Wilcox Ind

Archive for the ‘Forces Focus’ Category

Theater Fires and Multi-Domain Operations in the USAREUR-AF Area of Operation

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

WASHINGTON — The 56th Artillery Command and the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, co-hosted a Warriors Corner presentation titled “Theater Fires and Multidomain Operations,” during the 2023 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 11, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

Col. Seth Knazovich, chief of staff for the 56th Artillery Command was joined by Col. Patrick Moffett, commander of the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force to present their organizations and share valuable insights.

Knazovich initiated the discussion by emphasizing the complexity of theater fires and multi-domain operations, demonstrating USAREUR-AF’s theater fires architecture and forward focus on key influences including threat, interoperability, setting the theater for the Army of 2030 in Europe and employing the full spectrum of multi-domain capabilities to achieve convergence in depth.

“The 56th Artillery Command continues to incorporate the use of innovative technologies, such as the long-range hypersonic weapon and medium range capability battery as well as new formations, like the Theater Information Advantage Detachment into European exercises to understand and demonstrate how these capabilities support and provide opportunities for both the land component and joint allied forces in Europe,” said Knazovich.

Knazovich described employing multi-domain capabilities in depth as a part of large-scale combat operations.

“The 56th Artillery Command, not only shapes the theater with traditional surface-to-surface platforms, but also the space, information, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities available, both from the U.S. as well as our NATO allies and partners,” said Knazovich.

Knazovich said that the 56th Artillery Command’s headquarters and subordinate commands work together to synchronize capabilities and converge effects in time and space. He emphasized the success of multi-domain operations is greatly attributed to the support of two key organizations, the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force and the 19th Battlefield Coordination Attachment. Highlighting how the organizations play a pivotal role in training, exercises, and joint partnerships alongside NATO allies.

While introducing the 2nd MDTF, Moffett shared the vision for the organization and the challenges they have faced while focusing throughout Europe and Africa. The 2nd MDTF is positioned as the land component commander’s “go-to organization” for multi-domain operations and effects. This mission sets the organization apart and allows for adaptation to the evolving threat landscape.

“The 2nd MDTF operates daily in competition, while remaining trained and postured to transition to conflict whenever called,” said Moffett. “We operate at the cutting edge of capabilities to ensure we are prepared for tomorrow’s fight.”

Moffett shared that part of the preparation includes training alongside allies and partners while commenting on the success and challenges of Arcane Thunder, the 2nd MDTF’s flagship exercise.

“Arcane Thunder 23 was a game-changer,” said Moffett. “It allowed us to fine-tune our skills, push boundaries, and demonstrate our capabilities across Europe.”

Moffett explained that sharing data across multi-domain operations is a critical element of working with NATO partners during exercises. Improving data sharing, especially in electromagnetic spectrum and cyber operations, along with ensuring classified information is accessible at the right level and shared with allies is a key priority.

The presentation focused on modernizing and employing full spectrum multi-domain capabilities to achieve convergence in depth. Attendees heard fist-hand how focused the 56th Artillery Command and 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force is in establishing a cohesive joint and allied theater fires Architecture through federated mission networks, developing Soldiers, and training in exercises alongside our allies and partners. Further focusing on building systems capable of leveraging the best asset to create the best effect to achieve convergence.

“This is the future of fires in Europe,” concluded Knazovich.

The 56th Artillery Command and the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force illustrated the critical role of theater fires and multi-domain operations in contemporary warfare. This collaborative effort paves the way for a more secure and effective defense posture for the United States and its allies in Europe.

For more information on the 56th Artillery Command, visit their official website.

Story by Casey Slusser

D-Cell Redesignated 24th Rapid Deployment Squadron

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. —  

The 24th Special Operations Wing redesignated Detachment 1, also known as Deployment Cell or “D-Cell,” to the Rapid Deployment Squadron during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Sept. 6, 2023.

A geographically separated unit from the 24 SOW at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the Rapid Deployment Squadron consists of members across 15 career fields, forming four agile teams. These teams of multi-capable Airmen are trained in 49 cross-functional tasks including survival, evasion, resistance and escape training, advanced shooting and advanced combat casualty care.

The primary role of the RDS is to “bare base,” which is to rapidly turn austere locations into fully functional bases.

Col. Daniel Magruder, Jr., presided over the ceremony and gave opening remarks.

