AMD composite battalion: Reset, train, ready and deploy.
As soon as a unit returns from a deployment, it begins the process all over again in the "Reset Phase" of the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN)-like model. This is also the phase in which the bulk of the Army's transformation takes place while the friction of the War on Terrorism (WOT) continues to loom.
This article discusses how the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (5-52 ADA), 11th ADA Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas, is working through these challenges and began the "process of deploying" on the first day of Reset.
Fieldings and Training. In November 2006, 5-52 ADA was a Patriot Capabilities (PAC)-3 pure battalion that rotated four batteries to the Korean theater of operations and, within 30 days, had received four returning batteries. The battalion entered the Reset Phase after it was designated the ADA test battalion and directed to convert into a composite air and missile defense (AMD) battalion (two Patriot batteries and one Avenger battery) with the battalion scheduled to deploy to the Central Command (CENTCOM) theater in early 2008.
The battalion had several key tasks to accomplish within its Reset Phase. These tasks include fielding the pre-deployment version of Deployment Build-6 (PDB-6) software and equipment upgrades; supporting PDB-6.5 software testing; completing new equipment training (NET); standing up an Avenger battery and AMD support capabilities in the headquarters and maintenance unit; certifying ADA crews and executing gunnery; completing all Forces Command (FORSCOM) annual training requirements; and deploying to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, to participate in a capstone joint exercise to validate lessons learned sponsored by the Marine Air Weapons and Tactics Squadron in Yuma. Once these key tasks are accomplished, the battalion will be a well-trained AMD unit and ready for deployment.
5-52 ADA's training plan would keep any good unit busy for a year in peacetime. However, for 5-52 ADA, like all Army units in Reset, the challenges are exacerbated by the fact that the Army is supporting WOT.
Resourcing Challenges. The resource challenges of war impact resetting units on at least three important levels. First, there are some general Army-wide resource challenges that greatly affect a resetting unit's ability to train and sustain. For example, ADA units, mostly manned by Soldiers in the ADA's Career Management Field 14 (CMF 14) Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), require support from repairmen in CMF 94 and generator mechanics in CMF 63 to maintain their equipment in a mission-capable status. Soldiers in these low-density MOS are in high demand and are assigned Armywide based on deployment fielding categories.
This friction also gives rise to equipment shortages for high-demand items, such as .50 cal machine guns that have been pulled from resetting units to support the training of deploying Soldiers and units.
Second, as deployed and deploying units are a higher priority for resources, there is friction generated by the requirement of a unit in Reset to sustain like units. Specifically for 5-52 ADA, this means supporting the deploying or already deployed Patriot units by providing crews, individual experts and trainers, as required. In return, there is a migration of non-deployable Soldiers to a battalion in Reset from those units preparing to deploy.
And third, requirements to sustain the community within which resetting units operate also generate friction. Like all units in Reset across all Army's installations, 5-52 ADA inherits a portion of its deployed sister battalions' details, such as Fort Bliss Red Cycle taskings. These include tasks such as supporting the NCO Academy or meeting the branch's testing requirements. Some additional details are intense because we are at war, details such as casualty notification and assistance. 5-52 ADA also provides limited administrative functions to support a separate transportation company and a signal company and serves as the rear detachment for the 4th Squadron, 1 st Cavalry (4-1 Cav) and a sister Patriot battalion.
Accomplishing these taskings and meeting resourcing challenges while simultaneously building combat power is a resetting unit's temporary "lot in life." But during Reset, it is essential that a unit start preparing for deployment immediately.
Meeting the Challenges. The 5-52 ADA's first order of business was to reconstruct its ADA crews with new personnel. There was a temptation to keep some experienced crews together so the unit status report looked somewhat acceptable in the short term. But the Soldiers and officers on those crews were the easiest to certify and most often were the ones with the least longevity in the unit.
From the start of Reset, the battalion received 25 percent fewer Soldiers back from Korea than it deployed, many within months of ending their terms of service. This shortage was compounded by the fact that most of the returning lieutenants on the ADA crews would soon make captain and attend their career courses. It was important to focus the limited time and training resources to assemble, train, and certify crews that have Soldiers and officers with the most longevity--in this case, the youngest and most inexperienced.
At the same time, we manned four Patriot batteries in a sequential priority from A Battery through D Battery. The Soldiers with the most longevity were weighted towards A Battery, with experience being used as the secondary criterion, (18-months longevity was most important, followed closely by experience). However, even in A Battery, no crew remained intact from Korea.
D Battery's crews were initially incomplete and had the greatest concentration of Soldiers and officers assigned directly from initial military training. As new officers and Soldiers right out of the officer basic course (OBC) or advanced individual training (AIT) began to report in the months following the Korean rotation, those Soldiers filled the remaining crews in the lower priority batteries.
Manning the batteries in this manner allowed 5-52 ADA to use training resources on one battery at a time. For the most part, A Battery was exempt from post Red Cycle tasks for the first several weeks and provided the resources necessary for the battalion to certify crews and complete gunnery.
In contrast, D Battery initially supported daily funeral details, as many as 61 funerals in the first month of Red Cycle. D Battery was also responsible for running more than its "fair share" of battalion weapons qualification ranges.
