"In 55 years, the Republic of Korea has transformed from a war-ravaged country to one of the most modern, progressive and democratic countries in the world. Unfortunately, in a modern and vibrant Republic of Korea, the U.S. still rotates servicemembers on one-year, unaccompanied assignments as though this remained an active combat zone. It is not."
-Commander Gen. Burwell B. Bell, U.S. Forces Korea, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 11.
Top commander in Korea urges three-year, accompanied tours
Transformation of Army bands
What is it?
Army bands are undergoing a conversion to a modular structure to provide senior commanders more flexible options for providing music support to Soldiers and their Families, to assist in Army recruiting, and for strategic outreach at home and abroad. When fully implemented it will let senior commanders use the "plug and play" capabilities of over 400 Music Support Teams in the Active Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard to provide flexible music support throughout the joint operational spectrum.
What has the Army done?
Starting late in FY 08 and ending in early FY 11, all band TO&Es will be changed to organize bands into separately deployable/employable Music Support Teams (MST), each with its own distinct capabilities and its own Unit Identification Code (UIC). MSTs can be used alone or combined with other MSTs to provide different types of music support (ex. A+B+C+D = marching band). Although the TO&E conversions are just beginning, many bands have already internally organized as MSTs to increase their flexibility to support operations. The payoff has come in the over 7,000 performances performed for friendly forces in the CENTCOM AOR since the start of OEF/OIF. In another example, the bands from Eighth U.S. Army and the 2nd Infantry Division task organized their combined MSTs to support multiple concurrent operations.
Previously, band deployments were by unit and were "all or nothing." However, now that many division headquarters are deploying separately from that division's BCTs, senior commanders need ways to musically support Soldiers in garrison as well as operations in forward locations. A modular structure that provides split operations capability and "plug in" augmentation from other band units of all components is the answer. Additional information can be found in the recently revised DA Pam 220-90, Army Bands - A Guide for Senior Commanders.
What does this mean for the future?
Deployed commanders, now more than ever are highly aware of the need for strategic outreach to host nation populations as well as needing ways to support the morale of friendly forces. The modular structure gives them expanded flexibility to use Army bands' unique capabilities to win the information war. By tapping into the band resources of all three components of the Army and using them when and where they are needed, bands can help sustain the Warrior spirit, support recruiting, and tell the Army story to the American public. To make use of this powerful tool, senior commanders, through their G1/J1/C1, should ensure band operations are fully integrated into planning for morale support and information operations.
Why is this important to the Army?
The center of gravity in this long war against terror may well lie in the support of the American people for its Army, in the information campaign abroad, and in the morale of our Soldiers. In all of these areas, Army bands can be an important tool for commanders.
- 2007 Strategic Communication Guide - Read the 2007 Army Strategic Communication Guide for key messages and updates
- Strategic Communication Coordination Group (SCCG) Workspace
- Army Public Affairs Portal
- Stories of Valor