Within the civil affairs community, pundits invariably propose the same two solutions to every problem with the Army Reserve civil affairs force: move Army Reserve civil affairs back to US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), and send Army Reserve civil affairs officers and NCOs through the active component qualification pipeline. The pundits, however, have a shortsighted perspective.
I spent nearly three years as the commanding general of US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) (USACAPOC) and thus as the senior civil affairs officer in the Army. I have a pretty good understanding of the problems confronting the civil affairs community. And, honestly, the rote recitation of the same two tropes has grown tiresome and counterproductive. Neither of these two “solutions” will fix the Army Reserve civil affairs force or unite the civil affairs regiment, which many (mostly active component) civil affairs soldiers believe is split along the active-Reserve fault line. As Army courses of action go, they fail the fundamental tests: they are not feasible, suitable, or acceptable.
David Harrell’s recent article, “The Army Reserve’s Troubling Little Secret: Cheap, Inadequate Training,” again advocates requiring Army Reserve civil affairs officers to attend all phases of the nearly yearlong active component qualification track. But, as is typical of those who propose these “solutions,” Harrell fails to grasp some very fundamental issues that have bedeviled the civil affairs force for years. And he also fails to acknowledge some basic facts about how the Army runs.
Some history is in order to set the stage. Harrell asserts that the Army is relying on Army Reserve civil affairs forces like never before. Until the activation of the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade a little more than ten years ago, however, the Army had only one active component civil affairs battalion. The civil affairs force was almost wholly in the Army Reserve. And the civil affairs branch, until 2007, was a branch open only to Army Reserve officers, a reflection of the branch’s origins during World War II, when it was populated with officers commissioned directly from civil life to take advantage of their civilian skills.
So, Harrell’s assertion that the active component is relying more on Army Reserve civil affairs forces than ever before is not true. In fact, given the growth of the active component civil affairs force, the converse is true. Still, he is correct in stating that the operational tempo for Army Reserve civil affairs is extraordinary; the nation has been at war for sixteen years. And that operational tempo indeed has highlighted problems that have long existed in the Reserve force.
Those problems, however, have little to do with civil affairs institutional training requirements. No Army Reserve civil affairs unit has failed because its officers were not airborne qualified, did not speak a foreign language, or did not attend a regional studies program. And let’s be clear: Army Reserve civil affairs officers do attend the same civil affairs qualification course as active component officers; they just complete many of the tasks under different conditions (distance learning).
Let’s start with two fundamental facts, which Harrell apparently misses. First, the Army Reserve civil affairs force is a conventional, not a special operations, force. This fact cannot be wished away, much as some would like it to be. USACAPOC’s thirty-two civil affairs battalions and the one additional Army Reserve battalion assigned to US Army Europe are organized and trained to support the conventional force—brigade combat teams. Those thirty-three Army Reserve civil affairs battalions exist not because some Army Reserve general officer thought they would be nice to have, but because the Army’s doctrine-based process that links strategy to force structure, Total Army Analysis, determined that was the right number.
Thus, contrary to Harrell’s implication, Army Reserve—i.e., conventional—civil affairs forces do not support special operations forces (SOF); that is not their mission. Army Reserve civil affairs units may serve “alongside” SOF, as Harrell claims—but so do any number of other conventional units.
Second, the great majority of the conventional civil affairs force is in the Army Reserve. This fact means that, for almost all civil affairs support other than to SOF, the mission falls to the Army Reserve. USASOC does not want this mission, and the Army made a deliberate decision to accept the risk of structuring the civil affairs force this way (whether that decision was wise is much worthier of debate than the topic of institutional training requirements for Army Reserve civil affairs soldiers).
