Index

17  IBCT at Fort Lewis
by Major General James Dubik, US Army


In mid-April of this year, Major General James Dubik, Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC), Deputy Commanding General for Transformation, addressed students attending Fort Leavenworth's Combined Arms and Services Staff School and School for Advanced Military Studies concerning the ongoing efforts at Fort Lewis, Washington, to stand up the initial brigade combat teams (IBCTs). Responding to students' questions, Dubik explained the strategic imperative for transformation, the IBCT fielding process and the leader development challenges for these new units.-Editor

Why is the Army spending so much time, energy and money on transformation?

Major General Dubik: Army operations invest in global security, and transformation will help us do it better. In the 1990s, as the downfall of communism brought a rise of regional conflicts, the US Army witnessed a 300 percent increase in its operating tempo. It was called upon to preserve and restore peace in far-off places like Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, to name only a few. We were asked to perform a myriad of missions, ranging from peacekeeping to peace enforcement to peacemaking and in the deserts of Southwest Asia, the country asked us to fight and win the last major war of the 20th century. The future looks like more of the same. So, while the threat of a major war has greatly diminished, the world remains a dangerous place, as regional instability, inflamed by ethnic hatred and religious fanaticism, gives rise to a new category of threats. If history has taught us anything, it is that somewhere, at some time, the United States will confront a regional, and eventually, a near-peer competitor, so we must prepare for that inevitability now. Our current force structure is strained and we need to retool to prepare for short-notice operations overseas, in areas with immature infrastructures incapable of accommodating the movement of our heavy forces, or in conditions not suitable for employment of our light forces.

How will transformation improve the Army's response to these challenges?

The Army is committed to a new vision to better meet the challenges of this new operational environment. Last fall, Secretary of Army Louis Caldera and Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki described this new vision, "to adjust the condition of the Army . . . transforming this most respected Army in the world into a strategically responsive force that is dominant across the entire spectrum of operations."

As the first step in the Army's transformation, two brigades at Fort Lewis-the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division-are being transformed into IBCTs. The Army is doing this to meet a near-term strategic requirement that now is absent, as well as to prepare the Army for the long term-2015 and beyond.

When you talk about transformation, what does that really mean?

Today, if the National Command Authority calls on the Army to send forces somewhere quickly, we can choose from Special Forces, Rangers and the 82d Airborne Division. Those forces will get there fast, and for certain kinds of jobs, they are all we will need to send. But if we need to send forces quickly with lots of combat punch, we have no viable options. Conversely, if we need a lot of combat punch, we can choose from III Corps or V Corps, but these heavy forces take weeks to deploy. If we need to send a force with combat power someplace fast, we are out of luck. We cannot do it. So, there is a gap between the heavy and light forces that we need to fill; something that can get some-where fast, that has more combat punch than a light force.

Does anyone think that our next mission will be in a first-world country? No, we will continue to go places with limited infrastructure, places that lack everything from major air- and seaports to railways, bridges and road networks. What use is a 70-ton tank on a class 10 bridge? Zero. All our combat power is useless if we cannot get it to the theater in time or maneuver it tactically. Right now our heavy forces have limited strategic deployability and our light forces have limited tactical utility. Transformation will take care of that disconnect.

The IBCTs are being designed, manned and equipped to fill the gap. Empowered with internetted communications and intelligence packages, an IBCT will be capable of deploying anywhere in the world in 96 hours to immediately begin operations across the full spectrum of possible contingencies.

The Army's transformation and the IBCTs at Fort Lewis are all about the future Army in a very real way, not about some theoretical Army. This future Army is being built today at Fort Lewis; Fort Monroe, Virginia; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and many other forts and installations. The work being done now will ensure the Army is ready when it is needed in 2015 to face any potential foe, anywhere in the world.

How do you know that what you are doing at Fort Lewis is the right answer?

First off, realize that there is no guarantee to any of this. There is no playbook. There is no answer book, except what we, as professionals, are willing to debate and discuss. There is a lot of argument going on about this, no doubt about it. We welcome that argument-who would want to be in an organization where one guy says, "the world has changed, so everybody go march out that way?" These are important debates about not just the Army but also the security of the nation.

