Archive for February, 2010

Contemporary Ops: Civilians on the Battlefield & Force Protection

NGOs, COB and Host-Nation Support (BLEW)

            The conflicts that we find ourselves in the today, present a number of challenges and obstacles that Jr. Officers must maneuver around in order to complete their mission.  As we have been told numerous times, the decision you make as a Jr. Officer has a greater significance on the big scheme of things,  then just on your immediate surroundings. The book phrases it nicely.

“By simple acts of kindness or ignorance, you can make local nationals, individuals, and groups either assets or liabilities.”

            Civilians, host nation personnel, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations are all factors that need to be considered in your planning process. If you consider these and possible scenarios in your planning process and implementing things like, cultural awareness and how to properly interact with other organizations, your primary mission can be the focus and unnecessary obstacles will disappear. Flexibility, Adaptability and Patience are a few things that a Jr. Officer should possess in order to successfully work with these types of organizations.

            The book lists a few noncombat military ops:

-processing and returning EPWs or displaced civilians

-Evacuation of Friendly Civilians

-Transfer of responsibilities to follow-on, peacekeeping, or host-nation forces

-restoring basic services, such as water, electricity, and health care.

What are some other scenarios or instances that, as a Jr. Officer, you may have to deal with?

How do your actions, as a Jr. Officer, affect your relationship with these organizations? How can it affect overall mission success (both positively and negatively)?

Force Protection – Bruce Archambault

p. 244 – “Force protection, the primary component [of protection], minimizes the effects of enemy firepower – including weapons of mass destruction (WMD), maneuver, and information.”

                If it seems like there are 101 things that must always be at the forefront of our minds as leaders of troops, it’s because there are, and one of those things is force protection.  Force protection covers a large number of things.  They range from using the right net to send sensitive and classified information over and knowing what can and can’t be said in correspondence to family and friends back home, to carrying a minimum amount of ammunition at all times when deployed to a combat zone, no matter where you are within theatre. 

                The COE that today’s Army finds itself is in a dynamic one in which we must constantly reassess the methods that our enemy is using to try and kill us.  They figure out what measures we use for force protection and then figure out ways to circumvent those measures.  Because of this, considering force protection can be likened to a planning process.  We have to make force protection policy decisions (though this actually happens well above our level), enforce those policies (this is more our job) and while doing that, see how the enemy responds.  Given how they respond, changes are made to policy and we implement them.

                When risks are assessed and risk control measures are developed, you create a FP plan.  Some things that must be taken into consideration are site, accommodations and defensive positions, TCPs, ACPs, personnel vulnerabilities, the situational awareness of you soldiers, sniper threats, security measures, coordination and evacuation.  A force protection policy must find balance between two things: it must not be too restrictive and at the same time it must not be too lax, as either can end up hurting your unit in one way or another.  A good unit should have a FP plan as part of its SOP.

                There are FPCONs, which apply to the threat level on a given day at a given location, ranging from FPCON A, which implies that a general threat of possible terrorist activity exists, to FPCON D, which applies when a terrorist attack has occurred or when intel suggests that a specific person or place is being targeted.

                No matter where U.S. service members are stationed there will always be risk of terrorist activity directed against us.  One of our first lines of defense is a sound FP plan, which should take many things into consideration, from current threat to what our capabilities to respond are.  A sound FP plan enforced by competent leaders will reduce unnecessary loss of life as well as equipment.


An Officer’s Duty (Fritz)

What does it really mean to be an Armed Forces Officer? There is a lot to that question. What it ultimately means is we are a special group of individuals trusted to protect the people of America and the Constitution. The Army Pam 600-2 The Armed Forces Officer outlines this very well. We must remember that we will be entrusted to protect the Constitution. Some of us consider the Army as a way to have adventure, pay for college, follow in a parent’s footstep, travel the word, or have a stable job and pay. Those are all acceptable reasons to join, however, once we are commissioned I believe it is important we put those reasons aside and really take seriously our new commitment to the United States of America.
The Army Pam 600-2 also correctly but briefly mentioned how officers of the past became officers. Generally all throughout the last 1,000 years officers received their commissions by what noble family they were born in. It did not matter how smart they were because being born in a noble family meant you were born there for a reason and must be special. As a result, commissioning officers were commonly inept and incompetent. This caused many flawed battles and needless deaths. But now in our modern age we do not have to be born into a noble family to be an officer. We just need to show merit, integrity, and trainability. I really find it very remarkable we have the privilege of serving in the greatest Army in the history world even if we came from a low socioeconomic status.

With this great opportunity to serve in the Army we need to be effective leaders and always strive to do our best. The pamphlet says that “most folks do not understand how good they really are.” We need to realize how good we are and always work hard to get the best possible results. I’d like to refer to a man named Jonathan in the Old Testament. This was a man who was sold as a slave and through a strong work ethic he ended up being trusted with his master’s affairs. Then when he was put in prison he again worked so hard and honestly he ended up practically running the prison. We need to have this work ethic with everything we do whether we like the job or not. We should be the person who “understands the order, salutes smartly, and gets the job done.” In addition to that we should be able to teach this work ethic to our subordinates.

