready forces for future contingencies, present organizational structures may not be conducive to this effort.

Fact: Modularity presupposed ample contractor support for key technologies and functions (intelligence, survillence, and reconnisance; maintenance; logistics).[6] This presupposition was a primary planning factor underpinning the move to modularity. The use of contractors is not adequately modeled or considered in many of the processes that determine future force designs and structures.

Fact: Modularity presupposed air superiority and freedom of action in the air for ground combat operations in the joint fight, thus reducing air defense artillery (ADA) requirements and or the need to protect our own air assets form enemy air or ADA.[7] Many of the Army’s brigade and division designs are premised on the maintaining air supremacy. This may result in risk in future conflicts.

Assumption: The BCT will not be vulnerable to indirect fires. Its detection and response capabilities are adequate. The Army rarely simulates operating in environments where a brigade combat team would face continous indirect fire. Most Army units have little to no capability to acquire, identify, and respond to long range indirect fire systems.

Challenging the facts and assumptions outlined above is critical for the simple reason that the nature of warfare is evolving as is the burden on tactical echelons. Just a cursory analysis of the growth in complexity at the brigade echelon over the Army’s history is telling. From Brigader General Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens in the American Revolution, to Colonel Strong Vincent defending Little Round Top in the Civil War, to even Brigader General Douglas MacAurthur commanding the 84th Brigade of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division at St. Mihiel, France in World War I, command at this echelon was up close and personal. For the most part a commander’s left and right limits was within his field of vision. Subordinate echelons were limited in number and missions were fairly simple. If one applies today’s seven Warfighting Functions[8] to those periods, only a few were relevant at the brigade echelon.

Today’s battlefield is extremely complex. The sheer amount of information commanders have to absorb, process, and deal with during operations is staggering—and assumes that they can in fact cope with the volume. Information comes from higher, adjacent, subordinate units, and staff. The systems and staffs applied to assit the commander to process, filter, convey, or act on the information have also increased exponentially. The fewer than a dozen relatively stove-piped command and control systems of the Operation DESERT STORM era have grown to more than sixty command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems today, and are forecasted to grow to more than eighty systems in the near future. At what point and by what methods do we decide when we have hit the “Cognitive Tipping Point” of the commander and his/her closest staff, regardless of the echelon?  Indeed, the limiting factor on the future battlefield may well be the cognitive capacity of the commander and his immediate staff to understand the flows of information as they attempt to decide what to do.

“One must understand the mechanism and power of the individual soldier; then that of a company, a battalion, or brigade, and so on, before one can venture to group divisions and move an army.”

- Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Part of the solution to strengthening and improving Army design and structure practices is to include more science in the process to complement the art. A critical first step in this effort would be to put more emphasis and study on the cognitive capabilities of commanders and their immediate staffs. Despite a lack of scientific data in this area, the Army is making large decisions on what Soldiers, leaders, and staff can handle cognitively. The Duke of Wellington quote in the call-out box emphasizes the need to fully understand the individual before all else. The Army, in general, lacks a scientific understanding of the cognitive tasks, cognitive workload, and sources of cognitive overload on Soldiers, leaders, and staffs in the tasks the Army expects them to perform in Mission Command, as the overarching Warfighting Function. This knowledge gap has extensive negative implications for force design, Soldier-machine system design, capabilities development and assessment, and Soldier performance.

The Army also has three major gaps in its ability to analyze and model today’s complex operating environment: a lack of tools to model complex environments; the use of threat-based models in lieu of environment-based or other modeling solutions; and a lack of granularity as models federate from division down to the individual Soldier. All of these issues can be remedied with proper vision and investment. In the absence of a remedy the Army will continue to lack a holistic analytical capability—from tactical-to-operational-to-strategic—and may be failing to adequately provide senior decision makers with to the needed data to support force design decisions. This forces Army senior leaders to rely on best military judgment to make some of their most critical force design decisions.

Furthermore, the Army’s current analytic process and tools are not sufficient to provide quantitative analysis of alternative force structures or packages that are being considered for an uncertain future or changing requirements. This failing is not the fault of the analytic community. In large part, it is an artifact of bureaucratic processes and the questions the Army has been asking the analytic community over the last decade of war. Quite simply, the Army may have been asking the wrong questions and in the wrong manner. Ingrained processes were preventing the robust, albeit disparate, Army analytical community from answering difficult questions with the required analytic rigor because the principal question of “An Army of What, For What?” was not being adequately posed. Recent TRADOC efforts are starting to address these important questions.

