Saturday, April 13, 2013

Help others, help ourselves A better strategy for security force assistance in the Pacific

With all due respect to the General and the Major but the mission of the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines is Foreign Internal Defense.  It is more than just training.  I think much of what they write below is useful and appropriate for general purpose forces but  the question should be asked as to what is the appropriate force for the OEF-P mission in the Philippines.  We worked very hard to overcome the perception that the Philippines would not become the second front from Afghanistan and be "invaded" by the US military similar to Afghanistan.  The deployment of Brigade Combat Team (some 5000 Soldiers?) to replace the JSOTF (some 500+ Soldier, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines) would give the appearance of an invasion (and I am sure the counter to this will be that the the entire BCT would not be deployed – but I would venture that there are not 500 people in the BCT who possess the skill sets and discipline found in 500 people in the joint force that makes up the JSOTF). Furthermore, the notion that the main focus of SOF should be on counterterrorism is a misunderstanding of the application of Special Operations Forces conducting Special Warfare.  I agree that SFA is an appropriate mission for general purpose forces throughout the Pacific and I would submit there is enough work for them which has been outlined below.  But I think it is a mistake to say that a BCT can or should replace the JSOTF.  Furthermore it is time to evolve the mission of the JSOTF and begin to transition to long term sustainment under the Joint US military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) (though I would like to see the JUSMAG transition to the Joint US Military Advisory and Assistance Group (JUSMAAG) and operationalize its mission, but that is another discussion.)

I do think that the Regional Aligned Force (RAF) in the Army has a lot of utility.  From what I have learned of late it has a lot of potential.  But it is not a replacement for SOF.  And a BCT amy not be an appropriate force for the type of mission for OEF-P even if it does possess a number of useful capabilities.

One last point.  The subtitle is correct – we need a better strategy.  There must be a nested strategy from the national level, through the regional "commands" and "bureaus" (both DoD and DoS) to the Chief of Mission's mission strategic plan.  But SFA is just one small part of that strategy, it is not a strategy.  

One last, last point.  The JP 1-02 definitions of FID and SFA are below.  Note that the guiding reference is JP 3-22 which is the joint manual for Foreign Internal Defense.  Although the manual is very specific that FID is not "superior" to SFA or SFA is not "superior" to FID I think from the definitions below the differences in focus and scope can be discerned and I think it is illustrative that there is not a separate Joint Pub for SFA but that SFA is included in the FID manual.    My thoughts on Security Force Assistance are in a paper at this link (but they are from 2008).

From the 2010 Joint Forces Quarterly the description of JP 3-22 is summarized: 

As our awareness and understanding of  security cooperation (SC) continues to grow,  the importance of JP 3–22 will become even  more critical to understand. This JP is the  source document for SC and will provide the  foundation for how we interact as a joint force  in the future, especially in areas such as the  Middle East. Today, each Service has its own  view on what SC really is and USSOCOM has  reached out to the Services and combatant  commands to ensure that this publication is  clear, cohesive, and enduring. The publication addresses specific sources of U.S. power (financial, intelligence, and law enforcement)  applied through the instruments of U.S.  national power and introduces a discussion of  security force assistance into joint doctrine. (
foreign internal defense — Participation by civilian and military agencies of a government in any of the action programs taken by another government or other designated organization to free and protect its society from subversion, lawlessness, insurgency, terrorism, and other threats to its security. Also called FID. (JP 3-22)

security force assistance — The Department of Defense activities that contribute to unified action by the US Government to support the development of the capacity and capability of foreign security forces and their supporting institutions. Also called SFA. (JP 3-22)

Help others, help ourselves
A better strategy for security force assistance in the Pacific

The Army, with its long history of security force assistance to Pacific Rim nations and a wealth of new knowledge born of war in the Middle East, should improve and increase SFA operations as part of the nation’s strategic rebalance to the Pacific. Such missions allow the Army to build partner nation capacity while honing its own readiness, an efficient approach well-suited to today’s fiscal and strategic imperatives.

The United States has a well-established relationship with its Pacific partners and allies. Despite cyclical periods of budgetary restraint, the Army has kept a capable force in Japan and Korea for well over half a century, even as its European presence shrank after the Cold War. On the Korean Peninsula, for example, Army combat forces have remained virtually unchanged since the 7th Infantry Division left Korea in 1971, except for the Army’s deployment of one brigade to Iraq in 2004 and implementation of the Nunn-Warner Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill Act in 1989. The Army has also recently aligned continental U.S.-based conventional forces to the geographic combatant commanders, including U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, to provide dedicated forces that can train for specific contingency operations in their area of responsibility.

But several things are leading to a departure from the static defense model established in the Pacific over the past 70 years, including fiscal constraints, the rise of China and the change in national defense strategy dubbed the rebalance to the Pacific.

Among the most important of these will be SFA missions, which strengthen partner militaries and allow them to shoulder more of the fiscal and military load of their own defense and regional stability efforts. Thanks to the recent regional realignment, the Army can execute SFA missions with available CONUS-based units, thereby furthering U.S. economic and national security interests at a fraction of the cost of forward stationing.The chief of staff of the Army says the service’s 21st- century role has three pillars: prevent conflict through credibility, shape the international environment by enabling allies, and win decisively and dominantly when called. These nest with the PACOM commander’s desire to improve stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, responding to contingencies and deterring aggression. Though strategic, operational and tactical preparations for attacks on South Korea and Japan are certainly important, the Army has pursued and must continue to pursue other options to prevent, shape and win in Asia.

Among U.S. service branches, the Army is particularly well-suited to engage partner militaries in the Pacific. Nations in the region rely heavily on their ground forces to maintain security, hedge against external intervention, and respond to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief requirements. Seven of the world’s 10 largest armies reside in the Pacific, and 21 of 27 Pacific nations have an army officer as chief of all defense forces. Their own fiscal constraints mean they are likely to continue funding an active ground defense capability at the expense of more costly air and sea power.

Moreover, the Army has long experience with SFA missions in Asia. For more than a century, from the Philippines to Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, U.S. soldiers have helped Pacific nations learn from their expertise. Today, conventional and special operations soldiers train Pacific nations’ armies on a broad range of military topics. Ongoing efforts to improve partner nation military capacity include exercises such as Talisman Saber (Australia), Balikatan (Philippines), Cobra Gold (Thailand), Ulchi Focus Guardian (Korea) and Yama Sakura (Japan).

Unfortunately, U.S. Army Pacific’s theater security cooperation program and SFA strategy have been neglected because of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Army’s requirements in Afghanistan wane, conventional forces — particularly CONUS-based ones aligned to the Pacific — can and should refocus their energy on SFA missions in the Pacific.


(Continued at the link below)

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