As crews qualified, 5-52 ADA lifted and shifted resources sequentially through the Patriot batteries. The battalion's strategy paid immediate dividends as the battalion was able to complete individual weapons qualifications and certify its launcher crews and a few of its fire control crews before all the Patriot equipment was dedicated to the PDB-6 upgrades that began in April.
5-52 ADA completed PDB-6 fielding in June. The battalion's enhanced capabilities improve its command and control and effectiveness in the "joint kill chain" in which it will operate. These capabilities include enhanced line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications, more robust friendly protect functions and reduced spurious signals.
With some of its equipment unavailable during this fielding, 5-52 ADA continued to pursue ADA crew training requirements by volunteering to test a new Patriot Fire Control simulator. This contributed to the unit's ability to certify additional crews immediately upon receiving their equipment and completing NET. By late June, A Battery had 100 percent of its crews certified and the remaining 5-52 ADA batteries had all of their launchers and at least their primary fire control crews certified. The battalion will certify many of its remaining fire control crews in August with all crews certified by October.
Instead of watching qualified crews break apart in the summer as Soldiers leave the service and lieutenants are promoted and sent-off to their follow-on career courses, every crew that 5-52 ADA certifies is expected to remain in the unit until its deployment. Obviously, crews will need to recertify every six months until the deployment, but recertification just before deploying will be far easier than building new crews. The mission readiness exercise (MRE) should be easy with crews having completed gunnery multiple times.
This expectation would not have been possible had the battalion been overly concerned about an anemic unit status report for the first six months of Reset. This is how ARFORGEN is intended to work.
As the Patriot batteries set out to grow their combat power, the battalion simultaneously began executing its transformation. In November 2006, 5-52 ADA began not only resetting its Patriot units, but also transforming into an AMD battalion. A new Avenger battery stood up the same week all Patriot battery commanders assumed command.
A less obvious change was the growth in the maintenance company and headquarters battery that will support commanding and controlling the additional capabilities. Even this process is different than what many Soldiers of previous decades experienced. In the 1990s when ADA fielded Avengers to divisional ADA units, the respective project managers "packaged" new systems with all the support equipment for delivery to the units. The equipment was laid-out for the purpose of inventory. At one time, all in the chain of command--from the commander down to the user--inventoried and signed for equipment in the presence of a project manager, establishing an accurate and unquestionable chain of custody, a hand receipt holder's "dream."
This is not the case with the stand-up of 5-52 ADA's Avenger battery. Equipment continues arriving from all over the Army, and the Soldiers report in small batches. The Avenger systems were the first to arrive. But having been moved from one post to another, basic issue items were not included in the shipment, either from loss or incomplete shipping. Some items have trickled into the battery, such as individual weapons. The battery still does not know when other items, such as trucks, will arrive because the battalion is in Reset Phase and a low-priority fill among Army units.
The battery also must procure common table of allowance items not fielded with the Avengers, such as arms racks, holsters and command posts. And because the arrival of Soldiers to the unit was not synchronized with the arrival of equipment, more time was required initially to complete inventories and hand receipt procedures as property passed through more individuals before settling in the hands of the end user.
Despite the challenges, the battalion's battery commanders and other leaders adapt and "attack" missions and training requirements based on the people and equipment on hand. When weapons systems arrive at the Avenger battery, Soldiers begin qualifying on them. When vehicles arrive, Soldiers perform technical inspections and order the required parts.
The Soldiers continually adjust as their situation evolves. For example, the NET for the Forward Area Air Defense (FAAD) was postponed from May until November. This was because the key communications equipment, the battalion's fire coordination center, and 50 percent of its MOS 14J (ADA Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence [[C.sup.4]I] Enhanced Operators/Maintainers) would not be present until fall.
The battalion's maintenance company and headquarters battery Soldiers have the greatest dwell time and endure the brunt of the Soldier migration to brigade combat teams (BCTs) and directly to theater. For these units, the battalion takes special measures. Soldiers from line units trained to operate Patriot launchers temporarily serve on field maintenance teams. Officers and senior NCOs seamlessly "play musical chairs" with additional duties as officers are assigned external missions.
5-52 ADA is on track for a successful rotation to weapons training instruction (WTI) at Yuma Proving Ground and subsequent PDB-6.5 software testing at the end of the year.
5-52 ADA will be prepared to deploy and fight not only because its Soldiers will be trained fully to employ the latest generation of AMD technology, but also because our Soldiers are flexible enough to handle anything our enemies can throw at them. Young leaders accomplish ever-changing missions in a far less predictable environment, plugging along with equipment and personnel shortages as necessary. They are a living testament to our collective assertion that "This Army will bend, but never break."
Lieutenant Colonel Russell E. Bodine, Air Defense Artillery (ADA), is the Commander of the 5th Battalion, 52nd ADA (5-52 ADA), 11th ADA Brigade, at Fort Bliss, Texas. In his previous position he was the Speechwriter for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army at the Pentagon. During Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I, he served as the Operations Officer for Task Force Iron Fist as part of the 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command. He commanded C Battery, 3-4 ADA, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He holds two master's degrees, including a Master in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
By Lieutenant Colonel Russell E. Bodine, ADA