In the aggregate, these failings do not allow the Army to speak candidly with itself on exactly what the Army currently “brings to the fight,” what it “must” bring to the fight, and what it “could” bring to the fight. The Army has a difficult time simply framing exactly what the fight is. Consequently, the Army is inadvertently removing options for the Army Staff, senior Army decision makers, the Joint Staff, and civilian leaders with respect to employing Army resources and capabilities to fulfill national objectives.

Finally, the Army must confront the “sacred cows” of force design and structure. Sacred cows are defined here as something held as sacrosanct or unquestionable by a culture, organization, or institution. There are many subjects that can be considered sacred depending on which organization within the Army you ask. Three sacred force design cows are listed below as an example, but there are many more.

No environment overrides threat models – All analytic tools, processes, and thinking concerning force design utilize threat-based modeling. If a complex environment is modeled into an analytic project or training event, the only data used is the interactions between friendly and enemy forces  being modeled in the simulation.

Size of battalion and below maneuver formations – Despite multiple transformations, force redesigns, years of combat experience, and adavances in technologies, Army maneuver forces at the battalion and below levels have changed little in size since World War II.   

Readiness business rules – Most  force design processes and tools are modeled within current Army readiness rules. The current model of a full brigade combat team attending a combat training center  to be certified as “Ready” is viewed as unquestionable.   

There are many reasons why organizations with strong cultures will not question their sacred cows. The most common reason is the lack of a compelling motive to question them or to offer them up for consideration. The inertia of the sacred cows seems to trump new innovation or different ideas. One of the main reasons preventing questioning something is that stakeholders have not been given a problem which they have not faced before or have not been given direct guidance to challenge or holistically analyze those items.  

The present drawdown from war, budget limitations, and the changing nature of the threat makes this the perfect time to reset Army force design and structure processes in order to transform it for the future. There are numerous individuals and organizations that are doing tremendous work in these areas, but they are not resourced with the tools and authorities to provide the best solutions. The left and right limits of the previous efforts to transform may no longer apply. All facts and assumptions being carried forward into the Army’s current transformation should be extensively questioned and discussed. More science needs to be part of the force design equation. Finally, whether the discussion centers on the “McGregor Transformation Model,” active component – reserve component balance, or any other structure and design concepts, the Army needs relevant analytical  tools to analyze them. Otherwise, force design efforts will be principally based on opinions—likely derived from past concepts, senior leader experiences, and limited simulations. With very focused efforts and investment, the gaps discussed earlier in this essay can be closed, and the results could be paramount to the Total Army’s future relevance and success.

End Notes

[1] McGregor Transformation Model refers to a proposal to restructure the Army presented to Congress by COL(R) Doug MacGregor.  Highlighted in: Michelle Tan, “One Retired Colonel is Campaigning for More Cuts - and Congress is Listening, Army Times (28 July 2014, at http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140728/NEWS/307280016/One-retired-colonel-campaigning-more-cuts-Congress-listening, accessed 14 August 2014.

[2] Stuart E. Johnson, John E. Peters, Karin E. Kitchens, Aaron Martin, and Jordan R. Fischbach, A Review of the Army’s Modular Force Structure, (Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2012), p. 52.

[3] John Sloan Brown, Kevlar Legions: The Transformation of the U.S. Army, 1989- 2005 (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2011), p. 309.

[4] U.S. Department of the Army, The US Army Capstone Concept, Training and Doctrine Commander Pamphlet 525-3-0, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Army, December 19, 2012), p. iii.

[5] Stuart E. Johnson, John E. Peters, Karin E. Kitchens, Aaron Martin, and Jordan R. Fischbach, A Review of the Army’s Modular Force Structure, (Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation 2012), 30.

[6] Brown, Kevlar Legions, 310.

[7] Brown, Kevlar legions, 310.

[8] A warfighting function is defined as “a group of tasks and systems (people, organizations,

information, and processes) united by a common purpose that commanders use to accomplish missions.” (See page 13, Army Doctrinal Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations, 10 October 2011).  The Army Warfighting Functions are: mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, protection, and engagement (engagement has just recently been added to the list).

 

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Breaking the Phalanx proposed that a three-star Joint Forces Land Component Commander would have a two-star deputy commanding a robust mix of rocket artillery, aviation, and air defense groups. As the range, precision, capability, and targeting information available to relevant Army forces inevitably increased, they equally inevitably provoked further discussion of roles and missions. “Big sky, little bullet” was ever less practical as a principle for de-conflicting air space. Proliferating cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles complicated the circumstances, as did more capable air defenses for bringing the aircraft and missiles of an enemy down.

