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Clear the way.

"Whoever wins the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance aspect of the battle wins the overall battle."

--94th Engineer Regiment Commandant (me) and a lot of other military professionals

Sadly, this is my last Clear the Way article. The Army has placed another challenge and opportunity for professional and personal growth in my path. I will be replaced at the end of July 2013 by Brigadier General Anthony C. Funkhouser; and he will be a magnificent, coach, leader, and role model for our great Regiment. I am honored to replace Major General John W. Peabody in September as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division and the chairman of the Mississippi River Commission.

This column will not be a litany of achievements over the past 20 months of my very precious, all too brief, but enjoyable time as the 94th commandant of the Engineer Regiment. However, I do believe that we have made great strides in adapting and refining every area of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leader development, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) for our Regiment. We have things moving in the right direction in all areas, with some extra work needed on facilities here at the home of the Regiment and at home stations around the Army. Please view my 19 April 2013 address to the Regiment at <> to hear a relatively current update on developments across the DOTMLPF. Also pay close attention to the 25 June 2013 announcement of Army plans at <>. These plans and actions may be enabled or hindered by Department of Defense and Army budgeting decisions that will be made over the next 3 to 12 months.

For my last formal, official words, I will return to a topic that somewhat obsesses my mind--the matter of how we reorganize, reequip, and retrain our Army and engineer forces to routinely win the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle (something we have not done well in the past two wars) facing the kind of enemies that we have faced and will continue to face for another generation. We have a lot of new tools and some new experiences to help us see and find enemies hiding among the population; sheltering and defending in compartmented terrain (urban, mountain, and/or jungle); and employing modern and improvised weaponry and intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications capabilities in clever ways that deny advantages of our standoff sensors and long-range fires/strikes. Our inability to routinely win the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle was one reason (in my opinion, the main reason) that we did not achieve more decisive results in Iraq and Afghanistan much sooner.

Let's state it again: Whoever wins the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance aspect of the battle wins the overall battle. I'm a very amateur historian and have searched hard for examples from history in which this was not the case--because every rule must have an exception or two. But I cannot find the exception. Not yet. If anyone in the field has examples of exceptions, please send them to me at <>. Even better, submit your examples and lessons learned to Engineer at <> for all of us to discuss and debate (see the writer's guide on page 33.)

Engineers are central to the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle. Our forces conduct reconnaissance and security operations to fight this battle. To better analyze how engineers ft within these operations, let's consult some very sound, recently updated doctrine. Field Manual 3-90.2, Reconnaissance, Security, and Tactical Enabling Tasks, Volume 2, identifies seven fundamentals of successful reconnaissance:

* Ensure continuous reconnaissance.

* Do not keep reconnaissance assets in reserve.

* Orient on the reconnaissance objective.

* Report information rapidly and accurately.

* Retain freedom of maneuver.

* Gain and maintain enemy contact.

* Develop the situation rapidly. (1)

You can see that engineer reconnaissance, which includes route clearance operations (singly or as combined arms operations) and technical engineer reconnaissance, fits within the first three fundamentals. The fifth fundamental is really the heart of the Regiment's purpose, and it includes assured mobility, protection, force projection, and logistics. The fourth and seventh fundamentals are skill sets that all tactical units, including engineers, must possess.

According to Field Manual 3-90.2, successful security operations depend on properly applying five fundamentals:

* Provide early and accurate warning.

* Provide reaction time and maneuver space.

* Orient on the force or facility to be secured.

* Perform continuous reconnaissance.

* Maintain enemy contact. (2)

You can see that it is not only engineer reconnaissance that fits within security operations, but that our entire family of mobility, countermobility, and survivability tasks; geospatial tasks; and construction tasks also enable security operations to their fullest power. Please make special note of the first and sixth reconnaissance fundamentals, which overlap two of the security fundamentals--reconnaissance must be continuous, and the purpose of reconnaissance and security operations is to gain and maintain contact with the enemy. We can all think back on the fitful beginnings of our engineer clearance operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and how we violated both of these fundamentals. Thinking in terms of Defeat the Device and Attack the Network lines of operations and separating these tasks were helpful for technological development, but very harmful to our understanding of the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle against our contemporary enemies. This cannot continue.

Our engineer missions are seldom done alone; they are almost always part of combined arms reconnaissance and security operations. Like reconnaissance assets, no engineer assets should be held in reserve. We must develop disciplined approaches to analyzing enemy obstacle information and intelligence (including improvised explosive devices) to project the enemy course of action, disposition of forces, and positions. We have not developed this art as well as we must, so engineer company intelligence support teams and enhanced intelligence capabilities in the brigade combat team engineer battalion and echelons above brigade engineer units must be developed, manned, trained, and employed. We must integrate into every mission how we will maintain contact with the elusive enemy after we make contact. We cannot allow opportunities to locate and defeat our foes to evaporate and allow them to fight another day. This speaks to the combined arms nature of reconnaissance and security operations and to our engineer missions that support them. Do not accept maneuver taskings or mission requests that fail the test of gaining and maintaining contact with the enemy. Instead, propose alternatives that will enable maneuver success; enhance the effectiveness of fires; and develop intelligence (including obstacle intelligence) faster and with greater depth, scope, and understanding.

The Army cannot win Phase III decisive operations until it wins Phase II deployment to the joint operating area. I have written about these challenges before, and we are enacting many reforms to better enable our Regiment to open and expand lodgments for the Army in Phase II. We cannot win Phase III decisive operations until we win the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle every day, every day, every day--seizing and holding the initiative from our enemies and forcing them to react to us in ways that expose them to our destructive power and intelligence exploitation. Rapid deployment engineering and engineering to support reconnaissance and security operations (reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance) are the twin operational priorities of our engineer forces today. I am asking that you give them top priority in mission-essential task lists, training time on the calendar, professional development programs, self-development, and DOTMLPF innovation.

Building and maintaining trust are the highest priorities for our team. They touch upon the serious, well-publicized challenges that we face today in taking care of our teammates as we want to be taken care of and as we take care of our children. Part of that caring, however, must include priority training and leader development in rapid deployment engineering and engineering to win the reconnaissance-counterreconnaissance battle.

Good luck!


(1.) Field Manual 3-90.2, Reconnaissance, Security, and Tactical Enabling Tasks, Volume 2, 22 March 2013.

(2.) Ibid.

Brigadier General Peter A. (Duke) DeLuca Commandant, U.S. Army Engineer School
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Author:DeLuca, Peter A. "Duke"
Publication:Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers
Date:May 1, 2013
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