“Over 60 years ago, General Curtis Lemay established a unit that supported deployment operations,” said Magruder. “While your customer has changed over the years from U.S. Strike Command, which doesn’t exist anymore, your dedication to mission accomplishment hasn’t wavered.

The ceremony included the inactivation of Det-1, along with the activation of the 24th RDS and assumption of command.

“I’m encouraged that every member of your unit’s long blue line knows exactly where the unit came from,” said Magruder. “You know what it provides to our nation and the joint force, and where it’s going as it’s redesignated the 24th Rapid Deployment Squadron.”

In the last 54 years, both D-Cell and Det-1 have served under three different commands with its members participating in over 30 operations and four wars.

After accepting the guideon, Lt. Col. Michael Biederman, Commander, 24th RDS, expressed his excitement for the future.

“We have gained clarity on how AFSOC sees us and have rekindled our relationships with our partners to forge ahead in what we do best establishing bare bases and providing specialized engineering, logistics, services and security expertise in supporting the tip of the spear,” said Biederman. “In our uncertain geopolitical future I am certain the 24th Rapid Deployment Squadron will carry on DCELLs historic namesake to the far reaches of the globe.”

By Capt Savannah Stephens, 24th Special Operations Wing

SETAF-AF Welcomes New Civil Affairs Battalion

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023

VICENZA, Italy – The U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa (SETAF-AF) Civil Affairs Battalion conducted a change of responsibility during a ceremony Aug. 25, 2023, at Caserma Del Din, Vicenza, Italy.

During the ceremony, the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Knoxville, TN, assumed responsibility as the SETAF-AF CA Battalion from the outgoing 450th Civil Affairs Battalion.

“Our Civil Affairs Battalion provides us a critical capability,” said Maj. Gen. Todd Wasmund, SETAF-AF commanding general. “They help us understand the concerns and perspectives of the civilian populations in the countries in which we partner and help to meet their needs. They help our African partners build their own capacity to increase civil-military engagement and build trust between the military and those they protect.”

SETAF-AF coordinates all U.S. Army activities in Africa in support of U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa.

The U.S. Army Reserve, Maryland-based battalion worked hand-in-hand with several African partners including Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Malawi, Liberia, Morocco, Djibouti, Kenya, Ghana, and Tunisia during their nine-month deployment to the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility. Across the continent, the battalion played a vital role in fostering partnerships between the U.S. Army, host nation forces and their respective public.

Army Civil Affairs Soldiers work closely in partnership with other government agencies or the militaries of allied nations.

“I would like to thank all of our African Partners and the Soldiers of SETAF-AF for laying a solid foundation of operations for us,” said 540th Civil Affairs Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Kevin. Martin. “The past nine months has been an incredible experience, and we wouldn’t endeavor to continue forward with the mission, jointly with all partners for success.”

The incoming civil affairs battalion assumes responsibility for all Army civil affairs duties within the African continent supporting the SETAF-AF mission.

“I would like to thank the outgoing Civil Affairs Battalion for laying a solid foundation of operations for us and we will endeavor to continue forward with the mission, jointly with all partners for success,” said Lt. Col. James Favuzzi, the commander of 489th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Over the next nine months, the battalion will provide approximately 90 Soldiers, 10 civil affairs teams, and one medical functional specialist team to conduct engagements across Africa in support of SETAF-AF.

“We receive tremendous support to our mission from the U.S. Army Reserve, evidenced by the work and accomplishments of the 540th,” said Wasmund. “We’re confident that the new team from the 489th will build upon that important work in the months ahead.”

By Billy Lacroix

BDG Rehearses ACE, Validates SFS Tactics at Red Flag

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — The 820th Base Defense Group (BDG) honed their air base defense expertise necessary for Agile Combat Employment, July 16 to 30, 2023, during exercise Red Flag 23-3 at Nellis AFB, Nev.

During the exercise, 83 air base defense professionals and security forces members combined forces from seven squadrons to independently rehearse forward operating site and contingency-location missions while validating security force-specific implementation.

“The BDG is unique in that we focus on the downrange deployment related execution tasks,” said Col. Joe Sorensen, 820th BDG Commander. “The BDG benefits from being singularly focused on expeditionary and contingency operations, allowing us to develop combat-related capabilities and provide that expertise to elevate the security forces enterprise.”

A BDG headquarters element aligned 66-members from various organizations’ Air Force Specialty Codes into a blue force team which executed three iterations of establishing the temporary basing structure required for Agile Combat Employment.

