Thinking Red : Improving Intel Suppor to SF Groups

Here is a version of the thesis I mentioned in the first post in this thread. I've put off posting it until now because I wanted to run it by the senior MI and SF officers who gave me interviews before I made the comments they gave me public, and I haven't been able to do that yet. I decided that I could post the majority of the thesis and redact the interview portions, that's why there are things missing and portions replaced with the word "REDACTED." Once I'm able to get a copy of the thesis to them and they OK what I attributed to them, I'll post the whole thing. This verification is something I'm doing on my own and was not a requirement of the interviewees, I just want to make sure I quoted them correctly and in context; I think I owe at least that much to them.

Although this has been turned in and graded, this is still very much a work in progress, as you will see when you read it. Additionally, it looks like some of the things I recommend are already OBE (i.e. someone else already had the idea and it's getting implemented).

There are also places in the text that seem out of place in a discussion about SOF- keep in mind that this was written to support a masters program in management and leadership, so there were certain theories and topics that had to be covered.

My plan is to ensure that I've got my facts straight and my recommendations are valid, and then look to get some of the thesis published as separate articles. What I would be very interested in is ensuring that the thesis is factually accurate (e.g. the history of SF is correct, that my descriptions of the SF training pipeline are accurate, etc.). I'm also interested in feedback on EAST (the enabler assessment, selection, and training program), the establishment of a skill identifier for SF support, the F3EAD portion, and the force management part, since these may all become separate articles in the future. I'm already working with a friend of mine on an F3EAD article (we have been for a long time, we really just need to call it done).

The above was a long way of saying, "here's the thesis I said I'd post, your comments are welcome."

Feel free to PM me if you think there is anything in here that shouldn't be.
 

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Sir,

I like the overall idea however I do not see the advantage of sending both Combat Support and Combat Service Support soldiers through an EAST program, let alone MI officers. I would prefer to work with a MID commander who understands our jobs and enables us to excel (e.g. keeping the rest of the BSC out of our hair).

Happy to see others thinking about improvements.

Lindy
 
Do you have access to JWICS? There are at least 3 papers by former NDIC students on SOT-A improvements. I know it's not really your goal but a start (improving Intel to SF support).

I do think that staffing another MID for each new SF BN is going to be a challenge trying to put the right soldier in the right job. I'm not sure how we're going to do it in the Guard.
 
Lindy, I have to disagree with your assertion that not all support personnel need attend. I believe the Regiment would do well to implement the EAST program for ALL support personnel. Regardless if the soldier is a mechanic, intel analyst, or supply guy he needs to be on top of his game personally and professionally and a good fit for the environment he will work in.

That said, I hope this (or something similar) comes to fruition. And like Lindy am curious how 19th/20th Groups will deal with it. The NG SF Groups need QC as much as anyone however unless the NGB decides to pay for travel I can see the NG having some serious issues.

Crip
 
Lindy, I have to disagree with your assertion that not all support personnel need attend. I believe the Regiment would do well to implement the EAST program for ALL support personnel. Regardless if the soldier is a mechanic, intel analyst, or supply guy he needs to be on top of his game personally and professionally and a good fit for the job.

That said, I am anxious to see if this (or something similar) comes to fruition and how 19th/20th Groups will deal with it. The NG SF Groups need QC as much as anyone however unless the NGB decides to pay for travel I can see the NG having some serious issues.

Crip

I have to defer to your experience on this: I have yet to get dirty with the guys. I'm still trying to affect change in my own little 4-man world. I will say one thing though: drilling with Spt Co is WAY different than with the NQP guys. Not bad, just different.

It would be nice if NGB ponied up a little travelin' money: my MID commander and I both travel from WDC for drill...but he's an officer so he can afford it right? :D

Who said SDAP for SOT-As? :rolleyes:
 
Do you have access to JWICS? There are at least 3 papers by former NDIC students on SOT-A improvements. I know it's not really your goal but a start (improving Intel to SF support).

That's interesting; I wonder if any of them cited the article I did on this topic back in '04.

I was actually going to do an expanded version of this paper for my NDIC thesis; I decided to do EXINT instead.

I do think that staffing another MID for each new SF BN is going to be a challenge trying to put the right soldier in the right job. I'm not sure how we're going to do it in the Guard.

