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By Rob McIlvaine

14 Oct 11. The Army is working to provide the infantry squad an overmatch in combat capability through the network and immersive training.

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Ga., told those at the 2011 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition Tuesday that the Army is focusing on bringing the nine-man squad into the 21st century.

Since World War II, Brown said the conventional infantry squad has relied primarily on maps and radios. The concept plan he rolled at AUSA to change that was dubbed “Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force.”

The overmatch capability will not be achieved only through improvements in technology, Brown said, but also through training and leader development. The goal is to improve lethality, survivability, power energy, and mobility.

“We really started looking at the tactical small unit, based on what’s happened over the last 10 years, and we said, where is the fight too fair? Where do we not have overwhelming ability to overmatch our enemies,” said Brown.

The enemy, he said, is looking at where they have the fairest fight and their best opportunity and it’s at the squad level, Brown said. It’s the lowest level that causes the biggest challenges, he said.

“General Martin Dempsey (then Army chief of staff) saw the force about six or seven months ago and said, let’s start at the very pointiest end of the spear, let’s look at where the need is the greatest, so let’s turn the system on its end and look bottom up,” he said.

The dismounted squad is the foundation of the decisive force, Brown stressed. Its nine-man team is the centerpiece of the tactical fight despite the fact the squad is the only level where there is no appreciable overmatch capability to the current threat.

“But what is the measure of effectiveness for that formation of the squad? A lot of folks came in thinking it would be a lot of items given to the squad, but what we found was it’s really not items, it’s the human dimension: leader development, training, simulations for the small unit,” Brown said.


The human dimension has become even more important today.

In World War II, he said, Soldiers relied on maps and radios but they still had a lack of situational awareness. Nearly 70 years later, the Soldier still relies on maps and radios and still has a lack of situational awareness.

“The Soldier needs to be networked, mobile, linked digitally and have knowledge of the environments.

“Almost 70 years after World War II, we still don’t have dismounts in the
network. And the enemy strategy, of course, is to bleed us by a thousand cuts. And they know that they can have a fair fight against that squad, hiding in among the populace,” he said.

It’s difficult to keep squads fully manned, Brown said. Injuries — combat and noncombat — illness and other effects accumulate over time. Because of the importance of the squad’s effectiveness to overall mission success and the thin margin for loss, careful consideration must be given to the human dimension.


“We say that mission command is clearly the way to go, it’s fantastic. Well, how do you get mission command … (you get there) through trust,” Brown said.

Trust, he said, is achieved through empowerment.

“But you’re just not going to empower somebody, if don’t know them well. You’re going to give them their left and right limit and you’ve got to see them, over
and over again in an immersive environment where they’re facing the same
challenges they’ll face.

Some of that can be done in live fire, he said, and some of that has to be done in small-unit simulation where they can be immersed in an environment and have the complexities that exist today in a contemporary operating environment.

“The other aspect is … the squad can’t be dominant everywhere. You have to be

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