by Lieutenant Colonel Billy J. Jordan, US Army, and
Lieutenant Colonel Mark J. Reardon, US Army
The dissolution of the former Soviet Union effectively ended the Cold War and simultaneously ushered in an era of massive change within the NATO military alliance that had faced Soviet divisions across the inter-German border for more than four decades. Each NATO partner grappled with these unforeseen circumstances in its own way. The United States was faced with its own unique set of conditions. These included the integration of information-age technologies within its military forces, addressing the rising cost of cutting-edge weapon systems in the face of an absent peer competitor and determining who really posed a threat to its national security. These initiatives were undertaken within a framework featuring the US military simultaneously converting from a predominately forward-deployed force to a Continental United States (CONUS)-based, power-projection force. By examining competing post-Cold War challenges, senior US Army leaders determined that a fundamental revision of basic warfighting organizational structures was urgently needed.
In 1991, the US Army began to seriously re-evaluate global threats, refine its strategic deployment requirements and examine how new technologies could be leveraged to maximize the combat effectiveness of land combat organizations and equipment. The changing strategic vision clearly indicated that the diminished number of forward-based heavy divisions did not provide the National Command Authorities sufficient flexibility to address evolving military and political needs.
The Gulf War had also highlighted the incredible hurdles associated with moving US Army, Europe and CONUS-based heavy forces to immature theaters. For decades, the Army had relied on pre-positioned equipment stocks to significantly reduce shipping requirements and movement times for heavy forces tabbed to reinforce forward-deployed divisions in Germany and Korea. Now the Army had to prepare itself to face unexpected and unfamiliar strategic challenges globally.
The Army quickly realized that it could no longer afford a warfighting campaign strategy focused exclusively on European pre-positioned equipment. Heavy divisions, the striking power of the land component commander's (LCC's) campaign forces, must now move their equipment from CONUS to other theaters where supporting infrastructure must be developed simultaneously with combat forces deployment. These new challenges quickly called into question the feasibility of existing Army of Excellence (AOE) divisions designed to fight a familiar foe amid a mature theater infrastructure.
In response to the acknowledged need for change, the Army opted to conduct extensive experimentation to identify the optimal organization for future divisions. In preparation for advanced warfighting experiments (AWEs), Army leaders asked the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to consider several new division designs with the aim of creating a streamlined heavy division that embraced existing information technologies to achieve a significant increase in combat effectiveness. By combining digital information systems with newly developed direct- and indirect-fire systems, commanders could ensure their maneuver forces could identify opportunities and mass overwhelming effects against an unprepared enemy at any battlefield decisive point.
In the initial stages of developing the division design for the AWE, the Army went through a number of unconstrained design iterations to determine the most affordable, effective and lethal force. Originally, 11 different division designs were proposed. Each organizational design was examined to determine how effectively it could address the changing global challenges while remaining within the Army's projected force structure limitations. Almost from the onset, force structure designers were bounded by the constraint to maintain a ceiling of 15,000 soldiers within the new organization. That figure resulted from the Army's ability to leverage technology that permitted the reduction and realignment of AOE combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) assets. A comparable cut was made in the division's combat elements due to the increased individual and collective lethality of newly fielded weapon systems. This "sizing" process also generated concurrent discussion on what traditional organic capabilities should remain within the division and what functions could be "passed back" to echelons above division (EAD).
After much discussion and review, the field was finally narrowed to three candidate designs to support the AWE: the "Conservative" Heavy Division - renamed Division XXI (DXXI) - Strike Division and Brigadist Division. The combat effectiveness of each proposed design was tested in simulation modeling to determine which would be adopted for unit testing. The modeling program identified the DXXI as having the optimal mixture of lethality, effectiveness and affordability. The Strike and Brigadist Division designs were discarded when the DXXI was identified as the candidate design to undergo further evaluation during the AWE. The experimentation plan's next phase, which used an Active Component division to conduct testing, was intended to identify how new technology could be leveraged to enhance the new division design's effectiveness.