There are going to be two MIDs per Bn now?
 
I was referring to the 4th BNs. I believe it will be difficult to staff two additional MIDs in the Guard with experienced MI soldiers.

Staying on topic...kind of...do you have any insight how the 75th RR made the transition to the RSTB? My experience was before they got the MICO.
 
Got you. I was wondering where they were going to get an additional MID per battalion- and what they were going to have those guys doing.

Sorry, I don't have any info about how the Regiment made the transition to RSTB.
 
I think it would be good to take a look at what has been happening in conventional MI. Specifically, how the divisional MI battalions have been disbanded and reorganized into BSTB MI Companies. Throughout our military history, having independent units even at the Brigade level has been a challenge due to communications and support. The Army thought up the concept of Units of Action, and we have ended up with the BCTs we have in their current form.

Part of the reason for having a Divisional MI Battalion control all MI assets for a Division, in my view, has to do with having an advocate for MI in the organization with enough rank to ensure proper training and utilization of MI soldiers. Under the current structure, senior MI leadership is much more separated from MI Co's (I'm excluding BfSBs) and I see some serious pitfalls when compared to the old structure. There seems to be a push to want to push MI assets to the lowest level possible, but I believe that the absence of a MI Battalion Commander and CSM is going to and has lead to some instances of serious misutilization of MI soldiers, and had some negative effects on their professional development.

How many times have SOT-A's and HUMINT assets been moved from Group to Battalion level over the years? There are advantages and disadvantages to both setups, but with the current lack of an MI training program for SF like you mentioned in your thesis... some of the supposed advantages of having people like SOT-A's at the BN level (i.e. teamwork) don't really materialize without strong leadership and relationships at the lowest level.
 
Some very good points in your post. I commanded the 5th Group MID and the GSC, and was in command when the bulk of the SOT-As and the CI guys went from Group back down to Battalion. I was in favor of the move at the time. Now I'm not so sure it was the best COA.
 
Good article and relevant to the topic.

http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2010/November/101129-02.html

10th SFG (A) initiates Group Reception and Integration Training

By Sgt. 1st Class Michael R. Noggle
FORT CARSON, Colo. (USASOC News Service, Nov. 29, 2010) – In a program designed to integrate and welcome new Soldiers in to the Special Forces community, members of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), began a Group Reception and Integration Training here Nov. 1-5.
The program is designed to physically and mentally challenge incoming Soldiers, as well as to inform them on the unit's history, heritage and current operations.
Throughout the week, Soldiers were tested in four physical events which included an Army Physical Fitness Test, a 4-mile run, an obstacle course and concluded with a 12-mile road march. The Soldiers were also given a written exam on classes they received throughout the week.
cont'd...

The master sergeant added, "The truth is, it’s a privilege to be in an SF unit, whether you are support or SF. Guys should stay here because of their ability, not because they are assigned here."

Agree 100%.
 
Nice article. I'm in agreement also. It would be nice to see it branch out and filter down into the NG's Groups.
 
I could not concur more with this statement:

The master sergeant added, "The truth is, it’s a privilege to be in an SF unit, whether you are support or SF. Guys should stay here because of their ability, not because they are assigned here."

I think they had something like that at 5th Group right as I was leaving, and it's better than nothing, which is what we had before.

The problem with this model is, it happens after guys already get to Group. For an A&S to be effective, you need to have it all happen before the guy reports to the unit. Based on the limited information in the article above, it seems like all that is being evaluated is if a guy can do some PT and pass a unit history test. Both of those aspects are important, but when is the enabler tested on his actual ability to do his MOS? And what happens to someone who doesn't "pass" this unit-level training? Is it "needs of the Army" reassignment, or does Group have to suck up either a shitbag or a gapped position? Wouldn't it be nice to screen these guys beforehand to weed out the misfits and get people in who can actually contribute to the mission?

When an 18B for example comes in fresh off the pipeline, there are certain standards of grade you can expect from him. While OJT must occur, you can still expect him to be able to do x, y, and z. Your enablers should be no different. That's why SF needs a program like EAST. The support side is not going to get better as long as SF is willing to accept pot luck assignments and the leavings from other SOF units.
 
When an 18B for example comes in fresh off the pipeline, there are certain standards of grade you can expect from him. While OJT must occur, you can still expect him to be able to do x, y, and z. Your enablers should be no different.