From pages 296-297, Kevlar Legions.

One “fail” aspect of MacGregor’s Group is that rocket/missile artillery, Army Aviation, and Army air defense are not the same beast. Unique strategic, operational, tactical, and logistical aspects exist for each and most importantly, Army Aviation is a maneuver and reconnaissance/security element that routinely transports, collects information for, and supports ground maneuver elements. While a former Cavalry officer might believe an Attack Aviation troop of 12 aircraft in his LRSG and BCT-like Combat Maneuver Group makes sense, the logistics of supporting that single troop are not simple and require organic support normally not in that troop itself but rather in the division Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB). What about MEDEVAC, also in the division CAB? In addition, normally a main effort BCT might expect support from an attack helicopter company-sized element which is more like 6-8 aircraft instead of 12-16 Apaches, closer to a battalion, that he dedicates to his Groups. In addition, when that Group is not the main effort, those 12-16 AH-64s are being wasted just as tube and rocket artillery is largely wasted in DS of a trailing BCT while the lead main effort BCT may require GS Reinforcing facilitated by Fires Brigades he would abandon.

MacGregor’s Group also talks about a future unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that would substitute for Apaches. It sounds high-speed to believe a stealthy “UCAV” ultimately would replace Apaches. However, Army aircraft survive air defenses by flying under radars and MANPADs which is hard to duplicate with remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). UCAVs/RPAs also have not been able to duplicate strafing attacks with guns. Perhaps MacGregor would reconsider his plan if he noted the recent controversy of it costing $77 billion to buy 346 Air Force Reapers that aren’t even stealthy. What would his stealthy UCAV cost to procure and fly per hour, the major arguments in Navy UCLASS debates? While I’m unsure where that $77 billion cost figure comes from in its entirety, I would wager it included all aircraft, logistics and operating costs, sensors (many quite expensive), ground control stations, munitions, and satellite data link costs for the life of the aircraft. Since I recall an Air Force General citing that RPA satellite data links cost $1.5 billion per year, you can see where much of the cost goes over the life of MQ-9 Reapers. BTW, the Army’s armed Gray Eagle program cost only around $5 billion using enlisted operators and fewer satellite data links.

Another major errant factor in MacGregor’s force structure is that the USAF and other high-flying services get nervous around Army air defenses since Patriots downed several friendly aircraft in OIF and one F-16 preemptively engaged another Patriot that was illuminating it with radar potentially ready to engage. MacGregor’s placement of so many air defenses at Group level instead of Division and above is unrealistic, as is the misunderstood air coordination and airspace deconfliction required at higher levels. The Air Force has pledged to dedicate an Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) in support of each Army division to control dedicated fast mover support for the division short of the Fire Support Coordination Line. That is extremely enlightened for the USAF and in contrast would be “bridge too far” “Penny Packet” territory to expect similar support at Group level…something “Kevlar Legions” points out.

Finally, the Field Artillery, Air Force, and Air Defense want to form a Division Joint Air Ground Integration Cell in the Division Main CP to deconflict the fires of these various elements. Once again it would be a “bridge too far” to expect similar cells at Group level where the ASOC would not be providing dedicated support. Army UAS, for instance, in theory can deconflict airspace using the ADAM/BAE which I won’t describe knowing it would bore you. However, for more real time deconfliction, mIRC chat communication with the USAF Control Reporting Center linked to AWACS often is involved. There is far more to airspace control than a container firing multiple supposedly stealthy (with a prop?) TARES autonomous lethal UAS into the air that fly around for four hours on their own oblivious to other air users. Don't forget that TARES dives onto targets to kill so watch out below if you are a low-flying helicopter. UAS/RPA above and below the coordinating altitude must obey airspace coordinating measures and kill boxes/keypads that safeguard manned aircraft from mid-air collisions or fratricide from artillery which particularly could occur if we ultimately developed a low-flying UCAV.

Logistics were not much developed in most of the writings advocating the dismantlement of divisions, corps, and theater support commands, to include Breaking the Phalanx. Some blandly assumed Information Age technologies would inevitably reduce tail-to-tooth ratios, without describing how or why this was to occur. Historically, manpower given over to logistics had increased in an upward parabolic arc from the low-technology (albeit not for the times) Roman legion through the high-technology Army of Excellence division. The Air Force was arguably the most Information Age savvy and highly technical service, and it featured the tiniest percentages of actual combatants. When robust networks of digital equipment were eventually fielded amid phalanxes of robots, swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fields of sensors, and fleets of future combat vehicles, how was the panoply to be maintained? Logistical force planners lamented that tactical theorists waxed eloquently on the roles and missions of combat and combat support units, and then dispatched logistics with a box or two on a wiring diagram. This was not a new complaint, nor one confined to American theorists. Logisticians surmised a failure to appreciate all that actually goes on in a support battalion and in the echelons supporting it, deficient understanding of “below the line” forces, and capricious neglect of executive agency.

