By David VergunOctober 31, 2012
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 25, 2012) -- The Army is working diligently to prevent war in the future through select Army units, partnered with allies and specific nations around the globe; a strategy it terms "regional alignment."
"Regional alignment is all about providing the combatant commander with the right force at the right time to better shape (the region), maybe preventing something like an Iraq or Afghanistan," said Lt. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7.
Campbell was one of six panelists at the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare's "Aligning Forces Regionally in Support of the Combatant Commanders" forum, Oct. 23.
The intent of regional alignment is to build strong relationships with other nations -- assisting their security forces through joint/combined exercises and training; participating in humanitarian missions, such as natural disaster relief and medical capabilities; and assisting with peacekeeping, border security, counter-narcotic and counter-terrorism efforts.
Additionally, regionally aligned forces will help Soldiers to better understand the "social and cultural networks out there, and, they will get better as they rotate" over time from the U.S. to their assigned region, Campbell said.
Regional alignment will also provide combatant commanders with the resources they need to be more "responsive and globally engaged," Campbell said. This would be done through prepositioned equipment and being familiar with each army's communications and tactics, to facilitate a more rapid response if needed, he said.
"If you were a commander outside of (U.S. Central Command) for last 10 or 11 years, we may not have been able to provide you everything you wanted," he said. "But now as we come out of Iraq and slowly out of Afghanistan, we have the opportunity to apply those resources to help prevent and shape" future conflicts.
Existing partnerships with the National Guard
"Regional alignment" in the form of the State Partnership Program, has actually been going on now for about two decades, with the National Guard taking the lead in forming partners between particular states and specific countries.
The nations involved were all former Warsaw Pact members or former members of the Soviet Union. For example, in 1993, Alabama partnered with Romania; California with Ukraine; and Michigan with Latvia. The nation of Georgia partnered with the American state of Georgia the following year.
American States also began to form partnerships with nations outside of former communist countries, to include nations in Latin America. Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and West Virginia partnered with Ecuador, Belize, Panama and Peru, respectively.
Then countries in Asia outside former Soviet states came into the fold. Hawaii teamed up with Guam to partner with the Philippines in 2000. Partnering in Africa followed in 2003, with New York partnering with South Africa, and Utah with Morocco.
Today, there are 64 such partnerships and they are expected to expand even further.
ACTIVE ARMY BEGINS PARTNERSHIPS
The Army as a whole is now adopting and adapting the Guard's strategy en masse. The concept of aligned forces calls for what the Army chief of staff has termed "scalable, tailorable forces."
In some cases it will be a brigade, such the 1st Brigade Combat Team aligning with Africa. But the move will also include bigger elements, such as I Corps aligning with U.S. Pacific Command, III Corps with CENTCOM and XVIII Airborne Corps -- as a global response force -- aligning as needed.
Campbell said those combatant commanders who don't have corps aligned to them will instead be given divisions to align as they see fit.
The idea is to then allocate forces from these organizations to one or more participating countries by region, he said. These forces could range in size from a squad to a brigade or as high as needed, he said.
Some of the units participating are coming from Europe, Campbell said, where the BCTs have drawn down from four to three. By next summer the Army will have drawn down to two.
Other units will come from Afghanistan, as the drawdown progresses.
But Campbell admits there are and will be challenges ahead in light of the Army's end strength reductions and fiscal uncertainties. There's also a requirement to bring in other players, not just the political and military leaders of partner countries, but the U.S. State Department and ambassadors, which must approve the partnerships on a case-by-case basis.
Campbell said these challenges are being discussed and worked through and that the Army has a great relationship with the State Department.
For now, the Army plans to use its "Force Generation Model" to provide ready and responsive aligned forces. The ARFORGEN has proven its worth in the past, Campbell said.
The Army also wants the Special Operations forces tied in with regional alignment, he said, terming it SOFWARGEN, a play on the acronym ARFORGEN. These would align with conventional forces prior to deployment for training and pre-deployment preparations.
Besides the units, equipment must also be aligned and in some cases prepositioned as well.
Campbell said the Army is looking at delivering the right mix, be it armor, Strykers, airborne or other.
"Success will be determined by deploying the right Soldier, who has the right training, at the right size, at right time for that combatant commander," he said.