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This is important. Moreso than many of you will realize.

Important for shaping the future leadership of the Army and for capturing and holding the lessons hard-learned this time around. And for many of you who don't realize the importance of this message... you're probably reading it and going, "D-uh, no brainer, what's the big deal?"

Let's go into that, shall we?

Peace, Prosperity, Poultry in Hawr Rajab<br />
Photo by Sgt. David Turner</p>

<p>April 29, 2008 </p>

<p>First Lt. Michael Falk, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently attached to 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., rescues a chick while poultry farmers load 6,000 of them onto trucks in Hawr Rajab, April 27. The chicks were purchased by the Baghdad-7 ePRT to help jump-start chicken farms in the area, which have suffered in recent years due to insurgent activity.

Peace, Prosperity, Poultry in Hawr Rajab Photo by Sgt. David Turner, April 29, 2008.

First Lt. Michael Falk, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently attached to 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., rescues a chick while poultry farmers load 6,000 of them onto trucks in Hawr Rajab, April 27. The chicks were purchased by the Baghdad-7 ePRT to help jump-start chicken farms in the area, which have suffered in recent years due to insurgent activity.

It's the nature of the services to focus on what they consider (and the inertia of tradition figures in here) their core missions and skill sets. It's a key symptom of "Last-War-itis." This leads us to the situation where outside agencies, like Congress via the Goldwater-Nichols Act or Secretary-driven reforms imposed from above and without to get the services to put sufficient value and emphasis on skillsets other than sinking ships and taking down the Soviet Union, or bombing things.

The failure to adapt and shift our service cultures causes us to have senior leaders who are really very good at those big, sweeping core functions, but who aren't that good at other things - something we've suffered from in this war - and to maintain a service culture that doesn't attach sufficient value to those new skills (or re-discovered old skills) that are actually more relevant to the problems at hand. This leads to a whole lot of "rediscovery learning" which has a cost in lives, time, money - and even success.

And because we don't put sufficient institutional and cultural value on those skills, we end up, via the forcing function of promotions and the imperatives of the personnel managment system, dead-ending those officers who have developed those skills, and the promising ones avoid those crucial jobs because they are seen as career-killers - giving us, again, senior leaders who are smart, educated, and unskilled in needed skills. Ask all those counter-insurgent warriors from Vietnam who were forced out or who retired as Majors and Lieutenant Colonels...

The Army is taking an important step to capture and value just those kinds of skills - the ones present in the core of soldiers who are on the Transition Teams and Provincial Reconstruction Teams - jobs that many good officers were avoiding if they could, because they were seen as dead-end jobs, while in fact they are a key enabler in us not having to stay in Iraq or Afghanistan in large numbers for an indefinite time. Good on the Army. For those of you who read this space who have already served in those positions - I'd be checking with HRC soon to make sure that your records are all caught up. So that officers like Lieutenant Falk don't have happen to them what happened to our resident Rotorhead, CW4(R) Bill T, who coulda/shoulda been Colonel or General retired, by my books.

General Casey's message is below:

From: GOMO
Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 2:32 PM

Subject: CSA Sends - Transition Team Commanders (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE


Soldiers that serve on our Transition Teams (TTs) and our Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are developing exactly the type of knowledge, skills and abilities that are vital for our Army to be effective in an era of persistent conflict. These are tough, demanding positions and the members of these teams are required to influence indigenous or surrogate forces as they execute missions that are of vital interest to this Nation. The tasks associated with Transition Teams, from direct combat to stability operations, will be a major part of full spectrum engagement in theaters of interest now and for the foreseeable future. I want to ensure that the officers that lead these teams are recognized and given the credit they deserve.

I am directing that the Major's positions on these teams be immediately designated and codified in DA PAM 600-3, for all branches, as Key and Developmental (KD). Any officer holding one of these positions will be considered "KD" for his or her branch as a Major. Additionally, these officers will be afforded the opportunity, should they desire, to hold an additional 12/24 months of a branch specific KD position (e.g. XO, S-3, etc). Our promotion board guidance already stresses the importance of these positions and this additional information will be added to all upcoming board instructions. Additionally, because the success of these teams requires our best leaders, I have directed HRC [Human Resources Command] to award Centralized Selection List (CSL) Credit for LTCs serving specifically in the TT Commander positions that have direct leadership responsibility for a training/transition team. [This means the guys are getting effective credit for battalion command - a Big Deal]

Therefore, we are creating a new CSL sub-category called "Combat Arms Operations". It will be open to all eligible officers in the Maneuver, Fires and Effects (MFE) branches and to Foreign Area Officers (FAO). It will fall under the Operations category and will be effective on the FY 10 CSL board which meets this September.