The Army solves systemic problems using the DOTMLPF construct: doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities. Not every civil affairs problem is an institutional training problem; in fact, virtually none are. Using as an example the problem that Harrell evidently perceived during his deployment in the Horn of Africa, if conventional civil affairs forces are deployed to conduct SOF missions, then perhaps the issue is one of organization: maybe the Army needs more SOF civil affairs forces. Or perhaps it is one of doctrine: maybe the conventional civil affairs force should not have the mission to support brigade combat teams (because that doctrinal mission drives their organization and training). Or it might have been a personnel problem—maybe soldiers were cross-leveled into hastily assembled units.
But, more likely, what Harrell and his fellow critics don’t get is how the Army trains (there is no “Army Reserve training model,” as Harrell asserts; it is an Army training model). The institutional Army trains soldiers to an objective standard to qualify them in their military occupational specialties—again, based on doctrine. But the Army deploys and the Joint Force employs units, not individuals. If Harrell was correct in his perception of a shortcoming in the ability of civil affairs units to conduct their missions, it likely was a unit training problem, not an institutional training problem.
Units are organized and trained to accomplish their doctrinal missions. If a unit is assigned a nondoctrinal mission, then training for that mission is the responsibility of the unit, not of the schoolhouse. For Army Reserve units deploying to the Horn of Africa, for example, US Army Africa specifies the training requirements, and First Army certifies that an Army Reserve unit is trained on those tasks. So, if Harrell observed Army Reserve units that were unprepared, then unit mission-essential task list training, theater training requirements, and the certification process, not institutional qualification training, are the probable systemic culprits (and I have opined elsewhere about how to fix Army Reserve unit training).
Of course, more training is always better. It would be ideal if every infantryman were Ranger-qualified, every aviator were a test pilot, and every medic were a Special Forces medic. It would be ideal if all officers received a month of training in their Basic Officer Leadership Courses on advise-and-assist. For that matter, it would be ideal if every one of the million-plus soldiers in the Army were in the active component.
But the Army does not exist in an ideal world. It exists in a world with very real constraints—fiscal and political, among others. The Army is not resourced to send every Army Reserve soldier through the active component institutional training pipeline. Even if it were, the Army Reserve is a citizen-soldier force, and requiring every Army Reserve civil affairs soldier to complete the nearly yearlong active component qualification training would result in a woefully undermanned Reserve civil affairs force. Readiness—the ability of units to fulfill the Army’s requirements and accomplish its mission—is the Army’s sine qua non, and a command at 50 percent strength trained to a razor’s edge is just as unready as an untrained command manned at 100 percent.
That said, I don’t see the active component civil affairs officers and NCOs who usually make Harrell’s argument clamoring to fix the problem by asking to serve in active-Reserve jobs or as observer-controller-trainers at the combat training centers, or by suggesting the establishment of a civil affairs training capability in First Army (which it lacks), or by advocating the creation of training partnerships between active component and Army Reserve civil affairs units. It’s much easier to complain that “those Reservists aren’t as good as we are” because they’re not SOF and don’t undergo the exact same SOF training in the schoolhouse. That’s an intellectually lazy argument.
And, finally, of all the problems the Army created by having a SOF proponent for a conventional civil affairs force, not enough SOF training for conventional civil affairs soldiers in the schoolhouse is not one. Indeed, given the constraints, the problem is too much SOF training in the schoolhouse.
Those like Harrell who complain about the fact that Army Reserve civil affairs units are not SOF and that their soldiers do not receive the same training as SOF civil affairs soldiers (all of whom are in the active component) would be wise to study why that is the case. And they would be wise to understand that no Army Reserve unit is expected to be as ready, before mobilization, as an active component unit. I understand as well as anyone that there are a multitude of issues that the Army (and USACAPOC) must address if the Army is serious about improving its civil affairs capability. But sending all Army Reserve civil affairs soldiers through the active component qualification pipeline is not one of them.
Remember: The Army deliberately assumed this risk. Let’s debate the reasons for that—and there are many—and how to improve the force without wishing away the real world.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Jacobs, US Army Retired, is a 1979 West Point graduate and retired in 2014 after thirty-five years of service in all three of the Army’s components. His final assignment was commanding general, US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).
