The By-With-Through Approach: An Army Component Perspective

By Michael X. Garrett, William H. Dunbar, Bryan C. Hilferty, and Robert R. Rodock Joint Force Quarterly 89

PRINT  |  E-MAIL
Download PDF
Lieutenant General Michael X. Garrett, USA, is Commanding General of U.S. Army Central (USARCENT). Colonel William H. Dunbar, USA, is Chief of the Commander’s Initiatives Group, USARCENT. Colonel Bryan C. Hilferty, USA (Ret.), is a Senior Strategic Planner in the Commander’s Initiatives Group, USARCENT. Lieutenant Colonel Robert R. Rodock, USA, is a Planner in the Commander’s Initiatives Group, USARCENT.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over armored vehicles loaded on transport trucks during Army Day 2018, February 9, 2018, Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait (U.S. Army/Ty McNeeley)
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over armored vehicles loaded on transport trucks during Army Day 2018, February 9, 2018, Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait (U.S. Army/Ty McNeeley)
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over armored vehicles loaded on transport trucks during Army Day 2018, February 9, 2018, Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait (U.S. Army/Ty McNeeley)
Black Hawks Fly Over Armored Vehicles
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over armored vehicles loaded on transport trucks during Army Day 2018, February 9, 2018, Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait (U.S. Army/Ty McNeeley)
Photo By: Sgt. 1st Class Ty McNeeley
VIRIN: 180209-A-WD109-010

The Counter-ISIS Campaign has entered its third year, and we are on track with the military plan to defeat the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. Our “by, with, and through” approach and operational-level simultaneity strategy are working, and our partner forces continue to build momentum across the battlespace as we pressure the enemy on multiple fronts and across all domains.

—General Joseph L. Votel, USA

In 2018, as the United States enters its 17th year of conflict in the Middle East, the Army’s 2018 campaign plan directs an endstate to be “ready to respond to threats from near-peer competitors and nonstate actors.”1 Land forces in U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) have adopted an operational approach of “by, with, and through” (BWT) to achieve this endstate. U.S. Army Central (USARCENT) remains front and center, straddling the line between the complexity of developing national strategy and the complication of operational feasibility to support the combatant commander’s mission. USARCENT, as the Army Service Component Command for USCENTCOM, is responsible for shaping the theater, coordinating theater security cooperation, and preparing forces for unified land operations. The USCENTCOM commander succinctly described the foundation of the USARCENT role in the joint fight when he asked, “It really is all about logistics, isn’t it?”2 For USARCENT, logistics is having the right capability at the right place at the right time—all while anticipating the next requirement and setting conditions for its success. This article provides the USARCENT perspective on how it accomplishes its mission with BWT as the operational approach and demonstrates the need for the joint force to come to a common understanding of what executing operations within a BWT operational approach, and all associated terms, means.

USARCENT describes the BWT operational approach as conducting military campaigns primarily by employing partner maneuver forces with the support of U.S.-enabling forces through a coordinated legal and diplomatic framework. A brief review of how USARCENT has come to describe BWT as an operational approach sets the foundation for the following discussion and request for further analysis. Specifically, describing BWT as an operational approach requires a common understanding to frame the dialogue.

Although the term strategy is not defined in the Department of Defense (DOD) Dictionary, it is commonly understood as how to achieve desired ends through deliberate ways using available means. Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, offers a method to understand the deliberate ways to approach a military problem and provides a doctrinal approach “to address the challenges of shaping operational environments, preventing conflict, prevailing during large-scale ground combat, and consolidating gains to follow through on tactical success.”3 The description of the four operations—shape, prevent, large-scale ground combat, and consolidate gains—is the deliberate way and provides the start for USARCENT’s analysis to describe BWT as an operational approach. FM 3-0 explains the bridge between the deliberate ways and available means as mechanisms: either defeat (enemy-focused) or stability (civilian-focused). BWT is an operational approach that accounts for the gray areas between a solely enemy-focused or civilian-focused mechanism to synchronize available means within deliberate ways to achieve desired ends. BWT is an operational approach that embraces the introduction of partner forces, which mitigates U.S. risk acceptance calculus and leads to anticipated, greater potential for enduring regional stability.

