This is a pretty interesting development. Is this “last-war-itis”, “next-war-itis”, or training time better suited to COIN?
FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Army News Service, Aug. 27, 2008) — Dwell time for Soldiers between deployments is expected to increase to 17 months next year, and almost to 24 months by 2011, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. He said this will allow the National Training Center to once again focus on “conventional operations” and not just counter-insurgency training.
Gen. Casey made his remarks during an interview outside the town of Medina Jabal in the National Training Center’s range area, “the box,” during a visit to NTC Aug. 14.
This adjustment, Casey said, would involve including “major conventional operations training” as well as “irregular warfare training” at NTC over the next couple of years, as Soldiers spend more time at home and not deployed.
“And we’re already starting the planning to reset the scenarios and the OPFOR [opposing force], so that we can do that,” Casey said.
Look, if this incorporates OIF I-style maneuver warfare training -fine. If this is Fulda Gap training -fighting the Krasnovian rifle regiments, then I think it is a step back. More:
“What I’ve seen now across the Army. We are a combat-seasoned force. Some of the battalions out here-60, 70, 80 percent-combat veterans, Gen. Casey said. “And so they know how to fight. And right now, we’re focused on irregular warfare. And a lot of the skills that they have are directly transferable to…major conventional operations.”
Gen. Casey said that the time he spent in Iraq changed his views on the relationship between training and the versatility of the force.
How about some training in transferring from Phase III (combat, lead flying) to Phase IV (restoring order, transitioning to civil authorities)?
“When I was a divisional commander in Germany in ’99 to 2001, if you had asked me where I should optimize my training on the spectrum of conflict so I could be the most versatile, I would have said, If I can do conventional war, I can do anything.
“After 32 months in Iraq, I don’t believe that…mostly the Soldiers that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan don’t believe that, either. There’s enough difference, some fundamental differences between irregular warfare and major conventional warfare that we need to…be more versatile,” Gen. Casey said.
Hmmm… My thoughts on this vary. On the one hand, balancing the force for conventional combat rules seems like a good idea. At the same time, each day spent learning to mass division artillery fires and perform battalion-level armor assaults is one less day devoted to COIN training, Arabic/Afghan language and cultural familiarization. If more dwell time relieves enough pressure on the force to do both -why not?