Sir, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I served as a Civil Affairs soldier on both officer and enlisted side, I attended both the officer and enlisted Civil Affairs Schools. While serving as an NCO I was one of 4 reserve soldiers who planned and wrote the active duty Civil Affairs course at the JFK Special Warfare Center in 2006-07. We brought skills from deployments as CA soldiers and also from our civilian jobs. We did not need to be airborne qualified to successfully complete our mission both overseas and writing the active duty course. I also served with Center for Army Lessons Learned in the Horn of Africa, and all reserve CA units that were there during my deployment were successful in completing their assigned missions in all the different countries that they served in.
I think I should first address my own biases, I am a PSYOP Officer not a CA officer, but I think we suffer from some of the same issues as branches.
Mr. Jacobs starts out with a false premise, implying that as the USACAPOC commander that he is better informed than Mr. Harrell on the issues facing CA. The insinuation that by virtue of being a general officer you are automatically a subject matter expert is simply not the case. General officers are manager, not specialists (there are exceptions, the surgeon general, chaplain general, etc…), this is part of the reason that when they are promoted they leave their branch colors behind. While he was probably better positioned to see what the challenges that units were facing in mobilizing and training for deployments, he was so far removed from the tactical force that he was not well placed to assess the quality of institutional training of individuals. Officers who are at the company and battalion level are far better equipped to answer these questions.
The two authors are talking about two different things, Harrell is discussing individual training, and Jacobs is wandering back and forth between individual an unit training. Jacobs also criticizes Harrell for hyperbole, yet uses it himself when he says “No Army Reserve civil affairs unit has failed because its officers were not airborne qualified, did not speak a foreign language, or did not attend a regional studies program.” This assertion is impossible to prove, and I’m sure that if we surveyed the Army we would find some instances where a lack of regional knowledge, or language skills did cause a failure. Additionally the assertion that distance learning and residential learning are somehow equal is simply tone deaf. Any soldier who has completed the DL version of a course can tell you that.
There is the false dichotomy of SOF vs Conventional CA (we do the same thing in PSYOP). A quick examination of FM 3-57 tells you that the CA core tasks are the same for supporting SOF or conventional forces. So there is no difference in the activity, only the context that it is conducted in. Additionally all of the tasks that differ regular units from reserve unit (read SOF vs conventional if you would like) have to do with deployment time and operating environment. Both units are tasked to conduct the same five core tasks. We don’t divide other branches this way, the Army does not label some MI officers as conventional or SOF simply because they support SOF units. The sooner that we do away with this idea the better. If more officers were focused on their craft as opposed to being SOF or not then the entire force would be better for it.
Jacobs final assertion that “The Army is not resourced to send every Army Reserve soldier through the active component institutional training pipeline” is cherry picking plain and simple. When a soldier joins the Army Reserve or National Guard to be an engineer officer they go through the same training pipeline as an active duty engineer officer. NG SF officers to go through the same pipeline as their active counter parts as well. The Army sets these requirements, and can resource them if they are important enough. I understand that the money comes from different organizations and different pots, but how many people (soldiers, officers, and cadets) do we send to airborne school every year that are not bound for service in an airborne unit? I’m sure that money could more than pay for the cost of making reserve CA and PO training more robust.
I do understand Jacobs point concerning the time requirement, a year maybe more than most reservists can do. However when I served in USACAPOC I never did less than 60 days of active duty in an FY. So I think most reservists could do something between 30-90 days without much change in our manning levels. However I doubt we will ever find out.
