Task Force Danger in OIF II: preparing a secure environment for the Iraqi national elections.
In partnership with the Iraqi civilian and military authorities, TF Danger's mission was "to ensure a secure, stable and self-reliant Iraq ... neutralize anti-Iraqi forces [AIF] and set the conditions for successful national elections."
While in Iraq, TF Danger conducted full-spectrum lethal and nonlethal operations, cleaning out pockets of the insurgency and increasing security for the Iraqi national elections in January 2005. The 1st Infantry Division and TF Danger began redeploying to Germany, Hawaii and other locations in the US in February.
Q What were the most significant lessons you learned in the second battle of Fallujah [November 2004]?
A One is we have great doctrine. Doctrine tells us to attack the enemy from multiple directions at once very quickly, using the best intelligence you have and the most effective weapons systems available, including close air support [CAS].
It's all about accurate, predictive intelligence, so when you attack, you can do it quickly, precisely, violently and aggressively and be done with it. And that's exactly what TF 2-2 Infantry did in Fallujah and exactly what we did in Samarra, Baqubah, Hawijah, Bayji, Balad and a number of other locations in AO [area of operations] Danger. [TF 2-2 IN was attached to the 7th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Marine Division in I Marine Expeditionary Force for the battle of Fallujah.] TF 2-2 had tanks, Bradleys, Paladins, LRAS[.sup.3] [long-range advanced scout surveillance systems], mortars, joint air--all the systems it needed. [See the article "Task Force 2-2 IN FSE AAR: Indirect Fires in the Battle of Fallujah" by Captain James T. Cobb, et al, in the March-April edition.]
At the same time, in this kind of full-spectrum operation, you don't want to kill or injure innocent people. For every one you kill or injure, there are hundreds who are related through the complex Iraqi tribal system. So it's tough work. Precision is important.
The division structure as we know it today with its three division command posts, brigade combat teams [BCTs], Div Arty [division artillery], DIVENG [division engineers], DISCOM [division support command] and separate battalions, is very good--the 1st Infantry Division has yet to become modular. We've moved from an analog headquarters to a digital headquarters and have many collaborative tools, although we need more. The sheer elegance of this division headquarters is its flexibility, redundance and agility to task organize on-the-move--with its phenomenal Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Apaches and Paladins. The key is great Soldiers with solid doctrine and equipment. We have all three.
Lesson Number Two learned in Samarra: Before the first shot is fired, you must be postured to finish the stabilization and reconstruction process in the final phase. You must be postured to fix what you broke so you can change people's attitudes and give them an alternative to the insurgency. You've got to have the reconstruction money lined up, know what the projects are going to be and have empowered commanders at the company, battalion and brigade levels to make a difference quickly.
Q What were the most significant lessons you learned in Samarra [October 2004]?
A Now Samarra is a tremendous case study--we could talk about Samarra for hours. In Samarra, five US battalions and six Iraqi battalions under the command and control of Colonel Randy Dragon and his 2d BCT attacked to destroy the insurgency from four different directions simultaneously on the morning of the first of October. Within 24 hours, it was over.
It was over so quickly for several reasons. We had good intelligence and a well developed and rehearsed plan. We attacked from the march to over-whelm the insurgency in a 360-degree fight with the right kind of fire control measures.
The Iraqi Army battalions that attacked with us performed very well.
In addition to employing artillery and mortars in urban operations, we employed lots of CAS with F-18s, 16s and 14s; our own Kiowa and Apache helicopters were in this fight the entire time. We employed AC-130s every time we could get them.
For the fight in Samarra, we were supported by Predator [an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV] at the division level. We also had Shadow at the brigade level and Raven at the battalion level. They were in the air constantly and did tremendous work.
From the division perspective, we need a near-permanent Predator-like capability that can lase and designate for timely and precise fires. The idea is to reduce the sensor-to-shooter linkage and strike with a high degree of accuracy. It doesn't even have to be a UAV armed with Hellfire as long as it can designate so we can fire Hellfire off an Apache or a Kiowa Warrior from five kilometers away.
Divisions need a UAV that has long dwell time for operations, such as those in Fallujah and Samarra, that can designate for Hellfire in a near-continuous manner. It is all about weighting the division main effort.
In OIF II, which included a significant amount of urban operations, we used all our joint tools. For example, during our year of deployment, we fired more than 8,000 155-mm artillery rounds and thousands of mortars rounds, including in urban operations. We also fired more than 100 rockets in "ripple" rounds [rockets fired in sequence] at the enemy who was shooting at us.
