Army Asymmetric Warfare Office
What is it?
The mission of the Army Asymmetric Warfare Office (AAWO) is to rapidly organize, train and equip Army formations with the inherent ability to apply and defeat asymmetric threats while simultaneously changing the culture of our Army to a more mentally agile and adaptive force, emphasizing a “how to think” rather than “what to think” focus. The Army established the AAWO to be the Army’s focal point for all asymmetric warfare initiatives and to serve as its link to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in the current and future improvised explosive device (IED) fight. AAWO develops the Army’s service-specific broad perspective and policy/planning efforts in AW. The AAWO is a major component of the Army Staff’s Directorate for Operations, Readiness and Mobilization (G-33). The AAWO consists of four Divisions: Adaptive Networks, Threats and Solutions Division; Protection Division; Operations and Intelligence Integration Division; Plans Division; and two pre-existing organizations now subordinate to it (the Rapid Equipping Force (REF) and the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG)). A recent decision by the Army Vice Chief of Staff directed the reassignment of the AWG to the 20th Support Command. The Electronic Warfare Division, originally subordinate to the AAWO, now reports directly to the G-33 but remains closely linked with AAWO’s operations and objectives.
What has the Army done?
Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 2000.19E, January 2006, established the JIEDDO, which absorbed the Army IED Task Force. As a result, the Army established the AAWO as both its service component representative to JIEDDO and a single Army Staff focal point for all asymmetric warfare to include IED policies, programs and resources. Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) Executive Order 158-06, May 2006, directed the establishment of an Army Asymmetric Warfare Office to centralize all IED functions as well as force protection, information operations, electronic warfare support, asymmetric warfare policy and related program management. The AAWO’s four divisions are described briefly here, while the Rapid Equipping Force and the Asymmetric Warfare Group are described in other information papers:
- Adaptive Networks, Threats and Solutions (ANTS). Coordinates all service IED-Defeat actions and champions all Army IED Defeat initiatives. Provides oversight and management of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program to support Army strategic and operational requirements.
- Protection (PD). Directly manages Army protection policy, HQDA continuity of operations, installation preparedness/emergency management and critical infrastructure risk management programs to protect Soldiers, civilians, their Families, infrastructure and information from all hazards.
- Operations and Intelligence Integration (O & I). Gathers and monitors both friendly and enemy tactics, techniques and procedures to integrate asymmetric threats and responses that enable the AAWO to help organize, train and equip Army formations that can defeat asymmetric threats while simultaneously changing the culture of our Army to a more mentally agile and adaptive force.
- Plans. Addresses asymmetric threat evolution affecting the employment and long-term shaping of Army forces. Communicates the Army (and the AAWO) asymmetric warfare vision and goals. Assists in shaping the Army force structure to meet current and future asymmetric warfare requirements. Manages strategic communications, public affairs and legislative liaison efforts within the AAWO.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The AAWO and Army continue to support the development of strategies for countering asymmetric threats while working to change the Army’s culture. The use of mission analysis, shared intellectual capability, analytical projection tools, timely and widespread sharing of lessons learned, extensive training infrastructure development and shared development and application with other services will continue. The Army is incorporating lessons learned from recent natural disasters and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to expand comprehensive Emergency Management (EM) and Critical Infrastructure Risk Management (CIRM) Programs. Those extensive efforts have improved the management of risks to Army strategic assets and infrastructure and have sustained the Army’s ability to provide relevant and ready land power while protecting its Soldiers, Civilians and their Families.
Why is this important to the Army?
Because our enemies are unable to defeat U.S. Army conventional capabilities, they use asymmetric means to exploit what they perceive to be our vulnerabilities. AAWO, supporting the Army and JIEDDO, is focused on defeating the weapons and tactics of strategic influence by supporting the development of innovative solutions. For example, defeating the IED threat involves Army strategic components of training friendly forces, killing or capturing bomb makers, interdicting the supply of bomb-making material, disrupting the command and control of terrorist networks as well as the development and deployment of supporting technology. The AAWO is responsible for prioritizing requirements as well as coordinating, resourcing and sustaining the initiatives that the Army deems key to countering the IED threat. The AAWO, in coordination with the Army Commands, thoroughly analyzes the IED-Defeat training delivered at various levels -- home station through Combat Training Centers -- and manages programs that ensure all units receive the same, high-quality training prior to deployment.
In another example, given that the operational environment has expanded the all-hazard spectrum of threats, the Army is increasing its protection scope to include Soldiers, Civilians, their Families, infrastructure and information.
The AAWO and its subordinate elements contribute to saving the lives of Soldiers and remain a crucial element of Army Transformation.