We must have informed discussions and make sure we get it close to right. We know we will not get it precisely right. But our job is not to get it so wrong that we hamstring the next generation of leaders. We have to get it right enough, so that in 2015, when the nation asks the Army to do something, it is flexible enough to accomplish any potential mission.

It is not like World War II when the United States had the opportunity to adjust its tactics after it saw what the Nazi blitzkrieg did in Belgium and France. We will have to come as we are, so we have to get this right enough to use.

The units at Fort Lewis have turned in their Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. What if the Army is called upon to fight a mechanized foe?

These two brigades at Fort Lewis are the pathfinders, taking the initial steps so the rest of the Army can follow. However, as the Army begins to work its way toward the future, we must retain some of the current forces as well, the heavy and light legacy forces. We have to keep these while we transform as a hedge against potential trouble. The nation cannot throw these forces away because North Korea has not gone away; Southwest Asia has not gone away; the requirements for these forces around the world have not gone away. And so, we cannot erode this capability; we need to keep that warfighting capability, the forced-entry capability. We have to keep upgrading, recapitalizing, investing in these forces to maintain our superiority over any potential enemy while we are developing the organizations, doctrine and equipment that will replace them.

At the same time we are doing that, the Army has invested 1.3 billion dollars a year in science, technology, and research and development. We have asked scientists to develop materials for a vehicle that is lethal and survivable, but lighter and deployable, the kind of vehicle we will need for the transformed Army. Such a vehicle should weigh 20 to 25 tons and fit into C-130 aircraft so it can get anywhere. Yet, when it comes off the aircraft, it is not a light combat vehicle; it is as sustainable, lethal and survivable as the Abrams and the Bradley are right now. But that vehicle is not available now, because there is no technology to do it. We are looking for that answer by 2003.

Why not wait until industry develops the new technology? Why create new units now?

The Army cannot wait three years to begin creating the forces that will use these vehicles. If we want to have the Army we know the nation needs by 2010, we must start now to create the bridge to this future Army. That is what we are doing at Fort Lewis. This interim force-the first two brigades are called the initial brigade combat teams of the interim force-is not the final product. The final product is going to be in the future, once we get the answer from the science and technology community. But when the science and technology community comes forward and says, "yes, we can produce it," we want the change as quickly as we can. Therefore, by 2003, when more of the new brigades begin coming on line, we will need to have the leap-ahead technologies ready.

So, part of the change will be the technology side of it, but again, we are talking about more than just vehicles. The other essential parts involve the doctrine, the organization and the training systems. How do we develop those? We develop them by starting with what we are doing right now at TRADOC installations and Fort Lewis.

As we develop the IBCTs at Fort Lewis, train them and get the doctrine right, we will be producing the doctrine and training that we need for the objective force. This parallel effort will shorten the time between 2003 and when we think we can get the first units of the objective force (we hope as early as 2008). If you look at history, you will see that this cycle is normally 15 to 20 years, and we want to do it in less than 10. We have cut at least five years out of the normal cycle, so this is very fast, and it is unnerving to some people.

What about those who say the Army is moving too quickly? Should we do more testing to ensure we get it right?

The time for testing is about over. This process began with the Louisiana Maneuvers in 1992 and has continued with the Advanced Warfighting Experiment and the Experimental Force, Force XXI and Army After Next. We have done a great deal of testing and it is time to take the next step.

Even so, some people are skeptical. It is painful for those who have to redesign organizations, rewrite lesson plans and retool the training base. Much of what we are up against is not technology but mindsets, institutional obstacles. The institutional piece has to change along with the actual units.

The way the Army raises, trains, assigns, educates, equips and sustains the force must align with how we fight it. Command and control structures will change. Staff functions will involve network architectures and worldwide communica-tions that make reachback support a reality. The notion of what constitutes the brigade support area will be fundamentally different. It will include the intermediate staging base and even the Continental United States. Half of the Army generates combat power, so the other half can use that combat power. As we change the way we use combat power, the way we generate that power must change too. Thus, the Army must start to change the whole way it supports itself. That is a big change to the way we think about and conduct business. Part of what we are doing involves breaking the bureaucracy and rebuilding it for the new force. To accomplish everything that had to be done, the Army's leadership has published a road map and a timeline. Now we are executing.

