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ALSA Center meets immediate needs of the warfighter.

As the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) continues, what is being done to capture the lessons learned and the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are paying for in blood? With this question in mind, now is an opportune moment to examine one of the most unique and dynamic organizations within the DoD--the Air Land Sea Application (ALSA) Center.

ALSA is responsible for putting multi-service tactics, techniques, and procedures (MTTPs) in the hands of warfighters, planners, and support personnel as quickly as within six months in order to enhance interoperability at the "tactical level" of war and thereby increase the warfighting effectiveness of the joint force. By examining ALSA's history, mission, command structure, and its contributions to supporting the warfighter on a tactical level, this article reinforces ALSA's existence as an organization dedicated to developing and providing critical MTTPs directly to tactical-level warfighters of every service.

Each service has some form of a lessons-learned department that turns lessons learned into TTPs or handbooks in various forms. These include the Marine Corps Lessons Learned Center, the Joint Center for Lessons Learned, the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), and the Air Warfare Center. For example, CALL does an excellent job of producing handbooks based on Army lessons learned, primarily from exercises at the Joint Readiness Training Center. Generally speaking, the process to create joint publications is very lengthy, and joint publications do not get into sufficient detail to assist those on the ground in the fight at the tactical level. However, the U.S. military will always fight as a joint force, resulting in increased requirements for interoperability and subsequently the continual need for MTTPs with the appropriate amount of tactical-level detail. ALSA has a proven process to rapidly develop interoperability solutions that contribute significantly to the interoperability of all the services' warfighters in the conduct of the GWOT.


Based on lessons learned from Vietnam, General Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff, and General George Brown, Air Force Chief of Staff, created the Air Land Forces Agency (ALFA) in 1975. ALFA was created to develop Army and Air Force coordination/interoperability solutions and was designed to be an independent organization that could cut through bureaucratic "red tape" to rapidly meet the immediate needs of the warfighter. ALFA reported to the Joint Action Steering Committee (JASC) made up of the commanding generals from the Army's Training and Doctrine Command and the Air Force's Tactical Air Command. The agency was responsible for jointly reviewing and revising appropriate Army/Air Force agreements and working toward a series of bilateral doctrinal manuals. Generals Abrams and Brown believed that progress in defining concepts and procedures would then open the door for doctrinal change that would lead to greater interoperability and communication between the Air Force and Army. They also realized that to achieve success, parochial service approaches would have to be set aside.

In 1992, ALFA changed its name to ALSA when both the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and the Marine Corps Development Command assigned permanent billets to the ALFA staff providing full-time Navy and Marine Corps expertise. In 1996, ALSA was approved as a jointly manned and funded agency. Two senior officers (0-6 from different services) were assigned as the leadership structure and served one year as the director before rotating the position to another service. In addition, six Army action officers (major/lieutenant colonel), six Air Force action officers (major/lieutenant colonel), one Navy action officer (lieutenant commander/commander), and one Marine Corps action officer (major/lieutenant colonel) were assigned as joint action officers (JAOs). The rest of ALSA's support team consists of an information management NCO (USAF), an administrative support assistant (USA/civilian), an editor (USAF/ civilian), a budget analyst (USA/civilian), and two office automation assistants (USN/civilian).


The ALSA Center provides a four-service approach to multi-service force applications across the entire spectrum of military operations. Currently, the ALSA mission is defined in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by the service JASC members. The agreement states that "ALSA will rapidly and responsively develop multi-service tactics, techniques, and procedures (MTTPs), studies, periodicals, and other like solutions across the entire military spectrum to meet the immediate needs of the warfighter." These projects provide solutions that cross service lines to meet immediate needs of operating forces. In October 2002, the JASC approved the addition of a six-month fast track and 30-day urgent timeline to their standard 12-month process. To facilitate these responsibilities, the JASC authorized ALSA to expedite projects by coordinating directly with the joint staff, service headquarters, unified and component commanders, schools, centers, and other agencies as necessary. The mission of ALSA has evolved over its 30-year history. As the needs of the services have changed, so have the procedures and focus ofALSA. ALSA provides a unique capability to develop MTTP publications, studies, and periodicals that synchronize service doctrine and complement the efforts of other government, joint, unified, and service staffs.


