As Army Col. Carlton Reid prepared the 17th Field Artillery Brigade
for a July deployment to Iraq, none of his time was spent on rockets
and cannon rounds.
as brigade commander, Reid had to contend with missions that seem
very far from the meat and potatoes of an artillery brigade—blowing
up targets and counting the enemy bodies during battle damage assessments.
In Iraq, Reid will be responsible for running a base—Camp
Victory, located near Baghdad’s airport—and coordinating
convoy escorts, as well as winning hearts and minds through information
operations and handling civil-military affairs in his sector.
These jobs require staffs that he does not have. “Part of
the job is finding people,” he said. “I need some really
good civil engineers.” Reid, who taught at West Point, said
his plan was to recruit staff from that military academy, and added
that most active units already were taken and the bulk of reserves
were constrained by deployment limits.
The new mission sets require more than staff; they require fresh
training and guidance.
At Fort Sill, Okla., Army Col. Anthony Puckett is busy adapting
lessons to prepare Iraq-bound troops. Puckett is commander of the
30th field artillery regiment, part of the Army’s Field Artillery
Artillery brigades now are assigned their own sectors, meaning
they have responsibility for a range of untraditional missions.
“This alone is a pretty monumental aspect of training,”
The artillerymen must handle convoy security, find and dispose
of captured enemy ordinance, deal with local Iraqi officials and
engage in information operations. “Artillerymen are well suited
for that,” Puckett said, referring to their advanced radio
and communications gear.
The training must go from finite attack and maneuver lessons to
complex peacekeeping operations. Those going to Iraq are taught
to plan for “hearts and minds” goals. Part of the training
including charting proof of progress, such as the willingness of
officials in their sector to identify insurgents, the level of participation
in local governance or the amount of anti-American graffiti on walls.
“We’re pushing heavy stuff to junior leadership,”
he said. “We’re getting away from Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz
… It just doesn’t apply.”
Lieutenants are being taught fire support plans including information
operations, close air support and civilian considerations. Captains
are being taught city administration lessons and crash courses in
Middle Eastern culture to prepare for their roles in dealing with
local Iraqi leadership.
Training is made more difficult when quickly deployed equipment
goes straight to Iraq. “Rapid fielding bypasses the training
base,” Puckett said.
He said that various communications gear, armored vehicles and
sensors will be unknown to artillerymen until they reach the theater.
The soldiers will never see the freshly issued guided multiple launch
rocket munition, for example, “until they see one in Iraq,
impacting a house.”
Institutional training has been anemic in the face of these emerging
challenges, Puckett said. “Money for doctrine development
is low right now, at a time it should be high,” he said.
For Reid, on the eve of a deployment, the core functions of an
artillery brigade are still important. When his brigade returns,
it will have to regenerate and transform to fit into the Army’s
The new missions are having an effect on traditional competencies,
which could be vital in a future war. “We underestimated the
impact of not shooting rockets and cannons for a year,” he
said of previous deployments in Iraq.
For Reid, staying flexible is the key to handling new tasks and
staying sharp in old ones. It’s part of the job, he said.
“We have got to learn faster than the enemy and adapt faster
than he does.”