This chapter discusses desired capabilities for the dismounted tactical small unit (TSU) and the Soldiers in these TSUs, organized by major areas of TSU function. It describes the most critical capability needs identified by the committee for future dismounted TSUs and Soldiers to have decisive overmatch (as explained in Chapter 1) across the range of military operations.
In the absence of stated formal requirements for the dismounted TSU, from which capabilities could be derived, the committee gathered its information directly from briefings presented by members of the Army staff and other information-gathering activities (see Appendix B), from Army publications and weblinks, and from unclassified public sources.1 Particularly important were the discussions with Soldiers, both enlisted and officers, who had recently returned from duty in small infantry units in military operations. Even without a formal requirement stating TSU capabilities, it was apparent to the committee that the TSU is much more than a “formation” of individual Soldiers and that there is no documented analytical foundation on which to base TSU capability needs. Lacking the benefits of such analysis, the committee began its study by reviewing the missions and capabilities of the current dismounted Army squad and identifying areas where existing squad performance could be improved, whether the improvements were in materiel, in some aspect of the human dimension as defined in Chapter 1, or (more frequently) through solutions that combined improvements from both the human and materiel dimensions.
For the purpose of organizing TSU and Soldier capabilities, the committee used the following five categories of general operational capability. The committee believes that removing deficiencies and taking advantage of capability opportunities in these five areas is the key to giving future dismounted TSUs and the Soldier decisive overmatch across the range of missions and tasks the Army has envisioned for them.
• Situational Understanding includes (a) the aspects of sensory/perceptual data reception usually associated with situational awareness (referred to
1TRADOC representatives told the committee at its initial meetings that the Army was preparing an Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) for the tactical small unit that the committee could use as a foundation for TSU requirements in the study. The ICD effort was apparently discontinued.
below as Level 1 situational awareness), plus (b) the situational understanding achieved when a TSU or individual combines, interprets, stores, and retains Level 1 data (this is referred to as Level 2 situational awareness below), plus (c) the use of that understanding to project possible future events and to anticipate their outcomes (Level 3 situational awareness).
• Military Effects include any of the effects needed to accomplish the offensive, defensive, and stability tasks that may make up a dismounted operation for a TSU. Among the military effects for which the TSU must be prepared are the following:
o Lethal Effects. Physical destruction of equipment or infrastructure, killing or wounding of personnel in an opposing force, and other damaging actions that create permanent or near-permanent damage
o Nonlethal Effects. Temporary incapacitation of equipment, infrastructure, or personnel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesirable damage to equipment, property, and the environment
o Stability (Population) Effects. Effects relevant to the objective of “winning the hearts and minds” of the people living in the theater of operations2
o Stability (Capacity-Building) Effects. At the TSU level (the “village” or “city sector” level), capacity-building effects3 include changes in local (village, city sector, etc.) security, governance, rule of law, and socioeconomic capacity. Positive changes are the types of effects sought through “Village Support Operations,” which aid in defeating irregular threats imbedded in noncombatant populaces
o Humanitarian Effects. Improvements in health, medical, nutritional, and living conditions
• Maneuverability includes both agility and mobility, with a focus primarily on physical capability. Mobility includes the ability to move from point to point across/through various types of natural and manmade terrain, including traversing obstacles, in all weather and light conditions. Agility includes the ability to quickly and significantly change one's direction, speed, body orientation, and weapon orientation. (Note: mental agility—the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly, intellectual acuity—is also extremely important to the TSU and the Soldier. Mental
2Current Army doctrine defines four stability mechanisms for affecting civilians in order to attain conditions that support establishing a lasting, stable peace: compel, control (impose civil order), influence, and support (U.S. Army, 2012, p. 2-10). Of these, the “influence” and “support” mechanisms are the two most likely to utilize stability (population) effects.
3A general description of capacity building not specific to dismounted TSU/ Soldier operations would be as follows: Capacity building is the building of human, institutional, and infrastructure capacity to help societies develop secure, stable, and sustainable economies, governments, and other institutions through mentoring, training, education, physical projects, the infusion of financial and other resources, and most important, inspiring people to improve their quality of life.
agility is not subsumed under Maneuverability; rather, it is a Soldier and TSU capability that is supported and extended by Level 3 situational awareness and in turn supports decision-making for military effects.)
• Sustainability pertains to the sustainment warfighting function, which the Army defines as “the related tasks and systems that provide support and services to ensure freedom of action, extend operational reach, and prolong endurance” (U.S. Army, 2011).
• Survivability includes both physical and mental survival. From a physical perspective, survivability includes not only protection from threat weapons (i.e., avoiding physical damage to Soldiers or the TSU) but also reducing the ability of the threat to detect, attack, or hit the Soldier and TSU. It also includes the ability to prevent death or permanent loss of bodily functions (including traumatic brain injury) if a Soldier is damaged. Each Soldier must also be protected from natural threats such as extremes in temperature, insects, and infectious agents. From a mental perspective, survivability means that each Soldier must have cognitive functions protected—i.e., maintain mental/psychological resilience (this includes avoiding/preventing post traumatic stress disorder).
Because these categories of capability are defined to be comprehensive, they overlap and complement each other. Consider, for instance, the role of decision-making in military effects, which depends on situational understanding. As described in two recent reports on science and technology that would contribute to stabilization and reconstruction operations, the adaptive and decision-making challenges for tactical leaders have grown tremendously with increased complexity of operational environments and range of military operations (Chait et al., 2006; 2007). These environments—particularly when an opposing force elects to pursue irregular warfare in the midst of U.S. Army stability operations—require TSU leaders who are superbly adept at utilizing a range of new operational procedures and technologies but are also keenly aware of and attuned to the entire social, political, economic, and cultural context in which their decisions are made and have effects. For decisive overmatch in these complex adaptive environments, how can the Army best prepare TSU leaders to function effectively? Are current leader selection, training, and development programs giving the Army agile and effective leaders for operations where irregular warfare is an ever-present threat, while dispersed, dismounted units are also pursuing stability and humanitarian effects as primary mission objectives?
The dismounted TSU—today’s infantry squad—must be competent in both combined arms maneuver and wide area security. These core competencies are demonstrated through continuous, simultaneous combinations of offensive,
defensive, and stability tasks (U.S. Army, 2012, p. 2-8; see Appendix C for relevant excerpts defining and illustrating these tasks).
….While all operations consist of simultaneous combined arms maneuver and wide area security in various proportions, most tactical tasks will be predominantly characterized by one or the other. The preponderant core competency determines the choice of defeat or stability mechanisms to describe how friendly forces accomplish the assigned mission. Generally, defeat mechanisms [employed in offensive and defensive tasks] are appropriate for combined arms maneuver, while stability mechanisms are best suited for wide area security.
(U.S. Army, 2012, para. 2-33, p. 2-9)
Wide area security includes friendly force security, as well as security of the local population and infrastructure, support to law enforcement, support to reconstruction operations, and other stability-related activities.
To exercise both combined arms maneuver and wide area security with decisive superiority, the TSU needs capability for all of the following activities:
1. Deny anti-access and area denial capabilities of enemy forces, including criminal elements;
2. Conduct reconnaissance in close contact with civilian populations;
3. Rapidly transition from one operation to another within the same day and within a small geographical location—for example, support humanitarian, security, and combat operations simultaneously;
4. Conduct and sustain operations from and across extended distances and in austere environments;
5. Understand complex situations with the potential for both lethal and nonlethal engagement, especially with respect to how information operations and diplomatic, military, and economic activities may have consequences extending across political, military, economic, security, information, and infrastructure domains;
6. Understand the relationship of local operations to higher level operational and strategic goals and ascertain how best to achieve unity of effort in supporting these goals;
7. Understand the human terrain of its operating environment, which includes the diverse civilian population (national and foreign) and coalition partners with whom the Soldiers of the TSU will interact; and
8. Conduct sustained efforts to build partner capacity, prevent conflict, and prepare for contingencies.
Additionally, the TSU must accomplish its missions under various constraints such as rules of engagement, a decentralized enemy blending with the civilian population, the need to work with coalition and local security forces, and a distributed battlefield.
The role of small Army units (companies and below) in accomplishing the wide range of potential combat (offensive/defensive) and stability tasks has become more critical over time, as illustrated in Figure 2-1. Additionally, a small unit's area of operation has been increasing substantially as the context of warfare has shifted from the mechanized, state-on-state conflict of the first Persian Gulf War and earlier land wars (including the Cold War preparations for Soviet invasion in Central Europe) to non-state players using guerilla and terrorist tactics. As an example, around the year 2000, the area of operation of a brigade combat team (BCT) was approximately 2,700 square kilometers. In 2011, the 4th BCT, 10th Mountain Division, was responsible for 13,000 square kilometers (AUSA, 2011).
FIGURE 2-1. Decreasing size of fighting unit with critical influence and increasing area of operation for a tactical small unit. SOURCE: Based on AUSA (2011) and Dr. Marilyn Freeman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, “Providing Technology Enabled Capabilities to Soldiers and Tactical Small Units,” presentation at the 2011 AUSA ILW Winter Symposium and Exposition, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, February 23, 2011.
To make the TSU and Soldier decisive on the battlefield, capabilities are needed to enable TSUs and Soldiers not only to dominate opponents in lethal and nonlethal engagements but also to sustain other operations, including those with stability and humanitarian effects, for long periods of time before, during, and after such engagements. General capability enhancements are needed in areas of situational understanding, maneuverability, military effects, sustainability, and survivability as described below. These enhancements must be understood in the
context that today’s TSUs already possess a high level of capability in each of these general areas. A TSU can move almost anywhere, under almost any condition. When needed, current TSUs can provide a high volume of lethal small arms fire for a short time in any direction. This small arms fire can often (but not always, and even less often in in a timely manner!) be integrated with supporting direct and indirect fires. Similarly, with its nine or more pairs of human eyes actively and intelligently “sensing,” a TSU walking through a village market today can gain a tremendous amount of information about the interactions among the local population, their reactions to the TSU, and their apparent well-being.
However, neither movement nor lethal fires nor simple presence is exclusively decisive. An integrated combination of fire and movement (in a close combat lethal engagement) or of community presence and noncombatant conversation (in a stability engagement) can often win that engagement, but much more is needed to achieve decisive TSU effectiveness for mission objectives. In addition to lethality and mobility, network integration, protection, socio-cognitive performance, and other materiel and human dimension components of capability together are needed to give a dismounted TSU decisive overmatch in all actions. The next five sections of this chapter explore the TSU and Soldier capabilities required in these missions and tasks by focusing on one capability area at a time: situational understanding, military effects, maneuverability, sustainability, and survivability. After that exploration of required capabilities, the committee discusses current capability weaknesses and opportunities, many of which cross over all or several of these capability areas, which the Army should address to ensure that future TSUs and Soldiers have decisive overmatch across the entire range of military operations.
The identification of specific capabilities for the future TSU depends on many unknowns relating to future Army operations. Therefore, to simplify its analysis and discussion of capability needs, the committee made the following assumptions:
• The TSU is not restricted to its current nine-man infantry squad organization and may be augmented by additional Soldiers or equipment in the future.
• The TSU will remain as a part of a platoon, which will remain as part of larger organizations.
• The TSU will be supported by assets at the platoon, company, battalion, and brigade-and-above levels.
• The TSU and individual Soldiers will need to sustain operations over long periods of time (e.g., 3 days as a dispersed and decentralized force, and 8 days as part of a larger force).
This section begins with the role of decision-making in achieving overmatch and how individual and shared situational understanding is essential to decision-making and execution. In that context, it then explains how three levels of situational awareness are needed to support decision-making and execution that produces decisive action.
Deliberate decision-making is the process of identifying a problem to be solved, developing alternative courses of action for consideration, comparing anticipated outcomes of those courses of action, and selecting a course of action from that set for execution. It is critical to acknowledge that making decisions well is one, if not the, central goal for the dismounted Soldier and TSU with decisive overmatch. The challenge, of course, is that Soldiers and TSUs must make these decisions (1) under conditions of limited information, (2) when they have only limited time to make their decision, and (3) under conditions in which outcomes are uncertain (although it should be noted that as long as the likelihood of an outcome is known, this poses no special problem). Further, in order for the TSU to achieve decisive overmatch in a direct engagement, the timing of the decision must be within the opponent’s decision cycle; that is, it must be made and acted upon more quickly than the time for the opponent to react.
In practice, Soldiers and TSUs achieve this kind of deliberate decision-making in one of two basic ways; they either engage in some kind of formal reasoning or they come to this decision with a more intuitive, or “gut-level” process. It is critical to acknowledge that both methods can work well. In fact, perhaps the central goal of training is to teach Soldiers and TSUs how to make decisions rapidly using intuitive approaches that are built by effective training rather than by slower, formal-reasoning-based techniques. Current neuroscientific research makes it clear that practice does indeed foster this change, shifting the location of decision-related brain activity from the frontal cortex to more automatic and evolutionarily ancient structures as training progresses.
For Soldiers and TSUs to take decisive action in the continuous, simultaneous combinations of all tasks, they will often have to make decisions almost immediately, which heightens the importance of highly effective training aimed at developing effective rapid decision-making skills in every area of capability. Soldiers and TSUs thus must be given both the human abilities required to make decisions that are as nearly optimal as possible and the materiel required to execute those decisions in a timely manner. From a human dimension perspective, Soldiers and TSUs must receive the training required to achieve effective near-optimal decision making in a rapid and intuitive way, as measured using robust and well-validated measures of effectiveness, prior to entering the operations area. For stability tasks, cultural knowledge and awareness are critical
elements of this process. Leaders, in particular, need honed decision-making processes for decisive courses of action and dominant execution using both rapid intuitive mechanisms developed during training and slower deliberative processes that can be leveled at the novel and unanticipated situations that always arise in operational environments.
In addition to training, advances in materiel systems would also benefit the Soldier and TSU leadership. Advanced information systems (including sensors) are needed to provide actionable information to a decision-maker. Additionally, cognitive decision aids (broadly including cognitive agents, decision aids, expert systems, augmented cognition, and the like) would be of benefit for improving a leader’s decision-making capabilities.
Better decision-making and the ability to execute those decisions effectively will always be a critical factor in decisive combat engagements. But they are also critical to enhanced survivability, efficient accomplishment of stability tasks, and improved competency in wide area security. The TSU needs to develop complex decision-making skills for the entire range of military operations, including the ability to succeed in nonlethal situations that involve close contact with civilian populations. Decision-making is necessarily pushed down to the lowest tactical level to perform assigned tasks based on specific information requirements. The scope of TSU tasks goes well beyond offensive and defensive combat operations to include tasks that require varying aspects of DIME (diplomatic, information, military, and economic) and PMESI (political, military, economic, social, and infrastructure) information. To be effective on the streets and in the villages with noncombatants and potential threats alike, the TSU must have cultural awareness and understanding, as well as language skills. The TSU must also have ready access to the cultural and social relationship knowledge of the mission space gained by other units operating in that area previously, in adjoining areas, and in the region.
Of particular importance to decision-making and execution from a perspective that addresses both the human and materiel dimensions is the need for personal and shared situational understanding (also called enhanced situational awareness). A simple definition for situational understanding is “the perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status in the near future” (Endsley et al., 1998). Situational understanding for a TSU can also be viewed as the coordinated perception of change in the operating environment by the individual Soldiers, each of whom sees only a portion of that environment. Full situational understanding requires three levels of situational awareness, characterized as follows:
Level 1 situational awareness (perception) is the Soldier's or TSU's perception of disaggregate elements of information. For the Soldier or TSU, this includes but is not limited to seeing all aspects of the operational environment,
including physical surroundings, enemy forces, noncombatants, friendly forces, terrain, and weather. An example is the perception of sensor images of civilians meeting with insurgents. Level 1 questions might be as simple as “Where am I?”, “Where are my buddies?”, and “Where is the enemy?” More complex questions might be “Which friendly units have been detected by the enemy?” and “Which enemy units are currently firing/applying weapons?”
Level 2 situational awareness is the level at which the Soldier or TSU first gains situational understanding. It is achieved when the Soldier or TSU combines, interprets, stores, and retains the Level 1 information. The interpretation of the information is achieved using personal cognitive filters and fusion algorithms developed through training, combat experiences, and perhaps intuition. It includes integrating information received and determining the relationship among pieces of information and the relevance of the individual pieces to a desired end state. As an example, using the images of civilians interacting with insurgents, along with other information, one determines if the civilians are friendly, neutral, or antagonistic toward the insurgents. A Level 2 question might be: “What is this enemy unit’s objective?”
Level 3 situational awareness is an extension of understanding. It is reached by using understanding to project possible future events and to anticipate their outcomes. Soldiers and TSUs project future events as an outcome of the current understanding of the operational environment joined together with anticipated events that will impact the desired end state. An example of Level 3 situational awareness would be the ability of a TSU to determine if civilians will be honest and open in their discourses with U.S. forces. A Level 3 question might be: “What do you expect this enemy unit to do in the next 10 minutes?”
For Level 1 capability, materiel dimension solutions (e.g., geolocation systems and information technology systems) may play a significant role, while for Levels 2 and 3 human dimension solutions (e.g., training, enhanced memory, enhanced cognitive performance) will often have a higher priority. Coordination and communication among the Soldiers within a TSU or between TSUs engaged in a shared mission or task typically require and add to Level 2 and 3 situational awareness, thereby increasing situational understanding.
Currently, when a TSU leaves a forward operating base (FOB) or disembarks from a vehicle, it has very limited access to technology for command decision tasks such as communicating, developing situational understanding, and understanding the human terrain. A squad leader's communications system provides bandwidth rates in the tens of kilobits per second—a far cry from the multiple megabyte rates available within a FOB. Sand tables and paper maps support mission rehearsal and execution. Sensing during a mission is primarily dependent on the eyes and ears of members of the TSU. These shortcomings prevent TSUs and Soldiers from achieving optimal performance in making and executing personal and team decisions.
TSUs must be integrated into the Army network, with the network being pushed down to the individual dismounted Soldier. They must have enhanced capability in functional areas such as mission command, intelligence, fires, and mission planning/execution. For example, there should be timely, relevant information on location of friendly assets, the identification and location of enemy forces and equipment, the identification and location of noncombatants, and the ability to document and communicate this information to each other and higher echelons. Information should be streamlined to minimize risk of information overload, and it must be timely to ensure that TSUs are not surprised in tactical situations. More responsive reach-back capabilities are also needed to enable synchronized employment of supporting weapons platforms such as mortars and artillery.
The integration of Soldiers and TSUs into the Army network would enhance capabilities in all areas, not just decision-making and execution. To provide the TSU and individual Soldier these enhanced capabilities, advances are needed in communications, information, and socio-cognitive networks.
Communications at the TSU level—among the Soldiers in the TSU, with robotic systems within their operational environment (systems either organic to the TSU or attached to higher echelons), and between the TSU and leaders at higher echelons—are very poor with respect to range (especially in urban areas) and bandwidth rates (associated with the limited frequencies available at the small unit level). The TSU lacks the capability to send and receive secure data, voice, and streaming video at adequate ranges and with sufficient reliability.
For communications networks, advances are needed in hardware, frequency spectrum (particularly for bandwidth rates), and user interfaces. The Army is attempting to address these needs with the Nett Warrior Program, and with experiments using smart phones, thereby leveraging Soldiers’ familiarity and comfort level with personal wireless technologies. However, the Nett Warrior Program is limited by low bandwidth, and the latter effort is dependent on commercial networks. High-bandwidth communications networks are needed that can operate in austere locations, in complex terrain (e.g., urban or mountainous), in all weather, and under day and night conditions. Night operations require communications devices that should not compromise one's location and should be usable with night vision devices.
Current Army initiatives emphasize the “Network” and the “Forward Edge,” which translates into a need, at the TSU, for secure, reliable, and sufficient bandwidth rate to support intra-squad communication, the operation of organic or attached equipment, and links to higher and adjacent units, as well as elements of the local population. This demand for bandwidth is further complicated by the likelihood that the squad will be operating in a joint, coalition, and expeditionary environment, often in difficult terrain and often austere from a communications infrastructure perspective. Given that available bandwidth is usually saturated in
Information exchange (especially for digital images and streaming video) is currently very poor at the TSU level. Bandwidth rate is one issue. Another is that operation tempo (OPTEMPO) does not give TSUs time to download, evaluate, and make judgments on available information; that is, they very easily reach information overload. The need for information varies with mission. While a single image will suffice during an operation, video is needed during planning. TSUs and Soldiers would benefit from advances in dynamic information networks that enhance information exchange and information assessment capabilities.
Technologies and procedures are needed to ensure TSUs have access to information networks. Even if communications networks are enabled, there is no guarantee that TSUs and Soldiers will have access to needed information. For example, as GEN Peter Chiarelli stated in a network-centric warfare conference on January 23, 2008, “Information is firewalled by the bureaucracy. Commanders are unable to get the information they need because of bureaucratic obstacles.” GEN Chiarelli went on to say that insurgents lack the sophisticated equipment of the U.S. military, yet they have become highly adaptable foes merely by using cell phones, video cameras, Internet access, and e-mail (Matthews, 2008). An example of a bureaucratic obstacle is operational security, where classified information from a non-Army source is not shared with TSU Soldiers because of their minimal security clearances and the possibility they may be operating with uncleared personnel (e.g., host nation forces).
TSUs need access to a variety of information networks (including databases) and a variety of sensors (using various mediums, situated on the ground or airborne, manned and unmanned). Capabilities should provide access to both internal (assigned to the TSU) and external (e.g., unmanned aerial vehicles assigned to battalion headquarters) information sources. One of the most critical information needs is knowing the identification, location, and tracking of friendly, enemy, and noncombatant personnel, especially in cluttered urban environments where Global Positioning System (GPS) signals are weakened or completely blocked. Another is the ability to sense through walls or on the other side of obstacles.
When interacting with noncombatants in irregular warfare counterinsurgency operations, TSUs would benefit from a wide array of socio-cognitive networks and biometric tools. For example, when entering a village, a TSU could use advances in dynamic socio-cognitive networks to: (a) identify a person's community, (b) identify a person's association with overlapping
communities, (c) identify and interact with local leaders, and (d) visualize a leader's/person's connections. Within their FOB, TSUs have access to such socio-cognitive networks (e.g., the Tactical Ground Reporting Network) and biometric systems. However, once they depart the FOB, links to these tools are severed. Access to such tools will enable better situational understanding of the human terrain.
In combat situations, these networks should support the Soldier's and TSU's ability to rapidly shape the operational environment before engagements by exploiting every aspect of the populace for its advantage in decreasing the threat from noncombatants, including minimizing collateral damage or loss of noncombatants.
In the context of the Army role in unified land operations, military effects include much more than the traditional combat capability to produce lethal effects on an opposing force (see Appendix C). The dismounted TSU and Soldier also need nonlethal capabilities to counter, control, disarm, or disperse individuals who may or may not be a potentially lethal threat. Military effects also encompass the ways to influence and support people and communities, in order to succeed in stability tasks.
The following statement on squad lethality is taken from an article entitled “The Infantry Squad,” written by LTG Robert Brown when he was Commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence:
The ability to find, fix, and finish the enemy is paramount to any tactical formation. We must maintain it and improve upon it. The squad’s weapons must complement each other and give the squad the capability to use both precision direct fires and devastating area fires. Ammunition should kill or incapacitate an armored enemy as well as an insurgent without body armor. We must also maintain and improve the squad’s capability to deliver high-explosive counter-defilade fires against an entrenched enemy.
(Brown, 2011, p.9)
In this statement, the key words for defining the lethal effects capability desired for a dismounted TSU are “weapons must complement each other,” “use both precision direct fires and devastating area fires,” “ammunition should kill or incapacitate” and “deliver high-explosive counter-defilade fires.”
The current TSU's complement of weapons makes the TSU quite lethal. Of course, there is always room for enhancing weapon capabilities—to include
increased range and terminal ballistics performance—and shooter performance. The addition to the squad weapons inventory of the XM-25 rifle, with its airburst rounds, will significantly enhance the TSU’s lethality. TSU lethality can be further enhanced with the following improvements to offensive and defensive operations.
TSUs must be able to find, fix, and engage an enemy at their choosing. They need the ability to initiate contact rather than be surprised and have to reach to contact. TSUs must be able to quickly synchronize organic and supporting Army fires (e.g., heavy machine gun, mortar, artillery), as well as joint fires. TSUs must have the capability to employ precision targeting—e.g., GPS-guided mortar rounds that allow for control prior to firing and during the flight of the round. Unique to defensive operations is the TSU's need for lethal capability against tactical improvised unmanned aerial vehicles.
Overall TSU lethality is greatly dependent on the individual Soldier's weapon performance. Cross-training a Soldier to be proficient in a number of weapons provides the TSU leader with increased flexibility in combat lethality as TSU members are injured. As budgets become tighter and training ammunition is less available, it will be difficult to maintain individual Soldier proficiencies on multiple weapons.
Over the past 10 years, the Army’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted the importance of the dismounted Soldier in unified land operations. These engagements have also highlighted the many shortcomings that still exist in making the Soldier dominant (giving the Soldier decisive overmatch) across the range of military operations. Although this section focuses primarily on the dismounted infantryman, the infantry squad, infantry platoon, infantry company, and infantry battalion, one should never forget that all Soldiers, regardless of operational function, have similar requirements in the areas of lethal and nonlethal effects and protection. Ensuring that the tip of the spear is dominant will also better enable all forces in the operational environment.
The equipment of an infantry Soldier has a generic component, including items such as uniforms and body armor that apply to all of the Soldiers in an operational environment, and an assignment-specific component, which depends on the Soldier’s position within a unit and the type of unit (e.g., heavy infantry, infantry, rangers, or Stryker infantry). For example, by the modified table of organization and equipment, infantry rifle squads are configured the same regardless of parent organization—that is, whether they are in a light infantry, infantry, air assault, airborne, or ranger unit. Figure 2-2 depicts the generic dismounted infantry squad currently found in all types of units.
The primary difference in the squad’s lethal component exists at the platoon level, where the rifle squad is supported by either two machine gunners at the platoon headquarters in light infantry organizations, three machine gunners in the weapons squad of a ranger platoon, or two machine gunners and two antiarmor Javelin gunners in infantry, airborne, and air assault platoons.
The lethal component differences are even further amplified when one compares the direct fire support available to heavy infantry squads from supporting Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Tanks and for Stryker infantry
squads with the direct fire support from their infantry carrier, anti-armor tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile carrier, and mobile protected gun. Obviously, the mobility and load carrying capabilities of the squad also vary greatly by the type of unit.
FIGURE 2-2. Generic U.S. Army rifle squad. SOURCE: U.S. Army, 1992.
To be decisive in stability and other operations short of deadly combat, dismounted TSUs also need less-than-lethal alternatives to lethal weapons. Such nonlethal weapons can give Soldiers and TSUs more engagement options and prevent the escalation of tense situations in stabilization operations.
There are many capabilities that are unique to or have greater importance in stability and civil-military operations (Chait et al., 2006; Chait et al., 2007). These include but are not limited to the following examples.
• Wide area security includes the wide area security tasks discussed earlier in this chapter.
• Patrols for stability tasks. Often these patrols are not combat patrols but rather humanitarian, military police, and presence patrols. TSUs must be able to quickly transition, both mentally and physically, from being a combat patrol to a humanitarian or police patrol.
• Checkpoint security. To allow traffic to flow through checkpoints securely yet efficiently, which supports the legitimacy of governance and the stability objective of socioeconomic development, TSUs need the capability to screen people and equipment quickly, yet be able to identify individuals of interest and weapons or contraband with a high probability of detection and low rate of false positives. Sensors and information systems are needed that can: (1) quickly compare visible physiological markers against an intelligence database maintained at higher echelon, and (2) identify molecular and other signatures of hidden or disguised explosives, contraband, and weapons.
• Communicating and information sharing with non-U.S. security forces and non-military personnel, including personnel from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). TSUs must be able to rapidly communicate and share information with security forces from allied nations and from the host nation local security forces (both military and police). TSUs also need to communicate and share information with non-military personnel, especially representatives from the U.S. Department of State, foreign governments, and NGOs (e.g., the International Red Cross).
• Actions based on situational understanding of State Department and NGO operations. The actions of the TSU must be aligned with and support State Department operations (especially the U.S. Agency for International Development) and NGOs. This is especially important if the TSU must transition to combat tasks in the midst of a primarily stability/humanitarian operation.
• Actions that require enhanced cultural awareness. For situational understanding of the needs and perspectives of the local populace, an increased cultural awareness is needed by both Soldiers and TSUs, so as not to commit, for instance, a faux pas that negates weeks or even months of hard work in winning the support of the local populace.
• Increased demand for data collection. To support the commander's assessment of stability operations, a significant burden may be placed on the TSU to collect data to support assessments in the following four areas:
o Security is the protection from threats and other activities of insurgent, terrorist, criminal, nationalist, ethnic, and extremist groups.
o Governance is the collective process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). It may be analyzed by three components: process, participation and accountability.
o Rule-of-law is dispute resolution as it applies to person-to-person, person-to-group, and group-to-group disputes. Rule-of-law may include familiar systems such as a constitution and national laws; local district or village laws; and courts, judges and police forces; as well as systems unfamiliar to most Americans, such as religious laws (e.g., Sharia laws).
At the dismounted TSU level, as well as at the theater-wide level of Army operations, socioeconomic support capability includes actions that build capacity of social and economic institutions so they may withstand and diminish threats such as those identified above under “security.” Examples of this capability include establishing governing institutions, improving the existing transportation infrastructure, providing basic needs (water, electricity, sewage, etc.), expanding the existing education infrastructure, improving access to medical facilities, and providing high-impact economic (agriculture and industry) assistance. Related objectives include reducing illicit economic activities that undermine stability objectives, such as local or national corruption and illegal or harmful economic activities. Examples of the latter in recent Army theaters of operation include interdicting cultivation of opium poppies and the processing/distribution of narcotics in Afghanistan.
Tactical maneuverability (combination of mobility and agility) is difficult to achieve in complex, austere, and harsh terrains and at a high OPTEMPO. To effectively close with and neutralize the enemy utilizing fire and maneuver, mobility for the Soldier and TSU must be equal to or better than that of adversaries. Survivability focused on heavy personal armor will reduce mobility, so survivability ensembles must allow for adversary-competitive mobility, while keeping casualties within strategic expectations.
TSU and Soldier maneuverability needs vary with roles, missions, and phases of a mission. For example, dismounted rifle TSUs (those that close with and neutralize the enemy) will require more maneuverability than the heavy weapons TSUs (e.g., those in a heavy weapons platoon) (HQDA, 2007). Additionally, TSUs augmented by heavy weapons—such things as heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, and associated ammunition—have greater need for improved mobility rather than agility. With regard to phases of missions, TSUs carry a maximum load to assembly areas, a smaller load to preassault positions, and finally their combat load during the assault. During current operations, the unloaded equipment is secured by other parent organizational elements. In future operations, autonomous ground vehicles may be available for carrying the loads, but the TSU may still have to offload the equipment, swap the equipment out during each phase of the operation, and provide for security.
TSUs also need better maneuverability in complex terrain (e.g., urban, mountainous, and jungle). As mentioned earlier for urban operations, TSUs must not be constrained by ground-level doors and windows for assaulting a building nor by stairwells for vertical movement within a building.
Small units will be called upon to operate independently for extended periods of time with increasing OPTEMPO. For the Soldier and TSU, this translates into sustainability needs for power and energy less tethered to the logistics base. It also signals the need for innovations in training both on the ground and in the Army’s traditional training centers (or schoolhouses).
Energy is a ubiquitous quantity, and the term is often used interchangeably with “power,” which is the rate at which energy is used. By the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another. In a sense, it is the “currency of the universe” in that everything we see, measure, construct, and do has an energy budget associated with it. As a result, there is a continuing search for dense forms of energy that can be readily applied to the insatiable appetite of a growing world population. Energy can be extracted from its storage in the atomic nucleus, chemical bonds, or gravitational field and from energy sources such as the wind and solar radiation (which ultimately derive from nuclear energy sources in the Sun).
Two prior National Research Council (NRC) studies considered power and energy for the dismounted Soldier exclusively (NRC, 1997; 2004). These studies concluded that power reductions and conservation must be part of the overall solution to meet Soldier’s needs, but in ensuing years energy and power demands for the dismounted Soldier have only increased as the numbers and variety of electronics in his equipment have proliferated. This study, unlike the earlier studies, examines the needs for power and energy within the overall context of ensuring that dismounted TSUs have decisive overmatch through superior capabilities in the areas of situational understanding, military effects, maneuverability, supportability, and survivability.
Why Energy is a Problem
The focus of this study is the individual solider and how to make him/her overwhelmingly superior to any adversary. The revolution in digital technology has made it possible to equip the Soldier with unprecedented capability such as real time situational awareness through computer displays that overlay data on maps showing the location of friend and foe, local Internet-like capability, and personal weapons that use electronic systems to enhance lethality. All of these capabilities are powered by local energy sources carried by the Soldier. If one looks at the Soldier on today’s battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq, the image is one of a grossly overloaded Soldier in the hot desert sun, struggling with total
loads sometimes exceeding 100 pounds or more for extended missions (Figure 2-3). A substantial fraction of that load is associated with the energy supply needed to power the Soldier in the form of food, to power his lethal equipment in the form of explosives or propellants, and in the form of batteries to drive the ever-expanding array of electronic tools designed to improve his fighting skills and make him more decisive.
For a dismounted mission, Soldiers must carry all of their energy in various storage formats or rely on others to provide them with timely resupply. In any case, it requires expenditure of energy to construct suitable energy storage devices that dismounted Soldier will use in addition to requiring energy to transport resupply to them. These expenditures translate to monetary costs to produce energy storage units, transport the units to the Soldier, and store them in theater. To a large extent, these costs drive what is available. Since Soldiers are limited in what they can carry, improving the density of energy storage media is a primary concern. Different modes of energy storage can be compared using a common measure of energy density such as watt-hours per kilogram. A concern for efficiency in developing and distributing energy resources also leads to the need for an energy cost metric, such as dollars per watt-hour or dollars per gallon of logistic fuel, delivered to the Soldier.
How Much Energy Is Needed as a Function of Mission?
For each mission, there is an associated energy requirement to carry out that mission. It is instructive to examine the source of the total mass associated with the energy needed to carry out a particular mission. The energy sources currently in use are ultimately traceable to energy stored in chemical bonds,
In terms of today’s technology, Table 2-1 illustrates the energy formats and the amount of energy required for a 72-hour mission, assuming no resupply is available. If a Soldier’s load for this mission is 100 pounds, roughly one-third of the mass is associated with his energy supply. The remainder of the weight is associated primarily with body armor, weapons, and the weight of electronic devices such as radios.
|Energy Format||Function||Number of units||Approximate energy W-h (MJ)||Approximate mass, kg (lbs.)||Energy density, W-h/kg|
|Food (MREs)||Power the Soldier||9 meals||10,800 (30)||6.1 (13.5)||1,770|
|Ammunition (30 rounds) and 2 grenades||Lethal agents||~1 kg TNT explosive equivalent||1,278 (4.6)||1.8 (4)||710|
|Batteries, average draw 9.17 W||Power equipment ensemble||7 battery types 70 total||660 (2.4)||7.2 (16)||92|
In evaluating capability needs, the committee concentrated primarily on energy needed to power the electronic items carried by the Soldier which make up a large part of the total mass associated with the Soldier’s energy supply. Items such as an exoskeleton, which are still in early research and development (R&D) stages, will have their own power systems.
Survivability includes needs related to protection, which runs the gamut from individual Soldier protection to small-unit force protection to layers of protection external to the TSU. For both TSU and individual Soldier protection; there is insufficient force protection to ensure the highest degree of survivability across the entire range of military operations.
A challenge is to balance protection with other capability needs, such as maneuverability and military effects. The protection goal is not to focus solely on reducing damage but to focus on significantly reducing the threat’s ability to detect, attack, or hit the Soldier and TSU. For example, the threat's ability to attack can be reduced by detecting and neutralizing threat personnel and weapons before the threat can engage the TSU. Protection should not degrade the TSU and
Soldier from maintaining momentum. Finally, protection should be considered with respect to kinetic (e.g., bullet, fragmentation, blast, chemical/biological) and nonkinetic (e.g., nonlethal weapons, overheating, musculoskeletal injury) events.
With respect to kinetic events, most Soldier protection has been focused on body armor and helmets, which have been proven to reduce significantly the probability of damage to the torso and head, respectively. However, protection of arms, legs, and pelvic areas is also a dire need. A September 20, 2011, article in USA Today reported that through July (58 percent of the year), 134 warfighters had lost limbs in combat in 2011, which is 78 percent of the 171 amputations in 2010. In addition, there have been 79 cases of multiple amputations in 2011, more than any previous year. When a limb is lost or amputation is required, there is often damage to the lungs, kidneys, and liver from massive blood loss and shock. Infections are severe because sand peppers non-armored areas and fungi penetrate deeply into body wounds. 90 of the wounded troops had to deal with lost genitals from blasts (Zoroya, 2011). Injuries in this last category create significant psychological issues in addition to the physiological damage.
Kinetic events also contribute to brain injuries, especially concussions, which are highly correlated with subsequent post traumatic stress disorder. About 15-20 percent of all Soldiers sustain concussion during deployments.4 The number of traumatic brain injuries needs to be reduced.
The best protection against a kinetic injury event is to prevent the event from occurring at all. Capability enhancements in sensing, individual situational awareness, and shared situational awareness can prevent the TSU from being surprised and allow it to maintain the initiative. Stand-off sensing (e.g., sense-through-the wall, remote sensing) and engagement capabilities will assist in keeping Soldiers out of harm's way, thus reducing the probability of combat injuries.
Soldiers and TSUs are also susceptible to combat injuries other than from kinetic hits. As Soldiers and TSUs become more dependent on electronic-based systems (e.g., communications networks, information networks, night vision, geolocation systems), they become more susceptible to electronic warfare and directed energy weapons (high power microwaves and high energy lasers). Directed energy weapons, such as high energy lasers, also pose a threat to a Soldier's eyes.
The Soldier's load is a serious issue for unit survivability as well as for maneuverability (agility), as it creates many noncombat injuries. In fact, the load weight is the largest contributor to noncombat injuries—24 percent of medical evacuations from Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq operations) and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan operations) were noncombat musculoskeletal
4COL Gaston P. Bathalon, Commander, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “The Soldier as a Decisive Weapon: USAMRMC Soldier Focused Research,” presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, February 15, 2011.
injuries.5 As another example of load effects, Soldiers overheat in hot environments, but the problem is made significantly worse by heavy loads, which interfere with normal heat dissipation, and by batteries as they give off heat during use. For these and many other reasons, there is a critical need to reduce Soldier load to improve small-unit survivability, as well as to solve maneuverability and sustainability problems.
Operational deployments, combat, and high OPTEMPO activities lead to physiological strain and fatigue. As one metric, Soldiers suffer weight loss (20 percent of combat Soldier suffer more than a 5 percent weight loss) and performance deficits due to unmet nutritional requirements (both food and water).6
Finally, the threat of chemical/biological/nuclear weapons cannot be ignored. Given the current combat loads and added protective gear and clothing, dismounted Soldiers cannot react quickly to unconventional warfare attacks. The problem is even more severe in extreme weather environments.
At the TSU level, force protection is the primary focus. Collective capabilities are needed to support the protection of both the TSU and its individual members. For example, assuming a TSU composed of nine Soldiers, the TSU leader can enhance protection from load-based environmental injuries by sharing tasks (e.g., sensing, heavy physical missions) and redistributing weapons and load (e.g., ammunition). However, more needs to be done to enhance protection for the TSU as a whole. Enhanced shared situational awareness (unit-level situational understanding) is one example, and it can be enabled with network improvements described in the Materiel Dimension section below. Enhanced TSU mobility will also improve protection. A third example of a unit-level capability is gunshot location detection, for locating trained snipers as well as untrained sharpshooters.
During dismounted operations, TSUs currently lack capability to accurately detect, at safe distances (up to 100 m), changes in surface and subsurface (3 to 6 inches below the surface) conditions. This capability could be useful in identifying and avoiding land mines and improvised explosive device threats.
Although it was not directly mentioned in the reviewed Army documents or in discussions during committee site visits to Army bases and laboratories, a potential threat to dismounted TSUs that the committee believes is emerging and should be addressed is that of tactical-level air systems, such as autonomous killer drones (Finn, 2011). An even nearer term, low-tech threat could come from improvised unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., remote-control model airplanes
5COL Gaston P. Bathalon, Commander, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “The Soldier as a Decisive Weapon: USAMRMC Soldier Focused Research,” presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, February 15, 2011.
carrying explosive payloads). For example, it would be extremely difficult to shoot down a small, commercially available drone air vehicle fitted with an improvised explosive device, using only the personal weapons (M16, M4, M203, and M249 machine gun) currently carried by a rifle squad. Improvements in both materiel and human dimensions are needed to enhance a TSU’s capability to sense and neutralize such threats before they reach their target.
In urban offensive operations, dismounted TSUs still depend on entering buildings through doors and windows—normally on the first floor. Once inside a building, Soldiers are confined to moving to different floors via stairwells. These movements give an adversary the advantage in terms of surprise and knowing the TSU's avenues of advance. Capabilities are needed for a TSU to maintain surprise and the initiative in urban operations.
In defense in open terrain, TSUs still depends on entrenching tools to dig in for protection. Dismounted TSUs need the capability to more quickly establish defensive positions in open area operations (AUSA, 2011).
Supporting counter rocket and mortar systems will help protect Soldiers and TSUs from enemy indirect fires. However, fratricide is an unfortunate result of mistaken identity. Without integrated identification, location, and tracking of friendly forces across all services, the TSU is susceptible to fratricide.
The majority of wide area security missions will be conducted jointly with military and nonmilitary activities external to the TSU. Where and when appropriate, the TSU must be knowledgeable of and integrated into these activities, especially when the TSU is conducting stability tasks that could unexpectedly turn into lethal combat.
Weaknesses in current dismounted Soldier operations provide insights into ways that the decisiveness of the TSU and individual Soldier can be increased. Following are examples of current capability weaknesses in dismounted TSU operations that were identified during committee member interactions with troops and officers in units recently returned from deployment.7
• Once a TSU leaves the FOB or a vehicle, its access to tactical and socio-cognitive information is severely limited.
• It is very difficult to make quick changes in a TSU's line of advance when it is engaged in a mission (e.g., moving the unit within minutes from one
7Committee members interviewed U.S. Army commissioned and noncommissioned officers at Meeting 1, held at Fort Benning, GA, July 12-14, 2011.
• In determining the load required to accomplish a mission, providing protection and survivability is nearly always in conflict with preserving the individual Soldier’s physical ability to be mobile and agile enough to fight the enemy.
• Soldiers are susceptible to both the physical and mental harm caused by the harsh conditions of combat, the effects of direct and indirect fire, the physical environment, psychological combat stress, and even personal issues at home.
The TSU must have the ability to operate effectively (operate as planned) in extreme environments, e.g., at high altitudes. To make best use of the weight carried, the TSU members must increase their lethality through increasing kinetic combat skills (specifically marksmanship) during basic and advanced training. They must exhibit adaptability in the “three block war” by being able to shift rapidly between kinetic and nonkinetic operations and to adjust to the global visibility of local operations, where each Soldier is a “strategic corporal.”8 Finally, the TSU must have the emotional and mental resilience to withstand and adapt to rapidly changing conditions.
To be dominant within its assigned area of operation, a TSU must be able to deliver, or cause to be delivered, lethal and nonlethal effects against threats, with ranges and accuracies greater than the threats; to be able to discern threats from friends and noncombatants, again, with greater ranges to and accuracies of identification greater than the threats; and to be able to outmaneuver the threats. It must be able to achieve these military effects for the full duration of any assignment. Within their assigned area of operation, the Soldiers of this squad-level unit must be able to move with the confidence that they have awareness of the location and intent of physical and personnel threats or humanitarian needs; access to the resources, training, and physical protection required to carry out the assigned mission; and the background knowledge and skills required to accomplish that mission.
Performance Degradation Factors
Second only to unit design in maximizing TSU performance is the physiological performance of TSU members. Significant ongoing Army research suggests that squad members during recent deployments were often operating at
8The strategic corporal is the notion that leadership in complex, rapidly evolving mission environments devolves lower and lower down the chain of command to better exploit time-critical information in the decision-making process, ultimately landing on the corporal, the lowest ranking noncommissioned officer,
low levels of physiological performance when they were executing tasks in operational environments (see, for example, Miller et al., 2011).9 Any change to Army doctrine and technology that can improve the average physiological performance of squad members would have a profound effect on the performance of TSUs. Factors that are known to compromise Soldier performance include sleep loss, Soldier load, other physical stressors, and emotional and psychological stressors and resiliency.
Sleep Loss. Depending on the individual, physiological performance is compromised to a varying degree by long periods without sleep and with only brief periods for recovery from sleep deprivation. While the size of the Army and its mission largely dictate the OPTEMPO faced by TSUs, it seems clear that insufficient attention is paid to the predictable performance decrements caused by sleep deprivation. Even when it is not possible to avoid longer missions that preclude sleep, it is possible to model and understand the decrement in performance, and thus the loss of squad decisiveness, that inevitably accrues as squads become progressively sleep-deprived. Understanding sleep deprivation, how slowly performance recovers from sleep deprivation, and how to predict a squad’s loss of decisiveness should be a critical feature of mission planning to ensure decisive overmatch—although this is clearly not the case today.
Soldier Load. Heavy combat loads degrade mobility in combat, reduce ability to maneuver for advantage through accelerated physical fatigue, degrade cognitive performance, and contribute significantly to both noncombat casualty evacuations and career-ending disabilities. Data from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine showed that 24 percent of medical evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan were for noncombat musculoskeletal injuries; 72 percent of medical discharges were due to chronic musculoskeletal injuries.10 Lightening the Soldier’s load is critical. However, given Soldiers’ and small-unit leaders’ load-carrying behaviors, the challenge is more than just reducing the weight of the assigned, required, and expected individual equipment carried today. Defense materiel vendors as well as Army laboratories and Army research, development and engineering centers have shown in technology demonstrations that the weight savings from disciplined iterations of very focused cycles of engineering design, build, and evaluation are not the answer, only on the order of single-digit pounds. Addressing Soldier load will therefore require looking for other opportunities for equipment integration and load reduction, including offloading to a carrier system.
9More broadly, during the committee’s September 15-16, 2011, visit to the Natick Soldier Systems Center and to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, also at Natick, research staff described surveys and casualty analyses that indicate warfighters in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been hampered by suboptimum nutrition; progressive, chronic musculoskeletal injuries; and altitude and heat stresses.
10COL Gaston P. Bathalon, Commander, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, “The Soldier as a Decisive Weapon: USAMRMC Soldier Focused Research,” presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, February 15, 2011.
Other Physical Stressors. Extreme heat, extreme cold, high elevations, and heavy loads all compromise physiological performance. The degree of this compromise can be predicted and considered by mission planners. Ideally, the TSU should be ready for each mission as “game day,” without physiological lapses that sap performance. When this is not possible, upper echelon decision-makers must understand the compromises they make when they select units at different levels of physiological performance for particular missions.
