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Assured mobility the path to the future.

During the past decade, the U.S. Army has been engaged in a deliberate and sweeping effort to adapt its organizations, soldiers, equipment, and methods of operation to the requirements of a rapidly changing strategic and technological landscape. The Army Vision describes the characteristics of the Objective Force, and emerging technologies promise a clear path to that future. The power of advanced technologies, especially information technology, enables the Army to achieve situational dominance and decision-making momentum to create a new construct for the application of force.

The hallmark of the Objective Force described in this article is its reliance on small, lethal, tactical units. At the heart of these units are soldiers and leaders-warriors--who know and live Army values; are disciplined, physically tough, and mentally conditioned for combat; have perseverance; are technically and tactically competent; and possess an unbreakable will to win. These tough, resilient, resourceful, versatile professionals--equipped with the best technologies our nation can provide and led by the most competent leadership we can grow--will remain persuasive in peace and invincible in war, the ultimate guarantors of America's interests around the world.

Operational Concept

The Objective Force is a full-spectrum force--organized, manned, equipped, and trained to be more strategically responsive, deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, and sustainable across the entire spectrum of military operations. Objective Force units contribute to decisive joint operations by conducting simultaneous, distributed, continuous, combined-arms air--ground operations--day or night--in any terrain throughout the battlespace.

Objective Force units are designed to operate at a tempo that affords the enemy no rest or relief and no means of responding effectively. These units develop situations out of contact, maneuver to positions of advantage, engage enemy forces beyond the range of their weapons, and destroy them with precision fires and, when necessary, by tactical assault at times and places of our choosing, Objective Force units will employ the full range of national and joint capabilities to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

See First

Objective Force units see first by detecting, identifying, and tracking the individual components of enemy units. Advanced technologies that lead to unprecedented intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities--coupled with other ground, air, and space sensors networked into a common integrated operational picture--enable us to see the enemy, both in whole and in part, as a complex, adaptive organization. The enablers for seeing first include, as a minimum--

* Combat identification systems.

* Organic sensors that are robotic, multispectral, and disposable.

* Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

* Embedded command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

* Special-operations forces.

* Long-range surveillance detachments.

* Air and ground reconnaissance operations.

Data-fusion systems, global-information grids, and leader training will enable decision makers to have a synthesized, common picture of the battlefield--the common operational picture (COP). Blinding the enemy through the use of obscurants, jamming, signature reduction, deception, and pattern-avoidance techniques will further enhance the Objective Force's ability to see first.

Understand First

Objective Force units understand first through exploitation of a COP of the battlespace that allows soldiers and leaders to understand what the enemy is doing and better anticipate his intentions. As leaders at all levels observe this common picture, they simultaneously analyze and share assessments through their Web-based command and control systems. Objective Force commanders can leverage the intellect, experience, and tactical intuition of leaders at multiple levels to identify enemy centers of gravity and conceptualize solutions, thus creating a collective genius through accelerated collaborative planning within Objective Force units. As commanders decide on a course of action, they instantaneously disseminate their intent to all levels, affording maximum time for subordinate levels to conduct requisite troop-leading procedures. The time gained through effective use of these information technologies enables Objective Force units to seize and retain the initiative and build momentum for decisive outcomes. The key enablers for understanding first include--

* A knowledge-based battle-command system.

* Mentally agile, intuitive, and adaptive leaders at all levels.

* An execution-centric command and control system.

Leaders must be educated for rapid synthesis of information, intuitive assessments of situations, and rapid conceptualization of friendly courses of action. They must be able to clearly define their information requirements and, most importantly, develop and effectively communicate their intent. Units must be highly trained and disciplined in the use of these information technologies to efficiently manage the volumes of information they will provide. This will require disciplined use of information protocols, leader education, and new training and leaderdevelopment concepts in both live and constructive environments.


Objective Force units act first by virtue of the superior situational awareness that permits them to engage the enemy at times and places of our choosing. Wide dissemination of the commander's intent, coupled with broad access to the COP, will provide unprecedented opportunities for subordinate initiative to exploit enemy vulnerabilities as opportunities present themselves. Furthermore, this information will allow our commanders to integrate the elements of combat power into a dominant whole when applying decisive force, both lethal and nonlethal. To act first, Objective Force leaders, platforms, and units must--

* Have information dominance.

* Be capable of moving, shooting, and reengaging faster than the enemy.

Target-acquisition systems will see farther than the enemy in all conditions and environments. Units will be able to rapidly assess options, act first by understanding when and where they must transition between actions, and maintain fully synchronous fires throughout the violence of execution. The design is to deny the enemy any respite or initiative while Objective Forces operate at high operational tempo. Objective Force units will be enabled by systems that link and clear line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight fires through advanced weapons control systems and man-in-the-loop decision making.