The decision was made to convert the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) [4th ID(M)] (Experimental Force) [EXFOR] to the interim DXXI design, providing the Army with a "living" test-bed where emerging technologies, new organizational designs and evolving tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) underwent rigorous examination in a field and garrison environment. Based on the lessons learned from the AWE, the Army's senior leaders mandated its adoption as the objective division structure, following some changes to the original design. The DXXI design validation program's goal was to ensure the proposed force structure:
The questions raised by evolving strategic, operational and tactical challenges cannot be answered solely through an organizational solution. TRADOC also realized that fielding this new organization required a fundamental change, given the Eurocentric and linear underpinning of our existing AirLand Battle (ALB) doctrine, in how we would maximize its capabilities. By examining existing warfighting doctrine, TRADOC discovered that it would prove inadequate to describe how the Army will use digitized technology to fight now and in the future. As a result of preparing for and executing the AWE and other analytical processes, it was evident that the AOE division operating in the ALB framework was inadequate to meet future Army warfighting requirements.
The doctrinal process of redesigning a heavy division that would exploit digitization as well as other new technologies took its first major step with the publication of TRADOC Pamphlet (Pam) 525-5, Force XXI Operations, in August 1994. Several other TRADOC pams were published expounding on more specific topics, including the important 525-70, Battlefield Visualization. TRADOC Pam 525-71, Force XXI Division Operations Concept, published in May 1996, provided a foundation upon which TRADOC drafted emerging doctrine and TTPs for the EXFOR Division as it went through the AWE process.
The Combined Arms Center (CAC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, produced three versions of US Army Field Manual (FM) 71-100-5, EXFOR Division Operations, Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, as well as two versions of Army Training and Evaluation Program 71-100-5-MTP, Mission Training Plan for the EXFOR Division Staff, between March 1996 and June 1997. These publications attempted to capture what the 4th ID (M) was doing and provide some continuity as the division leadership and staff rotated over time. Each version evolved based on feedback from the TRADOC schools and centers and personal observation of the unit, along with participation in unit training seminars and exercises by the authors. The TRADOC pams, Army FMs, coordination with 4th ID (M) and extensive interaction with the TRADOC schools and centers gave CAC a foundation upon which to develop approved "how to fight" doctrine for the digitized division.
Doctrine writers at the US Army Command and General Staff College, particularly the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD), had been following the AWE with great interest since September 1995 and were prepared for the challenge of creating doctrine for the Army's new digital division. "Strawman" doctrine drafted by CADD drew heavily on the division staff's experience and proved a good start point for the detailed process that followed. CADD coordinated with experts from the various branches, other Fort Leavenworth agencies - especially the Force Design Directorate - and conducted internal reviews to develop and revise the emerging doctrinal concepts as new insights became available.
Amid the exciting backdrop of change following the AWE's completion, Lieutenant General Montgomery C. Meigs, the CAC commander, tasked CADD to put together an operational and organizational concept (O&O) for DXXI. The O&O's intent was to capitalize on the 4th ID (M) efforts and stimulate the initial debate concerning the end result of the lengthy division redesign development process. The O&O was also designed to drive the tough decisions needed to forge a lethal, modern division, faithful to the tenets of TRADOC Pam 525-5 but within the parameters articulated by the Army's senior leaders.
Army O&O concepts are an integral part of the force structure design process. They have been developed for every major manpower and equipment initiative since the late 1950s. Hence, DXXI O&O authors found themselves faced with operating within a set of well-defined boundaries. Using the basic concepts contained within the TRADOC Army XXI pams and capitalizing on the experience of 4th ID (M) during the AWE, CADD undertook the mission to create an O&O that clearly defined the DXXI capabilities.
An O&O concept is intended to convey ideas, thoughts and general notions that describe what capabilities are required to conduct combat, CS and CSS battlefield operations. It prescribes where and when operations occur and how they fit with other concepts for related operations, and it is typically futuristic. Normally, a concept would be developed without parameters, then a force would be designed to meet the concept. In this case, the basic force structure, the 4th ID (M) was already in place, and the final decision by the Army Board of Directors (BOD) in April 1997 confirmed the new division would be limited to approximately 15,000 soldiers.
The O&O concept had to be logical, coherent and balance the competing demands for force structure so that any change to the force structure had to be linked to the specific requirements in the O&O concept. However, some assumptions were necessary to facilitate development of a strawman O&O concept that clearly defined the DXXI structure and prevented the possible exponential growth of mission requirements and subsequent growth of force structure. The assumptions used to construct the basic O&O concept framework were:
After strawman O&O concept development, a series of week-long conferences were held at Fort Leavenworth in January 1998, starting with a Council of Colonels (COC), followed by a General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC) and culminating in a General Officer In-Process Review (GOIPR). At each conference, many departments and agencies throughout the Army, as well as several US Army Forces Command units and all TRADOC schools and centers, were represented. The DXXI COC made several initial recommendations, which were then considered, revised and expanded by the GOSC. The GOSC results led to a significant revision of the existing O&O. The reworked O&O was again reviewed and finalized during the GOIPR prior to presentation to the Army BOD in February 1998. During this forum, the proposed concept was approved as the foundation of DXXI doctrinal and force structure development. Figure 1 illustrates the proposed division redesign.
