Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

Duties and responsibilities of a task force deputy commander.

From August 2004 to April 2005, I was afforded an invaluable opportunity to serve as deputy commander for Combined Task Force (CTF CTF Capture The Flag
CTF Child Trust Fund (UK)
CTF Canadian Tax Foundation
CTF Canadian Taxpayers Federation (lobby group)
CTF Canadian Television Fund
CTF Canadian Teachers' Federation
) Thunder, a maneuver brigade headquarters forward deployed in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. CTF Thunder was assigned the Regional Command (RC) East area of operations, a vast and diverse area comprised of 15 provinces, 32 districts, and 19 major cities. In comparison, RC East is about the size of the state of Iowa. The purpose of this article is to share my experiences as the DCO DCO Demande Chimique En Oxygène (French)
DCO Digitally Controlled Oscillator
DCO District Coordination Officer (Pakistan)
DCO Defence Community Organisation (Australia) 
, outline duties and responsibilities pertaining to the position, and provide commanders and potential DCOs with planning considerations specific to the role.


Combined Task Force Thunder is a maneuver brigade comprised of a headquarters element based at Forward Operating Base An airfield used to support tactical operations without establishing full support facilities. The base may be used for an extended time period. Support by a main operating base will be required to provide backup support for a forward operating base. Also called FOB.  (FOB FOB 1) adj. short for Free on Board, meaning shipped to a specific place without cost. 2) Friend of Bill (Clinton). (See: Free on Board) ) Salerno; one U.S. Marine infantry battalion (3/3 Marine) based at FOB Salerno FOB Salerno (also known as Firebase Salerno) is a forward operating base of the U.S. military in south eastern province of Khowst, near the city of Khost in Afghanistan. ; one U.S. Army infantry battalion (2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division [Light]) based in Orgun-E; one U.S. Army National Guard infantry battalion (3-116th Infantry) based in Ghazni; and a total of eight Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). The task force headquarters is formed around the Division Artillery Artillery that is permanently an integral part of a division. For tactical purposes, all artillery placed under the command of a division commander is considered division artillery.  (DIVARTY DIVARTY Division Artillery ) Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division (L) with augmentation from the 125th Military Intelligence Division Intelligence Support Element (DISE DISE District Information System for Education (India)
DISE Deployable Intelligence Support Element
DISE Drive Image Special Edition
DISE Display Evolution
DISE Distribution Illumination System, Electrical
) and individual augmentees, ranging from civil affairs Designated Active and Reserve component forces and units organized, trained, and equipped specifically to conduct civil affairs activities and to support civil-military operations. Also called CA. See also civil affairs activities; civil-military operations.  officers to public affairs Those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics with interest in the Department of Defense. Also called PA. See also command information; community relations; public information.  and staff judge advocate A legal adviser on the staff of a military command. A designated officer of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.  officers. The total number of personnel assigned to the task force is in excess of 3,200. I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in June of 2004, prepositioned as an infantry battalion commander In the United States Army and United States Marine Corps, the commanding officer of a battalion is a Battalion Commander. The position is usually held by a lieutenant colonel, although a major can be selected for battalion command in lieu of an available lieutenant colonel.  select. The battalion I was slated to command was forward deployed in Iraq and my command was deferred 12 months. As a result, the DIVARTY commander requested my assignment as the DCO to assist in the tactical employment of infantry and to assist in command and control functions for the task force.

Terms of reference Terms of reference allude to a mutual agreement under which a command, element, or unit exercises authority or undertakes specific missions or tasks relative to another command, element, or unit. Also called TORs.  

In May of 2004, prior to my assignment to the division, I was afforded the opportunity to take part in a Joint Readiness See: readiness.  Training Center (JRTC JRTC Joint Readiness Training Center (Fort Polk, LA, USA) ) Leaders Training Program exercise with the DIVARTY headquarters at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, which was designed to better prepare the unit for the impending deployment. This exercise proved valuable and allowed me to become familiar with the unit and impending mission in Afghanistan. During this exercise, the task force commander provided me with terms of reference that in general terms provided me with a point of departure from which I could focus my daily duties and responsibilities. This document included the following critical areas of emphasis:

Maneuver Advisor--Provide advice and guidance pertaining to the tactical employment of the three assigned infantry battalions. Extend my experience as a senior infantryman and provide oversight of the staff planning process and current operations functions.

MDMP--Personally assess the feasibility and suitability of concepts developed involving the employment of combat power and ensure effective integration and synchronization. Additionally, ensure operations orders are coherent, complete, and executable.

Interface with the Task Force $3 and XO--Coach, teach, mentor, and assist them in their daily duties and responsibilities. Seek out opportunities to apply my experience to better enable staff effectiveness.

Battlefield circulation--Periodically, circulate throughout Regional Command East and meet with key Leaders and Soldiers in order to better understand the operational environment and factors that impact the task force mission.

Afghan engagement--Periodically, assist the commander in interacting with key Afghan leaders within the area of operation in order to facilitate coordination, understand issues that impact populations centers, and achieve synergy between coalition forces and Afghan authorities.

