DIRECTION AND DECEIT - AN ARMY IN TROUBLE ARMY: Adv. Warfighting Experiment & READINESS--A Report December 1997 [Source: the following IMPORTANT report was produced by a source who wishes to remain anonymous] Our army is in serious trouble. The Division Advanced Warfighter Experiment (AWE) is heading in a direction that is dangerously close to institutionalizing a fundamentally flawed doctrine. This is hidden behind a very well crafted, highly persuasive PR campaign that masks many of the problems, and in some cases, outright deceives. But of more immediate concern, the army of today is in a serious state of unpreparedness, is untrained, and would be in danger of getting routed if we were to engage in combat against capable, motivated opponent. The following report consists of three parts: I. Flaws of the AWE II. Evidence of an Army Unprepared for Combat III. Ramifications for the Present and Future I. Flaws of the AWE The Advanced Warfighter Experiment is an experiment in name only. An experiment is conducted in order to test a hypothesis, then seeks to make modifications to the design based on what worked and what didn't, and then makes decisions about where to go. That is not what the AWE is doing. The Army has made a number of important decisions about the future of AWE before completing critical portions of the test. Months before the Fort Hood AWE exercise in November 1997, they had already established a robust time line depicting the rate and composition of future modernization packages for the division, and even when the corps would be digitized. Too many key decisions have been made even before some of the most important elements of the experiment had been conducted. Here are some of the specific problems I've identified: 1. Complicated Infrastructure. The infrastructure necessary for enabling the division's command posts with Global Command & Controls Systems is predicated on extensive use of fiber optic cable - which takes a lot of time to instal and is easily damaged/destroyed. I was told by a two and four star general, that because fiber optic cable is becoming so common, we could just use existing civilian systems. That reminded me that just three months ago I discussed this issue with a commo expert in Korea. The army Master Sergeant told me how easily and quickly it would be for the enemy to destroy the whole system, rendering all the C2 and intel systems useless. Civilian fiber optic systems are not designed to survive wartime sabotage! More importantly, the band width does not yet exist to send all of this digital traffic via radio. Also, jamming/countermeasures are very easy. The OPFOR Information Warfare (IW) unit could have shut the AWE down during their March 97 rotation. However, they were not permitted to jam during the entire exercise! 2. Communications. NTDR (Near Term Digital Radio) and other radio systems have same line of sight limitations as the radios we've used for the last 25 years. The various platforms do have fatter data pipes, but there are too many problems getting the signal to cover the length and breadth of the 150km the division is supposed to be able to cover. In answer to my question about how they would solve this problem, General Harzog said they would use retrans stations on both mounted and airborne platforms. 2 ACR used that method during Persian gulf war while making administrative moves. However, if the objective is to build a modern, hi-tech army, we shouldn't build a complicated data transfer system that relies on the tenuous ability of retrans to communicate. Every time a retrans station is lost during battle - or even to accident - complete sections of the battle force could lose the graphics, battle updates, and friendly and enemy picture. If we train our soldiers to rely on this system, they will be paralyzed when it goes down. We're training them to believe everything they see on the screen, and it's working. Several of the soldiers I talked to told me in passionate terms they believe that what's on that screen is true because, "its been proven that what we see on the screen turns out to be what's really on the ground." Proven? Where? On the sim-center screen? At NTC in March? And even when commanders have the information, they believe that they have to wait for all the information so they can make a perfect decision. The result is inaction and ceding initiative to the enemy. This happened in AWE's rotation at the NTC last March. 