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Regionally Aligned Brigades Essay

In 2012, when discussing the regionally aligned forces mission, CSA General Ray Odierno stated: “We will have units that will train to certain [combined arms] levels, and then as they get requirements from combatant commanders, they will train and be capable of conducting operations in those areas for that combatant commander.” Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) is the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army’s vision for providing combatant commanders with versatile, responsive, and consistently available Army forces. The Army will begin implementing a regionally aligned force concept to better support combatant commanders. Regionally Aligned Forces will meet combatant commanders’ requirement for units and capabilities to support operational missions, bilateral and multilateral military exercises, and theater security cooperation activities.

The need to maintain a material force ready to respond to crisis 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. The initiative will also built strong relationship with foreign partners, which will increase the security of the international environment. General Odierno stated: “This “regional alignment of forces” will not only offer combatant commanders access to the full range of capabilities resident in the Army today, it will ‘provide maximum flexibility and agility to national security decision- makers’.

Regional aligned forces will provide the combatant commander up to Joint Task Force- capable headquarters with scalable, tailorable capabilities to shape the environment and provide contingency forces. Regionally aligned forces are Army assigned and allocated to combatant commands, as well as units the Army retains control of it, but identifies to the combatant commands for planning of regional missions. Regional alignment includes Army Total Force organizations and capabilities that are forward stationed; operating in the combat command area of responsibility; providing support from outside the area of responsibility. Regional missions will be driven by combatant command requirements and requires some understanding of the cultures, geography, languages and militaries of the countries where they are most likely to be employed, as well as expertise in how to impart military knowledge and skills to others.

Benefits of Regionalization 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 operation; which enhances cross-cultural communication needed to facilitate mission success. Such specialization improves operational effectiveness by transcending what general Mission Essential Task List offer. Training in culture and values has been largely proven by the experiences derived from Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade.

From previous experiences in Iraq operations, the basic knowledge and training in culture help me to understand the Local Nationals during my deployment. This provides effective communications skills that were the key to success in our unit’s mission. Another benefit of regionally aligned forces lies in the ability of the plan to cut down cost associated with forward deploying of military personnel or basing them in foreign land. 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 interrupted combat operations. The quality of Army families is ultimately bound to improve under this arrangement seeing as, though more frequent, deployment will be shorter durations.

Regionally aligned forces will also justify soldier retention, an issue that is a major concern with the drawing down of the Army during the next few years. Lastly, aligning forces regionally will give the Army the change 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 used 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.

The RAF concept provides numerous benefits. Strategically, it offers the United States both influence in and access to host nations through enhanced trust and understanding facilitated by enduring engagements. Operationally, it enables better integration between conventional Army forces and special operating forces, as well as between the Army and interagency partners, specifically the Department of State and Country Teams. At the tactical level, RAF drives cultural and regional expertise and language awareness training giving US Forces an improved understanding of the operational environment. Despite the facts 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.

The first shortcoming is that 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 then 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. Another major shortcoming of regionally aligned forces rests in the absence of a defined mission as well as the 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 general full spectrum operations training focus. Critics argue that brigades can hardly train and execute the two satisfactorily enough to be successfully in combat. Conclusion

The plan to align brigades with each global combatant command is a well advised. It represents such benefits as improved operations, planning and execution of operations, greater partnering as the result of cultural proficiency, reduced cost 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 flexible personnel system remains as the major shortcoming of this plan, which could potentially lead to failure of the idea of alignment. I’m convinced that the Army has taken the right path to regionally align its brigade in order to better serve combatant commanders and build an increasingly secure international environment. I’m sure that the Army regional alignment will improve the Army’s ability to provide soldiers and capabilities to the GCCs, to help support the United States Department of State efforts to promote greater security and stability in regions and countries whose interests share a common vision of freedom and prosperity.

Bibliography
1. Bacon, Lance M. “Odiermo: Brigade Cuts Needed to Organize.” Army Times, News, 3 March 2012, http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/03/army-ray-odiermo-says-brigade-combat-team-cuts-needed-reorganize-030312w/ 2. Cox, Dan. “An Enhanced Plan for Regionally Aligning Brigades Using Human Terrain Systems.” Small Wars Journal, 14 June 2012, http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrml/art/an-http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrml/art/an-enhanced-plan-for-regionally-aligning-brigades-using-human-terrain-systems 3. Field, Kimberly; Learmont, James; Charland, Jason US Landpower in Regional Focus Regionally Aligned Forces: Business Not as Usual 27 May 2013, www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/parameters/issues/…/5_Field.pd… 4. Odierno, Ray. “Regionally Aligned Forces: A New Model for Building Partnerships.” Army Live Blog, 22 March 2012, http://armylive.dodlive.mil/index.php/2012/03/aligned-forces/ 5. Griffin, Steve. “Regionally-Aligned Brigades: There’s More to This Plan Meets the Eye. “ Small Wars Journal, 19 September 2012, http: //smallwarsjournal.com/jrml/art/regionally-aligned-brigades-there-more-to-this-than-meets-the-eye


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