Currently, USCENTCOM executes the BWT operational approach by task organizing and distributing force packages across the joint operational area to provide enabler support to a partner’s maneuver forces. Such dispersion presents inherent challenges to command and control, force protection, and sustainment, particularly medical, maintenance, and logistical support. Although U.S. maneuver formations are mostly absent, BWT stresses historical models for consumption of U.S. fires. USARCENT supports the joint force by managing these issues on an ad hoc basis from an adjacent friendly country using available resources that were allocated for other purposes.

Fighting BWT is not a new concept in either USCENTCOM operations over the last 16 years or military history. However, understanding the effects of executing BWT within the current political and strategic environment in terms of force generation, operational sustainment, and tactical execution requires shared understanding across the joint community as friction exists associated with BWT and the family of terminology that comes along with it. For example, is there a difference between a Security Force Assistance Brigade conducting advise-and-assist missions versus a Brigade Combat Team? How does the brigade commander execute his predeployment training to conduct advise, assist, accompany, and enable missions while deployed versus advise, assist, and enable missions? What tools, models, and planning factors could a sustainer use to maintain the operational reach of the joint force when units are employed in an other-than-doctrinal manner?

USARCENT intends for this article to describe the current environment and mitigation for the challenges of fighting BWT in order to trigger additional thought and analysis in the joint community. In addition, USARCENT desires to elicit dialogue and complement ongoing analyses by the Mosul Studies Group in Iraq, develop the Expeditionary Advisor Packages in Afghanistan, and deploy Security Force Assistance echelons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Evolution

Infantry squad with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assaults first of two buildings during platoon live-fire lane, January 28, 2018, during Omani-U.S. exercise Inferno Creek 2018, near Thumrait, Oman (U.S. Army/David L. Nye)
Infantry squad with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assaults first of two buildings during platoon live-fire lane, January 28, 2018, during Omani-U.S. exercise Inferno Creek 2018, near Thumrait, Oman (U.S. Army/David L. Nye)
Infantry squad with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assaults first of two buildings during platoon live-fire lane, January 28, 2018, during Omani-U.S. exercise Inferno Creek 2018, near Thumrait, Oman (U.S. Army/David L. Nye)
Infantry Soldiers hit building during Inferno Creek 18
Infantry squad with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, assaults first of two buildings during platoon live-fire lane, January 28, 2018, during Omani-U.S. exercise Inferno Creek 2018, near Thumrait, Oman (U.S. Army/David L. Nye)
Photo By: Sgt. David Nye
VIRIN: 180128-A-FO568-006

Challenges inherent in the BWT method of war confronted USARCENT from the time it established the initial Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Headquarters for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in 2014. The same challenges persist as USARCENT serves as the Coalition Forces Land Component Command for USCENTCOM, while maintaining responsibilities as the Theater Army and Army Service Component Command. In each of these roles, and at various times, USARCENT has adapted and maintains agility within its organizational architecture to accomplish all missions assigned by the geographic combatant commander (GCC). Frequently, these solutions call for the use of capabilities and resources originally allocated for other missions to include deterring malign influence and hostile aggression throughout the region. USARCENT is greatly enabled in its efforts to provide this support by leveraging the proximity of the friendly nation of Kuwait and the relationships developed there during more than 20 years of continuous presence and engagement.

The phrase by, with, and through originated decades ago as a component of the definition of unconventional warfare. The 2003 edition of Joint Publication (JP) 3-05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations, defined unconventional warfare as:

a broad spectrum of military and paramilitary operations, normally of long duration, predominantly conducted through, with, or by indigenous or surrogate forces who are organized, trained, equipped, supported, and directed in varying degrees by an external source. It includes, but is not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities and unconventional assisted recovery.4

Both understanding and applying BWT have evolved over the years. From its inception in describing special operations forces’ activities in low-intensity conflict, it has evolved to describe conventional activities in multidomain battle. The lack of clear definition results in challenges at the tactical and operational levels, while also having implications for the strategic level of warfare.

A brief historical review shows how different warfighting applications of the terms by, with, and through met with varying levels of success. Whether fighting to maintain an empire, thwart the spread of communism, or turn the tide in a mired conflict, military forces have used the tenets of BWT. From 1899–1902, fresh from the victory of the Spanish-American War, the United States sought to quell the Filipino independence movement by using indigenous forces to destroy entrenched partisans. From 1916–1918, the British fought to maintain an empire fighting with surrogate forces in the Middle East. From 1955–1975, Western powers fought a proxy war through Southeast Asian armies to stop the spread of communism. From 2005–2011, the United States, mired in counterinsurgency in Iraq, took advantage of the Anbar Awakening to fight the discontented Iraqi insurgents with and through the Sons of Iraq. Each of these examples provides historical context to the development of present day application of BWT.