3. Intelligence and Suite of Sensors. I Talked to the G2 section about the suite of sensors that work together to put the enemy data on the screen. The old computer adage that, "garbage in, garbage out," rings frighteningly true here. The "true" enemy picture depicted on the screen is only as good as an analyst can detect. It would be arrogant and foolish of us not to expect the enemy to be capable of figuring a way to deceive the sensors. Additionally, the JSTARS aircraft will not always be able to fly. Other devices will not always be able to verify the identity of the MTI's discovered by the JSTARS. An action taken by the decidedly lo-tech Iraqi's during the war serves as a warning: Major Muhammad, the surviving commander of the Iraqi 12th Armored Battalion, Tawakalna Division (whom we captured after the Battle of 73 Easting) told me that when the B52's began to bomb them, they would do simple things like throw diesel on dead tanks and light them, fooling the air force into thinking they had killed more tanks. Consequently, the G2 was reporting the Tawakalna at 40% strength 24 hours before our attack, but revised it to 70% only hrs before contact - after we were able to get helo scout eyes on target. There are many other, more sophisticated ways to deceive our systems. The bottom line is, if our soldiers and leaders are trained to believe that the screen is ground truth, we are setting ourselves up for disaster. Additionally, if we rely on what the screen tells us before we'll fight - and then it goes down during battle - our leaders will be frozen into inaction. Anytime I brought that issue up during my stay at the AWE, I always got some wave-of-the-hand dismissal saying that the BDE TOC had a single "old fashion" paper map on the wall using stickies. "If the screen goes down, we simply go to the back up and continue on with the fight." The truth is that in all probability, they'd be frozen into inaction for a critical period of time. Plus, there was only one map for the entire BDE TOC! Even if information on enemy strength and disposition is accurate, what about the human/qualitative elements of combat? We will still have to fight for knowledge about the enemy that will permit commanders to avoid strength and attack vulnerability. 4. Counter-technology Warfare. Officials in Fort Hood told me they had an aggressive force of folks trying to break into the system and cause it problems. Of course, the computer hackers are directed by TRADOC and despite what I was told, they are most certainly not given free reign on how they try to attack the system. Battle update briefers reported 100% success in defending the systems. I wonder how much success they'd have if some of the civilians at Microsoft decided to get after it and try to deceive/block the system. We need an independent effort on this. 5. Easy Does it. Philosophically, the AWE is positioning for slow, methodical warfare. When the BDE TOC takes 15 hours to set up and become operational, something is wrong. They showed me a couple of prototypes of a new C2 armored vehicle that would be very, very effective if fielded, but right now it's only a proto-type and no firm decision has been made to use it. Speed of action is not important to them because this is all a big targeting, sensor-to-shooter exercise. Movement is equated with risk. This is essentially the French Doctrine of "methodical battle" in the late 1930's. See Robert Doughty's book, "The Breaking Point", chapter 1 (which I have if you care to read it). One of the key military lessons learned from World War I was that the philosophy of dominant fire power over maneuver was a bankrupt concept. The Germans proved the success of a doctrine that emphasized dominant maneuver over - but including - fire power. See incredibly swift theater victories over Poland in 1939, France in 1940, Yugoslavia in 1941. 6. Joint. I asked why we aren't doing more joint fighting/training. I was basically told by both General Harzog and General Boyd that we aren't doing joint because the other services don't want to play. "We'd be happy to be more joint, and if they want to, they know where to find me," - General Harzog. Doesn't exactly sound like someone who wants to maximize integration efforts using the best capabilities of the joint community. 7. Operational Focus. Their operational focus was exclusively on attrition, not on gaining a temporal or positional advantage over the enemy. According to the OPORD, their intent was to destroy the combined arms army, and then seize crossing points on the Rhine river. The focus of their effort was entirely on gaining info dominance, as though the side that knows the most wins. Knowing info is great, but decisive maneuver and winning the fight are the only things that matter. Fire power will not win wars. See World War I as providing years of gruesome evidence. Also, if one engages in attrition warfare - pitting one's own strength against the enemy's strength, higher casualties will result. Take 2d Alamein as an example. Compare that fight with Rommel's approach at Gazala Line in 1942, or Patton's rescue of Bastogne in December 1944, or von Manstein's counterattack against the Russian Army in February 1943. Our current military leadership sees all of the risks associated with maneuver but are blind to the possibilities. 8. Testing Venue. I'm concerned that all the tests are only done in the desert where C2 and commo are the easiest. Why not at CMTC in Europe as well? A number of times I asked about communications capabilities if the battle actually took place in European terrain instead of the open desert. The only answer I got was no answer, "Well, we are just focused on the concepts, and the actual location doesn't matter." Not true. They are making huge decisions on specific communications platforms based on this experiment. However, this experiment doesn't take into account the commo difficulties inherent in the very terrain where the computer test is taking place - Europe. If we don't even know whether these systems will work in Europe or Korea or some equally difficult place to communicate, how can we build our whole future force structure on the premise that it will? If we are unable to communicate effectively, all these great hi-tech gadgets will be worthless. 