Sunday, September 19, 2004

More on the 1-178th 
Update: Here's Phil Carter:

Sending this unit into harm's way under these conditions would be tantamount to negligence and dereliction of duty — or worse. This is a formula for disaster...If I were on the Army staff evaluating this unit, I would recommend against sending it for the mean time. I would then fire most of the company and battalion leadership, and either break this unit up into fillers for other Guard units, or reconstitute this unit with a new base of leadership.

No, I wouldn't be willing to write the unit off from afar. Tom Ricks' article doesn't give me enough information to truly evaluate the command here, and Phil is jumping to some conclusions.

So... do you think this unit's soldiers are going to have the discipline to wear their body armor and carry their weapons 24/7 in Iraq if they can't stomach wearing their military uniforms 24/7 at Fort Dix? I doubt it.

First of all, there's no evidence presented that the unit refused to wear their uniforms. No one is saying a mutiny is taking place. The question I would have is this: are these guardsmen the only jokers on the post required to wear their uniforms 24/7? Many of these soldiers will have already had combat tours, or years of service. Maybe we shouldn't be treating them like basic trainees fresh off the bus at boot camp? Do we treat our active duty soldiers like this?

Second, I don't think there's any connection between having the discipline to wear your flak jacket in combat and going through a nutroll every time you send troops--grown men--to the PX. I don't care if they wore ballerina tutus to the PX; as a combat leader I would have no problem enforcing the flak jacket rule in combat. But as a commissioned officer, I would have to do that primarily through the efforts of the NCO's.

No problem.

Well, unless you treat your NCO's like basic trainees, too.

UPDATE: Cori Dauber is wondering whether the challenges in this unit are unique, or whether they are widespread among many Guard units going through the Mobilization process.

I cans state unequivocably that the soldiers of my own unit had many of the same complaints and challenges. I don't believe that they are unique at all. I think it has more to do with the failure of the Army to integrate reserve forces into the force structure. Reserve component soldiers are still treated like second class citizens.

Splash, out


Jason, first I enjoy your blog. I am a retired active duty officer that helped train the logistics battalion that supported the 1-178th. I was assigned with the unit from 1996 to 2001 and deployed with them to NTC on a rotation.

I enjoyed my time with the NG and admire them for their dedication. Unit cohesion at the company / battery level is something I as a company commander would have loved to have had. As AD trainers and advisors we witnessed how difficult it is for a unit to train 38 days a year and become as proficient as an AD unit. Many of the soldiers lived over 100 miles from the unit and it was difficult to get them together as a team except for the weekend drill. Battalion and larger size units only worked as a team at the most 1 time per year. This was due to not only distance between companies / batteries, but also lack of training facilities to handle a large unit.

When the SC Brigade deployed to NTC it was missing some key personnel and many AD advisors were functioning in support positions (no leadership positions). It was also the first time they had deployed as a brigade in a very long time. I served as the Logistics Operation officer (and sometimes XO) for the MSB. 2 of my officers were on the LOG OPS staff of the FSB. NCO's also worked out of the LOG OPS section or assisting the companies they were assigned to train. In just 2 weeks the level of proficiency in the logistics unit was rapidly improving and given another 30 days would probably have been as good as many active duty units.

I mention this because though it was against doctorine it is what was needed to get the job done. It is impossible to bring a NG battalion or larger unit together and give it some training for 30 to 60 days and expect it to function by itself as an AD unit. I believe this blending of experience with the NG would greatly enhance unit readiness.
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