You perfectly articulated my thoughts on this one. I served under Gen. Jacobs, with USACAPOC(A) as CA during his 3 years as commanding general. Gen. Jacobs is a very intelligent man as well as officer, but you acurately stated, "he was so far removed from the tactical force…". Although Jacobs was a major advocate for unit training, I personally didn't believe he was ever adequately positioned to understand the shortcoming we faced as Civil Affairs Specialists. It was acutally the move of our section senior NCOs that listened to what we wanted as CA to hone our skills, and made it happen. I appreciate the high speed Soldier who wants school after school, but not at the expense of taking away training from another Soldier who could better benefit from it, i.e. Soldiers going to airborne school that will not serve their unit in that capacity. Being former CA, it's safe to assume the majority of Reserve force CA would enthusiasticly jump at the opportunity to train for an extended period of time, especially if it meant being exposed to more extensive levels of training. 30 to 90 day training rotations could even work if manpower and retention is a concern. Well said Sir.
I completely agree. I reclassed to CA in 2007. Unit Training =/= Individual Training. Quite frankly, in 2005, I could have (and wanted) to go Airborne but the US Army hasn't used that skill effectively in heavy combat for decades. While deployed as a 38B, I personally experienced two separate deployments:
1) First under USACAPOC(A) as a communication SGT for CA teams in Northern Iraq (445th CABN), sometimes traveling in a convoy with USSF ODAs but everyone knew they were just tagging along. Quite frequently we were convoying on our own with no security element. I knew my place but my orders read OPCON to USSOCCENT. There was no doubt in my mind I wanted to be SOF but was not qualified. So, therefore I was just another LEG/POG to many of the units we encountered. Quite frankly, best experience of my life minus the AC/RC rivalry experienced at Fort Bragg, NC. Unit Training before the deployment was a few weeks long but integral to my experience. We trained somewhere in California for a few weeks then moved to Fort Bragg, NC. This deployment was largely comprised of reclassed and cross-functional former green berets or infantry–some even IRR from Desert Storm. I was just a guy filling a spot, so to speak and I loved meeting all the former green berets.
In between this deployment and the next, USACAPOC(A) was moved to USARC
2) The second under USARC (B/418th CABN) while supporting conventional, 2/30th 4thBCT 10 MTN infantry platoons on a daily basis. The biggest change was I didn't have to deal with a few of my guys acting like they could go sterile on missions. we knew our place well and seemed to gel better into the conventional operational structure. I could walk up to an infantry platoon leader and he would not ask what the hell CA even does…Ok i'm kidding they'd ask me all the time. However, they did let us support our mission effectively and we were allowed to assess projects. There were some organizational changes within the unit and lets just say I had to almost run a team on my own for a few weeks without any training. I did my best to research how to be a CA team leader (officer slot) but lets be honest, I was an NCO and at the end of the day sometimes Active Infantry did not understand why I was even leading a team. A SSG was brought in and I became a CA SGT on the team. He struggled as well and our mission success suffered because of this. What am I saying with this wall of text?
CA Soldiers need training if they reclass. My training was minimal at best when I reclassed and sometimes you do not know what you don't know. It seems this is still a big Army problem and everyone is still arguing whether CA Reservist can wear USASOC on his right shoulder. With all due respect, I am glad I left the Army in 2012 and its probably the opinion of some that I should have.
Blake W, Yes I think a year is too much for CA reservists. Many are employed at higher levels in private companies, are defense contractors, small business owners, or serve an important role in some specialty that gives these civilian/soldiers their extra value to the army. It is typically a hardship on the organizations they leave behind while deploying in a branch that has a relatively high operation tempo. To add in a YEAR of training, not even a deployment just training, defeats the purpose and would hurt the attraction and retention level of highly qualified candidates who have important civilian careers. Phase 3 almost got me to quit, I put 10 plus hours a week into the graduate level DL course for 6 months and got paid for 75 hours, putting my master's program on hold.
I would like to sit down (over coffee?) sometime and have a real discussion with Jeffrey. It seems that in short blurbs we have been on opposite ends of this discussion, but after reading this longer article believe we have more in common than not. It might be an interesting conversation.