ACE relies on the agile combat support provided by forward operating sites and contingency locations to provide temporary basing options for refueling and rearmament of aircraft closer to the fight to provide flexibility to combatant commanders in how they employ air assets.

“The first thing that we highlighted was the success of our headquarters element,” said Master Sgt. Bradley Akers, 820th BDG weapons and tactics chief. “We haven’t had a formal battle staff training program in the BDG for quite a while, so this has been the opportunity for us to redesign it, retrain it, and see how it operates.”

This headquarters element received warning orders and air tasking orders anywhere from 30 to 72 hours in advance of a mission and was responsible for generating operations orders, organizing squads, aggregating mission information and directing security and sustainment for up to 36 hours of continuous field operations.

“Had we not had the BDG’s headquarters element, it would not have been nearly as successful as it was,” said Master Sgt. Niles Bartram, 377th Weapons System Security Squadron weapons and tactics chief. “It was a pretty clear indicator that the BDG members bring a significant capability, and we need to find a way to duplicate that in some of our traditional squadrons if we’re going to be able to execute these ACE mission-sets or future theater operations.”

These personnel didn’t have access to aircraft to perform their training, but they didn’t allow this limitation to impede their ability to provide a realistic training and testing opportunity required to validate the tactics they generated. A motivated adversary force led by Air Force Special Operations Command’s Deployed Aircraft Ground Response Element provided a very real threat which tested defensive fortifications and Airmen’s fortitude alike.

These blue force air base defenders entrenched in the desert landscape in temperatures elevating to a peak of 117 degrees Fahrenheit as their adversaries launched physical attacks with blank rounds and attempted to exploit vulnerabilities found through ground reconnaissance.

Through this arduous testing of defensive capabilities, 820th BDG members and their mission partners validated that their new squad sizes and formations function and survive first contact with an adversary.

“We took a lot of tactics that are in development at the BDG, new [unit type code] squad sizes, to include rifle squad, weapons squads, headquarters elements, reconnaissance teams, and we’ve tested all those out there with non-BDG security forces members to see what kind of leveling training is needed security forces-wide,” said Akers. “We learned that a lot of our new squad sizes and formations work, and they can be trained throughout the enterprise with minimal leveling training.”

These validations contribute to the 820th BDG objectives of restructuring to meet future warfighting demands.

“We’re trying to bring ourselves back to focusing on defense aligned with doctrine,” said Akers. “We’re reorganizing ourselves, and we’re trying to use that information to reorganize the whole career field to do any type of defensive operation.”

Story by 1st Lt Christian Little, 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing

Davis-Monthan AFB Identified as AFSOC’s Next Power Projection Wing

Tuesday, August 8th, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

The Department of the Air Force selected Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, as the preferred location to host Air Force Special Operation Command’s third power projection wing.

Transforming the 492nd Special Operations Wing into a power projection wing with all of AFSOC’s mission capabilities (strike, mobility, ISR, air/ground integration) will enable the Air Force to regionally focus each power projection wing on a geographic combatant commander. The transition will also allow AFSOC to further diversify its locations to protect against natural disasters by ensuring it can maintain its ability to respond to president-directed missions on very tight timelines.

The additional location will also permit AFSOC to take advantage of the Barry M. Goldwater Range, which will provide additional training opportunities, capacity and increased prioritization as its forces prepare to meet the priorities of the National Defense Strategy.

Standing up the new wing at Davis-Monthan AFB requires several relocations, planned throughout the next five years. The final decision will be made following completion of the environmental impact analysis process.

The following outlines the planned transition actions:

The 492nd SOW at Hurlburt Field, Florida, will relocate to Davis-Monthan AFB. The relocation includes the 492nd SOW’s transition from support wing into a power projection wing.

The U-28 Draco fleets at Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and Hurlburt Field will be replaced by the OA-1K Armed Overwatch aircraft. As part of the 492nd SOW’s transition to a power projection wing, one OA-1K Armed Overwatch squadron will relocate from Hurlburt Field to Davis-Monthan AFB.

An MC-130J Commando II squadron will relocate from Cannon AFB to Davis-Monthan AFB to join the 492nd SOW.

An additional MC-130J squadron will activate at Davis-Monthan AFB.

The 21st Special Tactics Squadron will relocate from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, to Davis-Monthan AFB.

The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron will relocate from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to Davis-Monthan AFB.

The 492nd Theater Air Operations Squadron will activate at Duke Field and transfer to Davis- Monthan AFB.