Finish Decisively

Objective Force units finish decisively by destroying the enemy's ability to continue the fight and achieving moral dominance over him. The units will do this by building momentum and rapidly transitioning to assault and exploitation operations without allowing the enemy time or opportunity to regroup and continue the fight. Units will maneuver by both ground and air to assume tactical and operational positions of advantage through which they will continue to dominate the enemy and pursue subsequent campaign objectives. Objective Force units will continue to exploit the initiative until they have broken the enemy morally and/or physically, thus achieving decisive victory.

Assured Mobility

The mobility of the Objective Force is critical to maintain the high tempo and operate over the extended distances dictated by this concept. Assured mobility is one of several key maneuver support enablers of the Objective Force and must be developed to its full potential. Assured mobility extends the concept of air corridor suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) to ground mobility routes, corridors, or operating areas. Today, troops on the ground must continue to develop the current situation, develop the mobility plan after deployment, and remember that situational understanding is time-sensitive.

In the Objective Force, space, air, and ground imaging sensors will maintain current, real-time situational understanding, and sensor-effects links will preclude the enemy from modifying the current situation. The selected course of action will be encompassed by a blanket of sensor coverage allowing assured mobility with sensors and effects similar to the SEAD effects today. The current operational pictures will be fed continuously to commanders, and area-denial systems will prevent enemy alteration. Future requirements for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system include sensors that can distinguish among friendly, enemy, and civilian activities; predict and verify enemy intent with assured route mobility sensors (a mobility decision aid); and deny enemy forces the opportunity to apply countermobility measures.

At present, engineers are task-organized to handle a myriad of tasks in a worst-case mission scenario. Current doctrine requires 150 percent redundancy of engineer systems to ensure mission accomplishment. In the Objective Force, engineers will task-organize only with necessary mission-specific equipment. Mobility support will be provided by planned/focused engineer effort, thereby reducing the necessity of redundancy required today, supported by Future Combat System (FCS) mobility mission modules with prepackaged equipment for specific missions. Future mine-detection and -neutralization capabilities, both standoff and organic, will allow the preparation of the battlefield with an assurance and safety factor not imaginable today. Future requirements include the FCS mobility package, robotic standoff mine-detection and breaching capabilities, and a standoff marking system. Standoff detection and breaching can be accomplished by systems such as the conceptual route access and proofing system, which will have r obotic vehicles move down a desired route--identifying and electronically marking mines along the way--with standoff mine killers such as the UAV or vehicle-mounted rockets homing in on the electronic signal to destroy the threat.

There are four main tasks for assured mobility. Those tasks are not necessarily sequential.

Develop the Mobility COP

This is the collection and integration of geospatial, cultural, and enemy information--aided by automated mobility planning tools--to establish the mobility COP for the operating area. This information allows us to quickly develop our initial modified combined-obstacle overlay (MCOO) and enables the maneuver commander to select the mobility course of action. Knowledge of the existing obstacles and monitoring of existing traffic patterns are two examples that allow us to see the battlefield in near-real time. This information allows the maneuver commander to determine where he wants to maneuver, what resources will be required to get there, and how the enemy can attempt to influence this maneuver plan. The mobility COP identifies the operating areas and the mobility issues within those areas for the maneuver plan.

Select, Establish, and Maintain Operating Areas

With the aide of automated tools, critical mobility choke points and operating areas will be identified and a shaping plan developed. This plan includes prediction of enemy actions and intents and required sensor coverage to fill any information voids within the operating area. Sensors will be employed, or focused from other assets, on the critical areas to fill the voids or improve our situational understanding and maintain our mobility COP. To solidify the mobility COP, sensor-effects packages will be employed at critical areas to protect them from enemy influence. In coordination with these sensor-effects packages, conducting standoff attacks on selected enemy capabilities to perform countermine activities--or deceiving the enemy to focus his attention on other areas--will fix the current mobility situational understanding. An active protective system will be emplaced at choke points, such as bridges, to counter enemy attempts to disrupt us at such points. Being able to control and monitor critical mobility areas is key to coordinating a mobility plan in conjunction with the scheme of maneuver. Simply put, "sensor staring" will enable the Objective Force to "own" the operating area.

Attack the Enemy's Ability to Influence Operating Areas

Employing standoff-detection and obstacle-neutralization systems to maintain mobility within operating areas will ensure freedom of maneuver. This will be accomplished with a combination of unit-of-employment (UE) and unit-of-action (UA) resources. Battlespace terrain reasoning and awareness (BTRA) will allow us to template potential obstacles and locations of where the enemy might place obstacles. Standoff detection of obstacles and standoff neutralization (where necessary) or attacking of these obstacles in coordination with the maneuver plan are critical to reserve UA resources. This is a proactive attack of the enemy's ability to employ obstacles. Attacking the enemy's ability to shape the battle-space is also a key enabler for the UA's mobility. Sensor systems such as the Raptor and the antipersonnel land mine alternative (APLA) will protect the flanks of our units and deny the enemy the freedom of action within our operating area.