While developing a warfighting doctrine concept that capitalized on the DXXI design capabilities, CADD was also charged with ensuring that the doctrine applied to the entire force. Thus was born the new doctrinal concept of "distributed operations," which had to be broadly based and applicable to all organizational constructs within the US Army. Distributed operations doctrine is intended to replace ALB doctrine, which had been developed specifically for conflict in Western Europe against Soviet forces. Distributed operations apply to all military actions - offense, defense, stability and support - and to both Army XXI and AOE forces. Distributed operations provide a revised approach to how commanders may tailor, task-organize and employ their forces for any situation.
Distributed operations encompass those activities and functions executed throughout the height, width and depth of an area of operations (AO) designed to accomplish the assigned mission. These activities may be executed simultaneously or sequentially and against multiple decisive points or a single decisive point, based on the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops and time available (METT-T). The distributed operations framework of decisive, shaping and sustainment operations organizes the battlefield based on purpose, rather than geographical location within an AO.
The concept of distributed operations also recognizes armies as resilient and adaptive organizations, able to withstand attacks directed sequentially against their individual components. Distributed operations' aim is to inflict paralysis on the enemy, resulting in the rapid and total collapse of coherent resistance. Each attack on an objective creates an effect, the sum of which is greater than if each attack were discrete. Thus, rather than a single concentrated attack, the commander executes multiple (lethal and nonlethal) attacks using overwhelming force, at a tempo the enemy cannot match. Simultaneous operations - the concurrent application of military force to attack multiple locations throughout the enemy's entire organizational structure - also enables this single operation to result in the enemy force's disintegration. Presenting the enemy commander with a rising crescendo of competing crises ensures he cannot effectively respond to them all. This leads to the opposing force's accelerated mental and physical disintegration.
Decisive operations are all military actions that strike directly at decisive points. In offensive and defensive actions, decisive operations consist of all actions to overwhelm an enemy force or to seize or retain key terrain. In stability or support actions, decisive operations achieve the immediate military objective of intervention. Such actions could include disarming opposing factions in a conflict, opening LOCs for humanitarian assistance, evacuating noncombatants or implementing a peace agreement in support of a host nation rebuilding effort.
Shaping operations are all military actions conducted to set the conditions for the success of decisive operations. In offensive and defensive actions, shaping operations include actions to deny the enemy the use of terrain and the electromagnetic spectrum; to destroy or degrade his essential capabilities, especially C2, logistics, fire support and air defense; and isolate key components of his military organization. Shaping operations also entail maneuvering friendly forces to positions of advantage from which to launch decisive operations. In a stability or support situation, shaping operations can include those actions designed to create conditions that facilitate long-term stability or return to normal conditions. Shaping operations might include actions such as using engineers to repair infrastructure, conducting psychological operations to prevent confrontation among factions, or initiating combat operations by friendly forces to prevent warring factions from upsetting the return to stability.
Sustainment operations are as vital to the commander as the other two components of distributed operations. They consist of all military actions taken to protect and ensure the functioning of one's force, its capabilities and its freedom of action. In all types of operations, these include CSS operations and sustainment-base and associated LOC security. By their nature, sustainment operations are not decisive, but failure during sustainment operations can cause the overall effort to fail.
The O&O concept states that DXXI's primary mission is identical to the AOE division, which is to conduct combat operations to defeat or destroy enemy ground forces. While the basic division tasks have not changed dramatically, the manner and scope in which DXXI accomplishes them is significantly different from its AOE counterpart. The O&O concept highlights the fact that digitizing C2 architecture and weapon systems has led to a quantum leap in the division combat operations' tempo.
DXXI conducts distributed operations at the time and place the commander chooses by using its improved C2, linked with improved target acquisition capabilities optimized for the employment of precision weapons, to simultaneously strike the enemy at multiple decisive points throughout its AO. DXXI accomplishes this via linkages to national and theater assets, as well as organic sensors, which provide commanders at multiple echelons within the division with superb intelligence and a relevant common picture (RCP) of the battlefield. The division uses this RCP to execute collaborative planning, create a superior situational understanding and conduct rapid maneuver to exploit the effects of precision fires. By comparison, the AOE division passes information vertically through multiple command echelons, each of which requires time to analyze and digest the data before passing it on, thus slowing down the decision-making tempo and often distorting the data. Figure 2 highlights the similarities and differences of the two different division designs.