As a bridging strategy, for FY09 we will activate officers for these command positions from the alternate lists of all four major MFE command categories - Operations, Strategic Support, Training, and Installation. Officers accepting and who serve will be awarded CSL credit in the Operations category for serving as a Transition Team Commander. Additionally, if selected by the FY 10 CSL board, the officer may opt to command in the category they are selected after completion of their TT Command. Those that do command will receive credit for a second CSL command. If chosen, and they opt not to command, they will still receive credit for their TT command. [This is a REALLY big deal - multiple commands!]

Our ability to train and operate effectively with indigenous forces will be a key element of 21st century land power. We need our best involved.

GEN Casey

H/t, Jim C.


Great to see!
...who coulda/shoulda been Colonel or General retired, by my books. Nope. They would've stuck me with being a political analyst on the Evening Snooze. Would've been nice to make CW5, though.
The TT there (they were called MITT in Mosul in 2007) really impressed me how they were the embedded ones there,not the so-called media.Embedded in local culture, actually living with Mosul families to see what they needed.
That is about time! I seriously cannot believe how long it took for our troops to get those opportunities. My AF Bro was just explaining to me about how he didn't end up taking a certain job because it was a "dead end". I think the AF still has to work on that.
I think the AF still has to work on that. Never fails. Just when the Army has it's Great D'uh Moment, here I am working for the Coalition *Air Force* Transition Team.
As soon as Rumsfeld came into office he started beating the drum for "Transformation." Even before 9/11. He wanted Boyd's Army, lighter, faster to deploy. I've seen a lot of the FCS stuff (and I saw the original FCS proposal) and it's very impressive. But it's equipment. Here it turns out that Transformation really IS vital, but it's mostly changing the way we think. Changing our assumptions. Our culture.
I have been worrying about the peacetime-garrison-politico mentality taking hold for almost two years. Everyone knew the war was winding down. The question was how and what would be left...Watching the bird Colonels moving to position themselves for a post war star was sickening.
Then there are those of us who wished Wes Clark retired as a Major or Lt. Col. Oh well, an army career is not for everyone, and not for some of those that made it a career!
Hey, we send the troops there to fight, not pick up chicks!
Anon - *that* will probably be the best comment of the thread... congrats! Master Roper - as someone who worked for the Prince of Darkness, you'll find me in violent agreement on that issue.
Hey, I haven't had a uniform on in thirty-five years (and even then the hat was a Dixie cup) and I recognize the importance. Thanks, John, for clarifying some of the terminology. You do realize that, according to Murphy's Law as applied to military science, this means the next one will be mass tank battles, don't you?
John of Argghhh! My dad retired as a full bull after 32 years and three wars and said that he knew the dark prince (note that I refuse to capitalize that) when he was a lowly captain... he thought that he was a jerk then and was no better when he was in NATO...
Brick, transformation isn't just equipment -- read Alberts and Hayes on the way that equipment is meant to push decisionmaking to the edge of the organization, i.e. to exactly those who are in contact with locals and know the conditions in their AO. It was the institutional Clinton generals who fought Rummy tooth and nail on this, backed by a whole lot of O6s with no imagination or insight.
Anon missed something: the Ranger is picking up the chicks. Cheers
Heinricks, To the contrary, I don’t think Anon missed anything. He’s just one step ahead of you.
He’s just one step ahead of you. JMH is a tanker. It's safer *behind* him -- unless you're on the range...
BillT, If you're with the CAFTT in Iraq, I need you to email me, asap, Questions abound. Rick Hoppe
Neo I don't think so ..... Cheers
Good morning, I am an Army Major currently attending Intermediate Level Education (ILE), what used to be known as Command and General Staff College (CGSC). I came across your posting about GEN Casey's message and wanted to share a little bit more information about how the Army is changing. In addition to recognizing officers who are capable in the current fight with promotion, another key aspect of changing the service culture is education. The Army has started changing this also. For example, my history class this morning is a 2 hour class on the history of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations from the Peninsular War in Spain (1808-1814) to the USMC experience in Latin America in the 1920s and 1930s. Yesterday, we had a two hour question and answer session with one of the primary authors of the new FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency. Our Operational Law classes and Ethics classes have focused on our responsibilities and duties during COIN operations. In short, the Army is starting to take its lessons learned, think about them, and distribute them out to the force throught its education system. Previously, the Army did everything in its power to avoid COIN and thinking about COIN. This effort by the Army will help to ensure that the steep learning curve that we went through in Iraq from 2003-2007 doesn't get repeated, because the lessons will have been taught to the next generation of officers. For the obligatory note, nothing in this post reflects the official opinion or views of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. The opinions and thoughts in this post are my thoughts alone. Sincerely, Scott T. Kastelic MAJ, FA Foreign Area Officer ILE Class 08-004/Staff Group 30B Fort Belvoir, VA
Trackback didn't work--comments at my place. Bottom line: We at Navy don't get it.
Check your mailbox, Rick.