As the above quote from “Kevlar Legions” illustrates, another inadequate aspect of MacGregor’s Group is in logistics. Some may recall that many including MacGregor believed that during Desert Storm, armor units should have been allowed to advance to Baghdad as they did during OIF. This assumed in error that unplanned logistics could have supported that advance, not to mention the guerilla actions that would have subsequently developed with a then stronger Iraqi Army as they did post “Mission Accomplished” OIF. Here are several examples quoted from “Kevlar Legions” where a Group structure probably pays insufficient attention to the true sustainment needs of so many large tracked armored vehicles that MacGregor’s Groups advocate.

The striking victory was not without its warts. Logistical difficulties plagued the final stages of the advance and could have gotten much worse had significant fighting dragged on. TPFDL shortages became visible. For example, of 700 heavy trucks required for line haul only 150 were on hand. Repair parts became increasingly unavailable, prompting units to cannibalize and abandon some vehicles to keep the rest running. Food, fuel, and water were in short supply in places at times. M2/M3 Bradley track became excessively worn, as these vehicles greatly exceeded mileage caps to escort exposed convoys over extended distances.

A mantra of the time was “speed kills”; the campaign would progress so quickly and decisively that all the TPFDL logistical baggage would not really be necessary. The mantra was correct enough in the case of Iraqi Freedom that logistical thinness proved an embarrassment rather than a disaster. The advance outran the advantages of Kuwaiti infrastructure within a few days. By and large contractors, other than embedded technicians, performed unreliably amid high intensity conflict. Only 150 heavy trucks were available for transportation, whereas the TPFDL called for 700. Orphaned supplies accumulated in vast “dumps” in Kuwait. Forward troops were consistently close to the margin with respect to food and water, somewhat less so with respect to fuel and ammunition. Repair parts, lubricants, and oil simply did not move; cannibalization and foraging became common practice to sustain the offensive. The medical supply system “failed to work.” Fortuitously, Iraq collapsed before the Third Army reached a Clausewitzian “culminating point.” The call-forward system did allow more control than the mechanical TPFDL, but it introduced petrifaction of a different sort. Pressure to minimize numbers elevated the level at which decisions to deploy were made. Harried, fatigued, and otherwise preoccupied senior leaders had to be persuaded concerning the details of each force package. Bias emerged; combat forces slid forward and logisticians back. Activated Reservists and Guardsmen accumulated at mobilization sites, away from their civilian lives but not yet called forward. As much as it had accomplished in becoming more expeditionary, the Army fell between two stools with respect to the initial logistics of Iraqi Freedom. The institutional Army had not yet gotten around to transforming the Cold War TPFDL into a more responsive system. CENTCOM planners acted as if they had.

Are 220 PLS trucks and 177 large fuel trucks enough for an LRSG or CMG with 4 maneuver battalions with hundreds of heavy armored vehicles, and a large Strike battalion? If Pumas take a route that is off road as Bradleys/Abrams did in OIF, how do all these trucks keep up or have cross-country trafficability on similar terrain? If presumably the trucks stay on roads which invariably go through cities who protects those trucks over hundreds of miles where ambushes can occur? More tracks tearing up the road and using lots of fuel? It was enlightening to watch hundreds of Pakistani drivers moving fuel trucks along Highway 1 in National Geographic channels “Eyewitness War” using both lanes past an ambush site taking numerous leak-causing hits even though overwatched by a U.S. COP. What if that COP had not been there early and throughout the war and larger armored vehicles had been used instead of Strykers, up-armored HMMWVs, and M-ATVs. How well will all those Pumas support extended Stability operations, if at all, or will JLTVs quickly be brought in instead?

