Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Task Force Looks at Making Infantry Squads More Lethal

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Close Combat Lethality Task Force is gathering information from the services, industry and allies before making recommendations to Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, the senior Army enlisted representative to the task force said here today.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Army Sgt. Maj. Jason Wilson explained the process for the task force, which Mattis set up in March.

The task force seeks to ensure Army, Marine Corps and special operations infantry squads overmatch any potential adversary, he said. Noting that infantry squads need to be more lethal, more resilient and more capable, he said the task force has the mission to look at lethality from every angle, from personnel to equipment to training to doctrine, and make recommendations to the secretary.

The task force members are examining what the services and U.S. Special Operations Command are currently proposing for infantry soldiers. They are looking at weaponry, protective gear and tactics and seeing if those already existing proposals and equipment can be adapted throughout the U.S. infantry world.

Pursuing Promising Leads

“Close combat is an environment characterized by extreme violence within line-of-sight of the enemy, where historically the vast majority of military combat casualties occur – approximately 90 percent,” Wilson said. The [task force] is pursuing promising leads in manpower policy, focusing on recruiting, developing and retaining the individuals with the requisite cognitive capacity, skills and traits to excel within a close-combat environment.”

As part of gathering information upon which they can base their recommendation, the sergeant major said, task force members visited Israel and “gained a different perspective on leader development, equipment and policies, which will potentially enhance our close-combat lethality.”

They also visited the Marine Corps training area at Twentynine Palms, California, where the members observed the Squad X experiment. This effort looks at “distinct sensing capabilities designed to be organic to the close-combat formation,” Wilson said.

Dominating the Operational Environment

“These capabilities are directly linked to the find, fix, finish, exploit and analyze, which are designed to allow our close-combat formations to dominate the operational environment,” he added.

Finally, the task force went to Fort Benning, Georgia, where members spoke with the chief of infantry and visited the Maneuver Center of Excellence to understand the latest Army efforts. The task force also visited the 75th Ranger Regiment “to gain an appreciation for the models used in selecting their current soldiers,” Wilson said.

Infantry personnel have to have the physical strength and mental acuity to do the job. Wilson, a 23-year infantry soldier, said he does not want the infantry to be a place “where we send soldiers who don’t have the mental capacity to do other jobs.”

“We want to get away from our close-combat forces … being the place where soldiers who don’t meet the requisite criteria to be an intel analyst or whatever get sent to,” he said.

Advances in technology can be brought into the toolbox of infantry personnel, Wilson said, including new ways of viewing the battlefield, processing information from the battlefield and executing missions upon the battlefield.

Infantry training on its own will change, the sergeant major said. He spoke about bringing simulation technology to the field to allow squads of platoons to practice a mission many times before having to do so for real.

Wilson said the group is shaping its recommendations to the secretary and will present them to him soon.

Face of Defense: Soldier Leads Way in Special Recruiter Assistance Program

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Gardner, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Army Sgt. Tyler Martin, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear noncommissioned officer with the 24th Composite Transportation Company here, was among the first wave of soldiers from Fort Riley to participate in a Defense Department initiative -- the Special Recruiter Assistance Program -- from June 23 through July 24 in Monson, Massachusetts, in order to provide a home-grown face to a town with possible military recruits.

SRAP brings a total of 3,000 soldiers to recruiting stations across the nation. Each soldier spends 30 days supporting local outreach efforts to create awareness of the Army lifestyle and career opportunities in an area where they have lived, worked or have a significant personal tie.

According to Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery Snow, commander of U.S. Army Recruiting, about 50 percent of young people admit to knowing little about their own nation's military and even struggle to name all the services. This is where SRAP and soldiers such as Martin come into play.

Trying Something New

Martin learned of the opportunity to be close to home and try something that was new to him; recruiting. Or, as he puts it, “Learning about a new persons’ story with every encounter.”

“I’m not really nervous about talking to other people, but that’s when we are all in the same shop,” Martin said. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I just knew that I was going to be home recruiting. I went in not knowing too much about recruiting but I decided to do it.”

Martin was one of 20 soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade to interview with Army Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Majeski, the brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer, for this great opportunity. He says that the turnaround time for his selection was very fast.

“I wasn’t expecting much to happen but I got a call to go in and speak with [Majeski] during a four-day [weekend],” Martin said. “I talked with the command sergeant major and he told all of us to stay flexible and he would be in touch.

“I didn’t think much about it and when I told my wife she didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said. “A few days later I get a call and [was] told I’m headed out in a few days. It was like an eight-day turnaround from the time I talked with [the] command sergeant major and me being on a flight home.”

Recruiting Duty

Once Martin arrived at the Monson recruiting station he began learning how to speak to and with potential recruits. He was assigned to Army Sgt. Jason Duffy, a recruiter for the Monson station.

“When I met Sgt. Duffy, he welcomed me and began to tell me about the station and what it is they do,” Martin said. “He showed me the ropes -- how to fill out the information cards and gave me a bunch of business cards [and] we went out the door to prospect. He took me over the mall and said, ‘Just watch what I do.’ He took me around and taught me what to say and not to say. It was really fun.”

Martin said the recruiting experience was different from the other side of the desk.

“I got to learn a whole lot of stuff that I didn’t know when you’re on this side of it,” he said. “When you’re trying to enlist, you never see what’s going on behind closed doors. When you’re doing the recruiting system and doing the SRAP, it’s like you learn a lot of stuff that you never knew before.”

“I learned about meeting mission,” Martin said. “I learned that certain [military occupation specialties] have bonuses and others don’t and they [the recruiters] can see all of that. But mainly you learn about people and what they want to do later on in their careers, like go into the police force.”


After a week, Duffy allowed Martin to speak to prospects on his own. Martin said that he had earned the trust of Duffy and the other recruiters at the station.

“Sgt. Duffy and I would go out as a team and take turns just talking to people about military life and the benefits,” he said. “It was more so about listening to what the person wanted and to help them. I actually found myself talking to prospects late at night, like around 9 p.m. at Walmart while I’m with my wife. But I found it to be more than a job because I wanted to make sure the station met their mission and it was fun.”

During his time at the Monson recruiting station, Martin succeeded at a challenge made by the station’s first sergeant.

“When I got my initial counseling from the first sergeant, he said that he hadn’t done recruiting in a while,” Martin said. “But he said he could put one [recruit] in before me. Well, one day a kid I had talked to walks into the station with a card in his hand and says, ‘Someone gave me this card a week ago and I’m here to get more information.’ All the sergeants were looking around at each other asking who it was and then I said, ‘I remember you and I’m glad you came in.’ The other sergeants were like ‘How did you do that?’ I just smiled and since I don’t know too much I let the actual recruiters take over. It was pretty cool.”

Martin said that toward the end of his time at the station, he began to really like working with the recruiters there, explaining that he enjoyed how they helped one another, and hopes to one day become a recruiter himself.

“Man I really enjoyed my time there,” he said. “I would love to be a recruiter and go work back in that station.”