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Home > USASOC > UNS > 131004-01


CF, SOF, JIIM working together to prepare for the future

by Sgt. Daniel A. Carter
U.S. Army Special Operations Command PAO NCO

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service Oct. 4, 2013) - Leaders from many different U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) teams with leaders from the 82nd Airborne Division gathered at the Fort Bragg Education Center, in order to review the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation 13-09 and previous rotations.

Throughout the rotation, Conventional Forces (CF), Special Operations Forces (SOF) and select elements within the Joint Inter-Agency Intergovernmental Multi-national Force (JIIM) worked together in an environment custom made to replicate the ever-changing future operating environment and its challenges.

The after action review (AAR) that took place from Sept. 24 – 27 was the culminating event for the most recent exercise, 13-09.  The intent of this AAR was to provide senior military leaders, subject matter experts (SMEs) and Inter-Agency personnel the ability apply an increased focus on select best practices in an environment steeped with ambiguity.

"We wanted to create an environment where a diverse group of Conventional Force, Special Operations Forces and select Inter-Agency personnel could examine elements of the future operational environment and JRTC’s ability to replicate this volatile environment and the associated hybrid threat." said Lt. Col. Lawrence W. Henry, JRTC's Special Operations Training Detachment (SOTD) Commander.

Approximately 90 personnel attended the opening of the AAR. The attendee's consisted of various members of the USASOC, 18th Airborne Corps, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), the RAND Corporation, and elements from the Inter-Agency.

The opening comments of the AAR were made by the United States Army Special Forces commanding general, Maj. Gen. Christopher K. Haas. During Haas' opening comments, he thanked the members of JRTC for hosting this AAR.  Haas further commented that he saw the value in additional examination of the selected topics to gain a greater understanding in the area of CF, SOF and JIIM interdependence.

Once the AAR had officially begun, the personnel in attendance were separated into work-groups that specifically focused on: CF, SOF, JIIM interdependence, challenges and successes of unconventional warfare (UW), expanding JRTC to better replicate the future operating environment, and the roles and functions of the Military Information Support Task Force (MISTF). The workgroups were chartered to focus on these topics and discuss them in length over the course of three days.

The UW workgroup was charged with the task to provide a common understanding of the inherent difficulties of conducting UW training and the requirements to modify doctrine and training as applicable. In order to meet their goal, this workgroup along with the others, was created to include a diverse range of SMEs who could provide their own perspectives.

One such SME was Maj. Israel Villarreal Jr., SOTD S-3/observer controller and trainer, who explained that "the workgroup focused and analyzed the successes and challenges of Mission Command, Intelligence, Tactical Military Information Support Operations (MISO), Civil Affairs (CA), and non-standard logistics. All of which are essential to conduct UW operations."

Villarreal continued to explain that "CF, SOF and JIIM interdependence is vital in each of these areas, especially during the most recent JRTC Rotation 13-09 because of the complex environment created through the scenario and world class role players."

The MISTF workgroup contained many SMEs from the Military Information Support Operations Command (MISOC) that focused on providing information to the SOF and CF communities about MISTF activities and their capabilities.

"Each organization has their lines of operations and lines of effort that are geared toward an end state that is given by a geographic combatant commander," stated Maj. Louis Frias, Senior MISO observer controller, "MISO has a role in all influence activities that can support a commander's objectives by preparing an environment."

Other goals of the workgroup were to develop MISTF training objectives so as to achieve the MISTF 2022 concept and identify the way ahead in order to better develop a training environment that would allow the advancement of MISO capabilities.

"The driving premise of 13-09 AAR in review was to examine past training events at JRTC, identify the challenges and successes and determine 'the why' with respect to those challenges and successes," stated Henry, "The intent of this gathering of military professionals, SMEs and Inter-Agency personnel is to quickly provide the findings, of the past three days, to the military leadership in the efforts to refine home station training by incorporating, if need be, best practices or reinforcing standing procedures."

Being able to utilize the findings of this AAR to inform and/or validate future training and doctrine is one of the main goals of the SOTD. According to ARSOF 2022, the USASOC's strategic framework, creation of  an integrated training environment to improve USASOC's ability to provide trained and ready operational-level SOF to ground combatant commanders worldwide, while promoting increased SOF, CF, and JIIM interdependence is part of the command's 2022 vision.

While JRTC, since the beginning of the War on Terror, has been focused on Counter-Insurgency Operations (COIN) and Village Stability Operations (VSO), it is starting to provide units with a new training environment.

Since August 2013, JRTC has utilized the Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) to train Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and Special Operations Task Forces (SOTFs). This environment is a complex scenario staged in the Caucuses that has multiple countries with different problem sets. This unique scenario was specifically designed to better enable SOF, CF, and JIIM interdependence for training and real-world application.

Providing the closing comments at the end of the AAR was Brig. Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commanding general of operations. Cavoli stated that CF and SOF interdependence were very important for the future of the Army and its mission.

"It is very important because I don’t think that we can afford, in the next few years, to field a Special Operations army and a conventional army. We might be stretching to field just one army," Cavoli said, "The budgetary pressures are going to become quite significant. This is not a time to [focus] on pride, or to [focus on SOF and CF] differences. This is a time to find the true commonalities and the true dependency on each other's particular skill-set."

According the leaders present at the JRTC 13-09 AAR in review, SOF and CF interoperability is vital to the success of USASOC's mission. JRTC will continue to bring together SOF and CF in a complex training environment that will be able to better support the War Fighter's ability to "Shape, Prevent, and Win" against the hybrid threat of the future.

"The SOTD will continue to train Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) in the DATE scenario that will focus on UW," said Frias, "Currently [SOTD and JRTC SOF Plans] are examining possibilities to tie training at JRTC to Corps level exercises in order to further assist CF and SOF senior leaders in achieving goals associated with their near and long term goals.”

"JRTC will continue to develop scenarios to better replicate the future operational environment and the hybrid threat. Given the characteristics of the environment and the hybrid threat, there must be a hybrid response," Henry explained, "The hybrid response that JRTC advocates is CF, SOF, and JIIM interdependence. Future scenarios at the JRTC are going to demand CF, SOF, and JIIM interdependence as it has demanded and will continue to be demanded in the current and future operational environments throughout the world."