From "Kevlar Legions," pages 290-291, talking about span of control:

Innovative businesses gamely flattened organizational hierarchies, anticipating that timely information broadly spread and local initiative could economize on layers of management. Within the Army a number espoused such an idea, including Macgregor. In Breaking the Phalanx he proposed compressing army and corps into a joint task force, and division and brigade into a combat maneuver group. He further developed his ideas in subsequent writings, revisiting jointness and the Joint Forces Land Component Command (JFLCC). Counterarguments to such flattening cited concerns with respect to spans of control. Fighting a battle was different than stocking supermarket shelves, traditionalists argued. To be useful, a commander had to comprehend the battles his subordinates and his neighbors were fighting. This mental picture allowed him to coordinate subordinate combats and to distribute his own assets and those drawn from higher headquarters to best effect. Regardless of the pace and volume of information shared, many believed a single commander could still only command and control three to five subordinate maneuver battles, along with coordinating support and cooperating with neighbors. Beyond such a span of control subordinate commanders would end up essentially unsupervised, doing their “own thing” and inviting chaos. Historically, greater responsiveness and agility has been associated with narrowing spans of control rather than with expanding them.

The quote below, also from "Kevlar Legions" on page 290, would indicate that MacGregor's Group has been studied and modeled at some point by TRADOC? The fact that another maneuver battalion is being added to the armored and infantry BCTs makes them closer to MacGregor's group in size, number of battalions, and function....just working for a division commander to maintain span of control. In addition, the division commander may have an armored BCT, Stryker BCT, and Airborne, Air Assault, or Infantry BCT under his command indicating that smaller, different BCT types may be preferable to larger armored or other types of groups.

To facilitate this he directed that the Army Staff and selected others read Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Land Power in the 21st Century (1997), by Colonel Douglas A. Macgregor. Macgregor emerged as a persistent, prolific, and recurrently visible critic of Army force structure and doctrine—and of much else as well. Breaking the Phalanx advanced opinions on the major themes in contention at the time: flattening command hierarchies, reliance on brigade size combat groups, modularity, unit rotation and replacement, jointness, and nimbler logistics. It was accessible, thought-provoking, and commercially
available and brought a sizable body of wide-ranging criticism into a readable whole. Outside the Army the book came to the attention of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He championed Macgregor’s ideas in various forums and encouraged their consideration in congressional deliberations. Reimer directed the Center for Army Analysis to war-game Macgregor’s operational and doctrinal concepts, and he directed the Army’s Center of Military History to provide historical commentary.

Also on page 291 of "Kevlar Legions":

Few advocates of flattening military hierarchy advocated flattening it everywhere. Macgregor, for example, would have left battalions and below generally as they were. Joint Task Forces or Joint Force Land Component Commands might be required to control more groups, but companies would not be required to control more platoons. Debate raged about which levels to flatten. Some came to argue for leaving hierarchy intact but leveraging information technologies to reduce manpower and redundancies within headquarters at each level. Such a compromise would preserve traditional spans of control while nevertheless thinning bureaucracy.

Why not question force designs at battalion and below? Clearly the Stryker BCT has differently designed elements than armored BCTs with far fewer tanks (mobile gun system) for instance and even that system proved marginal on a light vehicle.

If the Army adds another battalion to BCTs to approach MacGregor's Group size, couldn't it minimize the logistical, deployment, and Soldier quantity changes by changing the combined arms battalion TOE in armored BCTs? FCS had a balanced battalion but the two tank companies had only 10 tanks instead of 14 (3 per platoon). Instead why not go to a single tank company with four or five platoons, each with 3 tanks, in anticipation of task organization loss of two platoons to the infantry companies? With such task organization you could leave responsibility for all unmanned air and ground vehicles in the armor platoons since they routinely would operate with infantry anyway.

This change would allow IFVs to concentrate on maneuvering infantry and covering them with fire without diverting squad dismounts to operating unmanned systems. It also would give tank loaders more of a full time function. Alternately, an M3 or two JLTVs could be added to the platoon in lieu of one larger tank to operate unmanned systems.

I'd say reorganizing for the nuclear battlefield turned out satisfactory as we did not fight a nuclear war with the enemy in question, the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact, they feared our Army, and the Soviet Union imploded.

After WW II we reorganized to fight on the inevitable nuclear battlefield. How did that turn out ?

Don’t know how I missed this article initially. Perhaps the opening paragraph turned me off in implying change was necessary and that modeling the “unmodelable” was required. It turned out to be quite thought-provoking after I read it a couple of times along with the “Kevlar Legions” history mentioned in the endnotes which covers the history of the Army as it transitioned over time through multiple Chiefs of Staff. I also read a good deal of a RAND study covering the history of FCS which I will touch on here a bit since the other SWJ article mysteriously disappeared.