Focusing on the effort at Fort Lewis, how did the Army decide what the IBCT should look like?

The process started even before the new IBCTs were created. First, an operational concept and organization had to be developed. Derived from the kind of environment we saw the unit operating in, the kind of characteristics that we wanted in the force and the capability that we needed, planners at Fort Leavenworth drafted the operations and organization (O&O) concept with help from other TRADOC centers and schools.

In reviewing the operational environment, two things remain constant-Korea and Southwest Asia. The Army must be able to fight in these places. If a force is required to do that, we have got to retain heavy forces. Then, while we retain enough forces to do that, there are the things we have had to do since the end of the Cold War, the smaller operations. The Army cannot choose either this or that; it must be ready and able do all of it. Which one is going to be next? Nobody knows. But recent operations are examples of what is going to be in the future, so we have to be prepared for those kinds of things. It is not that we want to do Kosovo better. But, what is the future Kosovo? What is the future Bosnia? What is the future Somalia? We do not know what they are, but we know they are going to be out there. We have got to take that into account in the force structure and in the way we train.

What does the operational environment say about us? Well, first thing, we have to be fast. Right now, we can get there with all the required combat parts, but we will get there in about four or five months. That was okay in Europe during the Cold War when we had 300,000 people in Europe who could react, and we had another three divisions worth of equipment parked in Belgium, so you could soldiers fly over to man it. Today, we have equipment parked in Kuwait and Korea. But where is the next fight going to be? We do not know. The next Sadaam Hussein is not going to wait six months to attack. Whoever the next thug is has already learned that. So, speed is essential for us now; that is why the objective force has to have a vehicle as fearsome as the Abrams, but as deployable as the HMMWV [high mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicle].

Additionally, there is a range of different mission sets. The missions that I had in my brigade going into Haiti were different from the 1st Cavalry Division mission when I went into Bosnia, which was different from the 1st Infantry Division's mission in Kosovo. These slightly different mission sets have training implications. It was easy during the Cold War: the mission set was to fight the Soviets and win. You divided your mission essential task lists, you trained to those lists, against that enemy, against that scenario. You filled these data books with known information-where your defensive area was going to be, how many rounds you were going to fire. That was easy compared to what we are doing now.

Combat power is what you can bring to the fight, so the infrastructure of where we are going to go fight must be considered in designing the force. If we need lethal, survivable 25-ton future combat systems, that also will affect how the force will operate and should be organized. Obviously, the environment and infrastructure have a great deal to do with the way we are building the interim force.

After considering the environment in which the Army will operate, what kind of concepts and qualities do we want for this force? When the United States sends the Army, we go there to force somebody to do something. Our success depends on the certain ability to impose our will. Combat capability is why we are in the mission, whether peacekeeping or peace enforcement. People must be afraid not to obey us.

By joining some of the strengths of the heavy force and some of the strengths of the light force, the IBCT can get there fast with the necessary combat power. We are merging cultures and the strengths of these forces into new operational capabilities. The Army leadership chose Fort Lewis partly because it is home to both a heavy brigade and a light brigade. Both are going to be transformed into interim brigades. By using some of the best of both, we are creating an overmatch. We are not interested in a fair fight. When we fight somebody, we want to win so that is the capability we want to have for the IBCTs.

What is the timetable for standing up these new units?

The first IBCT to transform to the new design, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is scheduled to achieve its initial operating capability (IOC) by December 2001. The second IBCT, the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, is currently scheduled to achieve its IOC by December 2002.

How are the IBCTs organized?

The IBCTs are organized primarily as mounted infantry-heavy organizations with high tactical mobility and robust dismounted assault capability. Major subelements within the brigade include three mounted infantry battalions, each composed of three combined arms rifle company teams; the reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) squadron; and antitank, artillery, engineer, signal, military intelligence and support elements. Additionally, the IBCT will have enough "hooks" for augmentation so that if it needs a particular capability it can readily integrate the appropriate armor, aviation, engineer or civil affairs units, for example.