What really happened

The above mentioned terms of reference served as a start point for my integration into the headquarters, and throughout the deployment proved valuable in providing focus and direction for my contribution to the headquarters. As in any duty assignment however, a number of factors both tangible and intangible emerged and became central forcing functions that contributed to defining my duties and responsibilities. Of these factors, interpersonal relationships between myself, the commander, the executive officer and operations officer, coupled with experience levels and the complex operational environment of the AO combined to add clarity to requirements. I spent the preponderance of my tour decisively involved in and driving the following functions:

Staff synchronizer of the deliberate planning 1. The Joint Operation Planning and Execution System process involving the development of joint operation plans for contingencies identified in joint strategic planning documents.  process--Two factors drove this responsibility:

1) The complexity, uncertainty, and intensity of current operations combined with requirements to coordinate with the vast number of other organizations and units operating in our battle space quickly consumed the majority of the operations officer's time and energy.

2) Similarly, base operations functions and logistical requirements associated with an AO the size of Iowa consumed the XO's time and energy. As a result, the development and initial synchronization of deliberate plans presented itself as an area in which I could effectively contribute and lead the staff's efforts. This became a good news story and in some respects was somewhat synonymous with synonymous with
adjective equivalent to, the same as, identical to, similar to, identified with, equal to, tantamount to, interchangeable with, one and the same as
 handing over plans from a J5 type function to a J3 function for final refinement and execution.

Task force CCIR See ITU.  management and decision point refinement--This is another area directly affected by the two factors of influence discussed above. Based on the complex nature and rapidly evolving operational environment we were forced to analyze and visualize our battlefield from the standpoint of seeing the friendly apparatus, seeing the enemy, and seeing the environment. As a result our CCIR took on a classic stability operations form. Within the headquarters, I led a planning group comprised of the brigade fire support officer (FSO (Free Space Optics) Transmitting optical signals through the air using infrared lasers. Also known as "wireless optics," FSO provides point-to-point and point-to-multipoint transmission at very high speeds without requiring a government license for use of the spectrum. ), targeting officer, interagency representatives and intelligence planners that on a bimonthly bi·month·ly  
1. Happening every two months.

2. Happening twice a month; semimonthly.

1. Once every two months.

2. Twice a month; semimonthly.

n. pl.
 basis refined CCIR and modified task force-level decision points that enabled the commander to visualize, describe and direct operations based on the complex and evolving environment.

Future planning--Again, the pace and complexity of current operations to a degree limited the ability for the operations officer and commander to focus on long range planning To comply with Wikipedia's , the introduction of this article needs a complete rewrite. . As a result, we were able to put together planning cells and teams to develop concept for future operations. Typically we oriented our future planning two-three months ahead, based on predictive analysis and known emerging operational requirements (programming) operational requirements - Qualitative and quantitative parameters that specify the desired capabilities of a system and serve as a basis for determining the operational effectiveness and suitability of a system prior to deployment. . Our goal was to achieve a 70 to 80 percent solution from which the staff could then detail and synchronize to enable execution.

Targeting--As a result of the significant assessment requirements associated with our mission, my integration enabled the brigade FSO to focus on the assessment process. This presented another opportunity for me to apply my experience and knowledge with respect to targeting and lead the task force process. We applied traditional targeting techniques such as the decide, detect, deliver and assess methodology to our environment and identified targets and associated systems coupled with guidance to address factors that influenced the operational environment. Our process and methodology sought to integrate both kinetic and non-kinetic requirements to achieve desired effects. Critical to this effort was the integration of interagency representatives into the process, which resulted in the achievement of unity of effort between coalition and interagency operations. Additionally we used techniques such as the CARVER matrix, a joint targeting tool, to identify a high payoff target list that enabled and drove our process. (See figure)

Other areas of emphasis:

In lieu of the commander--The vastness of our area of operation placed a huge demand on the commander and required him to execute battlefield circulation quite often in order to effectively influence the fight. During his absence, l was presented the opportunity to perform normal and routine type functions ranging from chairing battlefield update briefs, participating in CJTF CJTF combined joint task force (NATO)
CJTF Commander, Joint Task Force
CJTF Coalition Joint Task Force
 level commanders update briefs and a myriad of administrative functions. As the senior officer in the task force and on the forward operating base when the commander was away, l also interfaced with the FOB's leadership and met with local Afghan authorities to discuss operational and administrative issues that required command influence. Additionally, I involved myself in matters of concern with subordinate commanders typically dealt with by the task force commander.

Officer professional development (OPD OPD

Tape symbol showing either the first transaction of the day in a security after a delayed opening or the opening transaction in a security whose price has experienced a large rise or fall from the previous day's closing price.
)--Periodically, we sought to increase the professional development of company grade officers and executed OPDs. These opportunities proved not only valuable for my own professional development and preparation for positions of increasing responsibilities, but likewise enhanced the overall effectiveness and preparedness of our company grade officer population.