Maintain Mobility and Momentum

This allows the UA the freedom of maneuver to seize his objective without delay. Detecting obstacles (including side-attack and wide-area mines) and neutralizing their effects without affecting the maneuver plan or momentum are critical to accomplish the speed and agility required for the Objective Force. As a last resort, an in-stride breaching capability must exist to overcome enemy obstacles that may be encountered when it is necessary for the force to cross. Marking systems that provide visual, virtual, and active identification of obstacles and cleared or safe areas are required. In addition to supporting the assaulting force, maintaining mobility and momentum has a role to ensure that the force can be supported. This includes maintaining and opening routes for pulse logistics as well as forward landing areas for air resupply. We must be able to neutralize the effects of obstacles without disruption of our maneuver momentum in one of four ways: detect and avoid, detect and destroy from standoff, detect and breach, or withstand the effects.


To implement the Objective Force concepts, all Army organizations will be analyzed as to their need and relevance. This is especially true for the Engineer Regiment with the wide range of capabilities it brings to the Army. Most Army tasks that are conducted today will remain valid; however, the method used to accomplish those tasks may drastically change. This leads to a complete review of how our units are organized.

There are several considerations that must be applied in developing the future engineer organization. Basic options that must be reviewed are--

* Modularity.

* Tailorability.

* Combined arms to the lowest levels.

* Task organizing on the move.

* Force pooling of engineer capabilities.

* The way we equip and deploy.

Before the engineer units can be developed, the Objective Force organization concept must first be understood. The Objective Force must fulfill a variety of strategic, operational, and tactical purposes, while interacting with various political and military actors within the U.S. interagency process and the international community. Thus, the Army must maintain some mix of functional competencies at all levels. Early analysis indicates that eliminating echelons and flattening hierarchies will not be as easy as commonly perceived. Many factors must be addressed, including the challenges of span of control, the increasing complexity of operations at each level of effort, the expanding battlespace geometry, the differences in tasks and purposes that occur at each echelon, and the human capabilities (and limitations) of future leaders and staffs. Echelonment also reconciles the inherent organizational tension between size and agility. Finally, echelonment reflects the reality that it is neither economical nor effi cient to furnish every functional capability to every formation. Rather, the more varied and complex military activities become, the more necessary to delegate functional responsibilities among more than one level of organization.

Generally, when fewer consecutive echelons are required, translating intention into action is more rapid and less vulnerable to friction. There are limits to that equation, however. Beyond a certain point, flattening organizations so enlarges their span of control and increases the burdens on subordinate units that organizational sluggishness and operational risk actually increase. Moreover, the way in which successive echelons are constituted is as important as their number. Formations designed with a high level of organic self-sufficiency are--by that very quality--less easy to reconfigure, whereas formations with little organic structure require augmentation for robustness and durability but also can be retailored more rapidly and easily.

Objective Force organization reflects these considerations in relation to the operational conditions and methods described earlier. It--

* Locates self-sufficiency and tailorability at the echelons where they are most essential.

* Capitalizes on new information technologies to streamline decision making and coordination without overloading commanders and staffs.

* Provides for the routine cycling of combat and support units into and out of action.

* Reflects an expectation that future military operations typically will require the employment of joint enablers at much lower organizational levels than in the past.

Units of Purpose

In the context of today's echelons, we must account for the functions, tasks, and purposes of corps and divisions to establish the requirements for Objective Force echelonment. We use the UE to account for these tasks in our design work. It is imperative to place the UE in the context of operations in order to validate this assessment. The UA accounts for the functions, tasks, and purposes of the brigade and below. These units conduct combined-arms operations, employing fire and maneuver and tactical assault while maintaining freedom of action in tactical engagements. While the ultimate designations of Objective Force units of purpose remain to be determined, for the sake of discussion, today's designations can be used to discuss the functions they must be able to perform.

Echelonment in the Objective Force is a complex question that demands extensive analysis and experimentation. TRADOC has not yet defined all levels of command resident within the Objective Force. To discuss echelonment, Objective Force concepts employ a functional framework in which UEs perform tasks assigned today to divisions and higher-service headquarters. Ues--

* Link ground and joint forces and orchestrate ground operations that decide joint campaigns.

* Have the capacity to assume command of joint task forces.

* Provide the basis for combined-arms air-ground task forces.

* Resource and execute combat operations.

* Designate objectives.