One of the big organizational benefits is the presence of a reconnaissance squadron in the brigade, one with embedded human intelligence, one tied to aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles, and artillery and engineers through the connectivity of the network architecture. All brigade commanders would like to have those kinds of capabilities-and they will. This network-centric warfare multiplies the brigades' combat power. I think we will see that the network is a bigger piece of the transformed units than the hardware.

There has been some misunderstanding about the whether the interim brigades will be equipped with tracked or wheeled vehicles. What can you tell us?

The short answer is: we do not know. That is part of the science and technology piece. However, we cannot wait for the new equipment to begin evaluating and refining the O&O concept. Currently, soldiers are training with light armored vehicles on loan from Canada, pending selection and fielding of the interim armored vehicle later this year. The loaner vehicles allow us to develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) now and begin training, instead of having to wait for the delivery of our new initial armored vehicles next spring.

However, transformation is about more than getting new vehicles. As we develop the TTP, we are coping with a changed strategic paradigm that has shifted from "alert, train, deploy" to "train, alert, deploy." Instead of "make contact, develop the situation, maneuver the force," we will have to "exploit technology and understand the situation, maneuver the force and-only then-make contact." Likewise, our decision processes will change from a hierarchical, sequential, planning-centric model in which leaders are important to a parallel, collaborative, execution-centric one in which leaders are essential. We have to change the way we train to maximize this capability.

With a new O&O concept, new vehicles and new TTP, will the training program be different from other units?

The training methodology developed for the IBCTs was founded on several guiding principles. First, derive a centralized training task list from the O&O concept for each echelon from squad through brigade. We decided to use draft, updated skill manuals and mission training plans derived from the common task training list to begin developmental training. Subtasks, conditions and standards were adapted from current doctrine to align with the O&O concept. Second, training should seek to retain the light infantry ethos of physical and mental toughness. Third, develop digital proficiency early and sustain it. Fourth, use time wisely by creating a multiechelon (simultaneous), iterative (sequential) training plan. Fifth, link developmental training to operational training. Sixth, identify the proper balance of live, constructive and virtual training. Last, and most important, train leaders first because they are the trainers.

We know for sure that the leader business is important, because units are characterized by their leaders. Leaders in the IBCTs will have to understand a new way to fight and be motivated to fight that way to provide the adaptability and versatility the O&O concept demands. We decided from the beginning not to rely on external trainers. Leaders will train their own units-platoon leaders training platoons, company commanders training companies, battalion commanders training battalions. To do that, first, you must make leaders experts in the training methodology and the doctrine. Initial leader training needs to be conversion training to educate leaders to execute training relative to the IBCT O&O and not their former experience.

We have a training program specifically for IBCT senior leaders to teach them how extraordinary the IBCT is. Taught at the proponent centers, the program focuses on IBCT O&O performance-oriented training to fight the organization. It also provides leaders with an understanding of the concepts and gives them the necessary tools, knowledge and skills needed to operate and fight differently.

What kind of roadblocks have you encountered?

While we faced many basic questions, the uncertainty was a challenge, not a roadblock. New doctrine was being written as the IBCTs were taking shape. How much focus on the company? On the platoon? That is the reality of changes that we are making. We developed a data collection plan for each training event during developmental and operational training focusing on O&O-unique behaviors. After each training iteration, we provide feedback to the schoolhouses so that doctrine can be updated based on what we are learning. We figured it out.

Uncertainty is not something to fear. If you are comfortable with peacetime uncertainty, you will be better prepared for the uncertainty of war. War is not predictable or stable. It is chaos. So if leaders are uncomfortable with a little bit of change, they will also be uncomfortable with their primary mission. Leaders have to hook up with ambiguity, loosen up with uncertainty. So when we train leaders, and we have a very good training program for them, we have to invest the time at the very beginning.

How is leadership different in the IBCTs?

