by Bill Evans
"Im convinced theres a need now to provide automator support to the warfighter in those divisions we havent digitized ... automation soldiers of the Signal Regiment have the required skills and should be documented where needed." LTG William Campbell.
Last May the Signal Center initiated a force-design update to integrate Force XXI heavy-division designs into Army of Excellence divisions (Active Component and National Guard) and enhanced separate brigades. The FDU action is now with the Armys deputy chief of staff for operations.
The heavy-division designs, referred to as S-6/G-6 templates, were applied to the first digitized division to provide needed automation support to the warfighter. The Armys increased reliance on information technology, information dominance and situation awareness spurred the need for dedicated automation-qualified soldiers. In the Force XXI division, warfighters recognized this need and paid the bill through reducing tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, howitzers and their crews.
The terms S-6 and G-6 deserve a brief explanation. Field Manual 101-5 elevated the communications-electronics (Signal) staff officer from special staff officer to principal staff officer, with the title S-6 at brigade and battalion and G-6 at division and corps. This didnt create a new staff section but changed the officers title, renamed the section and, most importantly, put the Signal staff officer on par with the other staff sections (S-1/G-1 through S-4/G-4).
The S-6/G-6 templates were an effort to apply a standard automation-support capability across divisional units. In addition to current manning, each battalion S-6 section in the FDD was provided three military-occupation specialty 74Bs (information-systems operator-analysts), and each brigade-sized unit S-6 section was given three MOS 74Bs, an MOS 251A warrant officer and a Functional Area 53A captain. Two automation-support teams were created in the G-6 section to support the division main and tactical command post. Each team consists of three 74Bs and a 251A warrant officer.
Although the AOE divisions and eSBs arent yet digitized (they dont have the tactical Internet to provide situation awareness), they are extensively automated. They rely heavily on commercial-off-the-shelf and nondevelopmental-item equipment, computer-literate soldiers and a large investment in local training dollars to keep their automation capabilities updated and operational. AOE units have many of the same information-technology requirements as Force XXI units but without the qualified soldiers to meet mission requirements.
This FDU is an early conversion to the more robust automation-support capability that would occur eventually as the force is digitized. Its a limited application, since the S-6/G-6 templates will only be applied to brigade-level units, separate battalions and forward-support battalions unlike in the FDD, where MOS 74Bs were added to all battalions.
There were two main reasons for this decision. First, the lack of tactical Internet in the AOE force reduced the requirement for automators at that level. Second, local-area network support was felt to be more critical at CPs doctrinally supported by the mobile-subscriber equipment tactical-packet network.
Also, this FDU effort doesnt address information-assurance requirements or manning for future systems or equipment (Tactical Message Service, Global Combat Support System-Army) since those requirements are under study.
FDU actions are a "zero sum game" (no increase in personnel), and in todays austere environment, personnel billpayers are difficult to identify. The increased automator positions are Signal MOSs, with the majority going into non-Signal tables of organization and equipment. There were no Signal spaces or organizations in these TOEs to pay the bill. Without billpayers, this FDU wasnt going to go very far.
Coincidentally, the artillery school was applying a limited conversion of their forces, and these spaces may be applied as billpayers.
|Personnel impact in concept for early integration of Force XXI heavy-division G-6 and S-6 designs, Active Component.|
|Personnel impact in concept for early integration of Force XXI heavy-division G-6 and S-6 designs, Army National Guard.|
The FDU action was an extensive effort across many proponent TOEs and has been successful because of key players support. Emphasis from the field and command support spurred this action and allowed the FDU to proceed. Once this FDU clears the final (DCSOPS) hurdle, more personnel requirements will be documented in TOEs. These trained Signal automators will eventually be integrated into units as modified-TOE actions are completed.
The first phase is the application of this action at the division level. The next step will be to incorporate the S-6/G-6 templates in the corps redesign effort and at echelons above corps.
Training and retaining quality soldiers with unique automation skills will be a tremendous challenge for the Signal Center, the Signal Center Computer Science School and the Army.
Mr. Evans is a telecommunications specialist in the force-integration branch, combat-developments directorate at Fort Gordon, Ga. A retired Signal officer, he holds a bachelors degree in business administration from Benedictine College in Kansas and two masters degrees: one in education and one in public administration from Georgia Southern University. His military experience includes division-artillery Signal officer; commander of Company A, 143d Signal Battalion; battery commander, 212th Field Artillery Group; and senior instructor, Signal Centers Regimental Officer Academy.
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Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.