* Coordinate with multiservice, interagency, multinational, and nongovernmental activities.

* Employ long-range fires, aviation, and sustainment.

* Provide C4ISR and tactical direction to UAs.

UAs are the tactical warfighting echelons of the Objective Force. For analytic purposes, UAs comprise brigade and below echelons. Maneuver UAs are the smallest combined-arms units that can be committed independently. Their function is to finish decisively by closing with and destroying enemy forces through integrated fire and maneuver and tactical assault. For continued developmental purposes, the core of the UA brigade is the combined-arms combat battalion that commands a number of organic small tactical units that fight as teams of fighting teams. The span of control of the UA brigade is four to six battalions. Maneuver UAs require the qualities of durability, endurance, and stamina. Brigades are expected to employ most combat battalions in dispersed yet integrated engagements while periodically cycling individual units into and out of contact to sustain operational momentum. Combat battalions must dominate the unexpected contact and be able to transition through several engagements in sequence.

Engineer Organizations

Developing organizational designs for engineers has begun by defining the capabilities that are required and those that can be embedded into the UA. We will use the term "modules" to identify a capability that is required to accomplish a low-level Army task. Each task will be broken down into squad-level detail with mission-essential equipment. These modules will be grouped together to form units that are consistent with the Objective Force design (such as brigades, battalions, and companies).

Engineer modules are now being developed; these modules will lead to grouping capabilities to accomplish vital engineer functions in support of Army missions. For example, engineer missions are described using FM 7-15, The Army Universal Task List. Under the Battlefield Operating System of mobility/countermobility/survivability, the combined-arms tactical manuever element is required to conduct mobility operations. A part of mobility operations is overcoming barriers, obstacles, and mines, which leads to subtasks of conducting breaching operations. Even under the concept of assured mobility these tasks will have to be performed when standoff neutralization or avoidance methods have failed.

Using the subtask "conduct breaching operations," we develop a list of modular capabilities that are required within engineer units to support this combined-arms operation. After reviewing all the tasks, we developed 10 groups of module tasks:

* Mobility (enhance mobility options by enabling bypass, clearing obstacles [out of contact], and breaching, when required).

* Search (detect and neutralize mines, unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, and other offensive enemy use of obstacles at standoff).

* Reconnaissance (identify mobility opportunities and assess mobility restrictions).

* Shaping (proactively deny the enemy's ability to affect friendly mobility, while positively affecting enemy and gray mobility).

* Force protection (enhance friendly and neutral force survivability through employment of terrain and infrastructure reinforcement).

* Construction (through joint, organic, host-nation, and contract assets, provide infrastructure and services to meet mission requirements, including airfield/APOD repair! emplacement, LOC construction/maintennace, etc).

* Geospatial (provide terrain situational awareness to enable home-field advantage and quickly develop and continuously update mission-specific data sets).

* Force support (provide noncontiguous route support, area clearance, deception, and environmental support).

* Special-purpose (provide unique specialized capabilities in support of operations).

* Command and control (plan, integrate, and synchronize engineer capabilities required for mission success; command and control combined-arms and engineer UAs as assigned; control defile operations, which includes the ability to reach for assistance through information or modular capability outside of the organization).

As the modules are grouped together, modularity, tailorability, and deployability are key characteristics that are considered. Each modular design has three components:

* Personnel with key/unique equipment.

* Army TOE equipment required for major-theater war environment.

* Available commercial equipment that could be used in lieu of deploying the units' equipment.

This organizational concept opens up new deployment options. Some units may rapidly deploy a portion of their unit initially without all their fielded equipment and then lease commercial equipment at a forward location to begin operations while the rest of the unit, or other engineer units, deploy by conventional means. This gives us options to provide CONUS-based units with forward-deployed capabilities.


This is just the beginning of the total review that must be done to support the Army's Transformation Plan. It will take the involvement of the entire Engineer Corps to ensure that--

* The maneuver commander receives assured mobility.

* Current engineer capabilities are embedded in the Objective Force (may or may not reside in engineer organizations or equipment).

* Engineer units are operationally responsive and agile (ready, tailorable, and deployable).

* Requisite Objective Force capabilities that the engineers must provide (embedded, combined areas, or modular) are properly addressed and designed in accordance with the concept of assured mobiltiy.

The Engineer School and MANSCEN DCD engineer staff invite support and input from each member of the Engineer Regiment to help address these complex issues.

Mr. Fowler is a program analyst in the MANSCEN Directorate of Combat Developments, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Lieutenant Colonel(P) Johnston is chief of the Engineer Division, MANSCEN Directorate of Combat Developments, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center
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Author:Fowler, Mike; Johnston, Gary
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Previous Article:Engineer white paper - into the objective force.
Next Article:Engineer digital command and control.

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