Working Outside the Wire
In my opinion, Captain McLamb's article, "Defending Outside the Wire," in the May-June issue was on target.
In April 1991, I had the pleasure of commanding the 225th Forward Support Battalion (FSB) supporting 2/25th Infantry Division at the Joint Readiness Training Center, then located at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Our experience confirms that a trained infantry force working outside the wire significantly deters the opposing force's (OPFOR's) ability to gain "eyes on" and disrupts their ability to remain in close proximity to the BSA (brigade support area). Further, we had the ability to defeat the OPFOR outside the wire through maneuver of the infantry (working outside the wire) and military police forces working the main supply route. This in turn enhanced our ability to defend the BSA wire and support the brigade task force with the soldiers inside the wire.
As noted in the article, the S2 and S3 must be trained in basic defense and reconnaissance and surveillance procedures. Further, it is very important for the FSB S3 to have a solid working relationship with the infantry brigade S3. Our experience was that the brigade S3's support for this concept was essential for success.
Colonel David L. Nolan, Fort Lewis, Washington
Truck Designs Questioned
I enjoyed reading the article about the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment's first foray into an National Training Center rotation (page 24, May-June issue). I'm glad to see my former unit is not allowing grass to grow beneath it and that they are still "Toujours Prêt!"(Always Ready).
I find it very interesting that a vehicle we've purchased for use in a tactical situation in any environment could succumb to so many maladies during an NTC rotation. If it is a tactical vehicle, one would assume that it would be tested as it will be used. Quite possibly, the things the regimental combat team (RCT) found out might have been discovered during testing later. Rattling side panels, tires not sturdy enough for tactical use, and an insufficient fuel capability? Were we designing an over-the-road truck here, or one for use in a combat theater of operations? When testing, were the drivers the same ones who will use it in day-to-day use, or were they licensed over-the-road drivers? One is much different from the other. For example, trained truck drivers can back any trailer with ease, whereas most soldiers don't have that experience.
The FMTV (family of medium tactical vehicles) must be able to operate in desert, woodland, and, yes, urban environments. Yet, those who design and test vehicles may not be taking these factors into consideration. If we are designing tactical vehicles for use only in the woods or desert, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. Last time I looked, almost all Army posts, camps, and stations are located in or near cities. And to get to a port, transportation facility, or railhead, a vehicle will have to travel highways and local roads. A truck will have to be able to travel on these roads both loaded with cargo and empty, and it will have to be able to travel at least at the minimum speed limit for these highways.
Chris Cullen, Fort Drum, New York
More on Ammo Management
I do not agree with the views expressed by the author in the article titled "Rethinking Ammunition Management" in the May-June 1998 issue. It appears as if the author has confused the training a soldier receives with leadership's failure to make use of this training. Our 55B soldiers aren't afforded the level and amount of training experienced by the combat arms soldiers. In peacetime, the 55B's may not always be gainfully employed in their MOS, but it is the responsibility of leadership to ensure that the 55B's are not primarily fuel handlers or rock painters. If they are, then it doesn't reflect on their lack of training, but on their leadership. Furthermore, if a 55B is not performing a duty, such as vehicle inspections, because the civilian QASAS is performing this mission, then again, this is a leadership problem.
We are making major changes in the ammunition logistics arena and how the combat forces will be supported in the future. We often say, "A little knowledge can be dangerous." But the statement, "ammunition is no harder to store than Class III items," not only could be dangerous; it could be catastrophic. We need to have an open mind and make changes where they make sense. But don't propose changes blindly and call it a vision without first determining across-the-board impacts and weighing the ramifications.
Cecil R. Doub, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama
Note: See related article on this subject in this issue. Editor
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