I am a Reserve PSYOP Officer and I attend the Active Duty PSYOP course. But as far as your comments of moving CA back to Special Operations I strongly disagree. Everything I have heard from Special Forces is they don’t won’t CA reserves because that forces does nothing but cause problems and I agree with that statement that is all I have ever seen is one problem after another unfortunately CA needs to stay away and only PSYOP should go back as your branch continues to screw PSYOP all the time. It is time for us to separate and your branch to be on its own where it can’t screw over soldiers anymore.
Actually every ODA I have ever worked with wants nothing to do with PSYOP, as you actually bring nothing to the table. Thanks for your concerns though…..
…Dude were you a Selection washout or something? You sound cringingly angry. Having served in both active and reserve components of CA, we are vital, likewise I have several PsyOp brothers and sisters that were giants on the battlefield but you sound like a beat dog making stupid comments like that about CA. Go sit in the corner.
MG Jacobs left out reserve PSYOP from CPT Harrell's article, but I'm sure he would extend his critique to that branch as well. I kept waiting for the other shoe (we're too busy as citizen-soldiers to do more training) to drop and, true to CG, USACAPOC rhetoric throughout the ages, the 'shoe' finally arrived near the end of his writing. Yes, I've heard this before–as the Chief of Proponency for CA and PSYOP; as the Deputy for ARSOF Doctrine and Training; and, as the Commander of all CA and PSYOP training at SWCS. While Jacobs trots out an old, tired line of reasoning, Harrell expresses the on the ground experience noted by, not just active CA and PSYOP officers, but SF and conventional officers too. I've also got a head nod from a current CA GO. The problem is that when a reserve component CA officer goes downrange, he is treated the same as and is expected to perform the same as an active component CA officer. The rather significant differences in training and, quite frankly, purpose are lost on the rest of the Army. USACAPOC is not blameless in this regard–they will send a reserve officer to a position that they must know that he is not qualified to do. I saw it again and again. Many of these officers performed well beyond their training and acquitted themselves magnificently. Many others did not and soured the opinions of the commands and commanders that they supported. Jacobs took a weird little jab at active folks not volunteering for AC/RC positions. I never found that to be true. Jacobs may not like hearing 'from the mouths of babes', but he should never discount and disregard the thoughts of the guy on the ground actually doing the hooking and jabbing.
Calling your bluff IRT ACRC billets and OCTs….does USACAPOC have ACRC billets? The active component is over strength E6s and I am sure AC CA would love to gain billets and work in USACAPOC. I see more benefit serving as a reserve component ACRC billet than a Division G9/BCT S9.
I just left NTC two weeks ago where all the active 37s and 38s are stuck in the box as OCTs for USACAPOC and don't support 95th CA /4th/8th MISG units rotating through.
MG Jacobs is correct in his assertion that by increasing the institutional training requirement for RC CA officers that the already low strength levels will be negatively impacted. Most RC CA BNs are manned at less than 50% DMOS-Q 38A vs their authorized strength. Requiring a 1 year active commitment up front from volunteers, would almost certainly make that already dismal number even lower.
AC/ RC is a great idea. I’ve long been a proponent of making an ASI for for duty with USAR or NG units for RA Soldiers. The ASÍ would be simply to teach about reserve pay and the laws and idiosyncrasies of the USAR or NG. Get rid of the current AGR system and replace it with an ASI. I believe that this will help narrow the AC/ RC divide.
Hats off and much respect to Mr Harrell for getting this dialogue going. I enjoyed your article and think that it warrants the attention that it is receiving. Perhaps a system that allows Reservists, who have the time and desire, the opportunity to persue the AC training tract would help?