The 47th Fighter Squadron (24 A-10s), the 354th Fighter Squadron (26 A-10s) and the 357th Fighter Squadron (28 A-10s) at Davis-Monthan AFB will inactivate and their respective A-10s will be retired. The 47th FS and 357th FS will continue A-10 formal training until inactivation.

The 34th Weapons Squadron and the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron will relocate from Nellis AFB, Nevada, to Davis-Monthan AFB, transferring five HH-60W Jolly Green IIs. 

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Summit Predicts Army of 2030, Future Designs for 2040

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. — Achieving the Army of 2030 and designing the Army of 2040 will require transformative vision, thoughtful leadership and sound investment, according to speakers at the July 26-27 Association of the U.S. Army Warfighter Summit and Exposition in Fayetteville, N.C.

Senior Army leaders from nearby Fort Liberty, N.C., across the U.S. Army and industry provided details and discussions on “America’s Army: Ready for Today, Modernizing for 2030 and Beyond.” The theme echoes the Army’s three priorities: people, readiness and modernization. This is the second year AUSA hosted the Warfighter Summit.

More than 800 attendees heard about the future of Soldier training and Army doctrine, Army modernization over the next seven to 17 years, the XVIII Airborne Corps’ role as America’s Contingency Force, the role of Army Security Force Assistance Brigades in 2030, insights from recent conflicts in Europe, training units at the Army’s Combat Training Centers and irregular war campaigning for 2030 with U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The summit’s primary focus is the Soldier and the defense industry professionals who support the Army warfighter. The summit linked Fort Liberty Soldiers and senior leaders with industry partners to increase understanding of the Army’s emerging requirements and strengthen the partnership between Fort Liberty, AUSA and the surrounding community. Over 65 exhibitors highlighted organizations that provide Soldiers with educational and employment opportunities, military equipment and high-tech devices. The audience included active-duty Army, U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers.

In addition to civilian, commercial vendors, the Warfighter Summit featured U.S. Army equipment, including: the Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle, the Infantry Squad Vehicle, the Polaris MRZR-D4, the Ground Mobility Vehicle, the MH-6M Light Assault Helicopter and the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter.

The Army has been consistent and persistent in pursuing modernization initiatives to deliver the Army of 2030 and design the Army of 2040.  It is committed to six modernization portfolios: long-range precision fires, next generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense, and Solider lethality.

Delivering the Army of 2030 and designing the Army of 2040 are priorities of Forces Command, Army Futures Command and Army Training and Doctrine Command. All three commands — as well as the U.S. Army Special Operations Command — were represented at the two-day professional forum.

The Warfighter Summit opened July 26 with a keynote presentation by Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command.

“The Army’s most valuable asset is its people,” said Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “This is a big, total-team effort and we will succeed at this,” Brito said. “To deliver the Army of 2030 and get ready for 2040, we are turning today’s recruiting challenge into an opportunity and continuing to innovate our talent management approaches.”

“From an acquisition lens, 2030 is really tomorrow,” he said.

Brito said the Army is at an “inflection point right now,” facing changes like those it made 50 years ago at the start of the all-volunteer force and the creation of TRADOC and FORSCOM.

“I think from a technology perspective, this is probably the most disruptive period of time since World War II,” said Gen. James Rainey, Army Futures Command commanding general.

“War remains a contest of wills between human beings: people,” Rainey said. “You have to be able to impose your will. You have to be willing to pay the cost. Because of that, we are going to need the U.S. Army to be able to dominate the land domain … anywhere against any body as part of a joint force with partners and allies. To do that, we need people ”

FORSCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Sims celebrated his 53rd birthday with a keynote speech at the AUSA Summit.

“Kids these days. I’ve seen you on the job … In training, on deployments and with your teams. I know what you are all about. When I travel around the force, I witness levels of insight and resourcefulness among junior Soldiers.”

“Kids today are smart,” Sims said. “They have unfettered access to all the world’s information. They know how to navigate and apply it in useful ways. Smart young Soldiers have always been one of the Army’s biggest competitive advantages.”

Sims also spoke about “Training the Force of 2030” — to include the Army’s premier Combat Training Centers: the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Johnson, Lousiana.

Fort Liberty leaders emphasized the Army post’s role as America’s Contingency Force during a discussion by Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, and by XVIII Airborne Corps’ Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. “T.J” Holland.

