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Regional Forces Essay Sample

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Regional Forces Essay Sample

In 2012, when discussing the regionally aligned forces mission, CSA GEN Ray Odierno stated “We will have units that will train to certain [combined arms] levels, then as they get requirements from combatant commanders they will train and be capable of conducting operations in those areas for that combatant commander.” Describe the benefits and shortcomings of regionally aligned forces and the training scenario outlined above. Should BCTs be regionally aligned?

Mandatory defense spending reductions and the need to maintain a material force ready to respond to crises worldwide” has moved the Army in the direction of regionally aligned forces. Brigade Combat Teams are the most suitable technique of providing combatant commanders with adaptable, responsive, and continually available Army forces. This initiative will also build strong relationships with foreign partners which will increase the security of the international environment. Regionally Aligning Brigades is a suitable method of addressing the challenges presented by an uncertain international environment through the development of the forces needed to respond to uncertain and complex contingencies within the future operating environment while providing support to Geographic Combatant Command (GCC) during shaping operations.

By directing the focus at the brigade level, it will become easier to identify training needs suitable for the sustenance of language; as well as cultural awareness. Proper resourcing and training will effectively become fundamental features of aligned units thereby improving military operations, planning, as well as cooperation with the host nations. Cultural capability enables Soldiers and leaders to understand the ‘how and why’ of foreign cultures and the roles that culture, religion, and geography play in military operations; which enhances cross-cultural communication needed to facilitate mission success. Such specialization improves operational effectiveness by transcending what general Mission Essential Task Lists offer. Training in culture and values has been largely proven by the experiences derived from Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

Another benefit of regionally aligned forces lies in the ability of the plan to cut down costs associated with forward deploying of military personnel or basing them in foreign lands. Regionally aligned units will lead to more stability among troops in their home station, an objective the Army has consistently pursued throughout the past decade of uninterrupted combat operations. The quality of life of Army families is ultimately bound to improve under this arrangement seeing as, though more frequent, deployments will be shorter durations. Regionally aligned forces will also justify soldier retention, an issue that is a major concern in light of the anticipated drawing down of the Army over the next few years.

Lastly, aligning forces regionally will give the Army the chance to refocus on regions that have historically experienced instability; as well as on strategically important areas. It will also enable senior leader to leverage resources to sustain U.S. tactical and operational missions projected to different countries around the globe. An example, is alignment of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and 2/1 Infantry Division. There are plans to use aligned operations for at least 96 activities in 34 African countries within the first six months of their alignment making them a fitting exemplary model for resourcing, training, and potential success measures for the future brigades.

Despite the fact that the benefits of regionally aligned forces are numerous and convincing, there exist several pitfalls that could as well ruin the initiative if not properly addressed. First of all, there is not an adaptive flexible personnel system to cater for the needs to regional alignment. It would not be cost effective to train army personnel in a specific foreign culture and language and then redeploy them to different regions after a short period of time. Language training consumes a lot of time and the skill gained is highly perishable. It is important for brigades to retain personnel trained in their regional expertise. A key piece of the initiative is the personal relationships cultivated by Army personnel during their tours in aligned brigades. These relationships are not sustainable if the aligned brigade representatives are constantly changing.

Another major shortcoming of regionally aligned forces rests in the absence of a defined mission as well as a training focus to go with every regional alignment. It has been debated on whether brigades should be established with a particular combined-arms maneuver or counterinsurgency training emphasis or with the more general full spectrum operations training focus. Critics argue that brigades can hardly train and execute the two satisfactorily enough to be successful in combat.

The effectiveness of regionally aligned forces is also undermined by the fact that there lacks enough enablers from modular support as well as functional brigades. These enablers from the two brigades are usually pooled with the single purpose of enhancing flexibility in order to fulfill “big army” needs. They traditionally theater capabilities and are normally deployed at divisional and corps level. These units are insufficient to deploy regionally and meet continuing emergency operations needs at the same time. It is possible to regionally align combat brigades and still have enough units to cater the broad spectrum of demand, it would require functional and support units to operate rotationally thereby sacrificing the benefits presented by habitual relationships.

The plan to align brigades with global combatant commands is well advised. It presents such benefits as improved planning and execution of operations, greater partnering as a result of cultural proficiency, reduced costs of security operations in foreign lands and more dedicated focus on strategically important areas. Nonetheless, inadequacy of enablers, unclearly defined training focus and lack of a flexible personnel system remains as the major shortcomings of this plan which could potentially lead to failure of the idea of alignment. It can be rightly argued that the Army has taken the right path to regionally align its brigades in order to better serve combatant commanders and build an increasingly secure international environment.

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