The distributive and decentralized operations of the O&O require leaders to use initiative within intent-leaders who can create cohesive units that thrive in high-tempo, dispersed operations. Such adaptive leaders can operate across the full mission-spectrum and solve problems they have never seen before. We are asking company commanders and platoon leaders to do things now that we used to think only battalion commanders could do. That means we have to increase the number of experiences for lieutenants and further increase the number of experiences for captains. We have to do that in the same amount of time. The amount of time that captains will be in command will not change; that is a function of inventory, so the only option available is to better use the time while officers are in command. That is the real key, and to do that we have to leverage three things: a tactical leader program; multiple iterations during simulations; and professional development in units that includes repetitive opportunities, constant coaching, nested vignettes and individual study.

Before taking command, officers will go through a five-week tactical leader program. While in command, officers will receive repetitive professional development on how to fight their organizations. Company commanders and platoon leaders will be trained to fight at the company level. Platoon leaders will train with team leaders. No one leads alone; we fight together as a command team, so we will train that way.

Officers are concerned that they will spend too little time in command. How can they gain the kind of experience that you say is necessary?

Experiences come from three significant places-personal experience and the experience of peers and seniors. Using the nest concept, company commanders will train themselves, their platoon leaders and squad leaders in a net. Also, they will be part of the battalion commander, company commander and platoon leader net and part of the brigade commander, battalion commander and company commander net. That training will go on every quarter for three to six days with four to six repetitive vignettes per day, further increasing everyone's experience base. By nesting leadership that way, leaders will gain experience and learn how to solve problems. They will learn from peers, superiors and subordinates.

Second, officers will learn through the use of simulations. For the first couple of brigades, it will be primarily constructive simulations. Leaders can go through four or five iterations of the same kind of problems, whereas out in the field, there would be time and resources for only one scenario.

Third, officers will learn through history in a professional reading program. By studying the experiences and lessons from those who went before, officers can learn without making the mistakes that cost lives and destroy equipment.

Many officers are concerned that this is too much, too fast for an Army that is too busy. Could this be the right idea at the wrong time?

There never will be a great time for major change. Crises arise and we cannot say "no" to the National Command Authority. If the President says, "Go to Kosovo," we do not say, "Gee, we are kind of busy." And when he says, "Remember, besides Bosnia you have to train for major theater war," we do not say "Hey, we could sure use a break." If things heat up in East or Southwest Asia, the call is not, "Are you ready?" It is simply "Go." To be ready for the spectrum of contingencies, we need transformation, all the while staying ready for major theater war.

Normandy, 8 June 1944. You cannot get this . . .

As we change to meet those requirements we have to remember something simple but important: Making history is messy. Studying Normandy today looks like arrows and unit symbols. Normandy on 6 June 1944 looked like Saving Private Ryan-dangerous and chaotic.. . . without this.

For some this is mostly a time of high anxiety; for me it is also high adventure. Times have changed and we have to adjust, but war has a future and we still have a job to do.

We exist to force people to do something. Combat capabilities are essential across the spectrum because terms like peacekeeping and peacemaking are deceptive euphemisms-what we do is all about force. Part of the trouble in places like Kosovo often comes down to the absence of legitimate force to maintain peace and order. We are committed to remain relevant, able to respond quickly and provide the appropriate forces for such contingencies.

The Army we are working on is for the captains and majors who will be brigade and division commanders in 2015. When a business wants to overhaul its sales structure and move from showrooms to web-based marketing, it calls in outside technical innovators. We cannot do that in the Army, we have to grow our own experts. The people who will lead the objective force in 15 years are already serving and growing and changing the Army. MR


Major General James M. Dubik is the deputy commanding general for Transformation, Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Lewis, Washington. He received a B.S. from Gannon University, an M.S. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.M.A.S. from the School for Advanced Military Studies. He is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Continental United States, Hawaii, Haiti and Bosnia, including deputy commanding general, Multinational Division North and TF Eagle; assistant division commander (Support), 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas; commander of US and multinational forces, Northern Haiti; commander, 2d Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York; special assistant to the US Army Chief of Staff, Pentagon, Washington, DC; commander, 5th Battalion, 14th Infantry, Hawaii; inspector general, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii; XO, 1st Ranger Battalion, Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia; and associate professor of Philosophy, US Military Academy, West Point, New York.