But artillery or a 500-pound laser-guided bomb is not the weapon of choice if you want to kill a small group of insurgents standing on the doorstep of a house in a crowded neighborhood. If either one of them could get there in time to kill the fleeting target, the impact could be overkill and cause collateral damage that would be unacceptable in this kind of a fight. That's where the UAV that can designate for Hellfire comes in.
Q How did you employ joint air power?
A The 2d ASOS [Air Support Operations Squadron] in this division is great. Our ASOS personnel were embedded at the division, brigade and battalion levels and, in some cases, down into companies. The [A.sup.2][C.sup.2] [Army airspace command and control] linkages we developed worked extremely well, all the way down to the platoon level in the close fight with Apaches and Kiowa Warriors in support.
However, we needed JTACs [joint terminal attack controllers] down to the company level, sometimes at the platoon level, to control CAS. In this kind of full-spectrum fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, more often than not, we fight in platoon-level operations.
Now the Air Force ETACs [enlisted terminal attack controllers or Air Force JTACs] are wonderful, but there just aren't enough of them. There's no reason why we can't train and equip COLTs [combat observation lasing teams] and other scout organizations to do the same thing as JTACs.
In fact, we had some Soldiers controlling terminal attacks of CAS in OIF II because we worked so closely with the 2d ASOS. We treated the 2d ASOS as another battalion-level command in the 1st Infantry Division. When you do that, you build trust and confidence among all the subordinate units.
I understand the Air Force is qualifying the Army's first JTAC in July, a 13F Fire Support Specialist [Sergeant First Class Rico R. Bussey], and also qualifying him as a JTAC instructor. That's a step in the right direction.
Q In March of 2006, we'll field the 155-mm Excalibur precision-guided unitary round in Iraq. It has a range of about 40 kilometers and an accuracy of 10 meters CEP [circular error probable]. It is designed for the close fight and minimizes collateral damage in urban and complex terrain. Could you have used that round in Iraq?
A Oh, absolutely. We often were attacked by rockets from 21 or more kilometers away. And in those instances, we used ripple rockets out of MLRS [multiple-launch rocket system] to shoot back at the enemy. If we could have attacked the insurgents from 40 kilometers away with that kind of precision, it would have been terrific.
Q In early June, we fielded a limited number of 15- to 70-kilometer precision-guided MLRS unitary rockets in OIF III. The rocket, which has no duds and a small footprint, can be fired very close to friendlies with confidence and is optimized for urban and complex terrain. Would you have been able to use that rocket in OIF II?
A Yes. There were times when rockets were fired at us from so far away that we committed helicopters with maneuver forces to defeat the threat. That was not always a timely response to the insurgent's fire and put the Soldiers and helicopters at risk.
When we had a good acquisition of the insurgent's weapons system or, for example, confirmed that insurgents were meeting at a specific location, then I'd have fired a unitary rocket in a heartbeat.
Q What tools did you use to see problems from the Iraqi perspective?
A We engaged Iraqis all the time to spread our themes and messages, change attitudes and give the Iraqis alternatives to the insurgency. We applied "spheres of influence," which is a concept the US Army in Europe developed in the Balkans. That means that at the division level, we engaged and influenced a certain set of leaders and people. In turn, the brigade commander engaged a subset, which was his sphere of influence. The spheres went all the way down to the company commander and platoon leader levels. We never crossed into another's sphere of influence unless it was coordinated and deliberate.
So, when we got to Iraq, we knew we had to figure out the Iraqi's political, religious and tribal system and develop our spheres of influence. The tribal system is complex. There are many sheiks in Iraq, and some who you think are sheiks are not. The Iraqis also have powerful imans, both Shi'a and Sunni. We had to sort all that out and figure out who was in charge of the people, so we could help influence Iraqi thinking.
At the division-level, we met with a three different groups. Monthly we met with the governors from the four provinces in north-central Iraq. Often, they would be accompanied by the directors of their provincial joint coordination centers [JCCs]. The Task Force Danger brigade commanders and I met with this group for a half-day each month over lunch to share ideas and cross talk.
We convened a sheiks' council once a month. When I left Iraq, the council had about 12 senior sheiks on it. It took us about six months to figure out who the real power brokers were across the four provinces. This, of course, is a work in progress.
Third we met every two weeks with an Iraqi Senior Advisory Council made up of about 40 professors, exmilitary, doctors, lawyers, etc., including a couple of women. We broke them into four groups and gave each group a problem set to work and then tell us how they would solve the problem. So the council helped us to see problems and solutions through Iraqi eyes. I relied on this group to help us understand Iraqi attitudes and to spread our themes and messages.
Commanders at all levels met with government, tribal and religious power brokers and professionals who influence the Iraqi people and understand the challenges in their areas of operation. Even the section and squad leaders have spheres of influence via their face-to-face engagements with the Iraqi people on the street.