The authors appear to advocate force design change without offering suggestions, yet the mention of retired Colonel (R) MacGregor implies one possibility. However, the “Kevlar Legions” history cited repeatedly in the endnotes covered MacGregor’s past advocacies in surprising detail and actually argued against his ideas. This article doesn’t imply agreement or otherwise but does advocate change.

What is argued is that “the Army’s current analytic processes and tools are not sufficient to provide quantitative analysis of alternative force structure or package that are being considered for an uncertain future of changing requirements.” Are such tools even feasible? Can we model host nation and uncooperative neighbor motivation or hypotheticals based on diplomatic, Presidential, and Congressional decisions and counterfactuals that may sabotage the ground military from the start? The article seems to think modeling could work if only we ask the right questions when it goes on to say:

This failing is not the fault of the analytic community. In large part, it is an artifact of bureaucratic processes and the questions the Army has been asking the analytic community over the last decade of war. Quite simply, the Army may have been asking the wrong questions and in the wrong manner. Ingrained processes were preventing the robust, albeit disparate, Army analytical community from answering difficult questions with the required analytic rigor because the principal question of “An Army of What, For What?” was not being adequately posed. Recent TRADOC efforts are starting to address these important questions.

In the aggregate, these failings do not allow the Army to speak candidly with itself on exactly what the Army currently “brings to the fight,” what it “must” bring to the fight, and what it “could” bring to the fight. The Army has a difficult time simply framing exactly what the fight is. Consequently, the Army is inadvertently removing options for the Army Staff, senior Army decision makers, the Joint Staff, and civilian leaders with respect to employing Army resources and capabilities to fulfill national objectives.

An Army of What, for What? What is the big difference between a variety of General Purpose force BCTs, which the article states are the Army’s force building block, and a Group alternative? The major “for what” missions of our ground military are simultaneous combinations of offensive, defensive, stability, and defense support of civil authorities. What is so inadequate from an analyticals standpoint about current BCTs so as to require a Group structure instead? I read an article that stated that eliminating ten divisions only saves about 5,000 Soldiers. That’s one analytic.

http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140728/NEWS/307280016/One-retired-col...

The article also mentioned how adding a 7 ID to Fort Lewis helped relieve problems there but that is largely a non-analytic factor of which many such exist. In addition, I heard General Dempsey say in a TV news conference when asked about a Division HQ returning to Iraq that Division HQs bring a host of mission command system connectivity and bandwidth advantages.

Unmentioned but implied in that news conference was it would require numerous CPs to support four different two-star Corps-level deputies that MacGregor advocates instead of Division Commanders. In addition, the histories and legacies of divisions add value and esprit de corps. A Corps commander’s span of control over 10 or more Groups seems inefficient and analytics can back that, even given deputies. If two-star deputies are in in the command loop for the various groups how does that save on general staffs and bureacracy? If full Colonels are the Group deputy commanders how does that eliminate senior officers? Why do we believe a Brigadier General is required to command a group? Did Civil War casualties and missteps truly support the idea that younger Generals make sense?

MacGregor, in one of his Scribd briefs, compared an armored BCT with 58 M1s and 82 M2/3s to his Combat Maneuver Group (CMG) with 114 M1s and 131 M2/3s. The Army already plans to add a battalion to armored BCTs which makes it closer to CMG size anyway at around 4500 Soldiers and with 87 tanks and 121 Bradleys. MacGregor’s apparent response was to add another battalion to the LRSG (and CMG?) going from 5150 to 5500 Soldiers. Why can 3-6 battalions be commanded by a full Colonel but a similar number of battalions requires an O-7? How can analytics prove or disprove that notion?

TRADOC General Perkins commanded 2nd BCT of 3 ID and seemed able to take Baghdad and execute Thunder Runs as a lowly O-6. Why would more tanks/IFVs be required with an even greater logistics and deployment burden? Why would we have needed the then COL Perkins to be instead BG Perkins or most likely not yet promoted to that command? Has anyone mentioned that commanding as an O-5 and then being a yes man as an O-6 Group Deputy may not indicate Group command potential as an O-7?

In addition, in the now removed article comparing the LRSG to FCS which they alleged cost $20 billion when terminated (a RAND study said $14 billion for R&D for many more systems researched than just vehicles) and GCV would cost $28 billion to replace all Bradley’s, they claimed that four LRSGs would only cost $20 billion. That is an Apples and Oranges mismatch in types and numbers of holistic elements….another false analytic, unless they are advocating that Puma variants should replace similar weight and capability Bradleys in all armored BCT and replace Abrams?

