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  #21  
Old 4 October 2010, 10:19
Skidder Skidder is offline
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VMI Marine,

Funny you would mention DASC Bingo, I was just telling some students about it in the last Captain's Career Course class I taught. Yes, it did happen, and VERY often too. The issue actually had less to do with FSCMs, than "issues" with V Corps ASOC. They "issues" were that they tried to micromanage too large an AO, with too few personnel/systems.

Here's the short version of the story. When we built the plan for how to conduct that fight, there was a very clean line between Killbox Interdiction and Close Air Support. Without getting into too much detail, the line I am talking about is the cut between 'needs a lot of ASOC management (for the CAS fight) and doesn't need a lot of ASOC management (the KI fight)'.

Prior to OIF, V Corps and their ASOC had exercised a plan where the ASOC micromanaged everything in the Corps AO, they called it all Corps CAS. In theory, (like Communism) it briefs very well. The ASOC, working the issues of the Ground Commander, has total control, thus absolutely enabling the Ground Commander to control the Priority, Effects, and Timing of fires in his AO. Doctrinally, the right thing.

Unfortunately, in all the exercises that V Corps ran to test this theory, they only focused on the micromanagement portion of their "success", and did not look at the useage rates for the aircraft in the CAS stacks, which was very low. Exercises are great things, however, they do not come close to real world experience. So, despite literally 24 straight hours of talking to V Corps' ASOC prior to my briefing the Land Component on the KI-CAS plan for the war, I could not convince them that my experience from multiple OEF rotations taught me lessons that their exercises did not show them.

So, when the war started, the ASOC quickly became overwhelmed trying to micro manage the V Corps AO. While they were micromanaging, the aircraft, that weren't getting used, were running out of gas before they could do anything. After a day or two, the pilots learned to check in with an artificially short play time. They were building in a false bingo, to allow fuel for crossing from the left to the right side of the fight. When they checked in with the DASC, they were usually pushed across the BCL (how the Marines fixed the fact that the Army had placed the FSCL too far in front) to plink tanks. No micromanagement required, simply "you are cleared to 88AS, look for Tanks, APC, or artillery" and off they would go, happy to kill and break things. Meanwhile the DASC (actually more than just the DASC) was free to focus on the CAS fight, knowing the tanks in front of the the Marines were getting the crap kicked out of them.

Now, back on the topic of contract air. This kinda ties in with my exercise vs real world comparison.

I think contract air as 'the solution' for all the shortages of air for JTAC and JFO training/sustainment is a checker player's solution when the game is chess. Here is what I mean. First, no doubt we are running out of aircraft to do the JTAC/JFO training/sustainment; so, on the surface contract air sounds great. Here is why, without parallel plans to get the military inventory moving the other direction (more planes/pilots), it is a mistake.

First, the plan is to increase JTAC/JFO production. Literally producing as many as we can. Second, in order to do this, you need airplanes to control. The numbers of pilots in the services is simple math, XX pilots for YY aircraft on the ramp. Reducing the YY variable, means less pilots. The YY variable is dropping at what I would consider an alarming rate. Aircraft are literally flying their wings off, and the replacement plan is F-35. The F-35 plan was never a one for one swap of current jets. So, if the plan was simply "every three old jets will be replaced by one F-35" before the wars, then add to that the fact that everything that shoots is flying WAY more sorties per year than forecasted when they were built...flying the wings off. So, these old jets must be retired. Even though F-35 isn't full up on the streets, DoD has said to keep retiring the old jets. This means the Air Force will have less jets on the ramp, thus must have less pilots too (changes to YY mean changes to XX, by LAW!)

JTAC/JFO numbers increasing...check.

Retiring the old jets according to plan...check.

Reducing the numbers of pilots in the inventory...check.

Use contract air to fill the training gap...check.

Have enough military planes/pilots to fly CAS in the next war...CRAP.
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  #22  
Old 4 October 2010, 11:57
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SN SN is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidder View Post
Now, back on the topic of contract air. This kinda ties in with my exercise vs real world comparison.

I think contract air as 'the solution' for all the shortages of air for JTAC and JFO training/sustainment is a checker player's solution when the game is chess. Here is what I mean. First, no doubt we are running out of aircraft to do the JTAC/JFO training/sustainment; so, on the surface contract air sounds great. Here is why, without parallel plans to get the military inventory moving the other direction (more planes/pilots), it is a mistake.

First, the plan is to increase JTAC/JFO production. Literally producing as many as we can. Second, in order to do this, you need airplanes to control. The numbers of pilots in the services is simple math, XX pilots for YY aircraft on the ramp. Reducing the YY variable, means less pilots. The YY variable is dropping at what I would consider an alarming rate. Aircraft are literally flying their wings off, and the replacement plan is F-35. The F-35 plan was never a one for one swap of current jets. So, if the plan was simply "every three old jets will be replaced by one F-35" before the wars, then add to that the fact that everything that shoots is flying WAY more sorties per year than forecasted when they were built...flying the wings off. So, these old jets must be retired. Even though F-35 isn't full up on the streets, DoD has said to keep retiring the old jets. This means the Air Force will have less jets on the ramp, thus must have less pilots too (changes to YY mean changes to XX, by LAW!)

JTAC/JFO numbers increasing...check.

Retiring the old jets according to plan...check.

Reducing the numbers of pilots in the inventory...check.

Use contract air to fill the training gap...check.

Have enough military planes/pilots to fly CAS in the next war...CRAP.
Funny the contract guys are essentially using trainers to train CAS. The Navy/AF have a shitload of T-6's flying reduced hours. We have guys/gals coming off of operatinal tours (F-18/16, AV-8, A-10) to serve as IP's. Why not take those pilots and let them fly dry CAS for units?
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  #23  
Old 10 October 2010, 10:50
VMI_Marine VMI_Marine is offline
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Originally Posted by 82Redleg View Post
I'm not clear on how the USMC works, don't you have almost enough forward observers for each platoon? I understand that, at least some of them, come from the weapons platoon mortar section and the weapons company mortar platoon, instead of all coming from the fire support team like in the army, but it seems to me that these would be the ideal JFOs.
The fire support SMEs are concentrated in the company FiST team, led by the weapons platoon commander. The FiST has an artillery FO party, a mortar FO from the 81mm mortar platoon, and a forward air controller. The FO party consists of an artillery FO (0802 lieutenant) and 1-2 scout/observers (0861 Cpl-LCpl). So we can potentially push an 0861 out to a maneuver platoon independent of his FO, but I've rarely seen it done. Hence why we are training infantrymen at the platoon and squad levels as JFOs. I'd like to see 0861s at the platoon level, not because our grunts can't CFF, but because 0861s are better trained in some of the special CFFs and because they have the ability to focus on controlling fires instead of directing fire teams or squads on the battlefield.
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  #24  
Old 10 October 2010, 13:29
USMC_ANGLICO USMC_ANGLICO is offline
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What SLAB said, +10

BTW, little birdy told me Congrats are in order Co Cdr. S/F

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