While the US Army has an exceptional force to win the nation’s wars, it lacks the ability to stabilize areas after conflict abates. Wars to dominate or impose the will of the United States on another state through pure military might comprises a diminishing segment of warfare and fails to consider all aspects of conflict, especially postwar stability operations. The US Army is slowly prioritizing stability operations relative to offensive and defensive operations, a paradigm shift from the traditional combat role the US Army has played in the past. The US Army requires units to be proficient in Unified Land Operations consisting of offense, defense, stability, and defense to civil authority operations. The US Army must be able to conduct offensive and defensive operations in the land domain as well as perform stability operations. These tasks are not the same across functions and require the Army to reexamine its structure to accomplish the mission. For the US Army to be proficient in stability operations it must develop a stability division, personnel management and doctrine, incorporating whole of government capabilities to meet the unique demands during phase 4 operations. The stability division would also provide an enhanced capability to the COCOMs during phase 0 operations.
Stability operations is not a new concept for the US Army. During Vietnam the US Army stood up advisory corps and employed Special Forces to training local security forces. During the 1980s and 1990s US special operations forces were training military forces in Central America to combat communist guerillas and drug cartels. These historical cases focused primarily at the local level for security operations and failed to address many ministerial and operational issues that come with stability operations. Also, these organizations were ad-hoc in nature and prevented a professionalization of the advisory mission. This paper will not address the complex issues that surrounded each of these events; however, it will consider the past in order to develop a long-term strategy for the Army going beyond the tactical level of stability operations.
The concept of an organization that conducts stability operations is not new. Scott Wuestner and John Nagl recently proposed the idea of an advisory corps or units that are task organized to meet the challenges of stability operations. Wuestner proposed the concept of a Military Advisory and Assistance Group (MAAG) and Nagl presented the idea of an advisory corps. Both are similar in nature to the stability division presented in this paper. Yet, these concepts fail to specify: the exact makeup of the organization, the use of non-doctrinal terms, human resource management, and overcoming the parochial mindset of senior leaders. Furthermore, the US Army did not incorporate stability operations into the core competencies of the US Army after Weustner and Nagl’s proposal. The introduction of Unified Land Operations, which now considers stability operations of equal importance to offense and defense was the solution.
Employing Wuestner and Nagl’s concepts, this paper develops an operational concept for stability operations that can be implemented by the US Army. The proposed Stability Division elevates stability operations beyond the tactical level, as suggested by Weustner and Nagl, to the operational and strategic level, while also developing a more comprehensive implementation plan for the US Army. The paper first evaluates the change in Army doctrine to Unified Land Operations and its impacts while considering historical examples of stability operations. The paper then provides recommendations to the Army’s structure, training, and personnel programs to meet the requirements of stability operations before discussing other stability forces and considerations.
Unified Land Operations
Under Unified Land Operations, the US Army conducts offense, defense, stability and defense to civil authority operations. Offensive operations are meant to defeat or destroy enemy forces through four key tasks: movement to contact, attack, exploitation, and pursuit. Defensive operations are designed to create conditions to regain the initiative with a focus on three main tasks: area defense, mobile defense, and retrograde. Both the offense and defense task are centered on maneuver units, the Brigade Combat Team (BCT).
On the other hand, stability operations are not focused on defeating or defending against an adversarial force but are designed to create a safe environment that promotes the development of host nation governance. The key tasks of stability operations consist of establishing: civil security, civil control, essential services, support to governance, and support to economic and infrastructure development. These tasks are different than a standard conventional Army fight, highlighting the need for the Army to adapt in order to meet the change in requirements.
While the US Army demands that all units be proficient in Unified Land Operations, the most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate the necessity to divide the force in order to meet the demands of offense/defense and stability operations. Looking toward future conflicts, the US Army will need to expand its role into stability operations during phase 0 and phase 4, while also improving its offense and defense capabilities.
Current Army Structure
The conventional offensive mind set of the US Army in the early 2000s is reflective in the newly created BCTs. The BCTs focused much of their limited training time on offense and defensive operations even though stability operations was a part of Full Spectrum and Unified Land Operations. In order to accomplish this the US Army structured itself into three types of BCTs - Infantry, Stryker, and Armor - that conduct combined arms maneuver through decisive action to support Unified Land Operations.
