Tuesday, April 26, 2016

National Guard’s Global Relationships – The Foundation for Building Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF)

The National Guard's long-standing State Partnership Program (SPP) is much more than just an initiative to accomplish the State Departments ambiguous foreign policy goals. It is, in its own right, the premier  global cornerstone to establishing and strengthening international security. The DoD, Army, and Congress have failed to exploit this unique strength and seize the infinite opportunities that only a National Guard SPP can provide.
Personal relationships build trust over time; mutual trust begets mutual understanding; and mutual understanding can prevent war. However, simply saying a partnership exists does not constitute a relationship.

The National Guard’s State Partnership Program is a pre-existing soft infrastructure of personal and professional relationships. This creates, for Army and Joint Staff leadership, a global level of predictive situational awareness unmatched by any other DOD initiatives.[i] It is a degree of certainty in the so often misquoted uncertain future.

The Regionally Aligned Forces Concept introduced as a result of General Martin Dempsey’s Joint Vision 2020 Capstone in 2012 failed to recognize this existing superior capability. It ignored over two decades of global presence by National Guard Brigades and Divisions throughout the Combatant Commanders’ various Areas of Responsibility (AOR).[ii]

While the Capstone readily recognizes the military as only one element of national power, the National Guard engaged in State Partnership Programs with not only their Army and Air Force units, but also by leveraging their internal state, municipal, industrial, agricultural, and technology relationships as well.   The JCoS boldly envisioned a future of international presence to advance new concepts for joint operations. Simultaneously, the Guard was quietly and effectively playing match-maker between talent and experience to multi-dimensional complex nation-state problems with far reaching positive consequences, as they had for decades, demonstrating a unique capability already in existence.  The civilian skill sets of the National Guard’s citizen Soldiers and Airmen, along with the relationships with state government and industries makes for a unique and potent asset to DOD’s international security cooperation efforts.

More importantly, the Capstone specifies a key shift in defense strategy to prevent war, calling for more consistent presence via relationships around the globe. This strategy relies entirely on the total Army and total force. No time, like the present, has mutual cooperation been so critical to the future security of our country. Despite acknowledgement by national level strategic planners, all narratives are strangely silent regarding the National Guard’s historical strong and well-received mentoring presence in over 70 countries world-wide through their State Partnerships.

The National Guard BCTs are cross trained in joint operations mission command as subordinate maneuver Task Force headquarters to a JTF or JFLCC. During predictive readiness models, a BCT could easily accept the mission of an initial JTF-HQ in an SPP country. This provides a scalable solution on the low end of the JTF headquarters requirements cited in the viability study as a challenge.

The March 2015 Concept Viability and Implementation guidance admits that the National Guard played a major part in the first successful RAF missions in AFRICOM.[iii] Despite that, and additional admissions of by General Carter Ham, there follows no further recommendation on how to synchronize the National Guard’s undisputed strengths demonstrated over 20 years as a foundation to building the RAF concept.[iv]


The National Guard establishes high payoff quality relationships that demonstrate continuity which is impossible to replicate in the active components. National Guard units have the entry level personnel that later become E9s, COLs, or GOs within the same state thus developing balanced relationships with cohorts in their partnership countries over decades; the same relationships which develop in perpetuity for deeper understanding and mutual trust. The more the Geographic Combatant Commands employ National Guard forces in support of security cooperation, the more they reinforce a positive feedback loop by fostering enduring relationships and expertise. If the RAF emerges absent of an SPP foundation or leading role, it cannot and will not replicate the successes that are highly revered, globally, within the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. Most importantly, if the end state is to prevent war, it is hard to accept that simply DOD manning and resources committed to a region will alone achieve that end state. The success criteria lies in the deeply nourished long term quality relationships developed by the Guard over the decades.

1. Integrate T32 National Guard State Partnership subject matter experts into capability planning for future RAF Global Force Management (GFM) estimates.
2. Conduct no RAF Operations without pre-synchronization and full integration of the long-established National Guard States in their respective geographic areas of strategic relations.
3. Approach scalability continuum models for RAF in the same context as domestic operations planning; the National Guard already has the existing relationship and influence, and therefore should be the foundation for building a JTF-HQ.