In offensive operations, the DXXI organization is designed to maintain a higher operations tempo (OPTEMPO) in order to defeat a defending enemy force of equivalent size, whereas the AOE division was expected only to defeat a brigade-size force. In defensive operations, the precision fires and accelerated OPTEMPO possible with the DXXI design result in a more survivable organization that can successfully defend against three enemy divisions and still retain sufficient combat capability to quickly transition to follow-on missions. The AOE division had a similar defensive capability but generally required substantial, extensive and deliberate reconstitution before it could be used to conduct follow-on missions.
DXXI reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) forces provide a "focused telescope" to enable both maneuver and fires, reduce risk, aid in decision making and answer the commander's critical information requirements. The DXXI design has significantly enhanced R&S capabilities compared with its AOE counterpart. Information superiority, gained through links to national or theater assets and enhanced by organic R&S capabilities, is the major contributing factor that allows DXXI to habitually operate over a 120 x 200 km area, compared with the 100 x 100 km sector for an AOE division as depicted by Figure 3.
Rather than relying largely on direct fires to prevail in close combat like the AOE division is forced to do, DXXI integrates its organic combined arms capabilities to produce overwhelming effects throughout the depth of the battlespace, to include close combat. Information superiority, when translated into situational understanding, also increases the lethality of DXXI close combat through the digital linkages between C2, direct-fire platforms and indirect-fire systems. DXXI pinpoints critical enemy systems to engage with precision munitions within a compressed period of time. Digital linkages facilitate the maneuver element's ability to quickly follow up precision fires to exploit the effects and complete destruction of enemy forces.
The increased synergy between the separate DXXI combined arms team components led to the redesign of its maneuver battalions. DXXI features maneuver battalions organized with three maneuver companies equipped with a total of 45 combat platforms compared with the AOE division's four companies and 58 combat platforms. This redesign decision, which resulted in significant manpower and equipment savings, also increased tactical mobility (smaller physical footprint), reduced the logistic tail and decreased strategic deployment requirements while sacrificing none of the division's overall lethality.
The organic DXXI fire-support capabilities have also been improved over its AOE counterpart. The DXXI artillery organization will have a two-battery Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) battalion that includes a target acquisition battery. This battalion enhances the division's counterfire abilities by combining the sensor-to-shooter links into a single C2 structure. The additional MLRS battery also doubles the firepower available for general-support mission execution. Improved rocket and cannon munitions, coupled with attack aviation, allows the division commander to execute shaping and decisive operations through a mixture of standoff attack or close combat. R&S assets will include dedicated organic target acquisition systems to expand the footprint of the division's long-range precision fires.
The DXXI sustainment structure also differs markedly from the AOE division support command (DISCOM) design. DXXI will feature a much-reduced logistics system that proactively tailors CSS to address specific mission requirements. This is in sharp contrast to the unwieldy AOE CSS structure that often stockpiled resources in anticipation of possible use. DXXI's centralized logistics includes battlefield distribution, throughput and stockage management enabling technologies. This centralized logistics concept has created a more agile and mobile support organization under which all division CSS assets have been assembled. All DXXI organic CSS elements are assigned to the DISCOM. However, forward support battalions and forward support companies (FSCs) will still be habitually associated with their respective maneuver organizations to provide continuous, responsive support. Maintenance and supply assets organic to all maneuver battalions have been collocated with the FSCs.
Sustainment during combat operations is closely linked with maneuver and fires. Given the need to maintain an accelerated OPTEMPO through rapid resupply and combat power regeneration, support considerations are taken into account by the commander from the mission's onset. Task organization, scheme of maneuver and fires, as well as branches and sequels to the basic plan, all incorporate anticipated CSS requirements.
Last, unlike the AOE design, DXXI features Reserve Component (RC) integration as an enhancement to its organic force structure. The division rear operations center will remain an integral part of the DXXI C2 architecture to assist in synchronizing and orchestrating sustainment operations. Other anticipated missions for individual RC soldiers include division and brigade staff augmentation, civil-military affairs representatives at brigade level, as well as division and brigade liaison teams.