“The XVIII Airborne Corps is really FORSCOM’s and the Army’s contribution to the contingency force,” Donahue said. “It’s made up of four separate divisions, but the ‘critical sauce’ is those separate brigades. That forms the Army’s contribution to any time we have to go anywhere to compete against any adversary across the globe. Fort Liberty is the strategic platform for the U.S. Army. It has every contingency Special Operations Forces; every contingency force on the larger capability is here.”

U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s deputy commanding general, Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, also highlighted Fort Liberty’s vital role in irregular warfare.

“USASOC provides all of the Army Special Operations Forces to the Joint Force,” Roberson said. Over the last 20 years, we were focused on irregular warfare campaigning throughout the world.”

Maj. Gen. Donn Hill, commanding general of the Army Security Force Assistance Command, also based at Fort Liberty, said “The adviser teams of today are designed to advise at the tactical level. We were all about counterinsurgency and stability operations, but the world has changed. The Army is changing.”

“We’re in 30 countries on any given day,” Hill said about the six security force assistance brigades. Additionally, the teams are on the ground persistently, spending six months with allied partner armies before they are replaced by another team of Soldiers.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Vereen, deputy Army chief of staff for installations, G-9, at the Pentagon discussed employment opportunities for Soldiers and spouses. “The G-9 enables readiness through our quality-of-life plans, programs and policies that help the Army recruit, train, fight and win,” he said.

A highlight of the Warfighter Summit was a discussion by Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, who spoke about the key leadership role of the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer Corps. He also conducted a panel discussion with Fort Liberty NCOs and Soldiers about the 75th anniversary of the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces.

By FORSCOM Public Affairs

Back To The Future: MRIC And The Rebirth Of The Corps’ Air Defense Capability

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

QUANTICO, Va. —

As global tensions continue to rise, the Marine Corps once again finds itself at the forefront of a strategic transformation—shifting its focus from a decades-long, land-locked War on Terror to addressing increasing great power competition in the South China Sea.

Recognizing the rapidly shifting security environment outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, General David H. Berger, the Corps’ visionary former commandant, launched Force Design 2030—a comprehensive modernization effort aimed at preparing the Corps to “serve as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness and operate inside actively contested maritime spaces in support of joint campaigns.”

As the Corps continues its foundational shift towards the Pacific, however, one thing has become clear: if Marines are to pivot to support distributed maritime operations—operating for extended periods with limited outside support—the need for an organic air defense capability becomes imperative.

“MRIC is a middle-tier acquisition rapid prototyping effort, serving as a short-to-medium range air defense system that fills a crucial capability gap in the Indo-Pacific’s contested theater.” Lt. Col. Matthew Beck, product manager for A-MANPADS/MRIC

Moving to address this new geopolitical reality and shifting security environment, Program Executive Officer Land Systems is preparing to field the Marine Corps’ Medium-Range Intercept Capability, or MRIC. This state-of-the-art missile system detects, tracks, identifies and defeats enemy cruise missiles and other manned and unmanned aerial threats.

“MRIC is a middle-tier acquisition rapid prototyping effort, serving as a short-to-medium range air defense system that fills a crucial capability gap in the Indo-Pacific’s contested theater,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Beck, product manager for A-MANPADS/MRIC. “Although it was primarily designed for cruise missile defense, MRIC also boasts capabilities against other airborne threats and has demonstrated a high level of success in integration efforts through a series of live fire events.”

Harkening back to the days of the legacy HAWK system—the Corps’ last medium-range surface-to-air missile, which was divested in the late 90s—MRIC stands as the much-needed response to the evolving challenges of modern warfare by providing the ability to exist and persist within enemy weapon engagement zones. As highlighted in Force Design 2030, this is particularly relevant to the fleet’s operations in the Indo-Pacific, where the warfighter is often positioned squarely within enemy weapons’ reach.

“Simply put, MRIC is designed to protect near fixed and semi-fixed critical assets, primarily from the threat of cruise missiles,” said Beck. “In practical terms, MRIC offers protection for our Marines, allowing them the freedom to conduct operations within an enemy’s weapon engagement zone. In short, the warfighter can focus on executing the mission while being shielded from potential threats.”

All this is made possible by the incorporation of existing capabilities. MRIC, which counts the Corps’ Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar and Common Aviation Command and Control System among its primary subsystems, also incorporates technology from Israel’s proven Iron Dome system.