9. World Class OPFOR. They brag extensively about their "world class" OPFOR and how they are free to think and act, and that they want to win, etc... But when I talked to men running the Fort Hood portion of the OPFOR, they told me they were operating under incredible constraints. Also, the entire simulation is not credible. For example: First of all, the system they are using (Corps Battle Simulation - "CBS") was never intended to be used as an indicator of the effectiveness of weapon systems or how communications systems would operate. It was only designed to give a basic force-on-force simulation to facilitate the training of a Corps staff. It does not accurately predict the results of engagements between opposing forces. It is a cause of concern, therefore, when the results of the CBS battle is taken as a proving agent for the AWE (See attachment #XX for a sample of institutionalized thinking on this issue). The scenario driving this experiment depicted the 4th ID initially performing a covering force mission across a frontage of 250km. Then they defended a sector 150km in width when the Corps was fully deployed. While in this defense, 4th ID absorbed a combined arms army of three divisions and held, but at the end of the battle division strength was between 50-55%. They then immediately endure a second attack, this time by a tank army - again they repelled the attackers without allowing a penetration anywhere in sector. In the 48-72 hours following the successful defense, they received replacements and were bolstered to 90% strength. They then launched a complicated attack to destroy the remnants of both the combined arms army and the tank army. To even suggest that any division could sustain 50% casualties and then receive replacements that had never trained with the division and expect them to conduct a successful attack is absolute fiction. What they represent here is sheer Hollywood fantasy. Unless the enemy was worse than Saddam Hussein's troops, those things would never happen. But what concerns me, is they are clearly trying to give the impression that their success in the simulation battle proves they can reduce combat power and still get the job done. (See attachment #XX as an example of how our leaders actually believe that what the computer is showing is a true reflection of the combat power potential of the new division) In an even more disturbing example that the Army community as a whole is beginning to believe that the AWE has "proven" itself successful, the 15 DEC 97 issue of "Army Times" newspaper ran the headline on its front cover, "On Track: Future force proves itself more lethal." The cover story inside quoted TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) commander General William Harzog as saying, "Look at the results of this exercise. This one division ... in simulation killed six divisions - two combined arms armies - in the first four days (with) considerably less losses than current divisions do." It is absurd to consider a CBS battle proving anything tactically. 10. Loss of Power. One of the biggest reasons provided as to how the digital division was able to defend a 150km frontage against two attacks consisting of six divisions, and the then able to launch their own counterattack, was because the experiment has proven the increased killing power of the division. Consequently, they don't need all those tanks, brads and howitzers. In order to reduce the size of the division from it's current level of 18,000, they have cut one maneuver company per battalion - reducing the killing power of the division by a full 25% - resulting in 58 fewer tanks, 58 fewer Bradley's, 18 fewer howitzers, and 400 fewer infantrymen. So they reduce the combat power of the division by 25%, and then expand the territory they are supposed to cover by three times what a heavy division of today covers? Information dominance is not a killing element - it is an enabler only. If we get rid of the killing systems and increase the coverage required, we will be less, not more, capable. General Boyd and General Harzog told me the reason we're dropping a maneuver company is because "evidence" shows that with this new organization, we don't need as much combat power to get the same job done. Additionally, they said that part of the purpose of reducing the combat power is to make the army able to deploy faster*, and it would be easier to deploy if there were fewer tanks, brads, and tubes. Of course if you had fewer HQ elements, you could afford to take more fighting (killing) systems. * (There is an effective solution to this problem. See end of report for details) 11. Vulnerability of Servers. As with a standard office system, this computer data system is controlled by