General Shinseki, in addition to advocating for an FCS Objective Force also was responsible for Stryker BCTs. Didn’t that teach us that aiming for C-130 deployment and a common vehicle with more infantry and less tanks makes sense? Did FCS at $14 billion plus the cost of overweight Crusaders at least teach us that you can’t build a 19 ton IFV or tank replacement? MRAPs cost $45-50 billion and now are being largely discarded. Heck, we could not even build many of the MRAPs at that 19 ton weight. In the end, FCS vehicles were going to weigh very close to 30 tons in full combat configuration…providing Puma-level survivability in vehicles weighing more like 40 tons that do not carry a nine-man squad. GCV developers tell us their vehicle that can carry a full squad would weigh 70-80 tons. Doesn’t all of this R&D tell us we need to split up the weight of future heavy armored vehicle into at least two major parts if we are to succeed in deploying some of those beasts by air?

What also is clear in MacGregor’s Group force structure is that it adds ground maneuver commands and subtracts other branch O-6/O-7 leaders. We already see Artillery returning to a DIVARTY structure perhaps because they weren’t getting the training required when used as surrogate infantry. The rating scheme probably did not help FA Battalion Commanders, either. He also puts MLRS back in the Groups which eliminates the Fires Brigade. Shadow UAS Soldiers already complain about the inability of Brigade Special Troops Battalions to understand how to use UAS and achieve adequate Aviation safety and standardization. Why do we believe that non-Aviation ground O-7s would better understand how to use Shadow UAS, let alone armed Gray Eagles and attack helicopters currently at Division level under an Aviation Brigade Commander?

MacGregor’s force structure would go from one Aviation Brigade per Division (2 in 101st) to just four Aviation Combat Groups with the rest presumably either eliminated or placed under other Group’s command. He allocates 12-16 Armed Helicopters to each Combat Maneuver Group and only 2 UH-60s. Yet 16 Apaches is close to the size of attack reconnaissance battalions already in Aviation Brigades. As for just 2 UH-60s, the “Kevlar Legions” history cited that nearly half the Army’s thousands of UH-60s already were supporting CENTCOM in the 2003-2005 timeframe when General Schoomaker determined that year-long tours were appropriate. MacGregor’s sparse aviation force structure calls into question how frequently future aviators would be serving in combat. At one point, Secretary Gates had to expand the number of O-6 commanded Aviation brigades to 13 while MacGregor would support the Army with just 4 O-7 commanded Groups.

Beyond that, one of his Scribd slides claimed the Army would downsize to 13 Infantry BCTs, 12 Armored, and 7 Stryker BCTs for 32 BCTs total. His alternative would have 26 Groups (vs 32 BCTs? What’s the major difference?) with 4 Light Reconnaissance Strike Groups, 12 Combat Maneuver Groups, 6 Infantry Combat Groups, and 4 Airborne-Air Assault Groups. My “analytics” indicate that is one less Stryker element, and 3 less Airborne-Air Assault elements and Infantry elements. In other words, light and medium elements downsize and heavier armored elements expand. Yet current wars indicate that heavier elements often had to park or leave behind heavier and medium assets jumping instead into MRAPs for the bulk of the Long Wars. Given the brief timeframes and limited losses in “Winning” both Desert Storm and the first year of OIF/OEF, the article’s assumption that “Combined Arms Maneuver” is more difficult than “Wide Area Security” is questionable.

We have seen what happens when we abandon nations after winning on the ground, but leaving colonial boundaries and competing factions arguing over how to govern, adjacent sanctuaries with their own agendas, and no residual coalition force. We also see that bombing Libya into submission with no ground stability operations also doesn't work. Given the restrictions placed on our Army due to Presidential and diplomatic mistakes, we won't do our Army any favors by insisting we need to deploy larger Groups instead of brigades.

When Presidents start counting ground forces and equating them with costs and risk the last thing we need are larger ground commands and more excessively heavy armor that guzzles gas and creates logistical element casualties. However, the current inadequate bombing campaign over Iraq and Syria should at least show leaders that you can't fight wars on the cheap from the air because aerial refueling costs upwards of $20,000 an hour before adding the adjusted price of fuel for the receiving aircraft that also costs $20,000 or more per hour flying long distances from the Persian Gulf dropping expensive bombs and launching expensive cruise missiles. Those are some analytics that should be analyzed instead of dividing the cost of war by the number of troops on the ground and assuming that ground elements are responsible for most of the cost.

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One thing is for sure regarding Army Force Design is we need a lot of the Generals to start looking at the big picture and not just the piece of the pie they control. Otherwise we will never have an optimized force.