All these meetings had second and third order of effects. That's why it was important for the Division FEC [fires and effects cell] to publish biweekly talking points and messages, so that the entire chain of command was talking off the same "sheet of music."
It was powerful--all those levels engaging the Iraqis to solve problems and change attitudes.
Q Please describe your FEC and how you employed it.
A The Div Arty commander was chairman of the FEC. It was a planning cell with all the normal maneuver and fires participants that you would expect for kinetic operations. But the FEC also determined how to synchronize lethal and nonlethal fires and effects, recommended measures of nonlethal effectiveness (a tough one) and helped me to interpret the reactions of the Iraqi people. So the FEC included civil affairs, PSYOP [psychological operations], public affairs, IO [information operations] and CMO [civil military operations] and the whole range of infrastructure repair engineer staff. The Div Arty commander chaired the FEC and, in concert with the Chief of Staff, briefed me every two weeks or so on the important effort to synchronize lethal and nonlethal fires with the scheme of maneuver.
For example, in Samarra, the FEC had to determine the plan for nonlethal effects before, during and, most importantly, after combat operations. We planned to get the "shooting" done as quickly as possible and then reestablish Iraqi control, put the proper Iraqi police back in control, help the hospital get what it needed and fix the water, electricity, etc. These nonlethal effects all had to be integrated to leverage one to help the other. The process is very complex.
The FEC was the most important battle staff planning group in the division.
Q How did you employ your Div Arty, both traditionally and nontraditionally?
A The Div Arty commander wore three hats: the more traditional hat as the commander of the force FA headquarters [FFA HQ]; the traditional hat of FSCOORD [fire support coordinator] but expanded to effects coordinator [ECOORD] as the chairman of the FEC, which we have talked about; and the less traditional hat of providing the division the flexibility to task organize for unique missions, such as FA battalions as motorized task forces or the Div Arty as a maneuver BCT headquarters.
As commander of the division's FFA HQ, I turned to the Div Arty commander for technical FA expertise--an extremely critical function. He provided expertise on artillery, fire control measures and radar positioning and maintenance. For example, when you have 29 radars critical to counterfire spread over an AO the size of West Virginia, you must know when to change their radiating direction and work to keep the repair parts flowing. Our radars were fundamental to our success, and the Div Arty team maintained the highest OR [operational readiness] in theater.
We brought about one-third of our guns and some MLRS, with us to Iraq and spread this capability out to protect the force in more than 28 base camps. The scheme of fires had to be tied to the guns, mortars and radars, so we could respond quickly to insurgents shooting at us. The price of shooting rockets or mortars at the 1st Infantry Division was very high.
We didn't mass guns very often, although we did in Fallujah and Samarra. Because we were spread out so far, when we massed, it usually was four guns at a time.
The FFA HQ did all that extremely well.
Another nontraditional mission was task organizing the Div Arty headquarters into a maneuver BCT. During OIF II, I used the Div Arty as a BCT headquarters for about six weeks, and it performed very well. On the fly, the Div Arty picked up an infantry battalion from the 25th Infantry Division, an engineer battalion, a Salvadorian battle group (battalion-sized unit), an engineer battalion and several companies and went down to An Najaf to conduct full-spectrum operations.
We task organized the Div Arty's 1-6 FA [TF 1-6 FA] into a motorized infantry battalion with responsibility for Baqubah and, similarly, TF 1-7 FA with responsibility for Bayji. These task forces had two of the toughest sectors in the 1st Infantry Division AOR. TF 1-6 employed lethal fires in support of its close fight in the city of Baqubah, and TF 1-7 also had a very lethal, dangerous fight in Bayji. Both battalions performed very well.
On top of all that, we task organized 1-33 FA, MLRS, with the right amount of engineers and other assets for the CEA [captured enemy ammunition] mission. 1-33 FA did a bang-up job. It picked up stockpiles of enemy ammunition that we either inherited or found--and we found an awful lot--and destroyed an incredible amount of CEA over time, some 30 million pounds. This great effort kept the ammunition out of the hands of the insurgency.
In terms of missions, the Div Arty was the most versatile brigade in the division and the most dispersed to conduct those missions. The capabilities resident in the Div Arty allow the division incredible flexibility and the agility to task organize the FA on the move, as we did in OIF II.
Q What were the biggest challenges of Field Artillery battalions as maneuver task forces?
A The first challenge was to reconfigure, not only with respect to their organization and equipment, but also their thought processes. For example, gun section leaders found themselves as infantry squad leaders in mostly platoon-level operations in the middle of Baqubah or Bayji.