Emotional and Psychological Factors. Soldiers in a dismounted TSU must be emotionally and psychologically ready to perform in their assigned roles if that unit is to achieve its potential for dominance. Traditionally, Soldiers rated as deployable by their medical officers have been assumed to be combat ready, but there seems to be growing anecdotal evidence that this is not always the case. The efficacy of many deployable solders may be compromised by the emotional stresses of the operational environment, and this inevitably detracts from the ability of their units to achieve decisive action. While there has been some progress in this area, and resiliency training has been adopted to some degree (for example, through the Army Center for Enhanced Performance), modern human factors tools have not yet been fully employed in this area.11 Psychological tools exist for assessing the emotional efficacy of individual Soldiers and for quantifying the loss of efficacy that occurs over a Soldier’s deployment cycle. Tools also exist for enhancing resiliency and improving selection when TSUs are constructed and maintained. A focused and funded program of relatively inexpensive research to target this area might well find that very significant performance improvements are possible in this domain as well. Those emotionally unsuited for TSU assignments must not be allowed to be distractions.
Manning and Training
The current manning and training structure of the U.S. Army squad both defines and enables the training, tactics, and procedures that the Army executes. The mix of personalities, the experience of squad members, the network of trust, the resiliency of individual Soldiers, and the number of individuals within the squad have at least as much effect on operational effectiveness as does the hardware these individuals carry into the operational environment. But in fact, the effects of each of these critical features on performance are largely unknown and unstudied. The assumption that the modern squad size and structure is efficient thus remains almost entirely untested at an objective level. Would larger squads like those used by the Marines be more effective per Soldier? Would a shift towards more experience, by increasing the proportion of second and third term enlistments in TSUs (and thus an Army-wide shift towards longer tenures), yield
11LTC Carl Ohlson, Academy Professor and Director, Center for Enhanced Performance, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, “Army Center for Enhanced Performance Overview,” presentation to the Board on Army Science and Technology, February 16, 2011.
a more effective unit per dollar spent? Could changes in training that are known to alter unit cohesion or interpersonal trust also influence unit effectiveness? In any objective sense, the answers to these questions remain unknown.
What is known, however, is that TSUs have not been as dominant in recent operational environments as the Army would like them to be. Also known is that alternative squad designs are possible. If performance metrics were available, it would be possible to assess the costs and benefits of alternative designs and thus to ask whether a single squad design alternative is optimal or whether multiple reconfigurable squad designs would provide superior operational performance, given the anticipated range of military operations. The TSU of the future may well have to aggregate and disaggregate as required. This consideration seems particularly relevant as Army doctrine shifts from fixed, traditional divisions of the last century to the more nimble and dynamic BCTs of today—and it may shift back.
Today’s nominal U.S. Army squad consists of six Soldiers of low rank (E4 or lower) engaged in their first assignment, two Soldiers at the E4-E5 level who are in their second or later assignment, and a single solider at the E5-6 level (also with more seniority). In a light infantry configuration, they are organized into two fire teams of four Soldiers each plus the squad leader. There are at any time about 7,500 of these squads in the U.S. Army (Active and Reserve, infantry, and other combat arms). This structure largely defines the tactical design of operations large and small in many operational environments, despite the lack of formal study of the effectiveness of this key tactical element since the early 1970s (Melody, 1990).
Alternative squad designs have been adopted even by other units in the U.S. Army. Special Forces employ what is essentially a 12-man squad led by an officer, usually a captain. A warrant officer serves as his second in command, and a mixture of senior and junior non-commissioned officers fill out the unit. While the construction of a basic squad with this level of experience obviously lies outside the realm of feasibility for the larger Army, it is worth asking whether the Army would be better served by squads with a larger fraction of noncommissioned officers (Soldiers above the levels of E3 and E4). It thus seems pertinent to ask whether some alternative manning strategy, in which Soldiers serve longer, have more experience, and operate in tactical units with higher average ranks, could be more effective. If there were compelling evidence of a major increase in effectiveness, then one fundamental way to give dismounted TSUs decisive overmatch would be to upgrade their rank and expertise distributions.
Lack of time for training before deployment was a common theme in all of the committee’s encounters with commissioned and noncommissioned officers. Their observations were replete with a litany of training distractions, including new Soldiers (and leaders) being assigned to a unit late in the training cycle, newly assigned Soldiers lacking essential individual combat skills (e.g., driving combat vehicles), and unavailable training support for new materiel technologies that were issued just before deployment or only after units were in-theater. There were also pleas for new training technologies. But the calls for the new training technologies were not correlated with the training problems recounted. Second only to the need for TSU performance metrics was the need for deliberate, systematic, engineering and management of the TSU training enterprise such that TSUs are able to gain and sustain critical deployment mission skills within the times available. This need for a quantum leap in training effectiveness applies across the skill spectrum from basic rifle marksmanship to language and cultural skills. New technology cannot be used as an excuse for deferring the training of critical skills. The expectation that new technology will be used successfully requires that the Army take full responsibility for the training burden.
Training and Leader Development
The fundamental priority in training is establishing the deliberate and systematic engineering and management that exploits available training technologies and facilities to elevate the TSU’s performance to robust deployment readiness levels required of new operational environments. Were such engineering and management of the training enterprise attained, it would then be reasonable to consider, for the longer term, further advances in training technologies
Attaining and maintaining excellent performance by a TSU requires intense, focused training and effective leader development. Yet, as important as training is, for many tasks and missions there are limits to what can be accomplished through a live training exercise.
One general problem is the lack of access to a sufficiently realistic representation of the operating environment. Extreme environments, urban settings, and major cultural differences can be difficult or costly to replicate in a physical training environment, and some operations may simply be too dangerous for live training. Another limitation to conducting live training is the cost and availability of resources such as ranges, training areas, weapons systems, vehicles, fuel, and ammunition. Finally, to make training even more challenging, the range of military operations in the post-Cold War era has expanded to include wide area security as an Army core competency, which adds additional sets of skills to what must be trained, including stability support, cultural competence,
Next-Generation Simulations and Devices
The live training solutions described above have the advantage of providing the fullest physical experience to the TSU. Trainees use their senses in the most natural way since the environment is mostly real. They are also affected by physical stressors ranging from the exertion while carrying a load and extreme temperatures to the effects of smoke and noise. Nevertheless, the current generation of live training simulations has limitations:
• The lasers used in place of live ammunition cannot shoot through thick smoke, curtains, wooden window shutters, thin walls and doors, etc, which live ammunition would penetrate.
• Wide area weapons (which for training usually transmit a radio frequency signal to indicate personnel within a round’s area of effect) do not take into account the protection afforded by urban structures. For example, if the Soldier-trainee is behind a thick wall when a MILES grenade goes off, he may be close enough to receive a strong radio signal, so he is registered as killed or wounded. This is not realistic.
• The ricochets and near misses of real rounds, which would warn a Soldier that someone is firing in his direction, are lacking. So the trainee unknowingly steps out into the “field of fire” and is hit.
• The activity monitoring equipment cannot locate and track personnel because of insufficient GPS signals. This hinders after action reviews of the training exercise.
• The electromagnetic environment to interfere with communications systems is lacking.
• Effects of weapons (e.g., rubble) are lacking.
• Buildings in training exercises are normally constructed of long-term durable materials such as cinder block walls. This limits use of training with future “see through walls” sensors for building materials more likely to be encountered in operational environments.
• Use of steel portable buildings (normally made of steel shipping containers with different facades) may severely inhibit propagation of radio frequency signals, giving unrealistically short transmission distances.
• Buildings on training ranges normally do not have ventilation systems for clearing out smoke, CS gas, natural harmful gases, etc. from the buildings
While it has not been demonstrated that these limitations result in negative training, they make it likely that Soldiers will learn to “game” the training environment, which could result in learning behaviors that succeed in the live training exercise but would fail in actual combat situations.
In addition to issues of realism, fixed physical training sites are expensive to build and populate with live role-players. This limits the amount of training that can be conducted, due to limitations of access and the high cost of training. Finally, there is the issue of availability for a fixed site—it is a resource that has to be scheduled and maintained.