a few server computers. If the server crashes, or if it's destroyed, everyone is on their own and common data communication is severely slowed and degraded. This becomes a problem if we doctrinally teach this as the way to fight. If our soldiers and leaders become fixated on the presumption that this stuff will be there, and all data is true, then when - I say 'when', not 'if' - the systems go down in combat, leaders will be paralyzed into inaction for a critical period of time before they can begin to think of other courses of action. Think of your own experiences in office environments: when the main server goes down, all lateral communications stops. The same thing will happen in war, but the stakes are obviously higher. In the "olden days" when we used maps, acetate, and stickies, we knew when we put the enemy force icons on the map that it was a representation of the best analysis we could come up with, but we knew it was only a best guess and not ground truth. This new intel system is being touted as showing enemy ground truth. It does not. But the soldiers think it does. Consequently, when these soldiers go into combat and they look at the screen depicting the enemy, they will believe that what the screen shows is the truth. But that screen only shows what some person tells it to show. A vignette during the Battle of 73 Easting offers a perfect example of the dangers we would face if our soldiers are allowed to believe that everything they see on the screen is true. Just before dusk on 23 February 1991, 2nd ACR was leading the VII Corps into the right flank of the Republican Guard. 2nd Squadron was placed on the Regiment's left flank, with 3d Squadron in the middle and 1st Squadron on the right. 2nd Squadron was in a box formation with Ghost and Eagle Troop in front, Fox and Hawk trailing behind. When contact with the enemy came, there was a lot of confusion. Because of the sand storm, the helo scout screen was unable to fly. Consequently, we were unaware of exactly location of the enemy. Eagle had first contact when they stumbled into the teeth of a dug-in armored company and fought a fierce, but short engagement (lasting only 23 minutes). On Eagle's left flank was Ghost Troop. Their two scout platoon leaders were a little confused when they finally made contact. They reported an enemy brigade was attacking - all told, over 100 tanks. This was reported up the chain to Regimental HQ who took a wait-and-see posture. The light of the next day revealed that there were less than a company of tanks and BMP's - not a brigade. Apparently, when individual scouts and scout platoon leaders reported seeing a certain number of tanks, the command post added the sum total and reported higher. It turned out that they were all reporting the same 14 tanks - eight or nine times. If this situation happens in the future using this new high-tech concept when the soldiers are trained to believe that the enemy picture on their screens is true, disaster is possible. In the 73 Easting scenario, if the commander believed his screen, he would have been likely to maneuver the remainder of his Regiment against a non-existent threat, potentially exposing a flank to a real enemy threat. Conversely, if the opposite happened and the scouts reported 14 tanks instead of the 100 that were there, the commander would look at his screen and feel good about things, looking in other sectors. If we know the enemy picture is only an approximation, we are sensitive to ensuring everything gets confirmed by eyes on target in the close fight. If we believe everything we see on the screen is true, we will not verify, but will act. Right now, I can tell you that based on all that I have read, seen, heard, and touched, the soldiers in the 4ID believe that what they see on the screen is true. When I talked to the analysts that actually do the inputs for the enemy picture, they told me all about the "suite of sensors" that are designed to give a true picture of the battlefield. However, even they admit that there are several limitations to how accurate their picture can be. Right now I'm not even taking into consideration the enemy's ability to deceive our sensors through manual and technological means, just our limitations in getting the right picture on the screen. Despite what's being professed in the PR campaign, the "suite of sensors" are really not much more advanced than what we had in Desert Storm. If we teach soldiers and leaders that these capabilities are only an approximation, but only what is likely to be true, then I think it could be of great value. The problem is it's being portrayed to both the public and the soldiers that it's a true picture of the enemy. This is a dangerous thing to do. Part I Conclusion: There are three fundamental problems with the AWE. 1) we are basing the future of our army on technology that has not proven itself capable in a combat environment, and on a doctrine that has proven to be a failure numerous times in modern history; 2) we are prepared to reduce the killing systems in the division by 25% and increasing three fold the territory they are responsible to cover - without any hard evidence