[ii] Capstone Concept for Joint Operations: Joint Force 2020, JCOS, accessible from http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/concepts/ccjo_jointforce2020.pdf
[iii] Regionally Aligned Forces: Concept Viability and Implementation, Carlisle Compendia, March 2015, p.146, accessible at http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/carlislecompendia/Issues/mar2015/full.pdf
[iv] Jim Greenhill, “Ham: National Guard Essential to Africa Command,” National Guard News, September 13, 2012, http://www.africom.mil/newsroom/article/9155/ham-national-guard-essential-to-africa-command

Sunday, March 30, 2014

North Carolina National Guard Association's Position on Army Plan to Strip Guard of its AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters

The NCNGA strongly opposes rushing a strategic decision that will have a negative long-lasting impact over several decades.  They support House Resolution 3930 (H.R.3930) which will stop the immediate transfer of Apache helicopters out of the NC National Guard and support creating a National Commission to objectively study a way forward for the Total Army force structure 

The National Guard is the only constitutionally designated, dual mission, physical Combat Reserve of the Army. In order to fill its Constitutional role, the National Guard by law must be manned, trained, and equipped like that of the Active Component Army.

Compared to the Active Component, a National Guard Armed Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) is one-third the cost during with the same operational performance and capability when mobilized and has, on average, more mature experienced senior and master aviators and maintainers.

Loss of the 1st Attack Recon Battalion, 130 Aviation Regiment (1-130 ARB), located in Raleigh, NC would lead to significant negative economic impacts to the state and local area including over 125 Full-Time Support positions lost (equates to $14,960,913.55 annually), over 450 Traditional Guardsmen assigned to ARB positions (equates to $19,554,317.55 annually), and considerable turmoil, turnover, and additional cost in retraining and transitioning fully trained, qualified, and experienced personnel.

ARB structure provides significant domestic operations (DOMOPS) capability in the form of mission command, mission support, wheeled tactical vehicles, and power generation. The Active Army’s crooked plan includes stripping the entire National Guard Attack Helicopter force structure (entire battalions) but not an equitable Lift helicopter replacement force structure.

Maintaining AH-64 structure in the Guard allows for reversibility as it takes several years to fully train an Apache pilot to peak proficiency, and 4-5 years to build a combat capable AH-64 battalion. Combat aviation in the National Guard hedges against future threats to National Security with National Guard ARBs fulfilling all mobilization requests and performing equally to active component ARBs over the last 13 years. National Guard combat aviation units provide continued service opportunities for trained active component personnel leaving active duty prior to retirement.

The 1-130 ARB has almost 30 years’ experience in AH-64 Apache training, operations, and maintenance, with national level recognition and awards and a proud list of accomplishments with multiple mobilizations and combat deployments including Operation Desert Shield/Storm; Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1-130 ARB is highly trained, experienced, and capable.  Our Soldiers are motivated and fully qualified, our family support systems are sound, and our employers continue to be supportive.

The Solution: Support H.R. 3930, the National Commission on the Structure of the Army Act of 2014  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Marine Corps LtCol. Validates National Guard Apache Helicopters

Marine Reaffirms Apache's Guard Role 
Reprinted From: NGAUS Washinton Report, 25 March 2014

A Marine lieutenant colonel serving in Afghanistan may have unknowingly entered the debate on whether AH-64 Apache helicopters should be taken from the Army National Guard.
Lt. Col. S.G. Fosdal wrote a letter last month to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter of Idaho praising the "brave men" of Company B, 1st Battalion, 183rd Aviation, out of Boise, Idaho. He said the Apache crews performed heroically during their recent deployment to the war zone.
Referring to one incident in October 2013, he wrote, "Despite heavy ground fire and a chaotic battlefield they provided precise and timely fires against the enemy, killing many and saving the lives of Afghans and US forces alike."
Writing of a similar episode the following month, he said, "Lesser men would have declared the area too dangerous and flown away leaving us to fend for ourselves, but not Company B. They stuck with the troops in the fight and as a direct result of their heroic efforts a Marine is now at home with his family, healing and thankful to be alive."
He wrote that Afghan troops were less apprehensive about going on missions knowing that the Idaho Apaches were watching out for them, adding that "the US Army and Special Forces were also imbued with confidence knowing that your unit had their back."
The Army wants to remove all Apaches from the Army Guard, replacing them with UH-60 Black Hawks. NGAUS and the Army Guard argue that doing so would destroy the Army Guard's combat aviation mission. Fosdal's letter, written to highlight the actions of Guard Apache crews, supports that argument.
"As a state rich in natural resources I thank you and the people of Idaho for sending your most precious resources, its citizens, to serve here in Afghanistan," he wrote. "I hope that you are as proud of them as I am for having served along side them."

Original text may be found at: http://www.magnetmail.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?recipient_id=987271952&message_id=3873487&user_id=NGAUS&group_id=938156&jobid=17663257#a2

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

National Guard's Cost Efficiency; Response to the Skewed 2008 Rand Report

References:  2008 Rand Study (link below)

AC = Active Component, RC = Reserve Component, NG = National Guard, NCNG = North Carolina National Guard (a national leader in large scale domestic emergency response operations).