To those whom replied, professionalism was lacking in multiple posts. MG (R) Jacob's was on point; he is concise and accurate with the Army's/TRADOC DOTMLPF fundamentals. Having a 2.5 year assignment at JB Langley Eustis TRADOC/ARCIC in capabilities development and a following 3 year assignment at Fort Bliss (Army, TRADOC NIE Threat Chief/OPFOR CDR), MG Jacob's position addresses a historical and very accurate Army senior leadership position. What I would like for him to address, how do we meet the gap (s) in the demands of the skill sets required to meet CA mission requirements? To do so, we need qualified civilian skill sets. These civilian based skill-sets are not available within the active component force structure, nor do we expect them to be in the Army's active forces. We just rely on the Reserve forces to meet this gap. Thus relying on the Reserve forces to deploy more frequently on a much more needed basis. This creates a conflict between the civilian entity that employs the Army Reservist and the Army's requirements for that Soldier. Creating a dynamic that may cause the soldier to put at risk promotions/lose civilian employment and/or choose a very risky TPU, IRR, IMA path within the military over their Civilian responsibilities. Those Soldiers whom do stay within CA and move up the leadership ladder are often federal, state employees, Soldiers whom decided to take a leap of faith and take their chances with a semi active Reserve career and/or a Reserve Tour(s) seeking Soldier. MG (R) Jacob's and I both took the leap of faith. In each of all these paths, the end result is we see a soldier that is often, but not always, not as qualified as their civilian counterparts but more qualified than those in the active component. So the issue of CA DOTMLPF and SOF goes beyond MG (R) Jacob's DOTMLPF and the Army's position of qualifications from an Army's stand point, but how do we integrate the civilian soldier and their respective employee companies and the skill sets needed for forward deployed Mission sets without the reserve Army soldiering suffering on each end of the spear? MG (R) Jacobs I would definitely like to hear your comments.
By the way, I did eventually shave my moustache when I was selected for COL. To refresh your memory it was when we were at Fort Bragg and you directed Kim Langley and myself to meet Army guidance during our deployment to Iraq. Life does take a bunch of twists and turns. While I always did not agree with you as a Major, you were a COL, you were usually right on target. Eventually earned a FA 30, Information Operations, to enhance my career to COL.
COL (R) Jay Popejoy
Jeffrey Jacobs makes some good points in his somewhat testy response to David Harrell’s article on Army Reserve civil affairs institutional training. Jacobs is correct that Army Reserve civil affairs is a conventional force not special operations and sending all Army Reservists through the active component qualification course is not a simple solution to fixing the problems facing USACAPOC units.
I am disappointed that Jacobs seems more intent on shooting holes in Harrell’s article than taking an opportunity to inform the audience on how to resolve the “multitude of issues that the Army (and USACAPOC) must address if the Army is serious about improving its civil affairs capability.” As a former commanding general of USACAPOC I am sure he has some insight into the problems and the roadblocks that prevent resolution.
He does provide a hint when he brings up the SOF proponent. The civil affairs force modernization proponent is the U.S. Army Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCoE) at Ft. Bragg, NC. My suspicion is that the SOCoE is more focused on the special operations side of civil affairs than they are resolving issues with the Army Reserve force. To be fair, some of the problems may require legislative changes which are beyond their ability to fix outright.
As a longtime Army Reservist serving in CA and PSYOP units I had the opportunity to attend numerous yearly training briefs to several USACAPOC CGs. One thing I remember is that the same problems with training (unit and institutional), personnel, leadership, education, and resources were briefed year after year. To my knowledge nobody ever attempted to take this information from the field and resolve any of the issues. I have been retired several years now so maybe this has changed – I certainly hope so.
In the last sentence of his article Jacobs invites a debate on how to improve the force. My recommendation is to start with an honest answer to one question: Is the current Army Reserve civil affairs (and PSYOP) force adequately prepared to support the operational commander? If the answer is no then let’s find solutions instead of admiring the problem.
I personally observed over 60 reserve CA personnel on one FOB in the Horn of Africa, most who have never left the FOB.
Active Duty CA has less than 25 all over East Africa, some operating with 2 personnel and one outstation only has one Active duty persons. And the Army feel its wisest to reduce the Active Duty CA force and possibly getting rid of the 85th leaving only one brigade for Active Duty. We have a serious organizational issue.
