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June 19, 2008

General Casey finally clues up

Previously, I'd been no fan of Casey's. His handling of Iraq was less than stellar -- on a par with Sanchez's. But I have to give him some props here for realizing that our non-mainstream forces need to have a career path to keep the talent and institutional knowledge we pay so dearly for intact. Lessons learned need to stay learned.

Casey recently sent this out:

From: GOMO Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 2:32 PM

Subject: CSA Sends - Transition Team Commanders (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE


Soldiers that serve on our Transition Teams (TTs) and our Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are developing exactly the type of knowledge, skills and abilities that are vital for our Army to be effective in an era of persistent conflict. These are tough, demanding positions and the members of these teams are required to influence indigenous or surrogate forces as they execute missions that are of vital interest to this Nation. The tasks associated with Transition Teams, from direct combat to stability operations, will be a major part of full spectrum engagement in theaters of interest now and for the foreseeable future. I want to ensure that the officers that lead these teams are recognized and given the credit they deserve.

I am directing that the Major's positions on these teams be immediately designated and codified in DA PAM 600-3, for all branches, as Key and Developmental (KD). Any officer holding one of these positions will be considered "KD" for his or her branch as a Major. Additionally, these officers will be afforded the opportunity, should they desire, to hold an additional 12/24 months of a branch specific KD position (e.g. XO, S-3, etc). Our promotion board guidance already stresses the importance of these positions and this additional information will be added to all upcoming board instructions. Additionally, because the success of these teams requires our best leaders, I have directed HRC to award Centralized Selection List (CSL) Credit for LTCs serving specifically in the TT Commander positions that have direct leadership responsibility for a training/transition team.

Therefore, we are creating a new CSL sub-category called "Combat Arms Operations". It will be open to all eligible officers in the Maneuver, Fires and Effects (MFE) branches and to Foreign Area Officers (FAO). It will fall under the Operations category and will be effective on the FY 10 CSL board which meets this September.

As a bridging strategy, for FY09 we will activate officers for these command positions from the alternate lists of all four major MFE command categories - Operations, Strategic Support, Training, and Installation. Officers accepting and who serve will be awarded CSL credit in the Operations category for serving as a Transition Team Commander. Additionally, if selected by the FY 10 CSL board, the officer may opt to command in the category they are selected after completion of their TT Command. Those that do command will receive credit for a second CSL command. If chosen, and they opt not to command, they will still receive credit for their TT command.

Our ability to train and operate effectively with indigenous forces will be a key element of 21st century land power. We need our best involved.

GEN Casey

More commentary on this significant administrative development over at The Donovan and Small Wars Journal.

Particularly interesting was this comment at The Donovan: (I'll quote in full because their comments aren't hotlinkable):

Good morning,

I am an Army Major currently attending Intermediate Level Education (ILE), what used to be known as Command and General Staff College (CGSC). I came across your posting about GEN Casey's message and wanted to share a little bit more information about how the Army is changing.

In addition to recognizing officers who are capable in the current fight with promotion, another key aspect of changing the service culture is education. The Army has started changing this also. For example, my history class this morning is a 2 hour class on the history of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations from the Peninsular War in Spain (1808-1814) to the USMC experience in Latin America in the 1920s and 1930s. Yesterday, we had a two hour question and answer session with one of the primary authors of the new FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency. Our Operational Law classes and Ethics classes have focused on our responsibilities and duties during COIN operations.

In short, the Army is starting to take its lessons learned, think about them, and distribute them out to the force throught its education system. Previously, the Army did everything in its power to avoid COIN and thinking about COIN. This effort by the Army will help to ensure that the steep learning curve that we went through in Iraq from 2003-2007 doesn't get repeated, because the lessons will have been taught to the next generation of officers.

For the obligatory note, nothing in this post reflects the official opinion or views of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. The opinions and thoughts in this post are my thoughts alone.


Scott T. Kastelic
Foreign Area Officer
ILE Class 08-004/Staff Group 30B
Fort Belvoir, VA

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posted by Purp at 07:12 PM

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