INFANTRY CONFERENCE SUMMARY
The Infantry Conference was held at Fort Benning, Georgia, from 8-11 September 2003. Representatives from several units to include 3rd ID, 101st, 4th ID, 10th MTN, and 5th Corps (given by LTG Wallace, CAC Cdr), 5th SFG, and the Ranger Regiment briefed their Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) actions in theater and lessons learned. Below is a summary of the lessons learned. Underlined throughout the summary are recommended focus points to assist units in prioritizing their training plans prior to their deployment to the CENTCOM AOR. The briefings (all in zip format) can be located at the following link: http://www.infantry.army.mil/infantryconference/.
I. Common themes mentioned in all briefs include the following:
1. Doctrine and training provided the basis of success. During both OIF and OEF, flexible, adaptable, disciplined and aggressive leadership at all levels was the most important key to success.
2. Execution of combat missions pairing SF/ODA teams with conventional units such as the 3rd ID/101st/4th ID/10th Mtn has become the norm. Missions are characterized by a condensed planning window; time and place are usually dictated by a local intelligence sources, and normally involve raids/cordon and searches.
3. Basic principles work; master battle drills, apply SOSR, establish base of fire to overwatch all movement, violence of action, apply overwhelming combat power, fight as a combined arms team.
4. Blue Force Tracking (BFT) received high marks from all units in OIF. FRAGOs were received from BFT during long distance tactical convoys, leaders could easily find subordinates in an urban operations environment, and planning and directing via the delivery of free text e-mail messages enhanced situational awareness and helped prevent fratricide.
5. Along with BFT, commanders praised the capabilities of hand-held GPS, PRC-117s, and MBITRs. Numerous opinions were expressed on TACSAT. Most units did not like TACSAT when it was with small bandwidth and single frequency. TACSAT was only effective with Wide-Band TACSAT with “X-wing antenna,” which significantly improved communications on the move over long distances.
6. 101st/10th Mtn/Rangers/SFG all emphasized the importance of physical fitness whether in OIF’s urban operations environment or OEF’s challenging mountains and altitude. The IBA/SAPI plates, although heavy, worked well and received minimal soldier complaints. It stopped 7.62 and saves lives. Most units are attaching the MOLLE pouches directly on the IBA.
7. Marksmanship – OIF units emphasized the importance of CQB, weapons configuration, reflexive fire, shoothouse LFXs, etc. OEF units emphasized KD ranges, snipers, the importance of long-range distance shots, and ensuring proper employment of optics and laser bore-lights.
8. Units across the board were extremely positive about their embedded media experiences. LTG Wallace remarked, “If embedded media is a new standard then we need to train to a new level of media integration.”
9. Non-combat soldiers must become more combat-savvy. Units must establish programs to enhance their warrior ethos to include PT, marksmanship, convoy TTPs/combating ambushes, etc. Prior to an OIF/OEFdeployment, units should train all soldiers not only on the above, but also the following: call for/adjust indirect fire and rotary-wing CAS; cultural awareness; TACSAT/MBITR/HF radio employment; demolitions training; IED and mine awareness; physical fitness- able to adapt to terrain/altitude quickly; detainee handling; combat life-saver (Infantrymen/FA/EN); emergency medical treatment programs (medics); and fieldcraft in a hot/cold/urban environment.
10. On one hand, “Hood of the HUMMWV” and commander-directed single course of action was the norm in planning during OIF. However, units all affirmed the importance of our leader education system and CTCs in regards to planning. One must know doctrinal MDMP in order to know how to conduct condensed, hasty combat mission MDMP. Task Force rehearsals, PCIs are a must. Falcon-View, MCS-Light and Top-scene provided improved map and imagery production capabilities, and paid huge dividends in providing soldiers down to squad level urban operations graphics.
11. Both in OEF and OIF contemporary operating environments (COE), the key to gaining intelligence is the local population and sound targeting principles. Establishing relationships with tribal leaders, government officials, and religious leaders is critical. Companies, Battalion Task Forces and Brigade Combat Teams must have great connectivity, both in combat operations and in SASO, as they pass targets up and down the chain of command.
12. In the SASO environment, FSOs both at Battalion and BCT level, are instrumental in coordinating IO effects and non-lethal targets. The FSO is critical in helping the Battalion and/or BCT staff in integrating the information collection (IO themes, NGO info, etc) and is the key link in patrol debriefing disseminations, NAIs, PIRs and CCIRs. As a side note, most FA Bns in the OIF SASO environment have became maneuver commands to include being assigned a sector, establishing TCPs and patrols, planning and executing CMO projects, etc.
13. In conducting tactical convoys (or “ground tactical convoys – “GACs”), PCIs and rehearsals are critical to success. Every vehicle should have either a tow bar, chain or sling rope for towing capability. During tactical convoys from Kuwait to Baghdad/Mosul, vehicle and personnel accountability is extremely challenging due to the long distances and lack of communications. Every vehicle should have an extra tire with rim, extra POL, fuel, etc.
14. The 5th Corps Commander and other heavy units stressed that fast paced operations early in the campaign made it impossible for our less-maneuverable logistics elements to keep up, much less set, receive, and distribute classes of supply. Additionally, the Army repair parts ordering system did not work in the offense.
15. Much discussion centered on the employment of light/air assault/airborne Battalion scout platoons. Generally scout platoons were not a “mini-LRSD” – commanders ensured the platoon maintained mutual support with their parent maneuver unit based on Medevac, resupply, and extended communications complications. Scout platoons were often employed in OIF as a robust sniper team element, or as a raiding force.
16. Rules of Engagement (ROE) vignette training is critical in ensuring soldiers in the contemporary operational environment (COE) adhere to laws of land warfare.
II. Unit specific points of discussion/lessons learned:
1. 5th CORPS (Briefed by LTG Wallace)
a. Move rapidly to gain positional advantage, strike hard at the enemy wherever he was, control the rear area to the extent necessary for future operations, build logistics power, then do it again.
b. We must continue to emphasize Heavy/Light operations and urban operations in our home-based training. In fact, let’s incorporate even more of the urban battlefield into BCTP and all CTCs.
c. An asymmetric enemy cannot be templated using traditional IPB --the COE is on target.
d. The value of small arms master gunner programs was clearly demonstrated. But we need to review in detail the heavy force gunnery qualification tables in order to adjust to the COE threat where necessary.
e. Call for fire is the norm -- all must be well trained to use indirect fire and CAS including those in the REAR area. Precision CAS was very effective in an urban environment – training must be made available at lower echelons to better leverage this capability. Use of Corps CAS, killbox techniques, and USAF SCAR platforms were effective in extending the reach of Corps Fires.
f. We must find a way to resource LNO teams within our TOEs. Marines provided 11 outstanding LNOs to the 5th Corps staff.
g. CSS units / leaders must be trained to operate, and to leverage, ITV assets.
h. Intratheater airlift was overly bureaucratic, resulting in no value added during key combat operations.
i. Our Battle command information systems must be standard across the whole Army and must also be Joint – there is no room for another 10 years of getting there.
j. Dedicated 25 Khz Single Channel SATCOM proved to be the only way to provide reliable C2 at Division and Corps level.
4. 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION
a. Mechanized forces provided excellent combat capability on initial entry -- tanks, infantry, artillery, engineers and CAS when combined are unstoppable. The combined arms force was dominant, lethal and survivable in urban combat.
b. MOUT= 360 degree threat. CS and CSS assets must be hardened. Must train with multiple threats and terrain, and must train BOS over extended distances.
c. Our artillery worked. Through 9 April 03, DIVARTY had expended the following: 13,923 155mm projectiles, 121 SADARM, 794 rockets and 6 ATACMs; 657 Total 155mm Missions; and 116 Total MLRS Missions.
d. CAS worked extremely well, and joint fires equaled success. 924 CAS sorties were flown. We need to ensure Divisions/BCTs receive the “No strike list” before LD. The OH-58 was excellent operating in an urban environment.
e. UAVs are a must at DIV and BCT level. HUMINT capability must be expanded.
f. The engineers participated in the following: emplaced a 600m of bridge; seizure of seven key Iraqi bridges; and an RB-15 assault crossing on OBJ PEACH. It was evident the combat engineers need new equipment.
g. Troop to task ratio, in battle and in SASO, was challenging. The Division secured LOCs that extended hundreds of miles. This required every soldier to be a rifleman and harden assets. The Division battlespace exceeded 16,000 sq/km – we need to examine Force XXI MTOE and its impact on the limitations of available security forces.
h. The conduct of RSOI / APS is a commanders’ business requiring intense management. APS operational readiness determined success. We found that logistics was the most challenging operation conducted on the battlefield. Just-in-time logistics was not sufficient to support the tip of the spear.
i. BCTs and Battalion Task Forces executed with smaller, more mobile Command Posts. The MSE is not an on-the-move system. With FBCB2 and BFT, possessing a common relevant picture was critical to our success, especially when operating in a non-contiguous battle space.
j. Leaders and soldiers must have the discipline to switch from combat to SASO and back.
5. 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION (AIR ASSAULT)
a. Live fire training in Kuwait prior to crossing the LD, to include individual marksmanship, quick fire techniques, mounted / dismounted battle drills, and squad/platoon CALFEXs, all proved a great way to acclimate from a woodlawn environment to the desert. Using Strike Hold lubricant enhanced weapon maintenance in the desert. Aircrew environmental training in Kuwait, to include NVG crew certifications, desert navigation, LZ / PZ selection, and dust abatement, also proved helpful during OIF combat air assaults.
b. Training MUST continue in Theater even during extended SASO operations. Marksmanship training, convoy LFXs, Walk & Shoot exercises, Air Assault School, armorers course, etc., are all ongoing in Northern Iraq.
c. Stability operations extend unit resources. Sound decision-making and empowerment of junior leaders to make decisions are essential to success under stressful and often ambiguous conditions.
d. Attack Aviation -- AH-64s, coupled with CAS and ATACMS, and linked with JSTARS, EA-6s, and HARM shooters, were very successful conducting daylight armed reconnaissance, night deep attacks, and over the shoulder operations. FARPs must be positioned well forward on the battlefield; their emplacement should be tactical, combined arms operations. Kiowa Warriors are not only good observation platforms especially over cities; but when combined with CAS and artillery, they are especially lethal.
e. Artillery mattered: the 101st fired more than 3500 artillery rounds, 114 ATACMS and 135 CAS sorties. “Walk and Shoot” exercises before deployment set the conditions for successful employment of fire support and CCA. OH 58s were the best platform for CCA and reconnaissance/fire support observer in the urban operations environment. Q36 was great for mortar location. QRF and OH-58 drill (just like JRTC) was the best TTP to deal with mortars
f. Recurring tasks for Sappers during combat operations included: conducting the initial breach of wire or mined obstacle; breaching compound walls; breaching/creating alternate entry points in buildings; destroying ammunition caches.
g. Recurring tasks for Sappers during SASO operations include: assessing and destroying UXOs, clearing routes, and consolidating and destroying caches.
h. Bridge the training gap between EOD and sappers by conducting pre-deployment training on U.S. and enemy munitions and safe ways to destroy them.
i. The M-GATOR is a huge success. Possessing a trailer to haul the Gator over long distances is a must. We found it an excellent aid and litter team asset – load plan 2 rigid litters on each one.
j. Medical treatment/triage/evacuation – Position the ATLS well forward, and organize with Gators to carry trauma kits, water and litters. Casualties will generally be in a concentrated area, rather than dispersed across your AO. Many will have traumatic blast type injuries, requiring immediate advanced care. Don’t keep the surgeon and PA in the Aid Station. Additionally, the medical trauma facility that Fort Campbell opened up about six months prior to the Division’s IEF deployment has proved extremely beneficial to the combat medics and has saved lives. The center, which has life-like injured dummies and environmental controls, which include light/darkness capability and combat simulations, basically replicate the trauma facilities and the POI within the Ranger Regiment.
k. ULLS – must establish CASI wireless during RSOI to ensure connectivity, etc., ASAP.
l. Hardening and “dust-proofing” of automation equipment is essential to ensure its survivability during desert operations.
m. A Friendly TTP FOR HOSTILE CROWDS includes the following:
- Position the local police around the exterior perimeter.
- Meet with leaders before the demonstration, and also meet with the crowd enroute to their destination.
- Reinforce friendly unit to show strength.
- Pre-position non-lethal munitions and forces in riot control (keep soldiers in riot gear out of sight as a reserve).
- Position your snipers on top of roofs to provide overwatch (out of sight).
- Alert a ground and air QRF. Also, use attack helicopters (especially OH-58Ds) to intimidate the crowd.
- Use Combat Camera to gather video and photos of the demonstration. Position snatch and grab teams to secure demonstration agitators.
- Use Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPT) loudspeakers to disrupt demonstration C2 and communicate with the crowd.
- Control the crowd -- concertina can be used both defensively and offensively to position or move the crowd.
- Identify the demonstration ringleaders and separate them from the crowd; Discuss the issues with the leaders away from the crowd; and direct leaders to move the crowd away from the barriers as a pre-condition for discussions.
- Lethal force is an absolute last resort used only when all of methods of self defense, to include taking shelter, have been employed.
- LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU ARE READY -- the enemy is looking for an easy mark, he wants to get away -- show him that you are not an easy target.
- VEHICLE DISPERSION -- 75 m to 100 m or greater, makes it more difficult to correctly target the convoy – this results in late or early detonation and the likelihood that the enemy will not get away. KNOW THE INDICATORS -- Bags, piles of rocks, piles of dirt in or beside the road -- If you don’t like what you see, trust your instinct, stop, turn around, and go another way, and then report observation through the chain of command and let the experts check it out.
- VARY THE ROUTE AND TIME AND SPEED OF TRAVEL -- we know the enemy is watching us and attempting to determine our patterns -- make every attempt to vary this pattern, never take the same route twice in two days (the enemy placed the IED there for a reason, and he is targeting you!).
- ALWAYS HAVE FRONT AND REAR SECURITY OUT -- Roll up or remove HMMWV/FMTV canvas, so that you can see behind you, and pay attention to where you are going -- Determine who has what security responsibilities before you move, face out during movement and constantly scan assigned sectors of fire (Many ambushes are initiated with an RPG shot from the rear).
- REPORT, SECURE AND REDUCE CACHE SITES -- The enemy is drawing his supply of explosives from somewhere.
- TRAVEL IN CONVOYS OF 3 OR MORE VEHICLES -- The enemy may not detonate the IED if he believes that he will be caught -- It is very difficult to successfully attack 3 or more vehicles if they are widely dispersed.
- VEHICLE MODIFICATIONS -- Install machinegun mounts and outward facing seats.
- SANDBAG VEHICLES, WEAR IBA AND HELMETS -- these actions have saved lives.
6. 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
a. 4th ID’s civil-military operations have been characterized by the following: working on 358 projects; re-established power capability throughout province; submitted over $13 million in projects for reconstruction); re-established benzene and LPG distribution operations; over $2.5 million in funding approved for school projects; schools re-opened and end of school year exams completed as of 30 July; Local and NGO Food Distribution System operational (8 of 10 Silos accepting grain ~ over $95k in projects approved for repairs); re-established Medical Distribution System and Preventive Medicine Program (27 of 28 Clinics and 174 of 178 hospitals operational ~ 13 adopt-a-hospital and $450k in projects approved / completed); 5,500 of 11,000 Police Force hired / starting training and receiving new equipment and uniforms ($43 million funding requested in support of program); 42 of 46 Banks opened (July Payroll being distributed to Civil Employees); Repairing Water Treatment Plants and Sewage systems ($3.8 million in project funding requested); IO / NGOs operating within Division AO (35 NGOs, $3.2 million projects in work). Welcome to SASO!
b. The BRT/Battalion Scouts, UAV, and Attack Aviation make a lethal sensor to shooter triad. Tanks are excellent for lazing targets for snipers.
c. The Division does not enough infantry once the armored formation battle is complete. Troop to task ratios challenging -- security of electrical plants, refineries, food distribution, hospitals and gas stations have a high priority.
d. The center of gravity is the cities – they are the basic provider of services and goods. Military police, engineers and infantry operate best in urban operations. Route clearance has become paramount as IED and mine strikes have increased – sandbags and kevlar blankets always welcome.
e. Establishing a positive relationship with tribal leaders is critical to gaining intelligence. Pattern analysis pays big dividends on where to position snipers and QRF forces [usually in poor neighborhoods]. Discovering a neighborhood sector that has little to no terrorist activity frequently led to the home of a terrorist/resistance financier. Often times we discovered weapons and US currency in their back yard. Also, ensure to emplace proper illumination markings on your locally established police forces to assist in identifying them during hours of darkness operations.
f. Attack aviation needs to be on the battalion/Task Force radio frequency for command and control purposes and interaction with company commanders fighting the battle.
g. Engineers were important for reduction of stockpiled weapons and ammunition. Shortage of EOD personnel forced Engineers to perform this critical task. Ammunition inventory, tracking, and monitoring are critical, along with ensuring all ASPs are guarded.
h. PLL and ASL must be robust – theater level parts distribution is broken. Bring plenty of fan belts, tires, generators, control boxes and batteries (don’t count on getting them through the system anytime soon). Don’t forget to bring extra track shoes for your M113s, Bradleys, and Tanks.
7. 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION
a. CTCs are relevant -- fighting Anti-Coalition Militants (ACM) similar to CLF at JRTC; we must sustain the Contemporary Operating Environment (COE) at CTCs. Ensure to integrate mortars, CAS, CQB and Trench/Bunker during SQD/PLT LFXs in preparation for OEF.
b. Air assault training, aerial re-supply, sling-load operations are critical for pre-deployment training. Combat operations are consistently at extended distances—non-linear/non-contiguous battlefield; still no ground LOC. Rotary aviation is Achilles heel—requires intensive management.
c. Mission specific operations in OEF include sensitive site exploitation and cordon & searches. It is critical to integrate logistical support for units spread over long distances. OEF-bound units should train to fight and operate at high altitudes in mountainous terrain.
d. Recommended MTOE changes for Light Infantry BNs include adding the following: Weapons squads; ammunition bearers for machine-gun teams (3 pax/gun); a sniper section (10 pax—3 sniper teams with section leader); a Defense Advanced Global Positioning System Receiver (DAGR) to team level; and MGATORs down to company level.
e. Critical weapon highlights during OEF include: Barret 50 cals are best for extreme ranges in Afghanistan; mortars are very effective—biggest organic killers; shoulder-launched, Multi-purpose, Assault Weapon-Disposable (SMAW-D) easier to carry and hits harder than AT-4; and soldier confidence in organic small arms and crew served weapons is noticeable.
f. Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) met many of the materiel shortcomings identified during OEF 1. Some requirements that are not being met by current RFI/Army acquisitions include: Light weight Army approved hand-held GPS (DAGR); light weight, up to date laser range finder to replace the Mini-Eyesafe Laser Infrared Observation Set (MELIOS); standardized rapid wall breaching kit; door breaching munitions; more Up-Armored HMMWVs; establishing pre-positioned equipment and vehicles to drastically reduce deployment requirements.
g. Find, fix, and finish—in OEF it is challenging finding and fixing the enemy (massing combat power quickly). Active reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance is critical, especially in regards to denying the re-entry of threat across Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
h. Units must sustain the initiative – force enemy to react to multiple dilemmas simultaneously. Also sustain unpredictability—show multiple sets and vary routines.
i. Intelligence drives operations—requires good human intelligence corroborated by other reliable sources.
j. FSO must be able to call and adjust CAS…. not just the ALOs.
k. When an objective is taken, don’t consolidate and reorganize…. immediately start SASO.
8. 5TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP
a. Intense marksmanship training – urban operations environment (especially for OIF preparation; long range KD range for OEF). Lots of ammo expended -- 9mm, 5.56 and 7.62.
b. Most communications Battalion to higher via siprnet and BFT. TACSAT was unsatisfactory – not enough bandwidth. Most unclassified information passed via Iridium SATCOM cellular. SF continues to look for improved distant collaborative planning tools.
c. Teams must remain adaptive and flexible. Conducting joint operations with conventional forces on a daily basis. Florida National Guard was attached to SFG during OIF – FL Nat Guard – they provided excellent security and also assisted SF crossing the Kuwaiti/Iraqi berm. Numerous raids/cordon and searches conducted with conventional forces (3rd ID/4th ID/101st) on a daily basis. Conducted in condensed/hasty MDMP fashion.
d. SF must have physically & mentally tough soldiers. OEF validated tough selection criteria.
e. Humans are more important than hardware. Quality is better than Quantity. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.
f. Cannot emphasize more the importance of battle drills, combat lifesaver and medical training, marksmanship, and physical fitness. Training on direct action skills and TTPs was critical to OIF and OEF success. Additionally, validated javelin in N. Iraq, and the modifications on their LMTV were beneficial in over ground movement in OIF AO.
9. 75TH RANGER REGIMENT
a. The Rangers emphasized many of the same comments above, especially joint/SF/conventional integration, and flexible, fast MDMP.
b. The Rangers emphasized the importance of physical fitness, both in mountainous/high altitude terrain, and in the urban environment.
c. Ensuring a robust number of combat lifesavers throughout the ranger teams/units was critical to success.
d. Marksmanship, as mentioned by 5th SFG, was mastered in the urban operations environment. Again, the majority of Ranger trends/lessons learned have been mentioned above.
III. CONCLUSION. The above summary still does not do entire justice to the outstanding briefings the Divisions, 5th SFC and the Ranger Regiment prepared for the Infantry Conference. Special recognition goes to the Division/Group/Regiment Commanders and their respective G3/S3s who organized and put these briefings together. Additionally, along with the unit briefings, small focus groups of Fort Benning instructors, doctrine writers and soldiers and leaders from the field came together to discuss numerous tactical subjects. The following small group discussion results can be downloaded at this link: http://www.infantry.army.mil/infantryconference/. Fires in the Close Fight; Urban Warfighting; Infantry SASO TTPs; and Leader (OES/NCOES) Education and Development.
CHRISTOPHER M. HOLDEN
TF 1 SENIOR OC (C06)
JRTC OPNS GROUP