What should the Army’s role be in a whole-of -government approach? 

The views and opinions in this discussion thread are those of blog participants and not the views of TRADOC or the United States Army.

6 thoughts on “What should the Army’s role be in a whole-of -government approach? 

  1. The most prominent lesson to bring to the Joint fight is… Interagency cooperation and integrated communications. An example, if you will allow me, New York City (Manhattan Island) before September 11 2001, the agencies of authority (NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority, Homeland Security and the Transit Authority) did not communicate electronically and most times verbally. After 9-11, the city saw the need to communicate and share information to prevent any act against their city from happening, again. They shared technology advances, procedural standards, and established a hierarchy of authority in each probable circumstance. It took a major event, the twin towers falling, for them to understand the actual need for communication. Today, Manhattan is probably the most secured city in the world. All entities of authority inhabiting/operating in the city has electrical communications with the others. The surveillance capabilities can be shared at a moments notice, with a push of a button. A standard operating procedure (SOP) had been established throughout the agencies. No one is performing a redundant action, unless it is in the SOP. These actions are rehearsed at regular unscheduled intervals while being evaluated by other agencies and internally evaluated. We as a military do not do combined or joint rehearsal enough, nor do we rehearse enough with our allies. The Army may conduct rehearsal at the flag officer or staff level, but not enough to become an efficient force with our counter services nor our allies. I will provide another example. In Germany in the early 80’s , we conducted exercises with the Germany forces during Reforger. It was so beneficial to work along side of our allies to see the way the do things and for them to see the way we do things. We would discuss the similarities and how to make our tasks more efficient and effective. Believe it or not, our allies can provide a insightful perspective we are too darn arrogant to acknowledge sometimes. However, we would benefit from conducting more Joint and Multi-national exercises, at all echelons, not just the head shed. We should share our technological endeavors to prevent our efforts from costing so much and the path was already traveled by our partners, “recreating the wheel scenario” (Joint, International, Industry, other government agencies). Our military has become so blinded by their accomplishments that they do not attempt to share the effort or you have to jump through hoops to get a hint of the efforts or the overall progress of their projects. Sharing information, within reason, or providing a general progress or milestone achievements to other joint or allied agencies becomes cost effective and operationally effective. The Army’s Futures Command (AFC) was supposed to do just this for capability development. However, the commands within the AFC are directed by prior developers who are used to “staying in their lane” . They wait to announce any advancement or accomplishment in an area of technology; it’s the “look what I did” syndrome. When you ask them if they considered a company or academia technology, they will tell no because that wasn’t the way they were going. However, we spent a ton of money accomplishing the same end-state, making the same errors, solving the same problems in prototyping, etc.
    So, communication is the biggest lesson to forward to have a successful Competition Phase. Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) should be a Joint and Allied effort to achieve effective results throughout all phases of MDO and provides confidence to Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors at all levels (echelons and ranks). If you have to ask during an operation, what are they doing? It’s too late and lives could be unnecessarily lost and the collateral damage will exceed acceptable levels (public, government & military opinions).

  2. The U.S. Army should build partner capacity in both allies and neutral countries facing threats from authoritarian regimes to deter adventurism. The focus should be on capacities that increase the condition of deterrence by denial, which by its nature is non-escalatory, but some denial by punishment measures should be included. The U.S. Army and whole of government partners should share best practices in Resistance, and every country at risk should publish a guide for its citizens on their expected actions in case of a soft or hard power invasion. The U.S. Army and its whole of government partners should coordinate to have the Resistance Operating Concept published in each at-risk state in their language, and then encourage and facilitate all of the left of bang measures this document recommends. The U.S. Army and its whole of society partners should coordinate with at-risk states to publicize many of these measures subject to OPSEC, in order to give effect to the deterrence. The U.S. Army and its whole of government partners should revamp the Active Measures Working Group to expose authoritarian regime activities and propaganda. The U.S. Army and its whole of society partners should play a supporting role in an effort to expose and incur a cost for those in at-risk states accepting money from authoritarian regimes.

  3. Consider working closer to the other big issues as well as defense. My team is doing a lot of work with the British Army & Air Force is fighting carbon emissions for example. You just need to consider that the DOD like the UK MOD is the biggest public polluter and then ask “what are we doing about it” and I do not mean tinkering at the edges but making a real plan for the future; aircraft/vehicle fleet level change would be a good start point.

  4. I would like to see the Army playing a bigger role in disaster relief operations within the US. It has unique logistics and communications that could assist Homeland Security and FEMA.

  5. I cannot agree enough with the thoughts of Brian Wieck.

    The development of National Resistance and National Resilience plans are a cost effective, non-confrontational approach to deterrence of adventurism by regional and global pacing challenges. The Joint team, spearheaded by Special Operations Command Europe and USSOCOM, have made great strides with regards to the National Resistance/Resilience plans of our allies and partners in the USEUCOM AOR. It should be remembered that both rotational and Europe based forces (both conventional and Army SOF) play a key role in reassurance and concept development/implementation, but the development of capable and credible resistance focused allies is inherently a whole of government endeavor.

  6. I believe the Army’s approach to the whole of government approach is to be present at the political table. This means U.S. Embassy’s Defense Attachés (functional Area 48, Foreign Area Officer) serve commanders and senior policy makers as political-military advisors. They can be a critical tool for the combatant commander, as eyes and ears into a country in the respective AOs. They have the State Department (Ambassador) linkage who understand Military capabilities and contingency plans. The FAO’s are subject matter experts in the host nation political environment. This increased the speed of support communications, and capabilities. In the future operating environment, the Department of Defense will be tested in operations under the threshold of war, and will require Host Nation/Partner Nation requesting the support, or allowing joint training exercises in their nation. In these scenarios State Departments are the lead agent, and must request on behalf of the Host Nation the US DOD involvement in their country.
    Ultimately it is the Combatant Commander’s prioritization of effects that enable them to meet the US National Security Strategy objectives.
    In times of disaster relief in partner nations, the same hold true, State departments (Embassies) initialize the request for support, but the lead agent is usually USAID and the Military components (though the Combatant Commands) merely offer up quick solutions and critical assets (because we have them already on hand) in support of USAID.
    The average Army unit will never experience this. The average Army unit must continue to train and be proficient in their Assigned Mission Essential Tasks, as they represent a capability that may be called upon in time of need.
    Through Combatant Command exercises, and Joint Named Exercises the COCOMs get to train and experience “the whole-of-government approach.”
    The combatant command teams cannot be everywhere, and the FAOs are combat multipliers acting as a feedback mechanism for being present at the table.
    My personal opinion is the Army does not have to solve all the problems in the world. We have to be ready to violently execute our assigned missions when called upon, but the political arms, economic arms and other arms of the “whole-of-government approach” can also attain the desired end state, especially in the future operating environment, below the threshold of conflict.

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