Recommendations--As is the case with any circumstance, specific roles and duties associated with a somewhat ambiguous position is largely dependent on personalities, capabilities, and requirements. This fact exemplifies the art of military leadership and requires that application in setting conditions for the integration of a DCO. The terms of reference developed early on by the commander served as a great an effective way ahead. As the mission and time evolved, the command group adapted and opportunities for my involvement and influence became clear. Long range planning and deliberate synchronization are both areas where the experience of a DCO has potential. Targeting requirements in a noncontiguous and uncertain battle also serve as a possibility for application of the DCO. The position facilitates command and control flexibility and allows other key leaders freedom to focus on specific functions and requirements. Finally, with the presence and integration of interagency subject matter experts, another opportunity presents itself. Here the requirement to apply existing doctrinal techniques and procedures to exploit the presence of these SMEs and better enable mission accomplishment present yet another opportunity for employment of the DCO.

My tour as the deputy commander for Task Force Thunder and my role in the command and control BOS, characterizes the emerging nature of the Army's role in the spectrum of operations inherent in stability type missions. The position adds depth to any similar type organization, but requires patience and time to fully define. I encourage organizations considering the employment of a DCO to use this article as a guide in defining roles and responsibilities. For officer's being considered or identified as a DCO, I offer these takeaways:

[] Have an idea on how you believe you can impact the unit and present those ideas to your commander.

[] Confer with your commander up front pertaining to his expectations and thoughts serves as an invaluable template and a point of departure.

[] Avoid gravitating to those things that you are comfortable with, as it will most likely cause friction and or conflict between you and the operations officer or executive officer.

[] Focus on nontraditional roles and functions that require vision and direction to effectively influence the fight.

[] Finally, be patient and look for windows of opportunity to contribute; they are plentiful.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Mundell is currently serving as the deputy commander of Task Force Thunder, which is forward deployed to Afghanistan (FOB Salemo). His follow-on assignment is as battalion commander of the 1st Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division (Light).

                 TARGETS                    ANALYSIS

Support         Population    Provide labor and support infrastructure
System           Centers

                 Farmers       Provide labor, harvest the crops and
                                transport raw materials to drug labs

Production      Drug Lords    Direct the production and distribution
Network                                      networks

                 Chemists       Process the raw materials to final

                  Poppy                Provide the products

                Drug Labs       Processing and production facilities

Distribution    Traffickers    Transport products to bazaars and other
Network                                 distribution centers

                 Illicit          Enable the transportation of raw
                  Routes        materials and processed products to
                               processing facilities and distribution

                 Markets/     Provide the sales and marketing hubs of
                 Bazaars       finished products. Profits are used to
                                 increase harvesting and production
                              capabilities and gain influence on local


Population      * Afghan alternative livelihoods are successful
Centers         * Populace does not support drug production

Farmers         * Afghan alternative livelihoods are successful
                * Farmers harvest alternate crops

Drug Lords      * ANA/ANP kill, capture, distrupt
                * Drug production and distribution networks disrupted
                * Facilitators, financiers killed/captured/removed

Chemists        * ANA/ANP kill, capture, distrupt
                * Drug production network disrupted

Poppy           * ANAJANP destroy poppy as soon as identified
                * Drug production network disrupted

Drug Labs       * ANA/ANP destroy
                * Raw and processed materials destroyed prior to
                introduction into the market (bazaars)

Traffickers     * ANA/ANP kill, capture, disrupt

Illicit         * Traffickers and transportation enablers removed/
Routes          destroyed
                * ANA/ANP vehicle checkpoints established
                Drug distribution network disrupted

Markets/        * ANA/ANP destroy bazaars as soon as identified
Bazaars         * Drug distribution network disrupted/destroyed

CARVER Analysis [right arrow] High Payoff Target List (HPTL)

TARGETS                    EFFECT             C       A       R

Population                Influence           5       5       5
Drug Lords          Kill/Capture/Influence    3       3       3
Opium                      Destroy            5       4       4
Farmers             Provide Alternatives      4       4       3
Drug Labs                  Destroy            5       3       2
Traffickers         Kill/Capture/Influence    3       2       3
Illicit Trade Rts         Interdict           3       4       2
Chemists            Kill/Capture/Influence    4       3       4
Markets/Bazaars            Destroy            3       4       4

TARGETS                       V               E       R      TOTAL

Population                    4               3       5       27
Drug Lords                    4               4       3       20
Opium                         5               3       4       25
Farmers                       3               3       5       22
Drug Labs                     5               3       3       21
Traffickers                   4               3       2       17
Illicit Trade Rts             5               4       4       22
Chemists                      4               4       3       22
Markets/Bazaars               4               3       3       21

Criticality Accessibility Recuperate Vulnerability Effect Recognize
COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S. Army Infantry School
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Mundell, Robert M.
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Previous Article:Taking charge: three elements of successful leadership.
Next Article:Retired Egyptian counterterrorism expert speaks on Islamic militant tactics.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters