By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
June 11, 2009 - The U.S. military is studying how to improve smaller-unit capabilities to better confront enemies who practice irregular or conventional warfare, or both, a senior U.S. military officer said here today. The studies are part of U.S. Joint Forces Command's National Program for Small Unit Excellence initiative, Army Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, chief of the Norfolk, Va.,-based command's joint training directorate, and the commander of its Joint Warfighting Center, told reporters at a Pentagon roundtable meeting.
Senior U.S. military leaders believe that highly trained, smaller units would be better able to battle future foes that practice irregular warfare, Kamiya said, as well as enemies that wage hybrid warfare, a combination of irregular and conventional warfare.
An example of such squad-sized "super" units can be found in the special operations realm, Kamiya said, where the diverse and honed talents and capabilities of 11-member teams make them more powerful than some larger, conventional military units.
As part of imparting more flexibility to these envisioned smaller-sized units, Kamiya said, decision-making authority necessarily would be pushed down to the lower echelons of leadership.
Dispersed smaller, enhanced-capability units as envisioned also would be able to combine themselves to take on larger-sized conventional forces, he said.
"In a very seamless way, these small, super-empowered units can quickly aggregate if the threat against them becomes more of a conventional-type threat," Kamiya explained, "and can quickly disaggregate, again, when they're faced with a more hybrid [or] irregular threat."
The Army and Marine Corps already are moving toward fielding forces with full-spectrum capabilities, Kamiya pointed out.
"We believe that there's already a good foundation of adaptability to build upon; so, this [small-unit excellence program] is not in any way to infer that whatever the services are doing is not of value," Kamiya emphasized.
However, the small unit excellence program, he said, has "a very, very close affiliation" with U.S. Special Operations Command.
"And we are studying what they do [and] how they do it, to see what lessons we can derive that can be reasonably adapted to the conventional force," Kamiya said.