While technology offered a potential path toward streamlining the DXXI design, other organization options also offered potential. Among these was a concept calling for the migration of organizations and functions common at both division and EAD, which presented an attractive option when determining how the structure could be reduced without degrading warfighting capabilities. It was decided that DXXI would be tailored to conduct its assigned mission in accordance with METT-T. A number of common functions, originally organic to the division, would be provided to DXXI by EAD for each mission.
DXXI was designed from the onset to be tailored, based on the factors of METT-T. This tailoring is designed to "plug in" enabling components, which the division employs, to accomplish missions across the full spectrum of military operations. Although the DXXI has substantial capabilities and is a vast improvement over the AOE division, it, like its predecessor, will require augmentation to accomplish specific missions or perform certain functions.
If DXXI is to act as a joint force land component command element or as an Army forces JTF component, it must be tailored with headquarters assets to accomplish the task. The digitally equipped division provides the commander with many critical networks necessary to link multiservice and joint operations. Like the AOE division, if DXXI is required to simultaneously support suppression of enemy air defenses, counterfire and maneuver brigades or win and maintain parity in the counterfire battle in a mid-intensity conflict, it will require additional assets, usually in the form of two or more artillery brigades. Like the AOE division, DXXI requires EAD bridging, general engineering, countermobility and survivability assets to conduct river crossings, prepare deliberate defenses, protect critical division elements and build and maintain routes and logistics facilities.
The air defense artillery battalion retained its ability to provide air defense coverage of some division assets. However, significant corps and echelons above corps (EAC) assets are required to provide full air and missile defense coverage. Without augmentation from corps or EAC assets, DXXI organic air defense assets cannot simultaneously protect all high-value assets, such as C2 nodes, CSS elements and fire-support systems. Additional EAD augmentation may be required by METT-T for military police; CSS; and nuclear, biological and chemical decontamination or wide-area smoke and obscurants.
The DXXI AO, encompassing 120 x 200 km, is supportable by current and near-term communications capabilities. However, the new design requires EAD communications support augmentation to conduct split-based CSS operations. Expanding the DXXI AO beyond 120 x 200 km will also require EAD C2 communications support.
The DXXI design mission must support distributed operations using maneuver and firepower, facilitated by information superiority, to destroy enemy forces and to seize and retain key ground. DXXI must also be capable of conducting stability and support actions in a joint and combined environment. The DXXI mission reflects global trends that strongly indicate the increasing likelihood of our future political and military involvement in world affairs. By addressing these possibilities before they occur, the US Army has ensured that its soldiers will be better prepared to fight and win once committed in support of our national strategic objectives.
The unique development approach used to field this organization will provide benefits throughout the entire Army. The creation of a new doctrinal concept leading the way toward future warfighting, which will be incorporated in the soon to be published 1998 FM 100-5, Operations, was a direct result of the DXXI development process. The methodology used during the AWE has also offered the Army a proven vehicle for future force development. The experimentation process that resulted in a DXXI design also ensured it could meet all design constraints while retaining an unmatched ability to defeat enemy forces or seize and secure key terrain. The heavy division, when reconfigured as the DXXI organization, will undoubtedly remain a relevant and capable warfighting organization well into the 21st century. MR
Lieutenant Colonel Billy J. Jordan is chief, Division Doctrine Team, Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD), US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He received a B.B.A. from Texas A&M University and is a graduate of CGSC. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Continental United States (CONUS), Germany and Saudi Arabia including executive officer, 1st Battalion (PATRIOT) 7th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade, Kaiserslautern, Germany; current operations officer, 11th ADA Brigade, Operations Desert Shield/Storm; Alpha Battery commander, 5th Battalion (Vulcan/Stinger) [(V/S)] 62d ADA Regiment, Fort Bliss, Texas; assistant test officer TRADOC System Manager, Forward Area Air Defense, Fort Bliss; and S4, 2d Battalion (V/S) 67th ADA Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark J. Reardon is the chief, Special Doctrine Team, CADD, CGSC, Fort Leavenworth. He received a B.A. from Loyola College and an M.A. from Troy State University. He is a graduate of the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions in CONUS, Korea, Saudi Arabia and Europe, including G3 and deputy commander, US Army Central Command, Saudi Arabia; secretary of the general staff, XVIII Airborne Corps, and executive officer, 3d Battalion, 73d Armor Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; motor officer, troop commander and S3, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment; 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), Schweinfurt, Germany; and Bravo Company commander, 2d Battalion, 72d Armor Regiment, 2d Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Korea.