to suggest we are able to do this; and 3) we are deceiving our soldiers and ourselves that the equipment we are providing them with is a panacea and that the images they see represent ground truth. We are laying the foundation for a defeat that will be larger in scope and consequence than the defeat suffered by the French in 1940. II. Evidence of an Army Unprepared for Combat If our army of today were called to fight in the Persian Gulf War II, or a Korean War II, they would be woefully unprepared and likely to be on par with performances suffered by the first ground units that fought in North Africa at the Battle of Kassarine Pass in 1942, and the US forces that got shellacked for the first couple of months in Korea in 1950. In both cases, American military units arrived with a lot of bravado and cockiness about how they would clean up. In both cases they got cleaned up. In May of 1990, Eagle Troop and 2/2 ACR went through a rotation at the European version of NTC, the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC). During this rotation, the squadron was faced with a mission that had little chance of success, but when it came time to fight, they won big. Three months later Saddam attacked Kuwait. Six months after that, 2/2 ACR fought in the Battle of 73 Easting and achieved battlefield success that almost exactly matched their CMTC performance. If performance at the training center is indeed an indicator of performance in combat, we are in serious trouble. Following is one specific example of a unit's performance at the NTC. However, it is representative of most of the units that go through. One of America's premier fighting forces is the 101st Air Assault Division. It gets priority for training dollars, and is kept at a higher level of readiness than any other unit with the exception of the 82nd Airborne Division. In November of 1997, the 101st Air Assault Division sent their aviation brigade and two ground task forces to the NTC. Their performance was abysmal. Here are a few "highlights" from the rotation: * The attack helicopters from the 101st were sent in to destroy an OPFOR battalion. 101st artillery fired the SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) mission using MLRS, and then attacked using the helo's. Result: SEAD missed badly; all attack helo's shot down; OPFOR casualties - 0. Reaction: NTC personnel said the conditions were not "fair." Ordered OPFOR to come out of hiding positions with tanks, BMP's, and AAA assets. All 101st units had MILES re-keyed and ordered to re-attack. Result: SEAD missed badly again; all attack helo's destroyed; OPFOR casualties - 0. Reaction: NTC officials said it's still not "fair." Ordered OPFOR into the open, but this time stripped all AAA assets, ordered 101st to third attack. Result: SEAD missed completely - again; six attack helo's destroyed by tank and BMP main-gun fire; OPFOR casualties - four tanks, two BMP's. * BDE ordered to conduct defense; given 48 hours. After 48 hrs they said they were not ready, requested and received an additional 24 hrs. 24 hrs later they said they still were not ready to defend. Result: msn canceled. * 101st ground forces ordered to attack. OPFOR only given one battalion to defend three passes. OPFOR CDR decided to defend only one pass with a prepared defense, used only handful of forces in hasty/harassing position in other two passes. Action: 101st ignores the two lightly defended passes and expends all energy attacking the prepared defenses. Result: complete destruction of 101st units. * OPFOR, using 1950's technology, jams 101st ground units at will. Reason for success? 101st is equipped with highly effective, hard to jam SINCGARS frequency-hopping radios. However, for unknown reasons, did not use frequency-hopping capabilities, and did choose to operate in single channel mode, unsecured. Result: in addition to jamming, OPFOR also made extensive use of deception on radio. In one case, using the call sign of the force commander, ordered a whole unit to stop its movement and wait for new orders. While they waited in the open desert, OPFOR artillery unleashed on them. These are example of just one rotation of what's supposed to be our best trained unit. There are other units that fare worse! It is also important to remember that the OPFOR is equipped with 1950's technology. They have no sophisticated electronic equipment, but they routinely jam and deceive our high-tech commo equipment; they have no thermal imaging devices for tanks and BMP's, they have no stabilization control for weapon platforms; etc... Their best advantage is that they know the terrain like the back of their hand. That one advantage doesn't explain why the US Forces' SEAD fires routinely miss by several kilometers; why they attack prepared positions when others are open; why they operate command nets using SINCGARS radios on single channel and in the red; why some units average over 30 minutes from call-for-fire to rounds on the ground; the list goes on and on. But what may be even worse is that officials at the NTC are lying to the units coming through and making them think they did better than they did. For