"It is not possible to optimize for general purposes."

Heh B.Smitty, just putting this here so it is under my other comment instead of on top. From this article:

Finally, the Army must confront the “sacred cows” of force design and structure. Sacred cows are defined here as something held as sacrosanct or unquestionable by a culture, organization, or institution. There are many subjects that can be considered sacred depending on which organization within the Army you ask. Three sacred force design cows are listed below as an example, but there are many more.

No environment overrides threat models – All analytic tools, processes, and thinking concerning force design utilize threat-based modeling. If a complex environment is modeled into an analytic project or training event, the only data used is the interactions between friendly and enemy forces being modeled in the simulation.

Size of battalion and below maneuver formations – Despite multiple transformations, force redesigns, years of combat experience, and advances in technologies, Army maneuver forces at the battalion and below levels have changed little in size since World War II.

Readiness business rules – Most force design processes and tools are modeled within current Army readiness rules. The current model of a full brigade combat team attending a combat training center to be certified as “Ready” is viewed as unquestionable.

There are many reasons why organizations with strong cultures will not question their sacred cows. The most common reason is the lack of a compelling motive to question them or to offer them up for consideration. The inertia of the sacred cows seems to trump new innovation or different ideas. One of the main reasons preventing questioning something is that stakeholders have not been given a problem which they have not faced before or have not been given direct guidance to challenge or holistically analyze those items.

The first sacred cow implies that human beings during stability operations are not pleasantly influenced by tanks or even excessive heavy armor. Beyond the human intimidation, bridges and narrow roads with low power lines and lots of traffic become a hindrance. Streets get tore up. Too many fuel trucks get blasted by IEDs and ambushes. One could argue that every BCT needs an organic JLTV capability and Wide Area Security cannot be an afterthought. Security missions are inherent in Combined Arms Maneuver. That was a major FCS shortcoming in thinking they would not be required to the current degree. You would think that wide area security could be modeled in showing that more ground forces spread out rather than massed can cover broader areas to restore security than any light footprint.

The second sacred cow about battalion and below maneuver formations might indicate that some sort of decision must be made about squad size and how we move that squad (one heavy vehicle, two lighter ones, or one vehicle with a separate piggybacked vehicle or compartment to break up the weight). How do unmanned ground and air vehicle fit into that small unit structure? Do we need such capabilities in both armor and infantry units? Do we need equal numbers of systems and companies in both armor and infantry units?

Don't get me wrong in thinking I'm blasting heavy armor. However, just as aerial refueling greatly adds to the cost of flight hours, tanks are a monetary Achilles Heal of armored BCTs. If you burn 2 to 3 gallons per mile and lots of fuel just idling to run tank systems, you impose huge costs in trucks and risk on the sustainment force. In addition, does anyone think the PLA would place many tanks on Taiwan or Putin could get multiple divisions into NATO territory without getting tore up by attack helicopters and F-35 dropped small diameter bomb II? You don't need a tank to kill a tank. Why won't we acknowledge that few nations have lots of modern threat armor? Certainly North Korea and Iran do not, let alone ISIS and Syria. South American, Asia nations, or Africa?

What we do need are the talents of armor leaders/Soldiers. Why can't we task organize limited numbers of Abrams with Stryker and Infantry BCTs rather than try to create a light tank that won't protect much? Do we really need a balanced combined arms battalion with equal numbers of tanks and IFVs? Could an Armor platoon have just 2-3 tanks and a third and fourth IFV-like vehicle that operates unmanned ground vehicles for information collection and remote lethality? Elevating masts were one of the great ideas of FCS for its reconnaissance elements. We've seen them work effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same armor platoon with a Bradley or future vehicle operating unmanned ground and small air systems, also could have an elevating sensor on a mast. That is something we can model. It also reduces fuel and deployment sorties for armor platoons substantially.

As for the third sacred cow, do units really need to attend NTC or JRTC before deploying? I recall a retired Colonel boss telling me how his Captain son had to endure all manner of "reset" training and deployment before his next combat deployment thus leaving him little time at home in "drydock" as General Perkins calls it. Can't we do a better job of using simulation and embedded training so that units don't deploy as much...when not deployed? I used to travel to units to train them at their location and our partners brought the simulators to them and other simulators could be permanently part of their TOE. If we had better simulation, much of NTC/JRTC could occur in that manner with OCs evaluating the "tape" for use in AARs. Isn't that cheaper than deploying entire large units to California and Louisiana? Can't you do many things more safely in simulation than you ever could in a live environment?