In years past, BWT could be viewed as an operational approach in an economy of force environment. Today’s fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) is hardly an economy of force mission from the standpoint of whole-of-coalition operations. Presently, BWT describes how the United States applies the warfighting functions, minus U.S. maneuver, in its fight alongside major partners willing to commit thousands of troops to decisive action. The lack of common understanding of what BWT is, and the addition of the family of terms to accompany BWT, result in challenges at the tactical and operational levels while also having implications for the strategic level of warfare. A comparison with Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) draws a stark contrast to the BWT approach. The 2003 campaign was a conventional fight employing combined U.S. arms to defeat a mostly conventional enemy. However, following the initial, successful invasion, the need to place coalition partners at the forefront of operations emerged. While this practice led to an anecdotal understanding of the BWT approach, the present resource-constrained environment demonstrates the need for a thorough doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) analysis.

The 2017 USCENTCOM Posture Statement states:

[The] Counter-ISIS Campaign has entered its third year, and we are on track with the military plan to defeat the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. Our “by, with, and through” approach and operational-level simultaneity strategy are working, and our partner forces continue to build momentum across the battlespace as we pressure the enemy on multiple fronts and across all domains.5

Fighting BWT is not fighting counterinsurgency. Rather, fighting BWT is to prevent the rise of an insurgency at the conclusion of operations. To optimize USARCENT’s support to the GCC and to apply lessons learned to the greater joint force, the U.S. military would benefit greatly from a shared understanding of the implications of successful execution of fighting BWT to force generation, training, executing, and sustaining the force.

Implications

Figure. By-With-Through Risk
Figure. By-With-Through Risk
Figure. By-With-Through Risk
Figure. By-With-Through Risk
Figure. By-With-Through Risk
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 180412-D-BD104-003

The Army’s warfighting functions provide a useful framework to describe the implications of present-day application of fighting by, with, and through. Despite this admittedly Army-centric context, the impact of challenges in fighting BWT to the joint force is real. Although its description is beyond the scope of this article, the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 prescribes the relationship between the Services and, specifically, the command relationship between geographic combatant commanders and their assigned component commanders. Following, there are certain responsibilities each component command owes to the joint force. For example, USARCENT provides air and missile defense to key locations within the USCENTCOM area of operations (AOR). In addition, USARCENT, through its Theater Sustainment Command, manages and distributes munitions for the joint force. Although these are just two of the responsibilities that USARCENT provides, it must balance risk to mission and risk to force while executing BWT. Thus, the Army’s warfighting functions provide a valuable way to identify examples of mitigating risk. A visual description of risk overlaid on the deliberate ways and available means is depicted in the figure.

Mission Command (Command and Control per Joint Doctrine). Army forces assigned to the USCENTCOM AOR are one-tenth the number assigned to the U.S. Pacific Command AOR and one-fourth the number in the U.S. European Command AOR. All other forces are present in response to needs-based requests for forces. In the course of meeting GCC need for Army forces, the Theater Army is the first echelon to review a request for additional capabilities. Often, the process of force generation leads to a denial of additional capability from outside the theater and a directive to employ capabilities already present for other purposes. This alternative sourcing process is documented in the form of a Theater Coordinated Assistance request from the warfighting headquarters to the GCC. USCENTCOM uses the request process to manage resource allocation across its three joint operations areas. Absent an explicit policy decision that underwrites the drawing down of capabilities allocated to respond to other more existential threats, it is then left to the Service component to ensure the GCC understands the associated risk to the ability to respond to other contingencies.

USARCENT supports two named operations in the USCENTCOM AOR, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) and OIR. It exercises force protection responsibilities for the Multinational Force and Observers treaty organization in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, home to an active branch of the Islamic State. It directly executes tasks associated with the deterrence and theater security requirements of Operation Spartan Shield (OSS) in all but Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. At the operational level, there is only one source from which to draw forces should the Department of the Army choose not to resource new deployments. As a result, the Army Service Component Command must carefully articulate the risk to executing its OSS mission in its support to either OIR or OFS.

In the USCENTCOM AOR, Task Force Spartan (TF Spartan), a mobilized Army National Guard division headquarters, supports OSS, OIR, and OFS with deliberate planning and detailed risk mitigation practices. The high number and wide variety of dynamic and unprogrammed missions conducted by its arrayed forces continue to affect manning, equipping, maintaining, and employing the force in support of both operations.

