Video Report Above: What Did Mattis Accomplish in South America
By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven
Despite the persistent and seemingly ubiquitous US military focus on the possibility of near-peer, major power warfare against sophisticated adversaries, the Pentagon and military services say they have no plans to relinquish a need to prepare for counterinsurgency (COIN), terrorism and other asymmetric threats.
Even heavily armored combat vehicles, US Army weapons developers explain, have proven quite useful in COIN environments. Abrams tanks, for instance, proved effective in Iraq by providing a “psychological” presence, functioning as a deterrent and at times providing key fire support in combat scenarios.
Also, cyber, EW and drone threats continue to advance at an alarming pace, a phenomenon which informs strategy when it comes to guarding US Embassies, installations, forward positioned military assets and Forward Operating Bases.
Army leaders currently developing next-generation tanks, infantry carriers and other armored vehicles explain that COIN remains a key part of their developmental emphasis.
“Our systems will still be needed in COIN kinds of environments. We fight differently in different environments,” Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Warrior Maven at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.
Retaining this strategic awareness aligns with certain less-recognized elements of the US National Defense Strategy which, alongside its articulation of major power threats, also writes...
"States are the principal actors on the global stage, but non-state actors also threaten the security environment with increasingly sophisticated capabilities. Terrorists, trans-national criminal organizations, cyber hackers and other malicious non-state actors have transformed global affairs with increased capabilities of mass disruption," the administration's US National Defense Strategy states.
Cummings and other senior Army weapons developers are naturally quite focused on preparing to counter the most advanced threats in existence, and shifting strategic, technological and doctrinal focus from COIN to major power war.
At the same time, the Army’s new “Multi-Domain Operations” concept is grounded in the essential recognition that overlapping domains, such as air, sea, land, cyber and EW now present an intricate and unprecedented threat possibilities. For this reason, the “Operations” concept is also focused on COIN.
“We are optimizing for the next big fight but we will not be able to predict what may happen. We can use our platforms differently as needed. We still have the ability to support COIN,” Cummings said.
Army leaders say Armored Stryker vehicles and other larger US military weapons platforms, are still needed for counterterrorist and security operations; Strykers are still used regularly to add protection to Forward Operating Bases.
Accordingly, the US military, State Department and other national security forces such as US Homeland Security continue extensive counterinsurgency training - often calling upon combat-experienced veterans currently working with private industry.
One firm, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, regularly conducts a wide range of counterterrorist training to range of US military personnel. The courses, taught by former US Special Forces and other experienced counterterrorism experts, emphasize cultural training, weapons and tactics instruction, counterterrorism, language, customs and operational expertise - with a particular emphasis upon terrorist, insurgent and asymmetrical threats.
Torres helped prepare US Army Military Transition Teams preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan with a series of immersive courses. The instruction, which took place at Ft. Riley, Kan., and Ft. Polk, La., is now also supporting other elements of US military and State Department security missions. Torres has trained more than 86,000 military members since 2010.
“All US armed forces and diplomatic personnel are trained before deployments to recognize signs of insurgents that pose potential or existential threats to US missions and personnel abroad and to report these threats,” said Jerry Torres, CEO of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions.
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Also, the military does deploy reinforced structures, perimeter security mechanisms, long-range sensors and strategically placed protective weapons at US locations overseas. In fact, the Army expects to have laser weapons and new interceptor missiles in place, regularly integrated with advanced radar and fire control, to track and knock out incoming enemy attacks.
Overall, recognizing the massive push to address great power competiton, US military leaders say the US security apparatus is by no means less focused upon global terrorist threats and concerns about “lone-wolf” malicious actors. As part of these fast-moving adjustments, US security experts explain that there are now advanced screening technologies at US Embassies established to address these threats.
Torres said a renewed emphasis upon COIN is what helped contain and destroy ISIS.
"Focusing on COIN is what stopped ISIS from growing. Counterterrorism is reemerging as a skill set for soldiers who are looking for terrorists and insurgencies," Torres added.
Newer drones, in particular, are now engineered with longer-range, high-resolution sensors and also armed with threatening precision weaponry, a scenario which naturally requires modern, high-tech defense strategies and technologies.
COIN Training and the “Close in Fight”
Weapons, firearms and lethal hand-to-hand combat are often blended together in high-risk military combat confrontations, a circumstance which many military and law enforcement entities believe now requires an emerging and distinct “close-in” fight training known as “Combatives.”
Combatives, now being taught to every cadet at West Point, is built upon the reality that large percentages of casualties in warfare take place within an immediate sphere of five feet,Matt Larsen, Director of the Combative Program at West Point, told Warrior Maven in an interview.
The training prepares for fights wherein an enemy quickly reaches for a gun or knife or attempts to take a weapon from a person they are attacking. Confrontations of this kind require an integrated approach - blending physical strength, hand-to-hand attack and close-in weapons use,
Fast-changing combat scenarios require strength, maneuverability and crucial judgement regarding when and how to move. An ability to anticipate enemy moves and counter weapons, firearms and hand-combat attacks is fundamental to the training.
Torres also taught Combatives and Close Quarter Battle (CQB) to US Forces in Iraq. CQB, as one might expect, took on a new urgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Small ground units were routinely called upon to “clear areas,” attack and engage small groups of insurgents and engage in high-stakes combat in close-quarter buildings and urban environments.
"We were glad to have Matt's expertise in bringing a unique blend of combat skill to our soldiers in Iraq. This kind of integrated "close-in" training seems to address an often unrecognized need to prepare for how fights happen," Torres said.
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