In conclusion I would like to outline a few areas from the pamphlet we should strive to master as we begin our journey as Army Officers.

Do what we enjoy

Be the subject matter expert in our area

Ask for jobs you want and don’t ask to leave jobs you don’t like

Master the written and spoken word

Volunteer often but thoughtfully

Never make false promises

Set the standard

Don’t abuse your privileges

Get noticed by standing out

Continue learning, training, and going to schools

CDT H Draffen’s Post:

The primary duty of an officer is to uphold the constitution and lead those to protect our nation.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the nation holds officers on a different level of standards.  The military officer must always be a hardworking citizen who is held to a higher standard on almost every level.  This is not an easy task.  It means, as an officer one must do everything within their power to better themselves constantly.  Officers in today’s world are going to face new challenges in their career that they will not be fully prepared for.  This is an unfortunate truth and will be difficult to always provide the right answer.  “Approaching the profession with a firm understanding of honor, integrity and duty makes the search simpler and the answer clearer.”  1–6 

There are many duties to fulfill that will be tasked to us as new lieutenants along with duties that we should accomplish without being tasked to.  An example of this would be to be able to adapt to the different religions and cultures that we will come across throughout our careers.  These will not always be dependent on where we are, but also who we are leading.  We must discipline ourselves to be open-minded so that the right answer will come to us when we are faced with a difficult task.  Self-discipline is important when you are trying to set the standards for those you are trying to lead.  They will not follow you if you say one thing and do something very different.  Discipline is something that we need to uphold for ourselves to lead properly, expect from our subordinates but is also expected of ourselves from our superiors and the constitution.

Officership and Customs and Courtesies

Officership in the Army Profession (K Draffen):

The Officer’s Oath: “I, _____, so solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.”

One of the unique things about the United States Army is that we swear our allegiance to the Constitution and not to an individual.  This is one way in which military coups are discouraged and we do not have a dictator take office as president.  In turn, we defend the people of the United States by upholding the Constitution and the laws that follow it.  By entering the officer position, we do so with the pure sense of serving our nation.

As officers, we should be forward and open to leadership.  There is no room for “mental reservation.”  If we were to enter with the purpose of evasion, the Army Values and Principles of Officership (Duty, Honor, Loyalty, Service to Country, Competence, Teamwork, Subordination, and Leadership) would make us obvious and we would be discharged from being a Commissioned Officer.

Duty, Honor, and Loyalty are big requirements to be an Army Officer.  We must faithfully and fully take our position as leaders seriously and embrace our roles as our lifestyle.

Customs and Courtesies in the Army (T Burton):

Customs, courtesies, and traditions in the US Army instill pride in its members and observing them shows appreciation for the soldiers who have served throughout America’s history. A custom is an established practice, and military courtesy is the respect and consideration shown towards others.

                The salute is considered the most important of all military courtesies; it shows pride in yourself, your unit, and the Army. The fact that the junior extends the greeting first is merely a point of etiquette, and a salute extended or returned makes the same statement. Do not salute with one hand in your pocket, while smoking, or with your coat unbuttoned or partly unbuttoned.

                Courtesy to a senior indicates respect for authority, responsibility, and experience. Courtesy towards juniors expresses appreciation and respect for them as fellow Soldiers. Courtesy paid to the Colors and the National Anthem expresses loyalty to the United States. The primary values for conducting ceremonies are to render honors, preserve traditions and stimulate esprit de corps.

                Military courtesy is a prerequisite to discipline and courtesy must be accorded to all ranks and on all occasions. Certain customs in the Army adds interest and graciousness to the Army life, such as when given a dinner invitation or social calls.

There are certain rules in the Army which at times seem ridiculous. Here’s a short list.

  • No hands in the pockets.
  • Formations in combat zone
  • Wearing a reflective belt at noon in a war zone.
  • The “no umbrella” rule, why not allowing a professional-looking, simple black umbrella?
  • We ask our soldiers to go to war, but we make them request a pass to drive beyond 70 miles radius off the base.
  • The beret is an absolutely useless piece of headgear.


Let’s talk about smoking while walking. Back in the day in the Army you could smoke in the barracks, at rout-step march and even while running. Now you cannot eat, drink, smoke, or talk on the cell phone while walking in uniform.

Some interesting tidbits on matters of courtesy in the Army:

  • The correct position for troops when “Retreat” is playing is parade rest for uniformed personnel in formation and attention for uniformed personnel not in formation.
  • The proper way to answer a military telephone is to state your unit or section, rank and name, and “How may I help you sir or ma’am?”
  • While posted as a sentinel, if you are talking to an officer, do not interrupt your conversation to salute another officer. However, if the officer to whom you are talking to salutes his senior, you will also salute.


Refer to AR600-25 for Military Customs and Courtesy and FM 7-21.13 Chapter 4.