Brigade Combat Team under construction at Fort Knox

by Sgt. Stacy Wamble

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 5, 2000) -- Anyone knows that in order to build a quality structure, one to stand the test of time, a blueprint is essential. The Brigade Combat Team is no different.

One of the architects for the brigade is the Fort Knox Directorate of Force Development, led by Col. Henry Hughes.

According to Hughes, his directorate is the architecture corporation for designing any future organizations, doctrine and materiel for the Army dealing with the mounted force, brigade-level and below.

The directorate's charge is to develop a mission-needs statement based on capabilities needed by the Army in the future and develop a requirement document which lists crucial requirements to meet those capabilities. When capabilities and materiel are determined, then operations and organization concepts are developed.

According to Hughes, every major organization on post is involved with the development of the brigade. The Army's vision is to develop a force that can deploy anywhere in the world within 96 hours after liftoff and to have a division on the ground in 120 hours.

The Brigade Combat Team's power lies with situational awareness delivered by command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR. Hughes said the C4ISR concept will be tested at Fort Knox with a mini-war game called a rock drill. The purpose is to see if "our vision and initial laydown of how things should work are correct, or if we're going to need a little tweaking."

According to Hughes, each proponent in TRADOC for brigade and below will participate with their own prototype organization. The war game will then gauge how the proponents communicate with each other and the effectiveness of the systems and organizations.

The evaluation will identify strengths and weaknesses of organizations and lead to the development of a coping strategy to ensure there are no single points of failure, and that there is not too much redundancy, said Hughes.

"This organization, because we're going to go off the shelf, cannot be what I call platform-centric," Hughes said. "The M1 tank is the tank battalion's power. That's the power base for that organization - not the only power base, but it's the biggest one. In this organization, how we built the organization, and what the organization can do, is the centerpiece.

"It's not platform-based. It's based on leaders, soldiers and how we have built them and how the integrated functions work together. How that organization behaves is going to give it the overmatch capability.

"It has some different things that we are traditionally not aware of."

One of the unique features of the Brigade Combat Team is a Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition, or RSTA Squadron. Fort Knox is responsible for the development of the organizational and systems aspects of the RSTA Squadron, the mobile gun platoon, the battalion scouts, and the C4ISR for brigade and below.

Hughes explained that the RSTA squadron, unlike previous scout squadrons, will feature higher level manning in the scout platoons, unmanned aerial vehicles, and counterintelligence soldiers in each scout section who will gather human intelligence on the battlespace. They won't provide security for the main body in terms of firepower. The squadron's main job will be to provide information to the brigade commander so he will have situational understanding as well as situational awareness. That will enable him to make precise, deliberate decisions.

"The RSTA squadron is into collecting and passing information about the environment they are operating in," said Hughes. "It's up to the commander to use the information to his advantage."

During the Cold War, Army units trained to react to Warsaw Forces based on their established distribution of forces on the battlefield.

"We could template that," said Hughes. "But today there's no way you could template what went on in Somalia. There's no way you can template what goes on in Bosnia, Kosovo or Albania. There's no way you can template what's going on in Haiti.

"So, we want to be able to understand the environment and when we see patterns that exist, we should also be looking for the nonexistent patterns and see what that tells us."

The directorate stays up to speed with equipment and automation advances through its science and technology division. The staff maintains ties with civilian academic and research and development sectors to learn about possible breakthroughs that may apply to the Army.

"Because they are out there doing that kind of stuff, those science and technology folks can also give you an idea, based on their routine interfacing with the intellectual level of America. They can tell us what's possible in two years or five years, whether it's still on the drawing board or not," Hughes said.

As far as the Brigade Combat Team is concerned, Hughes' job is to integrate and synchronize the various organizations on Knox that are working on the brigade to develop the requirements for the platform and determine what technology is available off the shelf.

His directorate is responsible for the documentation of the organization - coming up with the correct structure to accomplish the mission.

"(At this point, the concept) is more than just something on paper, it's a model," Hughes said. "It's has some viability and they are looking at how to incorporate (technology) with a certain organizational structure to develop a timeline for developing an organization."

(Editor's note: Sgt. Stacy Wamble is assigned to the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office.)