The primary responsibilities of the BCT is the conduct of offensive and defensive operations. The Infantry BCT’s (IBCT) responsibility is to destroy or capture enemy forces in complex terrain, such as urban areas or dense jungles. A Stryker BCT (SBCT) is a medium size mounted force responsible for destroying or capturing enemy forces in most terrain. The Armor BCT’s (ABCT) primary role is to conduct overwhelming offensive operations against an enemy force to defeat them. None of these forces have a primary mission that incorporates stability operations. They are focused on offensive and defensive operations.
It is not until chapter 8 of FM 3-96 that the US Army describes how the BCT must be prepared to transition to stability operations, which goes on to recognize the BCT’s lack of organic capabilities to execute all aspects of stability operations. The following excerpt from FM 3-96 summarizes the US Army’s stance on BCT support to stability operations. “The BCT lacks the organic capability to stabilize an assigned area of operation independently. The BCT’s central role in operations focused on stability is to establish and maintain unity of effort towards achieving the political objectives of the operation.” This statement highlights the Army’s recognition of the lack of necessary enablers, such as military trainers and advisors, the BCT organically has in its structure. The standard BCT does not require soldiers to advise senior foreign officers, nor does it require the average infantry soldier to serve as a police advisor, yet the US Army is doing this more and more.
Organization - Proposed Stability Division
The Army must create a stability division to effectively accomplish the requirements under stability operations which a standard infantry division is not designed to achieve. The stability division would not be organized around traditional functions such as cavalry, armor, or infantry, but around training academies and security advisor teams. Institutionalizing the stability division would prevent a lag in creating the capability during the most critical part of combat, transitioning to stability operations. Also, the institutionalization of a stability division would mitigate the initial storming phase that occurs during the creation of an organization, which would allow the US Army to more efficiently transition to stability operations.
The stability division must be centered on the core functions of stability operations: defense institution building (DIB), rule of law, judicial process, intelligence, security force training (basic/NCO/officer training courses), advisory teams that partner after initial training, logistics, and maintenance. Figure 1 illustrates the proposed stability division structure. The organization would have an internal capability to conduct standard staff and logistic functions as well as the partnering capabilities. The stability division must also have the ability to adapt its size and structure and be Joint Task Force capable.
Figure 1: Proposed Stability Division
The organization of the stability division is designed to cover all aspects of developing a force, from initial entry to senior mentors. The stability division core brigades are focused on training academies, DIB/judicial, military/security advisors, and logistics. The division also has an internal support capability, represented by a standard division support brigade. These brigades, along with the division staff, serve as the foundation for stability operations during phase 4.
Stability Division Headquarters
The stability division headquarters would serve two purposes: conduct senior mentorship with partner nations and execute the functions of a standard division. Precedents occurred in both Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, where division commanders and staff had to command and control a division, while mentoring senior leaders of the host nation. The staffs in these situation grew tremendously in order to accomplish this task. Examples of this growth can be found in the creation of the Civilian Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS) during the Vietnam war, and the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I) during the Iraq war.
One area within the stability division headquarters that would require growth and focus is the plans section. It would have to be organized by geographical regions in order to develop plans that specifically address the uniqueness of each command. The plans section would have to be intimately involved in the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) and Combatant Command (COCOM) contingency plans in order to streamline the deployment of the stability division. This would allow the stability division staff the ability to understand the uniqueness of each command prior to deploying in support of major combat operations.
The stability division headquarters must also have the ability to conduct joint operations, thus requiring the communications architecture and staffing process that incorporate joint enablers. The headquarters would require a significant communications section that can grow in size to accommodate up to a corps size headquarters, similar to the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). The mission will dictate the size of the stability command deploying during major combat operations. The headquarters would also have staff processes to incorporate joint and interagency enablers. These enablers would most likely not have a permanent billet in the division due to limited personnel in the interagency, which makes it even more critical that the division headquarters constantly plans for these additions during deployment.
Training Academies Brigade
The next major element of the stability division is the training academies brigade (TA BDE). The TA BDE has the task of establishing host nation training academies in order to provide basic institutional standards to the initial entry host nation security force personnel. The TA BDE would have the requirement of establishing the following academies: military, security, logistics and maintenance, DIB and judicial, and medical. Although DoD may not have the overarching responsibility to develop all of these requirements, the US military has assumed these tasks during major combat operations. It is important to understand that these academies would not necessarily train host nations on US doctrine or values, but they would often embrace the doctrine and values of the host nation and incorporate them into the training plan.
