On Dec. 1, 2009, President Obama directed an additional surge of 30,000 troops to southern and eastern Afghanistan to reverse the negative security trends in these areas. The first of the troops are expected to arrive within days of the president's announcement and most of the remainder by mid-summer.
U.S. Joint Forces Command, in its primary force provider role, is helping combatant and operational commanders plan and synchronize the deployment of forces to carry out the president's strategy.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Yates, director for Operations, Plans, Logistics and Engineering (J3/4) for USJFCOM, spoke about USJFCOM's role in the Global Force Management (GFM) process, the approach used to deploy the troops and supporting elements to Afghanistan, in mid-December. "We are getting final details on some of the requirements; we know most of them," Yates said.
Once a combatant commander's request is validated by the Joint Staff, it is forwarded to master planners in the Joint Deployment Center which opened in October 2009. The JDC staff has significantly assisted in analyzing and recommending which forces will best fill commanders' needs, according to Yates.
Although, it may appear to look like the typical office filled with computers and desks, the JDC is ergonomically engineered to facilitate collaboration. Instead of cubicles and halls with closed doors, the center is an open space with state-of-the-art communications. Teams can be quickly formed or clustered to tackle a specific requirement.
The JDC staff is about 275 strong with representation from all the services which makes planning much easier, said Yates. The JDC staff is comprised of active duty and Reserve service members representing all four services, DoD civilians, many of whom are retired military members, and contract personnel. The force sourcing effort, however, goes far beyond the JDC staff.
The force sourcing effort is led by JFCOM personnel from the JDC, but involves other JFCOM directorates, JFCOM service components from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and each of the services at the leadership level.
The force sourcing institution is organized into Joint Working Groups (JWGs) arranged by subspecialty and spread through the command, components and services accordingly. For instance, sourcing of medical requirements is primarily handled through personnel from the JFCOM Surgeon's Office (J02M) who liaise with service medical providers. Communications requirements are sourced with the assistance of JFCOM's Command, Control, Communications and Computer Directorate, commonly known as the J6, and JFCOM's Intelligence Directorate (J2) helps to facilitate the sourcing of intelligence requirements.
The core of expertise resides in the JDC, but the actual sourcing effort includes hundreds, if not thousands, of experts nationwide.
"If we are discussing the requirement for an engineering unit or a Marine battalion, we don't have to call outside this room, the representatives for the services are right here and can tell us what is available," Yates said.
The JDC serves as a command center for both the Navy and Joint Forces Command separated by a movable wall that can be easily removed for joint planning. For example, in a domestic crisis, commanders can quickly regroup to get the information they need regarding the status of forces and how they can be deployed to respond to the emergency.
Yates compared his staff's current challenge to the one it faced in the 2007 surge of troops to Iraq. He said that challenge was one of J3/4's biggest successes as a joint force provider. While there are lessons learned to apply in the current surge, there are big differences in the requirements.
"They're unique situations with unique requirements," Yates said. "The type of force that we use for an Afghanistan counter-insurgency and training effort is going to be a little bit different than what was needed for the Iraqi surge. Each theater is unique in terms of force requirements, strategy, terrain, logistics and security."
Included in the deploying force structure are about 4,100 support personnel in the areas of logistics, engineering, operational planners, and specialized providers, for example, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and security teams.
Just over half of the forces have been identified and informed of their upcoming deployments, according to Yates. The responsibility for coordinating the rotations falls to USJFCOM.
Defense Department officials announced in early December that 1,500 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., will deploy later in the month, and 6,200 Marines of Regimental Combat Team 2 at Camp Lejeune were alerted for deployment early in the spring. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., also will deploy 800 Marines in the spring, along with an influx of 3,400 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team from the Army's 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., department officials said.
USJFCOM's goal is to anticipate requirements and have the necessary personnel identified and accounted for 18 months in advance of commanders' needs, but officials often must adapt quickly to changing demands on the ground.
The general explained the process for how combatant commanders request troops or resources to fulfill mission requirements.
"Because Afghanistan is in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, I'll use CENTCOM as an example. When Gen. [Stanley] McChrystal (commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) sends a request for troops, his requirement goes to Gen. [David] Petraeus, CENTCOM commander, then to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for validation. JFCOM's role is to analyze the requirement and provide courses of action in the form of recommendations for the Joint Staff," Yates said.
Sometimes combatant commanders get exactly what they request, other times the forces they want are not available, and JFCOM can craft a solution that will provide the same effect.
"If a requirement comes in for an Army or Marine battalion, we ask the services what is available including National Guard units. If there isn't one available, we can work with the COCOM to try to further refine the requirement, maybe a security force would answer the requirement, and we can provide that," Yates said.
