Initial brigade combat teams are first step in creating objective force

FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service) – Creating the initial brigade combat teams at Fort Lewis, Wash., is not an end in itself. It’s the first step in reaching the objective force in 2010, and it’s causing the Army to change as well, according to the Army’s general in charge of implementing the transformation.

"This project isn’t about just two brigades at Fort Lewis," said MG James Dubik, Training and Doctrine Command’s deputy commanding general for transformation, stationed at Fort Lewis. "It’s also about taking the first steps toward the objective force."

Dubik recently addressed a luncheon meeting of the officer and noncommissioned officer membership of the Military Intelligence Corps Association on the initial brigade combat teams and the transformation process. He also talked to students in the Signal Captains’ Career Course while at Fort Gordon.

While reorganizing 2d Infantry Division’s 3d Brigade and 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade is the beginning of a long process of change, IBCTs will satisfy a short-term strategic goal for the Army, Dubik said.

The Army needs units that can deploy to anywhere in the world within 96 hours and deliver a credible combat punch. BCTs will be able to handle a range of missions across the full spectrum of war. They’ll be designed to operate in complex terrain – hilly country, woods – and urban terrain, he explained.

"We’ve got to be there fast," Dubik said. "Maybe fast enough to prevent the crisis from occurring or ... to prevent the crisis from expanding or fast enough to eliminate the crisis in its beginning phases."

The general covered the present strategic options the Army has. A current heavy brigade primarily can only deploy in 96 hours where there are prepositioned weapons, ammunition and supplies. Europe, Korea and Southwest Asia are the places where there are prepositioned stocks.

As was the case with Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia, future potential hotspots around the world will not have equipment waiting for American troops.

"It’s not that we want to prepare for these past deployments," Dubik said. "These are illustrative of the future."

Just as one template didn’t fit past and current deployments, no single template can be developed for future operations.

The general explained the requirements for BCTs to fill. Speed is a necessary characteristic of IBCTs, he said. The IBCT’s vehicles can easily be flown to theaters. Once there, they permit the unit to maneuver rapidly. Since the vehicles will fit on C-130 transport aircraft, the brigade can be moved rapidly over considerable distance in the theater as well.

Adaptability is another characteristic. IBCT soldiers must be ready to operate in any geography, with varied coalition relationships, and adapt to whatever methods an enemy uses.

Precision operations are also a must, Dubik added. Digital communications will provide situation awareness so the commander understands the situation. Then he can maneuver the force and make contact with the enemy at his choosing, not the enemy’s.

Digitally internetted IBCTs will also permit dispersed operations up to 50 square kilometers.

During these and other missions, the new brigades will not carry piles of stocks with them and will rely on the logistics system to resupply them when it’s needed.

This new way of operating will require a huge amount of trust throughout the unit. "The more it’s spread out, the more it has to gel together as a unit," Dubik said. "What you need to hold it together are leaders who can build teams. The trust level in this unit has to be very high." That trust must extend to the combat-service-support system so waiting for supplies to be delivered won’t hamper operations.

To meet that requirement, CSS experts are working to build an "anticipatory" system, a "tough thing for transportation guys and supply guys," Dubik said.

"Just-in-time works fine if you work for Walmart. None of us work for Walmart," he said. "Commanders don’t want just-in-time logistics as they cross the line of departure giving you your bullets. Commanders want it ahead of time so their units can do proper ... preparation and rehearsals."

A full-spectrum force requires flexibility, and that comes from officer and NCO leaders. "Leaders are hired to think through problems they’ve never seen before. We can’t have a flexible force and inflexible leaders. The flexibility of this organization comes from here (pointing to his chin) up in a leader," Dubik said.

IBCTs are organizations that allow information to flow freely to share situation awareness. Digital communications are going to extend to the lowest level.

"We want to give every level in the organization access to combat multipliers," he said. "Who does the fighting? It’s the low end, so we want to use the network to give them access to increase combat power."

A great deal of officer, NCO and soldier training will be done within the IBCTs, Dubik said, but the new concepts of military operations will cause officer and NCO education systems to change to keep up to date.

Military-occupation specialty training will also change to produce multifunctional soldiers. At Fort Gordon, Signal soldiers will have fewer 31 series MOSs rather than what the Army has now.

"The same thing’s going to happen in military intelligence, CSS, infantry and other branches," Dubik said. "When you do that, it requires changes to the training base and the assignment base.

"We’re going to contract with community colleges to have courses that are linked to the operational environment taught to squad leaders during the duty day. We’re going to bring distance learning in. We’re going to bring the same rigor to officer-NCO development programs and education that we brought to situation-training exercises when we instituted Field Manual 25-100 ‘Training the Force’ in the early 1980s," he said.

According to plans now being implemented, a standard IBCT will have three infantry battalions; a reconnaissance, surveillance and target-acquisition squadron; an artillery battalion; military-intelligence company; antitank company; and an engineer company for mobility. The brigade also has a civil-affairs and psychological-operations cell.

An infantry battalion has three companies made up of 180 soldiers in three platoons with 81mm and 60mm mortars, Javelin antitank missiles and marksmen in every squad. Each company will have a mobile gun system when it’s developed, plus a company sniper team. Each battalion has 120mm mortars.

The antitank company will transition from TOW II missiles to line-of-sight antitank fire-and-forget missiles. Towed 155mm howitzer, for proactive counter fire, will be replaced by self-propelled 155mm howitzers.

The RSTA squadron will have four unmanned aerial vehicles, with two capable of being in the air all the time during missions. It will also have 120mm mortars.

"This squadron will be linked to the MI company and the entire S-2 (intelligence) world (with) Internet direct from combat-intelligence guys to target-surveillance guys to decision-makers," Dubik said.

The company-commander job in IBCTs will be greatly different than in heavy and light outfits today, the general said. "(The company will be) internetted so you get combat multipliers at the point-of-battle at platoon level," Dubik said. "This is a tough business, and company commanders are going to have a fun time fighting it.

"Combined arms at company level. How can we do it now? Because of the quality of the captains and first sergeants."

Until the science-and-technology community provides expected materiel solutions in about 2003 to permit transition to the objective force, Dubik said, current combat forces are vital options the Army gives the national leadership.

One of those materiel solutions is the future combat system, he said, which will have the lethality and survivability of M1 Abrams tanks but be much lighter and easily deployable.

When technological answers are a reality, the Army enters the interim phase as it transitions to the objective force, which should be operational between 2010 and 2015, Dubik added.

"What we’re doing is trying to build the objective-force doctrine and organization and tactics so that when we get that answer from industry, we can produce the objective force much faster," Dubik said.

"You don’t want to wait till 2010 and say, ‘OK, now we’re going to be revolutionary.’ People aren’t like that. It takes years for people to change, and the Army is people."

This article courtesy of TRADOC’s public-affairs office.

Acronym QuickScan
BCT – brigade combat team
IBCT – initial brigade combat team
CSS – combat service support
MI – military intelligence
MOS – military-occupation specialty
NCO – noncommissioned officer
RSTA – reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition
TRADOC – Training and Doctrine Command

dividing rule

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