Major General Blake Ortner, TF Spartan commander from December 2016 to July 2017, stated in his exit interview that the task force:

had elements that were tasked for the Advise and Assist missions, but they were tasked across huge geographic areas. So, what that often meant is that you have the battalion commander [who’s] running the [tactical command post] up in Mosul, you’ve got his [executive officer] down here in Kuwait managing the rest of the forces, the staff is split between the locations. . . . So, what you have is each location ending up with a reduced force, reduced staff planning and things like that. So, that could constrain the mission command capability a little bit.6

The general also noted a mission command adjustment that supported mission accomplishment: “some of the command and support relationships were working against OIR and us. So, in working with OIR and ARCENT, we adjusted some to improve combat operations.”7 As an example, he referenced USCENTCOM’s transfer of authority from USARCENT to CJTF-OIR for the repositioning of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers in order to be more responsive to the fluid tactical situation on the ground in Iraq. Major General Ortner summarized the risks to the OSS mission in deterring malign influence and hostile aggression across the Middle East:

Leaders at all levels are being asked to step outside of their normal responsibilities and lead and mitigate risk beyond what they were trained to do. They are also being asked to employ their equipment and forces outside of what would be normal [Mission Essential Task List] or [Army Universal Task List] mission requirements. In practice, not all of these efforts or employments are success stories, but the challenges, and resultant solution sets, are in line with what was derived in the [Army Operating Concept]—guiding future force development through identification of first order capabilities that the Army must possess to accomplish missions in support of policy goals and objectives.8

Examples of nondoctrinal employments incurring increased risk include:

  • Attack Weapons Teams (AWT) (2x AH-64s) are executing geographically dispersed operations and with a command-and-support relationship separate from its company headquarters. The Combat Aviation Brigade operates with limited maintenance and refueling in an undefined logistics supply situation. TF Spartan depends on the Air Force to execute operational movement in the absence of organic Army transportation capabilities.
  • TF Spartan HIMARS International Standards Organization OIR are deployed in 2x launcher teams called Light HIMARS Packages. Technically, the HIMARS units are designed to fight in four launcher platoons where each platoon includes a required Fire Direction Center. In the smaller configuration, sergeants are independently executing mission command of these centers. While they have been generally successful, the situation calls for anticipatory training of noncommissioned officers who may find themselves in this role.
  • The 420th Engineer Brigade forms cross-functional teams and detachments below the level presumed in doctrinal task organization. These small teams are “commanded” by staff sergeants who are controlled by special operations forces’ elements through loose command and control relationships, and faced with making tactical- and operational-level decisions in the execution of their mission.

In an opposing view, Colonel J. Patrick Work, an on-the-ground advise-and-assist (A&A) brigade commander, noted, “There is no loss of chain of command because our [tactics, techniques, and procedures are] not recorded in doctrine. Perhaps this mission profile epitomizes mission command. . . . Bandwidth might be the most important class of supply to A&A. Power generation may be number two.”9

Movement and Maneuver. Army forces are conducting movements in Iraq and Syria, but not maneuver because the current form of BWT calls for the reliance on a partner’s maneuver force in the battlefield geometry. JP 3-0, Joint Operations, defines maneuver as “Employment of forces in the operational area through movement in combination with fires to achieve a position of advantage in respect to the enemy.”10 Although not used for direct ground combat, there remains a requirement for U.S. infantry in other traditional roles. In CJTF-OIR, small advisor teams often have a full platoon of infantry for force protection.

Intelligence. The U.S. military has the most capable intelligence architecture in the world and focuses a variety of intelligence assets in the fight against the Islamic State. However, the absence of prior intelligence-sharing agreements among partners can hinder the sharing of technologically derived information from U.S. sources. For the counter-IS fight, this challenge was somewhat overcome by the development of a tailored Middle East Stabilization Forces intelligence-sharing caveat.

Inversely, U.S. forces are unable to use human intelligence generated by partner nations to fill gaps in their situational understanding. American forces must determine a means to achieve efficiency in the development of a common operating picture and situational awareness in coordination with partner forces having different technology, language, and culture.