ALSA is responsible to the JASC for the conduct of its mission and for the approval of its products. These general/flag officers meet tri-annually to review and evaluate ALSA projects. JASC members can selectively involve their respective services in projects. The members have corresponding voting rights on the nature and conduct of any project. In 2004, the JASC approved the inclusion of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as a non-voting member of the committee.


Accepting project proposals from any organizational level within DoD enables ALSA to rapidly meet the needs of the warfighter. Any servicemember that identifies an interoperability void or gap in doctrine, or the need for critical TTPs not currently addressed can present the proposal to ALSA for development. An ALSA JAO team then researches the proposal and submits it to the director, who in turn formally recommends a course of action to the JASC as to whether or not it should be developed into an MTTP.

Currently, no other organization exists to rapidly capture multi-service lessons learned and best practices in order to provide interoperability solutions in the three dimensional battlespace at the tactical level of war. In FY 05, the efforts of ALSA's 14 JAOs resulted in the completion of 14 multi-service publications, 18 assessments, five new research projects, and outreach to 63 tactical-level units including a trip to Afghanistan. ALSA implemented the six-month fast-track production of the Tactical Convoy Operations MTTP (MCRP 4-11.3H). This urgent request came out of the need for supporting unit-level MTTPs on convoy operations in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF). Additionally, an early revision of J-FIRE (MCRP 3-16.6A) incorporated lessons learned from OIF and OEF. [J-FIRE, is a handbook on tactical level fire support measures including the latest joint close air support procedures.] The latest ALSA publication under development is the MTTP on Cordon and Search Operations. It focuses on the ground scheme of maneuver as well as the combat multipliers all four services and Special Operations Forces (SOF) bring to the fight. This publication has chapters devoted exclusively to the integration of SOF and aviation employment. The aviation chapter captures applicable MTTPs for these operations from both fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms. It also describes the utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and nontraditional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets utilizing targeting pods. As many as 75 percent of the subject matter experts (SME) attending the two joint working groups for this MTTP had at least one combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan while others had four combat tours in multiple locations. Above all, what makes this publication unique is that it focuses on the periphery of cordon and search operations that incorporates the nontraditional ISR, aviation, and SOF assets. ALSA provides this added value for the warfighter. There is not another organization better equipped to do this. Many organizations can write an MTTP publication, however, none can muster the quantity and quality of SMEs across the occupational fields as effectively as ALSA, resulting in a publication that is immediately adopted as service doctrine by the Services. Finally, no other organization has the structure to support or capability to produce a multi-service product in as little time as six months. ALSA does not produce handbooks or collections of lessons learned, ALSA produces multi-service doctrine.

ALSA's home page provides the warfighter immediate access to its publications and allows them to view and download ALSA publications in electronic form. It can be accessed on the worldwide web: and SECRET Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET): A dot mil address is required.


The need for interaction and interoperability solutions between the services at the tactical level continues to grow as the U.S. military continues to fight more jointly. Subsequently, the increased requirements for interoperability and the continual need for multi-service TTPs demand the appropriate amount of tactical-level detail. As the joint force confronts the unconventional foes of the 21st century, ALSA remains the only organization with the distinctive history, unique culture, specified mission, specialized command structure, proven process, and capability to meet this demand. ALSA exists to meet the time critical, immediate "tactical level" requirements of the warfighter.

Lieutenant Colonel John Anderson, USMC, is currently serving with the Air, Land, Sea Application Center at Langley, Va.

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Title Annotation:TRAINING NOTES
Author:Anderson, John R.
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Date:May 1, 2006
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