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Since 2001, our Army has adapted continuously to fulfill our Soldiers operational needs. After more than a decade of combat experience, we now have an opportunity to consolidate what we have learned while ensuring that our Soldiers and units are prepared to fight and win across the range of military operations in future armed conflict. Specifically, we have discovered a need to improve the effectiveness of squads, the smallest tactical unit. The squad is the only tactical level at which the U.S. Army does not have overmatch, or a clear advantage on the battlefield. The Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force initiative aims to improve the internal capability of the squad as well as ensure that the squad has access to external combined arms and joint capabilities.
Todays dismounted squad consists of nine Soldiers divided into two teams of four, plus an NCO leading the squad. Each team has an NCO team leader who works with the squad leader to coordinate movements and operations. Squads are responsible for executing day-to-day mission requirements and operate decentralized from their higher headquarters; therefore its crucial that they have overmatch. The operating environments in Iraq and Afghanistan have forced us to fight as dismounted squads, so Soldiers and squads must be prepared to fight and win engagements with the enemy at close quarters in urban and complex terrain.
In response to a Chief of Staff of the Army directive, the Maneuver Center of Excellence has examined current squad capabilities and come up with a concept for where squad operations should go in the future. Weve established a squad Integrated Capabilities Development team that is helping to integrate squad improvement efforts among more than 80 organizations from across the military and industry.
The team identified and prioritized 22 gaps in squad capabilities across five domains: lethality, mission command, training and leader development, mobility and force protection. The team has recommended actions to close those gaps, with an emphasis on making sure these actions help improve overall unit capabilities, not just individual requirements.
If approved, recommendations associated with the Squad: Foundation of the Decisive Force initiative hold promise for not only improving squad effectiveness, but also eliminating redundancies, reducing costs, and ensuring a coherent approach across doctrine, organization, training, materiel development, leadership development and education, personnel policies, and facilities improvement. Currently, some of these recommendations are under review, while others are in various stages of implementation. The squad always has and will continue to fight as a team and as part of a larger combined arms team, using fire and maneuver to close with and destroy the enemy or to establish security, shape conditions, or consolidate gains. Building competent, confident leaders at the squad level is and will remain an essential element of success in combat.
One Force, One Fight!
Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster Commanding General