Fires. The current BWT fight relies on precision fires, and the U.S. military delivers fires more accurately now than at any time in history. BWT, in effect, trades the effects of precision-guided munitions for the lethality and fire discipline of troops on the ground. Combined arms doctrine calls for unified fire and maneuver to mass effects, seize and maintain initiative, and cause multiple dilemmas for the enemy.11 Iraqi army and Syrian defense forces instead depend heavily on fires to disperse or attrit enemy forces prior to the seizure of terrain through maneuver. This Iraqi and Syrian practice of employing fires to achieve the effect of eliminating enemy resistance without complementary maneuver required fire missions in such number that the risk of error or collateral damage greatly increased. To protect civilians, as well as U.S., coalition, and partnered forces, from collateral damage, the use of relatively scarce precision munitions is preferred, which greatly increases their rate of expenditure. Additionally, fires employed in the course of BWT operations are typically dynamic rather than deliberate, making predictability of usage rates and resupply forecasting slightly more complex.

Sustainment. BWT is at least as logistically intensive for U.S./coalition forces as traditional operations, especially when supplying munitions in support of indirect fires. As a result of the increased expenditure of precision munitions, the allocated storage and distribution capabilities are hard-pressed to provide sufficient stocks to the point of use, and the industrial base is severely taxed to meet manufacturing demand. Brigadier General Robert Harter refers to this unexpectedly high expenditure of artillery munitions with his observation, “BWT is more logistically intense than if our forces were doing this ourselves. Particularly intensive in the use of precision fires. . . . The Iraqis understand maneuver, but sustainment in their formation is not there yet.”12

Major General Paul Hurley, commanding general, 1st Theater Support Command (1st TSC), from June 2015 to June 2017, wrote, “Waging war against [the Islamic State] with a limited U.S. military presence requires nondoctrinal logistics solutions to support coalition, U.S., and host-nation forces. . . . Without the authorities, access, and logistics structures of the past, the 1st TSC’s challenge is two-fold: providing operational and tactical logistics to U.S. forces while simultaneously providing material and supply support to the Iraqi forces.”13

Indications are that BWT inhibits the development of U.S. partners’ tactical and operational sustainment beyond what is necessary to conduct the close fight. It may be the case that so long as the United States is willing to establish and pay for upkeep of lines of communication for major operations, partners will continue to rely on that support. As Major General Hurley noted, “Coalition partners in the region rely too heavily on U.S. logistics expertise and equipment to achieve operational capability.”14

USARCENT provides medical and maintenance support to partners and the joint force through tailored, nondoctrinal packages. These packages demonstrate the requirement for a scalable force as outlined in the Army Vision 2025. However, the decentralized employment of small elements (HIMARs sections, AWTs, Sentinel Radar systems, sustainment packages), and constraints on the number of Soldiers deployed, stretch the ability of the maintenance and supply systems to uphold the readiness of critical systems supporting the Combined Joint Operations Area (CJOA). Maintenance support relies heavily on civilian field service representatives who in turn depend on military-provided transportation and security to move to remote and austere locations around the battlefield. The concept of traditional unit basic loads for supplies and spares is not employed, and formations rely on a just-in-time concept of support.

To match partners’ operational tempo and extend operational reach, BWT requires basing from multiple contingency operating locations. While this places advisors and support with partner forces where they are most critically needed, the requirement to provide logistics at each of those locations requires sustainment packages (forward logistics element) in ever-smaller numbers with less robust capabilities. The sustainment architecture that coalition and partnered forces rely on is continually modified to provide the maximum possible support to a rapidly changing CJOA within the constraints of U.S. policy and the political sensitivities of coalition partners.

Bureaucratic customs processes associated with conducting operations in sovereign nations also challenge the distribution and transportation networks within the CJOA. For example, the need to use commercial line-haul carriers over inadequate road networks, as well as limited airfield capability and an insufficient number of movement control units, lessen the effectiveness of the current CJOA distribution network. Maintaining effective control and accountability over the distribution of weapons and equipment in a semipermissive environment also continues to be a significant logistical challenge.

Others have noted that the lack of available force structure constrains operational flexibility. Major General Joseph Martin gave an example of the request for an advisor team:

You . . . have to understand that the tail that is supporting that advisory team has to be accounted for. So, when you say “advisor team,” you’re looking at an infantry platoon plus a couple of staff officers, let’s say that’s forty people. However, there’s an additional five or ten people we have to add to the [Brigade Support Battalion] or whoever. When we throw some extra advisors, now we have to ask for a route clearance package because . . . more advisors, more networks for them to move to and from the roads, now we’ve got more roads to clear.15

Because these forces are not readily available, planners must forecast and request the capabilities far in advance or the tempo of operations must slow to await their arrival.

