28 Feb 05. VINCE CRAWLEY of Defense News reported that The U.S. Army is spearheading a new Pentagon enterprise in which creative people in and out of the military will combine to try and outsmart insurgents and terrorists. The Asymmetric Warfare Group is modeled after the IED Task Force, which tackles the threat of roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since its launch in October 2003, the IED Task Force has reduced the average casualty rate of each roadside bomb attack by 30 percent, said Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, task force director.
The Asymmetric Warfare Group is an effort to transform the task force into a permanent brain trust in which a crack team of military experts is constantly on call, ready to tackle the latest problems faced by commanders on the ground.
“We’re looking for somebody who’s open-minded, can be innovative, is a problem-solver, has demonstrated or can demonstrate the ability to look at a problem and think about unusual methods to solve it,” Votel said Feb. 22. “Adaptability is a pretty key piece,” as is the ability to communicate with a wide assortment of people, ranging from civilian and military leaders to foreign allies.
“One of our key focus points will be on those units operating in the theater,” Votel said. “Our whole process is really driven by what we see and what’s happening on the ground. A major part of our effort has always got to be focused on: What is happening in the theater? What is the enemy trying to do to us? What are the best ways of defeating that?”
Asymmetric warfare describes clashes in which militarily weaker guerrilla-style insurgencies. Communist forces used such tactics in the Vietnam War, as did American colonists against the British in the Revolutionary War. But for much of the Cold War and up to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, the U.S. military focused its organization and tactics on waging conventional combat. Based at Fort Meade, Md., the group is initially recruiting from among Army commissioned and noncommissioned officers with plenty of field experience. It would deploy teams to joint, multiservice headquarters worldwide and, if successful, would expand into a multiservice outfit.
The IED Task Force also began as an Army initiative in October 2003, U.S. troops. The operation was successful enough that Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, last summer expanded the task force into a multiservice joint IED team. The organization linked up with soon-to-deploy units to make sure their training and preparations took into account the growing IED threat and the tough lessons being learned by troops on the ground.
The task force also studied the workflow of creating and fielding roadside bombs, discovering that one weak point in the process is the relatively small number of experts who build them. The Asymmetric Warfare Group initially will consist of about 200 people, about evenly divided between uniformed Army members and civilian contractors. It will be divided into three squadrons:
• An Operations Squadron will include teams that deploy to the field and work with joint headquarters to identify problems and devise solutions. If the Asymmetric Warfare Group is deemed a success, a second squadron would be fielded to allow the teams to support long-term deployments and multiyear missions.
• A Training Advisory and Assessment Squadron will focus on visiting soon-to-deploy units to update them on current enemy tactics within combat zones. Votel said that can help “identify those trends, those techniques, those procedures that we can take and pull back to our training teams who are focused on getting units ready to go, and get that information to them.”
• A Concepts Integration Squadron would do much of the group’s think-tank work, as well as research, development and fielding of