Unit requirements are filled in one of four ways. The primary sourcing method is through a "standard" sourcing solution, meaning it most closely answers the request of the combatant commander. For example, if the request is for engineering capabilities to support an Army Brigade Combat Team, the standard solution would be an Army Engineering Battalion.
Should a standard solution be unavailable, JFCOM next looks to a "joint" solution whereby a unit from another service that possesses the same core capabilities is used to satisfy the request. In the example above, an Air Force RED HORSE engineering unit or a Navy Seabee battalion could be used as a joint solution.
If no standard or joint solution is available, but the request can be filled by retraining a unit to another core capability, an "in-lieu-of" (ILO) sourcing solution can be used. For example, if the request is for a transportation unit that moves cargo in trucks, a field artillery unit can be trained for the mission and temporarily assigned to it. ILO solutions normally keep units intact while performing a mission outside their core capability.
Some requests cannot be satisfied through standard, joint or ILO solutions. This typically happens when a capability is requested by a combatant commander, but not held in the inventory. In this case, JFCOM may assemble an ad hoc unit by gathering personnel with the requisite skills and forming a new, temporary unit. These personnel can, and do, come from all the services based on skill set and are assembled into a temporary unit complete with an appropriate command structure. Any necessary training is accomplished to ensure the new unit is fully capable of accomplishing the mission without undue risk.
The efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan might appear to heavily depend on Army and Marine Corps ground forces, and they are, but there are significant contributions from the Navy and Air Force as well, Yates said.
There is substantial air capability from bases inside Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as from aircraft carriers afloat in neighboring seas. All four services contribute in skill sets such as intelligence, EOD, military police and engineering. Air Force and Navy medical personnel and units provide medical evacuation capability, as well as trauma care on the ground. Air Force RED HORSE units and Navy Seabee battalions perform a myriad of construction tasks from building roads, to digging wells, to raising buildings.
Logistics teams from every service maintain the flow of food, water, consumables and fuel to units widely dispersed throughout the theater. Intelligence specialists are in high demand, and every service provides these valuable personnel to units and staffs on the ground. Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are very much team efforts requiring significant contributions from every branch of the U.S. military.
While Marine Corps and Army units typically deploy with a supporting infrastructure for communications and operations, and with provisions for food and shelter, it is reasonable to anticipate that much of the deploying supporting element will tackle the logistical challenges of providing for the additional troops, according to Yates.
"We take it day-by-day. In a typical day, there is activity at every level of the enterprise. While sourcing is a serial process, following a sequence of combatant commander requests, Chairman validation, Joint Force Provider sourcing, Joint Staff recommendation, and Secretary of Defense approval, these functions operate in parallel at any given time. On a normal day in the JDC validated requests are being received, others are being parsed out to the JWG leads for potential solutions, others are being pitched to the Joint Staff, and still others are being presented to SecDef for approval.
"There is a great deal of liaison work throughout the process. JDC action officers (AO) often discuss the specific details of validated requirements with their counterparts from the geographic combatant commanders. They also negotiate with their JFCOM service component counterparts over potential solutions. Issues that can not be resolved at the AO level are presented during general and flag officer (GO/FO) secure video teleconferences in an effort to reconcile solutions when requirements outnumber capabilities," Yates said.
While there is no one priority at the top of his list, Yates said that his staff understands the enormity of their task to get Gen. McChrystal the flexibility he needs to put troops where needed. Many of the 30,000 U.S. forces will be employed to combat the Taliban, while others will assist NATO troops in training new Afghan soldiers and police.
The 2010 goal for trained and equipped Afghan soldiers is 134,000 and about 110,000 for the Afghan police, said Joint Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen at a Pentagon news conference Dec. 10, 2009.
Afghanistan's international partners showed their enduring commitment by pledging about 7,000 additional troops. Some 43 nations will contribute to a security effort that will be nearly 150,000 strong — at the invitation of the Afghans — and with the sanction of the United Nations, reported the Defense Department.
“The ability to contribute to the uplift of U.S. forces to Afghanistan as ordered by the president is a great honor. While most of us here would prefer to be among those deployed and contributing daily to the coalition effort in Afghanistan, we understand the importance of doing our job well to the ultimate achievement of success," Yates said.
"We know the new strategy and increased force levels will result in achievement of our national objectives in Afghanistan; because of this our contribution to that success as force providers is very rewarding and a point of pride for the men and women of the Joint Forces Command J3/4 involved in the sourcing effort.
Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor. For more information about the Joint Deployment Center, go to www.jfcom.mil.