The first two academies, military and security, may seem similar but are very different in task and purpose. The military academy would have the requirement of training initial entry officers, and NCOs on the core values and military doctrine of the host nation. The security academy would focus its training on initial entry and senior leaders for security, or police, operations. The security academy would combine factors from the host nation’s core values, host nation laws, and international law. It is critical for both the military and security academies to have set rules of engagement prior to executing training in order to prevent a misunderstanding in cultural values and international law. This can only be mitigated through effective planning prior to deployment.
The academies would model themselves, in structure only, after the US structures such as police academies, basic entry training, and Officer Candidate School. The military academy would focus on developing a force to defend the host nation, while the security academy would develop a force that protects the citizens of the host nation. The security academy must factor in a significant interagency aspect, such as the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). The ICITAP is just one of many agencies that would provide subject matter experts to train host nation security forces; thus the security academy must have a plan to incorporate these additional personnel. The DIB/judicial academy would establish a law school and a defense school, both focused on understanding host nation procedures and laws. The DIB part of the academy would instill law in to host nation defense operations, were as the judicial school would focus on host nation law and judicial process. The logistics and maintenance academy would create a program that trains individuals on technical trade craft. Students in this academy would have an understanding of the host nation procurement process as well as technical expertise in equipment. The medical academy is designed to create level one medical professionals for the security force similar to US military combat medics. It is not intended to become a medical school.
Once the TA BDE has established an understanding of the host nation values and doctrine, it can develop the initial training plan for the academies. The TA BDE must also create a training plan that is supported by the host nation government and not only driven by US efforts. In the training plan it is important that the academies focus as much time on instilling a professional ethos as on training individual tasks. It would be critical that the attendees of the academies embrace their professional ethos to provide a sense of purpose and investment in their nation. Also, the US officers and NCOs running these academies must have a grasp of the host nation culture and doctrine in order to train host nation personnel to the standard set by leadership.
Defense Institution Building/Judicial Brigade
The DIB/judicial brigade has the task of partnering with district and ministerial level leadership involved in the host nation defense and judicial sector. The brigade would advise on judicial, military/security operations, intelligence, and acquisition at the ministerial level in order to advance the host nation’s systems and procedures. Like the TA BDE, the DIB/judicial brigade would factor in host nation culture and values, host nation laws and procedures, and international law. The DIB/judicial brigade is designed to complement rather than supplant efforts by Department of State’s International Narcotic and Law Enforcement division.
dThe DIB/judicial brigade would also provide a bridge between the training academies, and the field advisor teams (elements of the military/security, logistics/maintenance, and medical brigade) on ministerial level issues. These issues would cover legal concerns, prosecution of criminals and terrorists, acquisition processes, medical evacuation, and mentorship to senior military leaders in the host nation. The DIB/judicial brigade would assist the host nation in developing a national security strategy and processes that assist in the execution of the strategy. The DIB/judicial brigade serves as one of the most important functions in stability operations. During the US war in Afghanistan the ministerial support by the host nation to the lower level host nation security elements failed in providing logistics, pay, and guidance. This failure can be attributed to many factors such as culture or a strategy that did not connect tactical security with national objectives.
Military/Security Advisors Brigade
The military/security advisors brigade would serve as the forward presence of the stability division and advise the host nation on police (when DOD is assigned the mission), infantry, armor, military police, and artillery operations. This brigade would be modeled after the traditional Security Force Assistance Brigades found in Iraq and Afghanistan. The training academies would send the graduates to host nation units that are partnered with the military/security advisor brigade. Ultimately, the brigade would have the capability of deploying multiple advisor teams, either military or security, around the operational environment who can serve as senior mentors to the host nation security force.
Logistics Advisors Brigade
The logistics advisors brigade would provide advisors in logistics, maintenance, transportation, and medical to the host nation at all echelons of logistics, from the brigade to the ministry level. The military/security brigade would have logistics personnel embedded into the teams in order to facilitate tactical level supply mentorship to the host nation supply sergeant or battalion logistics officer. The logistics brigade would partner with host nation acquisition elements and provide guidance to the establishment of an effective supply chain. The logistics brigade has to create a plan that encompasses the peculiarities of the host nation’s supply chain. The establishment of a supply chain that supports the local military and security forces is essential in sustaining a host nation security plan for the long-term.