example, during the aforementioned debacle when the NTC officials stripped the OPFOR of it's AAA assets, they lied to the 101st officers about it during the AAR. When the BDE S3 wanted to know why their instruments did not detect any radar painting by OPFOR AAA assets in the third attack as they did during the first two attacks, NTC officials told the OPFOR AAA commander to tell the 101st unit that his SEAD fires destroyed all OPFOR AAA assets. Instead of trying to train the units better so they will perform better, the result has been that the NTC has consistently reduced the standards so units will have a better chance of doing well. The reason? Because positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement. NTC Conclusion: The units that are going through the National Training Center are poorly trained and are not ready for combat. They are suffering repeated losses at the hands of the OPFOR using 1950's technology. NTC officials are making the conditions easier for units that come there to train because they cannot meet the standard. The NTC officials are also lying to units at AARs, telling them they are doing better than they really are. The result is that the American Army is fooling itself into thinking it has a ready and trained force that will win decisively in combat the next time we are called. Unless the enemy is worse than Saddam Hussein's Iraq of 1991 - we will not. III. Ramifications for the Present and Future If something is not done in the present, the standards to which all US Army units are held will continue to be lowered. In direct correlation to that lowering of standards, comes the deterioration of our combat capability. If we were to be required to face combat today against a reputable foe, we would likely suffer battlefield defeat and suffer unnecessary casualties. History shows time and again that tough, realistic training reduces casualties. If we are not called on to fight in the near future and nothing is done to check this degraded capability, the potential consequences will be even greater. Concurrently, if we move to this new division concept that institutionalizes over-reliance on technology, preaches as ground truth the computer screen, emphasizes fire power at the expense of dominant maneuver, and reduces physical combat power in the division by 25% while expanding the overhead, we will be setting the conditions for a defeat. Additionally, if the situation in Iraq were to deteriorate into a situation where we had to send in ground forces again, there would not be sufficient forces available to execute that mission and provide an adequate defense capability to the rest of our global responsibilities. Just to give you an idea, here is a list of the forces we would have available in the event we had about the shortage of forces available to conduct another desert war: Prior to combat in Iraq in 1990, VII Corps had 22 US tank battalions and three armored cavalry squadrons. In the total force today there are 29 tank battalions and three Cav squadrons. Of the 29, two are in Korea, four are in Germany tied down with Bosnia. Some are at the NTC. Do the arithmetic. Then throw in the training readiness. For a Corps HQ there is only one choice - III Corps. Sobering thoughts. With a smaller force it is more important than ever that they stay trained to the highest standards. That is why the OPFOR at the NTC must never lower the standards bar but make the units reach for it and know what combat readiness really is. Using the above numbers, another danger looms large if we had to fight a second desert war. If we had virtually our entire heavy force committed to Iraq, we would have almost nothing left with which to defend against an attack by North Korea. Although many think it unlikely they would attack, North Korea would certainly never have a better chance. We would also not have sufficient air power to fight in both theaters simultaneously, would not have the strategic lift necessary to get forces in theater, and our intel collection assets would be taxed beyond capacity. I know this may sound like an over-exaggeration of the truth, but I believe the stakes here are unbelievable. We cannot afford to make a mistake of this magnitude. The things I've reported here are true and verifiable. There are many things about the Division XXI process that are good and should be explored. However, there are many significant shortcomings that could dramatically overcome all it's good points. Recommendations: In order to fix the problem with the poor state of training of today's army, we need first to expose the truth, return the training center standards to what they should be, and then hold the army to the high standards we have come to expect and demand. This will take time, but it can be done. In regards to the AWE, there is a fix. "Breaking the Phalanx", written by Douglas A. Macgregor has a blueprint that is revolutionary in its principals, and corrects for virtually all the major problems I've identified with the current AWE. He has provided me with a clear, concise, briefing on the concept (which I could provide) and I have a copy of the book if you'd like to read it.