Strange, was this lack of activity directed from above or the choice of said troops? During my tenure with CA as a Team sergeant in Afghanistan was extremely busy and productive. In fact we found that most of the missions / projects conducted by the active duty element were extremely rudimentary and incomplete. Their major singular contribution was digging wells, not much else. Their interface with the locals was marginal and minimal. They received a lot of medals and spent a lot of time modifying their vehicles to look like SF ODAs and mimicking them. I wasn't impressed at all… Two of my soldiers spoke Pashto, none of the active component spoke even basic local languages.
When was this? there is no way there were that many CA reservists in HOA in any recent time, at least at the CAT and CAPT level as there are times that one 4-5 person team will serve a CJTF AO. As far as CA goes in HOA, they report to a LTC that signs off on their missions and they're going on missions all the time. It was the PSYOP guys who were stuck on the FOB, no fault of their own as they want to get out, but they have the same patch so maybe you were confusing the two??
I greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve with and learn from MG Jacobs, and appreciate the time he has taken here to inform and educate. That said I too have some observations that might be of interest and that might perhaps be of assistance to the branch.
The Army needs soldiers who can solve problems. Civil Affairs offers the Army hybrid soldiers with significant civilian and military skills who can solve non-standard problems. If we take 2,000 hours as representing the typical work year it typically requires a human being about 10,000 hours or so to become skilled enough to earn a living. Both civilian and military skills fall under this benchmark … consider the skills a typical Major or Sergeant First Class offers and why Civil Affairs is not an accessions branch.
Additional Skill Indicators (ASI) and are a way to track and deploy soldiers with civilian skills. In my case '6G, 'GM', and 'QB' indicated a civil engineering degree with engineering experience and foreign language skills. Over the years I bumped into a number of CA soldiers with a variety of ASIs obtained and honed in the civilian world (and in the military world). The books A Bell for Adano by John Hersey (CA in Italy) and A Savage War of Peace by Alistar Horne (CA/Kepis Bleu) give a deeper background on how ASIs can be deployed. I will add that my ASIs were useful for the reconstruction work that I was assigned to and that I often used my language skills.
Military skills are gained in the school house and in the field. I was very thankful for all of the training that my troops and I received and we needed every hour that the Army gave … OAC, Language Schools, CTCs, BCTP, NPS, unit training and more, were all very valuable. I for one recommend providing active duty CA training for all CA soldiers, consistently offering/funding ASI building events for reservists, and focusing upon supporting CTC rotations with cohort units/supported units.
The acid test of any venture is if it 'pays the bills/generates a profit'. Hopefully ORSA folks are running the numbers on how, when, and where CA soldiers are employed versus costs and outcomes. Machine learning techniques offer the promise of sharpening that analysis. It was my observation that CA has a mixed record, that it is very difficult to successfully juggle the demands of family plus civilian and military careers, and that retention is an issue. That said, I recommend keeping the baby, disposing of the bath water, and continuing to fight the good fight.
I would like to point out that the special forces used to train reserve and national guard forces via correspondence and a culminating exercise years ago. Standardized training improved the NG force in the end. I know of several junior officers who were able to finish the CAQC correspondence courses online over a long weekend. They went through the motions, didn't benefit from the mentoring of seasoned instructors, weren't indoctrinated into a CA culture, and had no opportunities for language or area studies. We gave them 3-4 weeks of canned stx lanes and then deployed them. We know it's expensive, the tasks we train are the same whether we're talking SOF or conventional, just standardize the training already. This argument has been going on for at least 13 years.
The reason reserve CA and PO we're under usasoc is because USAJFKSWCS was and still is the schoolhouse/proponent for CA and PO doctrine. CA and especially PO lineage is derived from SF lineage as in "winning hearts and minds". It's not that CA is now conventional because they support conventional forces; rather, they were the "outside the box" thinkers under usasoc who supported conventional forces prior to "the divorce when usar took capoc from usasoc.