But the Corps’ new air defense system is much more than a force multiplier; it’s a key example of a successful Force Design 2030 outcome, which calls for “the immediate implementation of an intensive program of iterative concept refinement, wargaming, analysis and simulation, and experimentation.”

“MRIC, our counter cruise missile solution, exemplifies efficient integration and smart acquisition,” said Don Kelley, program manager for GBAD. “We’ve harnessed field-tested technologies and incorporated them into our system. This comprehensive amalgamation, validated through rigorous live-fire exercises, has enabled us to meet the counter cruise missile capability needs identified in Force Design 2030.”

By using the right acquisition vehicle and striving to avoid “reinventing the wheel,” the MRIC team is on track to go from conception to prototyping in less than five years—lightspeed in acquisition terms. Furthermore, by conducting various rounds of live fire tests and rapid prototyping, Marine experimentation and feedback play a key role in the team’s efforts.

“Force Design 2030 and updates emphasize experimentation and a strong air defense for the Marine Corps,” said Beck. “Middle tier acquisition, with rapid prototyping, aligns with these goals. By integrating high technology readiness level components and seeking Marine feedback through small-scale deployments, we can refine and scale the Medium-Range Intercept Capability and get it to the fleet in a timely manner.”

Although trusting the process brings along many challenges for the team, their creative spirit and commitment to working with the fleet has allowed them to turn challenges into successes.

“The real challenge lies in introducing this unprecedented system to the Marines who have no prior analogous equipment. Our training and logistics teams are rigorously working to ensure we cultivate the right skill set among the Marines to operate this state-of-the-art system effectively, recognizing that even the best capability serves no purpose if our Marines aren’t prepared to use it,” he noted.

Here, we see another clear nod to Talent Management 2030, a personnel management pillar within Force Design 2030 which calls for the alignment of “talents of individual Marines with the needs of the service to maximize the performance of both.”

The team’s success, however, begs the question: is this kind of acquisition success story replicable? According to Kelley, the answer is a resounding yes.

“In my view, effective best practices are rooted in a clear mission, compact and dedicated teams, and unflinching transparency with all stakeholders,” he said. “Crucially, assembling the right personnel, individuals who are proficient or willing to learn, is non-negotiable. We avoid getting entangled in unnecessary bureaucracy, focusing on the essence of policies rather than their letter. By focusing on intent when interpreting requirements, we can streamline our operations to achieve our objectives swiftly, while still adhering to safety and compliance norms. Ultimately, our approach to best practices hinges on effectiveness, agility, and a refusal to ‘reinvent the wheel.’”

Things are moving quickly for the team, and their efforts are poised to pay off.

Barb Hamby, PEO Land Systems spokesperson, recently told Breaking Defense, “A series of activities will take place during fiscal 2023 and 2024, culminating with a quick reaction assessment… for the MRIC prototype, under the Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping framework. Both the ongoing certification processes and the quick reaction assessment will inform the Milestone Decision Authority on the potential fielding of the MRIC prototype.”

Moreover, the MRIC team is preparing to hold a quick-reaction assessment in September 2024. If things continue to go to plan, the program could enter production in fiscal year 2025.

In an era characterized by escalating global tensions and the increasing importance of maritime dominance, the Marine Corps is once again demonstrating its ability to adapt, evolve, and rise to new challenges. As the Corps advances towards the transformative vision of Force Design 2030, the successful development and expected fielding of MRIC represent key milestones in this journey. More than just the acquisition of new equipment, MRIC’s successful progression exemplifies the potency of innovation, agility, and strategic international partnerships. It offers more than a solution to a tactical problem, instead symbolizing a rebirth of the Corps’ air defense capability, fitting for the complex battlefields of the 21st century.

By Johannes Schmidt | PEO Land Systems

Pershing Strike Lays the Groundwork for Successful Large-Scale Mobilizations

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — If the nation requires a large-scale mobilization of troops, First Army and its enterprise partners must be ready to deliver.

With that in mind, First Army has joined with nearly a dozen of those partners for Pershing Strike 23, a deliberate command post exercise, which began July 25 and runs through August 4. The event incorporates mobilization exercises conducted at mobilization force generation installations and involves more than 3,000 personnel at several installations including: Rock Island Arsenal; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Camp Atterbury, Indiana; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Also participating are staff members from First Army Division East and First Army Division West, at Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Cavazos, Texas, respectively.