Among the potential advantages of virtual and game-based training systems over live training is the ability of one system to represent a large number of locations, cultures, and scenarios. They are also inherently more accessible than a fixed physical training site since they can be replicated, transported, or used in a classroom or anywhere that a computer can be set up. At the same time, virtual and game-based training systems also have limitations:
• Dismounted transport and action in the virtual world is not natural when it can be achieved just by using a joystick or game controller. Such devices do not require physical exertion, induce fatigue, or permit naturalistic gestures or motions. Solutions such as omnidirectional treadmills and hamster balls are expensive and bulky.
• Interactions with teammates and locals are not natural. For instance, virtual individuals do not look sufficiently different or act individually in ways that enable the trainee to distinguish one from another. Automated characters should perceive, think, act, and react naturally in accordance with a cultural norm, yet still have distinguishable differences.
• There is a general lack of representation of populations of synthetic people that act or react naturally and in accordance with social and cultural norms. Models are lacking of populations of people who interact with one another and belong to complex social networks that influence and are influenced by one another.12 The simulated population should react to the operations of the TSU in an area, and this should be manifested in the behaviors of groups and individual autonomous characters.
• Current systems do not permit spoken language dialogue with automated characters or natural gestural interaction with other trainees or automated characters.
12Social networks in the military context are discussed at length in the NRC report on Network Science (NRC, 2005).
• As in live training, simulated urban environments should also present real-world challenges such as electromagnetic interference and occlusions to sensors and communications signals. It should be possible to seamlessly use the same sensors in live and virtual training environments.
• While the potential exists to create any location, culture, or scenario, one of the major barriers to doing so is the general lack of easy-to-use authoring tools to support scenario design, content development, and automated coaching, feedback, and after action review. Current systems that claim to take a data-driven approach tend to only recreate a playback of a scenario as opposed to creating an interactive simulation. To develop content requires more than creating a PowerPoint presentation, which has been the default approach for many years now. Rather, a cognitive task analysis should identify learning objectives, the instruction needs to follow a principled design, and the practical experiences need to be authored for games or simulations. Unfortunately, many of the simulation systems currently available for training require specialized training and a lot of time to develop a new scenario.
• Another barrier to expanding use of this type of training is the cost of component parts, such as the Head Mounted Display in the Dismounted Soldier Training System. High costs drive down the number of systems that can be procured.
The lack of an analytical foundation for rifle squad performance limits advances to what is being advocated at the moment by infantry leadership. It precludes a stable architecture for capability development and diminishes the competitive positioning for resources. As discussed in the next chapter, there are no measures of performance or measures of effectiveness for the TSU, no accepted one-sided or force-on-force models, and no widely recognized suite of standard scenarios.
There is no overarching framework to guide the development of Soldier/TSU enhancements. Additionally, there is a lack of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) documentation (e.g., initial capabilities documents or capabilities development documents) for the TSU. It is likely that the same tactics, techniques, and procedures that were effective at squad level in Iraq and Afghanistan may not be optimally decisive against future adversaries. From the committee’s view, the TSU should be viewed as a system-of-systems and not merely as a formation. A proper system-of-systems analysis would be able to determine the optimal size (number of Soldiers) and organization (number of fire teams, duties) of the TSU.
Advances in human research and performance have not been fully applied to individual Soldier performance or to small-unit performance. Definitions for human dimension vary greatly among documents and presentations. The prevailing Army human dimension approach is to focus on the cognitive and physical performance of TSUs and Soldiers, however that view is dwarfed by the actual complexities of individual Soldiers and human interactions in teams.13
The “human dimension” programs in today’s Army consist of underfunded R&D in the Army Research Laboratory, the Army Research Institute, and the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, plus unfunded, ad hoc, or “interest” activities in TRADOC, the United States Army Forces Command, and the United States Military Academy. Worse, there are no longer any “engineer-equivalent” appliers of science in the TRADOC schools who can understand results of research from the Program 6 agencies and structure programs to implement change. Unlike in lethality, propulsion, or other areas of R&D where Army laboratory results transition to an Army research, development and engineering center, then to co-located program managers, all staffed with engineering professionals, human dimension research lacks a pathway for development and engineering between the researchers and potential end-users.
The committee received a great deal of information on the Army’s ongoing programs to develop technology options for dismounted Soldiers and TSUs that could potentially contribute to achieving decisive overmatch. Given the capability needs described in this chapter, the committee found that the capability solutions with highest potential to contribute to decisive overmatch for the TSU would likely fall into one or more of five capability improvement areas:
• Designing the TSU
• Focusing on TSU Training
• Integrating the TSU into the Network
• Balancing TSU Maneuverability, Military Effects, and Survivability
• Leveraging Technology Advances in Portable Power
In the following chapter, the committee presents overarching recommendations on what will be needed to realize the potential of capability solutions in these areas or any others. Chapter 4 returns to these five areas to explore options in each area that the committee judged to have the most promise.
13Many of these complexities are detailed in the NRC report on Neuroscience Opportunities for Future Army Applications (NRC, 2009).
AUSA (Association of the United States Army). 2011. The U.S. Army Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force. Available online www.ausa.org/publications/ilw/Documents/TB_The_Squad_web.pdf. Accessed March 12, 2013.
Brown, MAJ R.B. 2011. The Infantry Squad: Decisive Force Now and in the Future. Available online http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/MilitaryReview/Archives/English/MilitaryReview_20111231_art004.pdf. Accessed March 29, 2013.
CALL (Center for Army Lessons Learned). 2003. The Modern Warrior’s Combat Load, Dismounted Operations in Afghanistan April - May 2003, Task Force Devil, Coalition Task Force 82, Coalition Joint Task Force 180, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM III. Available online http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf. Accessed February 13, 2013.
Chait, R., A. Sciarretta, and D. Shorts. 2006. Army Science and Technology Analysis for Stability Operations. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, Center for Technology and National Security Policy October.
Chait, R. A. Sciarretta, J. Lyons, C. Barry, D. Shorts, and D. Long. 2007. A Further Look at Technologies and Capabilities for Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, Center for Technology and National Security Policy.
Endsley, M., S. Selcon, T.D. Hardiman, and D. Croft. 1998. A comparative analysis of SAGAT and SART for evaluations of situation awareness. Presentation at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Chicago, Ill.: Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Finn, P. 2011. A Possible Future for Drones: Automated Killings. The Washington Post. Available online www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/a-future-for-drones-automatedkilling/2011/09/15/gIQAVy9mgK_story.html. Accessed March 12, 2013.
HQDA (Headquarters Department of the Army). 2007. Field Manual FM 3-21.8. The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. Seattle, Wash.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Matthews, W. 2008. Helping info flow freely: Insurgents outdo U.S. military, says U.S. 3-Star. Defense News 23(4): 16.
Melody, MAJ P.E. 1990. AD-A225-438. The Infantry Rifle Squad: Size Is Not the Only Problem. Fort Leavenworth, Kans.: School of Advanced Military Studies United States Army Command and General Staff College.
Miller, N.L., L.G. Shattuck, and P. Matsangas. 2011. Sleep and fatigue issues in continuous operations: A survey of US Army officers. Behavioral Sleep Medicine 9: 53-65.
NRC (National Research Council). 1997. Energy-Efficient Technologies for the Dismounted Soldier. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
NRC. 2004. Meeting the Energy Needs of Future Warriors. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2005. Network Science. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
NRC. 2009. Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
U.S. Army. 1992. Field Manual 7-8. Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Department of the U.S. Army.
U.S. Army. 2011. ADP 3-0. Unified Land Operations. Arlington, Va.: Headquarters, Department of the U.S. Army. Available online http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/adp3_0.pdf/. Accessed March 12, 2013.
U.S. Army. 2012. ADRP 3-0. Unified Land Operations. Available online http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/adrp3_0.pdf. Accessed March 12, 2013.
Zoroya, G. 2011. Injuries Cost More Troops Their Limbs. USA Today. Available online www.usatoday.com/news/military/story/2011-09-19/troops-injuries-war-casualties-amputations-lost-limbs/50472074/1.