Rand Paper’s Argument(?):  Using strategic reserves as an operational force equates to loss of a cost efficient alternative. Paper explores other options for maintaining a reserve capability that may be more cost efficient.

What are some flaws in the argument?
1)      The Rand base model posits a 1:6 RC deployment ratio as a continuous reality, but the reality is a 1:5 RC deployment ratio, and only when needed (see number 2 below).
2)      The Rand study looks at the idea of operational reserve from the perspective of deployment frequency – not deployment readiness. Therefore, they assume that the new surge of operational need occurring between 2003-2008 is a constant and will always be required.

A Counter Argument to the Rand Monograph.
No restructuring is required to maintain a cost efficiency advantage in the RC. Removing parallel critical combat capabilities from, specifically, the National Guard is not a solution for cost efficiency, nor does the report assert this; as this COA would both 1) eliminate an operational reserve option from high OPTEMPO surge periods, and 2) removes in entirety options for a strategic reserve combat capability.
Maintaining cost efficiency is both about predictability (which the force generation models have provided), and increasing the number of options available to deal with multiple geographic threats. Transitioning or converting units and assets from the Guard to the AC eliminates predictability and options and only offers options after no less than 5 years after the need arises (creating RC units in time of need, Option C, p.32).

Peace AC
Peace RC
Peace -  Guard
War AC
War RC
War - Guard
Cost per Month
26%  adjusted to add for FTM (10%) assigned
41%  adjusted for 1:5 deployment readiness
Units Required
3.0 (12:36)
8.0 (9:72)
6.7 (9:60)
3.0 (12:36)
8.0 (9:72)
6.7 (9:60)
Cost per Unit BoG
Relative Cost of RC
 Table 1, Relative Cost per Unit BoG (Adjusted from Rand Study Table A.1 to reflect National Guard reality)

The table above is adjusted to reflect the most conservative reality of units deploying every five years in support of the federal mission. It also increases the cost per month by accounting for FTM assigned to the unit which is not the norm in the other reserve components, but exists in the Guard.
Despite adjusting for more conservative assumptions (based on recent reality), the table still fails to account for apparent cost efficiencies (despite high OPTEMPO surges) that occur over long term application of 1:5 deployment readiness goals. The table above only accounts for a 5-yr relative cost/cost efficiency comparison. The next graphic applies the more conservative estimates from the table above, combining the peacetime and wartime costs, over a long term application (like average equipment life cycle of 20 years), which is more realistic to the ebb and flow of OPTEMPO and global deployment requirements:
20 Year Cost Average
Normal Ops AC
Normal Ops RC (3 deployments)
Normal Ops Guard (3 deployments)
Cost per Month
Units Required
20.0 (12:240)
8.9 (27:240)
8.9 (27:240)
Cost per Unit BoG
Relative Cost of RC
Table 2, Relative cost combining peacetime and wartime costs adjusted over 20 years

Conclusion. While it is necessarily important to continually explore new options for greater efficiency and predictability, a paradigm shift is not required, nor is it recommended in order to maximize relative cost efficiency of the Reserve Component. Whether the RC is considered Strategic Reserve, or an Operational Reserve is not relevant to the argument; as long as they are available when needed, they may be referred to as either, and may appropriately toggle between the two roles (Table 2) while still maintaining both readiness and cost efficiency over a longer study period. However, the Rand Study overtly omitted some important additional considerations that cannot be overlooked when considering cost/benefit analysis:
1-      The wartime readiness cycle (1:5) which ensures that the RC is properly resourced and individually ready for T10 war, also doubles as the guarantee to US Citizens that those same units and forces (National Guard) will be ready for catastrophic natural or man-made homeland disasters. This mission is exclusively, by US Code, a National Guard mission. It must survive or the alternate environment is federal troops conducting homeland missions. No thank you. I respectfully oppose that notion.
2-      Critical combat capabilities must be included and paralleled, in the RC – if only in part - in order to ensure the nation is committed during T10 conflict (Abrams Doctrine). The National Guard is the best host of these parallel combat capabilities as a result of its community culture and state alignments combined with its unique autonomous T32 mission of domestic operations.
3-      Critical high intensity skill sets must be captured of those leaving the AC. This conclusion does not argue for career bonuses or monetary rewards. These skill sets must be fostered through appropriate parallel force structure in the RC, specifically the National Guard.