I was very proud of both 1-6 FA and 1-7 FA because they made that change so quickly. Those battalions developed great instincts. In terms of the organization of the FA task forces, we scrambled. The entire structure of the FA battalion had to change into a motorized infantry battalion, including having its own FSE [fire support element]. Some functions formerly performed by the FA battalion FSE to support the BCTs had to be performed by the brigade FSE, not only for the infantry task forces but the FA task force as well.
Having an FFA IIQ allowed us the flexibility to reconfigure the FA and shift functions. We must be careful in our modular redesign to ensure an FFA HQ capability remains in the force.
Q What should we change to ensure the FA battalion is effective as a motorized rifle battalion?
A Although the FA task forces operated as maneuver task forces, I would not change the FA battalion's METL [mission-essential task list]. The FA METL and training must maintain core competencies of providing or massing accurate fires when and where we need them--that's a fulltime job. But the training should emphasize deliberate troop-leading procedures with young leaders in tough positions where they have to solve problems, rehearsals and basic infantry battle drills--skills all Soldiers need.
For the kind of insurgency fight we have now, the FA battalion needs to focus on the dismounted role in the close fight, clearing buildings, training snipers and those kinds of things about six months before the mission.
However to accomplish the mission, we do need a TOE [table of organization and equipment] shift. The FA battalion needs M4s with all the proper optics for the scopes, LRAS[.sup.3], sniper rifles, breeching equipment--all the tools needed for the counterinsurgency missions--in its TOE. TF 1-6 and TF 1-7 didn't get that equipment until we were already in Iraq.
Q I understand you trained Iraqi security forces to protect the Iraqis during the very successful 30 January national elections. How did you prepare them for that responsibility?
A Everything we did in OIF II was to build a secure environment for the elections, including equipping and mentoring the Iraqi Security Forces: the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and the Department of Border Enforcement on the Iranian border. At the beginning of our OIF mission, we partnered a US battalion with an Iraqi Army battalion (or police department or whatever) and established clear tasks, conditions and standards for the battalion to achieve increasing responsibility over time. The idea was to get the organization to the point where it was self-sufficient before the elections on 30 January.
We also stood up 25 JCCs throughout the provinces. They served as Iraqi command posts, at the provincial, district and city levels. We trained the Iraqis to operate those command posts.
At first the JCCs were no more than little rooms, each with a desk and a phone in it. Within 12 months, we'd expanded that into multiple desks, LNOs [liaison officers] from all the Iraqi Security Forces in a given region, a director in charge, computers on every desk, maps on the wall, internet capability linking all 25 JCCs together and to Baghdad, phones, 911 lines--the whole nine yards. And the Iraqis were using the JCCs.
These JCCs were fundamental to the success of the elections. For example, in the provincial JCC in Baqubah on 30 January, the governor, deputy governor, chief of police and Iraqi Army brigade commander were all there along with assorted other operators and planners; they knew precisely what was going on in their polling stations and commanded and controlled quick reaction forces to solve problems. The euphoria in the room was phenomenal.
The 25 JCCs maintained absolute situational awareness of all the 900-plus polling stations in our AOR and made a big difference in the elections.
In addition, prior to the elections, we trained and equipped the Iraqi Security Forces, put them through the military planning process for the elections, helped them figure out how to perform security and mentored them to rehearse at all levels.
We were able to surge a lot of equipment on them about 30 days before the elections: new AK-47s, vehicles, radios, uniforms, helmets and body armor. Their confidence and morale went off the charts. As a result, they gained the Iraqi people's confidence on election day.
Q What message would you like to send Army and Marine Field Artillerymen stationed around the world?
A My advice to commanders is never go into a fight without your Field Artillery--and take as much as you can get with the longest range and most accuracy and precision you can get. I say to Field Artillerymen, "When you come, bring your radars."
I have a lot of respect for the Army's very versatile Field Artillerymen.
Major General John R. S. Batiste, until recently, commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Germany, deploying the division and other elements to comprise Task Force Danger to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Currently, he is the Deputy Commanding General of V Corps, US Army Europe and Seventh Army, also in Germany. He has served as the Deputy Director for Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment, J8, on the Joint Staff and as the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, both at the Pentagon. He was the Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Cavairy Division, Fort Hood, Texas; Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Policy, CJ5, in the Headquarters, Allied Forces Southern Europe in Italy; and commander of 2d Brigade, 1st Armored Division, deploying the brigade combat team to Bosnia-Herzegovina for Operation Joint Endeavor. He deployed to the Gulf as the S3 of the 197th Infantry Brigade (Separate) assigned to the 24th Infantry Division for Operations Desert Shield and Storm.
Major General John R. S. Batiste
Former Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division and Task Force Danger
Interview by Patrecia Slayden Hollis, Editor