Sir,

Sure sounds like you are advocating that support soldiers, like SOT-As, have their own MOS and pipeline vice just an ASI. If we had our own MOS specific to ARSOF Support, we (as a community) would have more control of the output but ultimately reputation would still be very valuable. We're still small enough to know each other and who puts out...and who doesn't.

Again, USASOC doesn't have to create anything new here: MARSOF, and NAVSOF both have programs to select, train, employ, and RETAIN qualified and competent tactical SIGINTers that directly support their SOF in the field.

Why not run us through SFAS to determine our fitness level, our mindset, and our ability to get along with a group while under stress? Then send us through SOT-A MOS specific training IF we get selected.

I believe this idea may have been tried/talked about previously but clearly it hasn't come to fruition.

Lindy
 
Lindy-

Good points. One of the reasons I'm trying to make a clear distinction between SFAS and EAST is because when I was with Group, I saw too many support guys spending too much time trying to be SF instead of trying to support SF. I think the SF pipeline is very adept at turning out sufficiently vetted and trained 18 series personnel; we need an enabler pipeline to provide a reciprocal level of proficiency for our support troops. I think that the respective pipelines should overlap in Robin Sage, but since they're two distinct skill sets, they require two distinct training pipelines. I think it's too consuming in terms of time and resources to train a guy to be SF and to be an SF enabler. And honestly, how many enablers are going to revert back to a support MOS if they make it as a Green Beret? Probably not many.

Again, USASOC doesn't have to create anything new here: MARSOF, and NAVSOF both have programs to select, train, employ, and RETAIN qualified and competent tactical SIGINTers that directly support their SOF in the field.

That's exactly right; I think I mentioned earlier that SF is the only ARSOF unit I know of that doesn't have some type of centralized screening process for enablers. They could borrow from any number of other SOF organizations and make a system peculiar for SF.

I am advocating for both EAST and an ASI. The SOF support ASI wouldn't just be for SF enablers, anyone who successfully supported SOF would be awarded it. That way when recruiters or branch managers are looking for assignment fills, they can query the database and tell it to "pull the records for everyone with this ASI," making the recruiting process much more effective and efficient.
 
The biggest problem with SF support is they are treated with kid gloves. Instead of holding their feet to the fire and forcing them to perform, we have this 'we need to take good care of these guys so they will take good care of us,' mentality- which turns into, 'you can't say or do shit to a support guys, no matter how big of shit bag he might be.' It's the same thing that ends up happening with a lot of civilian employees. Some turd spends 20 years on the army welfare system, then double dips for another 20 years- this time with even greater impunity.

In my first couple months in SF, I had a support guy working in the arms room give me some BS about why he couldn't do his job, he tied it up with a comment along the lines of, "How long have you been in SF? hahaha, you're just a cherry, you have no idea how SF works, if you don't make me happy you'll never get the shit you need at a firebase." I responded with something along the lines of, "Ok, but I've been in the US ARMY for about 7 years now and am higher ranking than you, so do some pushups you morbidly obese POS." I wasn't aware yet that NCOs didn't smoke mouthy subordinates and that standards like height and weight and APFT we're more of a mild suggestion than a minimum standard.

Just some of my thoughts on some, not all, support guys.
Ok, I'm done now.
 
Because there is no hiring/accession process for SF Support guys, what you get is an entirely personality driven relationship. The support guys that want to be there, are competent, and hard workers have to build their reputations, just like anyone.

My first couple years in a previous unit, in group, I had a supervisor that was a dirtbag and should have been quality controlled out of the unit. He left a bad taste in the mouth of anyone he came across, and his subordinates, who all mostly had good reputations, were dragged down by the guy. Somewhat happy ending to the story: We went to SERE C together and he quit on the last day. He had been working a deal to go to another group, and still was able to pcs to that group a few weeks after he quit SERE. Now his new unit is pissed they got conned into taking him, and on the verge of firing him.

At the same time, the acting MID NCOIC was kicked off a firebase and fired by an ODA. He still ended up working as a MID NCOIC.

Even if it is a Goddamn interview, there has to be some kind of hiring process for SF support other than needs of the Army... ESPECIALLY for MI guys.
 
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