Couple of comments:
I have deployed several times with CA and know Ca that went to HOA, (almost was me). To me one of the biggest obstacles op CA training is the varied missions CA is sent on. None of mine have been anything similar. In 1991 we were assigned to MP units to assist with any civilians they came across, In 2003 we were given to the British in AL Bashra Iraq and worked on water, electric and health teams as if we could without resources and teams of engineers repair the country. Finally in 2009 we were sent to Mosul, Iraq were we went out with to inspect civil improvement projects and the same time we tried to drive around and asses the military and civilian situation of Mosul. The only common training I can draw from the 3 is I think CA needs to be heavy combat support trained and equipped, as we get assigned to varied units and many times have to greatly rely on our own weapons and equipment. Even though well supported by are host units we are still the newbies and are on our own. As far training for one single CA mission my assignments have been so varied it is impossible to be specifically trained for anyone of them. Throw in that I have been told that the HOA teams did completely different tasks out side the wire than we did.
Another comment on training, as a reservist I had a job and the job not my army pay supports my family. I can take my two weeks vacation and a little more for the army but after that I will piss off my civilian employer. Law or no law if you are not at work to do your job you hurt your career. Unless you goal is to work as a fast food server you can not take 2 months a year to train or leave job for multiple 2 week tours. I think that time must be added to front of deployment for training, when I am gone from job whether it is 12 or 24 months it is all part of a deployment. In 2009 we actually did about 6 or 8 weeks of training before actually leaving CONUS.
Enjoyed my CA times and more or less enjoyed my deployments. Had as much fun as you can in a war, that's war with a little w not a big W. Can not compare my experience to WWII fighting with bullets hitting the landing craft door as you storm beaches, good bless those guys that was a real war.
SSG Dintcheff, retired
I respectfully disagree. I served as a CAT-A Team Sergeant in Afghanistan and in other places around the globe. In 2005 our team consisted of some extremely talented and enabled personnel. One of our soldiers was a US Foreign Service officer (he was an E-5) he has a Masters degree and speaks fluent Pashto. Our Commander was a Major, he earned a "Juris Doctor" and serves as a large city prosecuting attorney, he speaks several languages. The assistant commander was a Major, with a Masters in engineering, he is a city manager in the real world. Although all of our personnel were Airborne qualified of which I see no point, other than a confidence builder and a perceived status as elite. I fail to see how that enhances our mission or makes us more qualified in the execution of the mission. This is a sample of the individuals we had on the team. Experts with real experiences, academic achievement with maturity and confidence outside the military. The active duty component we relieved consisted of former Infantry soldiers and career military personnel…their experiences were all military related, with no real world outside context for decision making. My "reserve team" was far more competent, insightful and productive then the active component During those days and times we were under USASOC. I have re-enlisted in the service, I'm assigned as a Team Sergeant again. I also served as a Team Chief in Psyop, I prefer CA and our mission. Today I see young people with no life experience entering CA in the reserves (first enlistment), their training in the reserve school house is woefully and in my opinion intentionally inadequate. We are unable to use most of them for the most basic taskings. Their youth, lack of education and lack of life experience eliminates them as acceptable in many missions. I can't have a young child speaking with tribal leaders and war lords in closed session. I was not and I'm not now impressed with the skill-sets of the active component or their flexibility as well as adaptability. Respectfully
This article is a dumpster fire.
The active-duty CA & MISO teams don't have the civilian experience nor the skill set to handle a strategic mission long-term. That is specifically why active duty CA & MISO teams focus on tactical, short-duration missions.
The disconnect between active CA & MISO and their Reserve counterparts is the active members do not fully understand how their mission fits into the strategy implemented by their Reserve counterparts.
You see the same conceptual gap when pitting civilian/Reserve cybersecurity teams against active-duty cybersecurity teams.