Operational headquarters must budget for forces to support base operating support requirements, and this mission has further taxed the limited logistics forces available to provide BWT support in the CJOA. Major General Hurley wrote that “U.S. logisticians are meeting this nondoctrinal workload using a manning-restricted sustainment footprint that is arguably inadequate for the task.”16 USARCENT and 1st TSC always accomplished the mission, but DOTLMPF-P improvements can reduce risk and improve efficiency.

Protection. BWT mitigates the risk to infantry and armor Soldiers who historically have the highest incidence of casualties, but it increases the risk to other forces distributed across the battlefield that are dependent, in some cases, on local forces for force protection. Major General Martin stated, “To achieve that access and to build that relationship you must have people forward [who] are not commuting to work, but they are living there with them and with that it works very well. But there are risks associated with that.” He continued, “This environment forces commanders to spend a lot of time assessing risk because it is not something that you look at episodically or periodically. It’s a thing you must continually assess over time.”17

In referring to another dimension of Soldier risk, Colonel Work noted:

Protecting ourselves and our partners is a top priority. Risks include illness and injury. . . . I spend much of my time evaluating and mitigating risk with our [Task Force Advise and Assist] commanders. . . . Consider the roles of chaplains and behavioral health specialists as well. Distributed forces, potential limitations to ground mobility, and the human dimension of our Soldiers in a hazardous environment creates risk if there is not added preventative and reactive capacity.18

While BWT seeks to increase the likelihood of accomplishing political objectives and decrease the risk to U.S. forces in the close fight, it increases the risk to strategic and tactical mission accomplishment. The tactical mission is placed at risk in relying on the decisionmaking processes and priorities of partners, while risk to the overarching strategic mission is increased when objective endstates and those of chosen partners diverge.

Finally, USARCENT executes BWT operations at an increased risk to its steady-state requirement: deterring malign influence and hostile aggression while setting conditions for transition to combat and shaping the environment to mitigate threat. Of course, the elimination of all risk is an unachievable, and probably an undesirable, objective. As an Army War College professor noted, “In war, risk is a zero-sum game where combatants have to make tradeoffs between risk to themselves, the mission, and noncombatants. Eliminating the risk to noncombatants places this risk squarely on combatants and the mission. If combatants also refuse or are not able to accept sufficient risk, then it all falls on the mission, which is often itself sacrificed.”19

Initial Doctrinal Thoughts

The joint force should commission a study resulting in a doctrinal definition of BWT and a framework for BWT operations, similar to the effort put forth in the development of counterinsurgency doctrine. The outcomes of this study would better enable planning and resourcing the BWT fight, and it would provide warfighting headquarters, force providers, and other key stakeholders a common frame of reference for discussing the requirements and objectives for BWT operations. At endstate, the study could create doctrine for adapting employment of smaller formations with enablers through leveraging the Mosul study and Center for Army Lessons Learned embeds. As demonstrated in this article, USARCENT offers the following definitions for consideration to start a more deliberate analysis:

  • By, With, and Through: Operational framework to conduct military campaigns primarily by employing partner maneuver forces with the support of U.S. enabling forces through a coordinated legal and diplomatic framework.
  • Train: Planned instruction to partners about a particular skill or type of behavior in a permissive environment. Includes tactical tasks such as marksmanship and how to use equipment as well as higher level skills such as intelligence fusion, combined arms integration, and large unit tactics.
  • Advise: Provide subject matter expertise, guidance, and counsel to partners before they carry out missions. Usually one-on-one or in small groups and with an informal give and take as in a graduate course.
  • Assist: Provide subject matter expertise, guidance, and counsel to partners while they are carrying out assigned missions. The advisor remains behind the close area.
  • Enable: Provide and/or employ U.S. military activities, forces, equipment, and/or weapons systems in support of partner missions. Can include equipment; transportation; indirect fires; intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; and so forth. Enabling forces do not include U.S. maneuver forces such as infantry and armor conducting close combat.
  • Accompany: Advisors and enablers physically deploy with partners while they are carrying out assigned missions in the close area, up to and past the forward line of troops.
  • Building Partnership Capacity: The wide array of Title 10 and Title 22 programs that advance partner-nation military abilities and capabilities that contribute to accomplishing U.S. national security objectives. Includes training, equipping, exercises, and exchanges.
  • Theater Security Cooperation: All DOD interactions with foreign defense establishments to build defense relationships that promote specific U.S. security interests, develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to a host nation.
  • Security Force Assistance: DOD activities that contribute to unified action by the U.S. Government to support the development of the capacity and capability of foreign security forces and their supporting institutions.
Lieutenant General Michael Garrett, left, U.S. Army Central commander, meets with Brigadier General Mark Odom, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commander for operations, during battlefield circulation of Iraqi area of operations in Erbil, Iraq, February 27, 2016 (U.S. Army/Jake Hamby)
Lieutenant General Michael Garrett, left, U.S. Army Central commander, meets with Brigadier General Mark Odom, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commander for operations, during battlefield circulation of Iraqi area of operations in Erbil, Iraq, February 27, 2016 (U.S. Army/Jake Hamby)
Lieutenant General Michael Garrett, left, U.S. Army Central commander, meets with Brigadier General Mark Odom, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commander for operations, during battlefield circulation of Iraqi area of operations in Erbil, Iraq, February 27, 2016 (U.S. Army/Jake Hamby)
U.S. Army Central commander meets with 82nd Airborne Division deputy commander
Lieutenant General Michael Garrett, left, U.S. Army Central commander, meets with Brigadier General Mark Odom, 82nd Airborne Division deputy commander for operations, during battlefield circulation of Iraqi area of operations in Erbil, Iraq, February 27, 2016 (U.S. Army/Jake Hamby)
Photo By: U.S. Army Cpl. Jake Hamby
VIRIN: 160227-A-IA672-072

Conclusion

From demonstrating U.S. might in response to an attack on the homeland and removing a ruthless dictator, to declaring mission accomplished and forcing manning levels, to renaming operations and declaring end dates, the United States continues a series of operational deployments in the Middle East. The current (although undefined in current doctrine and lacking shared understanding) operational approach to fight by, with, and through partners yields certain risk that commanders mitigate through nondoctrinal means. During his Component Commander’s Conference in October 2017, General Votel summarized the importance of understanding the implications of fighting by, with, and through. He stated, “We have to understand the risk we [combatant and component commanders] are having our subordinate commanders absorb on our behalf.”20

USARCENT studied that risk from a Theater Army perspective using the Army’s warfighting function framework and additional joint analysis using the DOTMLPF-P structure. In practice, Army forces are executing outside of their design, and the Army Service Component Command is supporting the joint force in an ad hoc fashion. Partners are flawed, lack of U.S. maneuver forces is resource intensive, and dependability on indigenous forces removes U.S. control of the tempo in the fight. Improved joint understanding of fighting BWT, and the associated family of terms, will enable force generation to advance the tactical fight, organize actions in time and space toward the theater strategic objectives, and account for grand strategic and political goals. To support the shared understanding and address the indispensable roles of three key agents in the BWT system—local forces, U.S. forces, and political leadership—USARCENT offers that the BWT operational approach is conducting military campaigns primarily by employing partner maneuver forces with the support of U.S. enabling forces through a coordinated legal and diplomatic framework. JFQ

Notes

1 Army Campaign Plan (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, 2018).

2 Joseph L. Votel, email message, June 8, 2017.

3 Field Manual 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, 2017).

4 Joint Publication 3-05, Doctrine for Joint Special Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2003).

5 Senate Armed Services Committee, Statement of General Joseph L. Votel on the Posture of U.S. Central Command, March 9, 2017, available at <www.centcom.mil/ABOUT-US/POSTURE-STATEMENT/>.

6 Blake Ortner, exit interview, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, 2017.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 J. Patrick Work, exit interview, Iraq, 2017.

10 Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, 2017).

11 Army Doctrine Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, 2016).

12 Robert Harter, exit interview, Kuwait, 2017.

13 Paul C. Hurley et al., “Considerations for Supporting a Train, Advise, and Assist Environment in Iraq,” Army Sustainment Magazine (November–December 2016).

14 Ibid.

15 Joseph M. Martin, exit interview, Iraq, 2017.

16 Hurley.

17 Martin.

18 Work.

19 Tony Pfaff, statement, Carlisle Barracks, PA, 2017.

20 Joseph L. Votel, Statement at U.S. Central Command Component Commanders’ Conference, Qatar, 2017.