Thread: 18A Description
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:57   #7
Jack Moroney (RIP)
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Re: Re: Re: 18A Description

Originally posted by stschmidt

In speaking of shortcomings in expectations...does this fall on the too few or too many side of the house? Is this due to the type of assignments officers are initially placed in upon completion of school? Career progression through assignments?

This has to do primarily with the UW mission requirements for an 18A. While I fully support the branching of officers into 18, prior to that they moved back and forth between SF and non-SF assignments which, depending on their basic branch, provided an understanding and certain experience level in conventional assignments that are no longer available once a CPT becomes an 18A. Specifically, a SFODA is supposed to be able to be a force multiplier and organize, equip, train and lead a BN size force. Now in the days before the branch an Infantry CPT in many cases would have served as a company commander, primary staff officer at BN level, and perhaps at the Brigade level. This would have provided him with a better grasp of the organization and deployment of that BN level force, the interface with conventional forces during Phase III of an insurgency, and how to organize and train a guerrilla cadre to perform the functions expected of a BN. Taking this one step further, when that 18A takes over a SF company, either as a major or a senior captain, he now has the role of organizing and deploying an Area Command where he can have several subordinate SFODAs working for him and is essentially a Brigade Cdr running operations and dealing more with operational and strategic level efforts. Once again, as a senior captain or major with conventional time under his belt he more than likely would have gained some additional experience in Bn and Bde operations which would stand him in good stead in a UW role. The same is true for FID missions and more so in that you will normally be training, advising and assisting a host nation in their role to defeat insurgencies and if you have not had any experience in dealing with conventional forces you have a little more of a challenge than those that have had such an experience. Now that is not to say that 18As cannot do all of the above without having had the benefit of conventional time, but the learning curve is steeper. This is a broad generalization, but I have found throughout my time in dealing with some of my officers that there was a shortcoming that required additional training and attention.

Under the current system there are career progression and gate clearance problems for advancement in SF as an 18A which have not disappeared just because we now have a branch. If you take some time and review the mission requirements, again falling back on the UW mission which is the bread and butter of what we do, by the time a CPT gets to be just about to the point where he is really starting to contribute to the team he is moved off to staff or school. Most do not have the ability to really do justice to the requirements expected of them because they do not spend enough time in the slot. Team Leaders are often considered as continual guests on a team because no one on the team really expects that they are going to be there that long. That was one of the reasons for the 180A. I think most of us had hoped that with the creation of the branch that we would build and retain warriors as 18As, but SF as a branch also has Army wide requirements to meet such as ROTC, recruiters, instructors, etc, etc, ad nauseum. I know many of my contemporaries, given the chance, would have been more than happy to spend their entire careers on a team but the current military personnel management systems will not let that happen and in the case of good SF team leaders success means leaving behind that which they entered SF for in the first place. In other words, this is the perfect definition of no good deed goes unpunished.

To me, an SF officer has to develop many different skill sets most of which are perishable and require constant maintenance and effort. When you are confronted with other "officer" requirements and non-specific SF tasks there are few that are willling to maintain those skill and for many that do or attempt to fall out of favor with those that simply do not understand what is required or have other personal and career agendas. With the exception of the Training Group, those officers that worked for me had specific skill set requirements that I expected them to maintain that I felt were critical for the performance of the tasks that I expected them to perform. I am sure I was not unique in this.

Hope that answers your question. We can explore it further if you wish.

Jack Moroney
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