The stability division also requires additional attachments determined by the mission. Utilizing Afghanistan as a model, the stability division could require at least a Stryker BCT and an engineer brigade to assist in stability operations. The Stryker BCT would serve as the security element for the division. The engineer brigade would be essential in partnering because engineer brigades can provide vertical and horizontal construction assets. These two brigades are just a few examples of units that might be necessary to support the stability division without assigning them directly to the division. This allows the US Army flexibility in its force design while maintaining a stability force.
Training/Exercising a Stability Unit
The Joint Regional Training Center (JRTC), through the 353rd Armor Regiment, developed a training and certification process for units conducting stability operations. The 353rd Armor Regiment would continue to provide this training to the US Army and maintain its current command and support relationship. The stability division would send units through JRTC in order to perform have the 353rd Armor Regiment validate the unit prior to deployment. The 353rd Armor Regiment would be able to provide a non-biased assessment of units from the stability division.
The plans section of the stability division headquarters would participate in planning exercises with the ASCC/COCOMs. This would alleviate friction between the stability division and the ASCC/COCOMs prior to deployment. This would also provide insight and understanding to the ASCC/COCOMs about the requirements of the stability division, such as reporting procedures and theater logistical support.
Along with ASCC/COCOM planning exercise, the stability division must conduct training with joint and interagency members. The stability division should send a member, such as a team leader in DIB or a planner from division headquarters, to USAID or DOS training. The stability division should also conduct exercises with joint and interagency members. Federal funding must be appropriated for joint and interagency partners to participate in these actives, because current funding would not suffice. This would allow both the stability division and interagency members the ability to validate processes and procedures prior to executing stability operations.
The Army must educate leaders on the task and purpose of the stability division. Leaders must understand that the stability division is more than a larger form of a civil affairs brigade. Moreover, leaders must not view the stability division as a non-desirable assignment. On the contrary, only high performing individuals should be sent to the stability division since execution requires the most adaptable and intelligent individuals. Army leaders must understand that the stability division is crucial in completing the mission through all phases of operation. The leaders have an obligation to promote to subordinates and peers, the institutional changes of the US Army.
The personnel management system must be updated to reflect the stability division with the Army embracing the stability operations. DA PAM 600-3 currently does not have Key Developmental (KD) jobs for the stability division except for the command, executive officer, and key staff billets. These billets should be filled by individuals with prior experience in these assignments, indicating that they would have twice served as a commander or operations officer. This while contradictory to the current system, would put personnel with in-depth experience into one of the most complex assignments. Personnel with mission critical qualities, such as language skills, should also be assigned to the division.
Furthermore, DA PAM 600-3 must add advisory roles as a broadening assignment that is nominative, which means a board should convene to select the individuals. If these changes are made then individuals, as well as career managers, would consider an assignment to the stability division as prestigious, creating a push-pull factor for assignments into the division. The individuals would push more willingly and human resources would pull more talented leaders for the assignment, attracting the most qualified leaders to the stability division.
Other Stability Forces/Considerations
It is important to understand that the stability division is designed to complement rather than duplicate civil affairs brigades. While one can easily assume that a civil affairs brigade should fill this requirement, it has limited capability. The stability division would be able to expand the capability of a civil affairs brigade by providing operational level support to the theater. It is possible that the current civil affairs brigades could adapt into the stability division, because they have senior leaders that understand the complexity of stability operations.
The Army has Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) to meet the growing demand from COCOMs during phase 0 operations. These infantry brigades are assigned to a combatant commander in order to perform phase 0 theater security cooperation. The RAF concept has allowed the Army to maintain its combat unit requirements, while filling the void for building partner capacity in foreign countries during phase 0. The concept of a regionally aligned advisory unit is not new. Scott Wuestner presented a similar concept in 2009 with the introduction of the Theater Military Advisory and Assistance Group (TMAAG); “The TMAAG-F is designed to provide TSC activities during the period of Shaping Operations (Phase 0) and would not be a crisis response force.”  The TMAAG is an excellent concept that should fill the RAF requirement; however the Army would still require a stability division that could serve as a JTF during phase 4 operation, while complementing RAF operations during phase 0.
Stability operations continue to challenge the US Army throughout history. During Vietnam the US created CORDS, during Afghanistan the US created NTM-A, and during Iraq the US created MNSTC-I; yet, the US Army has not created a permanent stability organization that incorporates joint and interagency. The US continues to create ad-hoc units, centered on general purpose forces, to accomplish stability operations without adapting its force to this re-occurring challenge. The US Army must create a stability division that is structured to meet the unique tasks of stability operations and not continue to utilize standard infantry or armor units to accomplish the task.
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