The considerations listed above far outweigh the Rand study’s criticism of the cost inefficiency in their challenging calculus. This short response has shown that with assessing the value over the long term, and considering some non-negotiable points, the benefit far outweighs the cost literally and metaphorically, even when experiencing temporary periods of high OPTEMPO, and is non-negotiable for organizations like the North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) when considering the exclusive domestic response mission to protect the lives and property of American Citizens, and protect our American way of life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Militant Islam Extremism Exploits Opportunities

The attacks on the US Embassy in Egypt and the untimely death of the US Ambassador in Benghazi demonstrated that ambassador's deep loyalty to his mission and desire to establish trust at the risk of his own safety. While some may ridicule his initiative of informality and cultural submersion, I commend him for trying to understand his environment and taking specific measure to influence that environment through actions, not words. This incident has a more important signature than the obvious catastrophic attack on our embassies.

It is a bit third world countryish for observers to blame the government, the administration, the opposition, or any other political entity; or any one influential figure in the American political landscape. The same applies to blame placed on host country leaders. These incidents are about understanding the threat's opportunities and implementing control measures at all levels of strategy to mitigate the potential for recurrence and/or increase in severity and frequency.

Islam has two distinct poles, defined by extreme militant religious ideology on one end of the spectrum juxtaposed by modern capitalist main stream Islam on the other end. In the middle is the great divide. Unfortunately, the great divide is like a big swinging pendulum. And this past week that pendulum swung far from our favor. Mob mentality became more of the rule than the exception. fueled by a small fraction of the population on the bad end of that Islam continuum. The extremists understand how to leverage small opportunities which result in favorable strategic impact for their initiatives.

When the Egyptian leaders call for protests, we cannot - legitimately - criticize them for inciting terrorism. It is easy and fun to blame another less popular culture or government for our woes. But protests are a basic staple of the democratic appetite. Despite the horrible outcome of the attacks, attacks are not protests. Additionally, an act of violence against the US Embassy in Egypt or Libya does not constitute a reason to throw in the towel on our strategic end state in the region by blaming and labeling all Libyans and Egyptians as terrorists. Yet this seems to be the popular narrative in some media outlets this week.    

We have again missed an opportunity to shape the environment; but the militants did not miss that same opportunity. They swung the pendulum in their direction by exploiting a Coptic Christian video, by a self described Coptic that does not even live in Egypt. This video did nothing to promote and further the positive relations between Christians and Muslims in Egypt. If anything, it further endangered the Christian population in Egypt and Libya. It was a disappointing sequel to the somewhat democratic elections in Egypt.

The concerns of opportunistic environment shaping by Islam ideologues becomes seriously grave when consideration is given to Iran's reported capability to produce a Nuclear device within the next six months. It is probably time to discuss the emerging friction points that we could not predict (because no one can predict at better than a 50:50 ratio), and identify the opportunities that present themselves. Those opportunities, might be a way to move our strategic actions forward in a productive and favorable manner.

In summary - the Coptic video is not the root cause; the Egyptian and Libyan nationals are not the root cause; any specific cited American strategic policy is not the root cause; Iran is not the root cause. When some or all of the singularities are combined in time and space, the environment is rich in opportunity. Those entities who can identify the opportunities and act on them the quickest emerge as the winners in tactical actions, shaping the operational environment, and achieving their strategic desired state.

Quit blaming. Start understanding. And apply some thinking.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ROE (Rules of Engagement) for National Guard Units on the Border

What should the ROE be for National Guard units assigned to the border. Please formulate a response without referencing the Posse Comitatus act of 1878. To the extent that they be allowed to function is the basis for this discussion. I'm curious to receive your imput as to what you think about 1) what the operational or tactical role should be for the Guard along the border, 2) what perceived strategic aim this initiative is nested, and 3) do you think it can achieve this aim? One point of interest is that the newly recognized National Guard's first federal call-up (mobilization) came in 1916 and it was for the Mexican Border conflict in which GEN John Pershing was leading a punitive expedition into Mexico to catch Francisco "Pancho" Villa. The National Guardsmen were not allowed across the border, were retained in camps for drill and ceremony, and eventually were called back home. Pershing's attempt to capture or kill Pancho Villa failed. But the National Guardsmen were now ready to head to Europe in support of the Great War. One might speculate that the mobilization was a rehearsal and training opportunity in preparation for the inevitable WWI mission. But that is a different discussion on a different day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

End State of War

I would like to read your thoughts on the two following questions:  These are your opinions of course and do not reflect in any way the opinions of the the Army, National Guard, or US Military.

Do you think that a "peaceful state" is the end state of war?

If so (or if not), is a "victory" in warfare neccessary to achieve this or any end state of war?