Bradley White, chief of the First Army Plans and Mobilization Division, said the exercise serves to “demonstrate First Army’s ability to provide the pre- and post-mobilization training and support that our Reserve component partners will require to successfully prepare for a deployment in support of a combatant commander.”

The process gives insight into the effort, coordination, and cooperation that would be required of First Army and its enterprise partners in event of a large-scale mobilization operation, or LSMO. Such operations are crucial to the nation’s defense, noted Col. Shawn Creamer, First Army director of operations.

“The Reserve component comprises 52 percent of the total Army and many of the key enabler capabilities resident within the Army — engineers, logistics units, military police, etc. — disproportionately reside within the Reserve Component,” he said. “The Army and the joint force rely on the Reserve component, our citizen Soldiers, to sustain our global operations and activities, and to advance U.S. national interests. Without the efficient and effective mobilization of a well-trained Reserve component, the Army cannot deliver land power when asked and the joint force cannot win when called.”

This statement speaks to the importance of holding the exercise. “We use training and exercises like Pershing Strike to both validate our current plans and test out new concepts,” Creamer said. “We press these plans and concepts to the breaking point, to see what works and what doesn’t. Out of this we can not only adjust our plans to correct identified shortfalls, but more importantly, articulate areas of risk to Army senior leaders.”

Being ready to fight is what the Army is all about, noted Rick Fink, First Army director of training and exercises. “LSMO is the reason there is an Army and Pershing Strike stresses our entire system,” he said.

During Pershing Strike 23, units and Soldiers are hit with an array of challenges they must respond to quickly and calmly. Injects, be they related to weather, personnel or logistics, force the participants to react and adapt.

It is a continually improving process, Fink said, adding that First Army and its enterprise partners have taken lessons learned from previous Pershing Strike exercises, refined them and applied them to today’s environment. That momentum will continue as input from this iteration will be applied going forward.

“We’ve seen what works and we see what changes we need to make and asked how can we do this better, more efficiently and quicker,” he said. “All the information we’re collecting, the purpose is to enable leaders to better understand what is happening on the ground. They are empowered with the best information to make the best decisions.”

Along those lines, White said key goals of Pershing Strike include establishing a shared understanding “of the sheer heavy lifting (required) by the entire mobilization enterprise to successfully execute LSMO” and identifying “critical gaps in the enterprises’ capability and capacity to support LSMO and work towards solutions.”

He added that Pershing Strike and its associated mobilization exercises also serve to increase readiness of the involved units: “By bringing together the critical mobilization enterprise partners and providing a representation of the workload and stress on the mobilization enterprise that would be experienced during a LSMO event, each unit, headquarters and the enterprise partners can flesh out their policies, processes and procedures required to execute mobilization operations.”

While most First Army personnel were doing their usual jobs during Pershing Strike, Col. Stew James stepped back from his role as senior advisor to the Army National Guard for Pennsylvania to serve as an observer coach/trainer during the exercise. He explained his responsibility in that capacity was to “observe processes and provide feedback. I take what they said they did well last year and make sure they’re still progressing. We want to expand our knowledge and not take a step back.”

That requires working toward a common goal. “It’s a team effort,” James said. “You have to crosspollinate that knowledge across the enterprise to make it efficient. By getting enterprise partners involved, we’re going to be better at knowing the problem sets that will appear if we have to do a large-scale mobilization. Every commander’s update brief and battle update brief, there is knowledge shared and that’s the benefit of this.”

It’s all geared toward First Army and its partners leaving the exercise better than when they started. “We should see growth,” James said. “Each iteration of Pershing Strike, we are gaining organizational knowledge and experience. Building that mobilization knowledge is critical so that we are solving new problems, not re-learning old problems.”

White emphasized the crucial role played by First Army’s enterprise partners, which include U.S. Army Forces Command, Installation Management Command, the Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army North, U.S. Transportation Command, Army Sustainment Command, Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

“Without the enterprise we will be unable to be successful at our mission of providing trained and validated (Reserve component) forces for the combatant commander,” he said. “Without the enterprise we can’t move our mobilizing units and their equipment to and through the [mobilization force generation installation] to the port. We can’t feed, billet or move our mobilizing units during post-mobilization training and without the enterprise support at our [mobilization force generation installations] our training brigades cannot execute their training and validation mission.”

While the exercise ends next week, the process will continue. Lessons learned will be taken back to respective installations, added to standard operating procedures, drilled on again and integrated into a system that will have First Army ready to deliver trained and ready troops if called upon.

By Warren W. Marlow