16 March 2010

Anti-terrorism / Force Protection (ATFP) Way Ahead


My ATFP Serial guidance directed action to assess the effectiveness of our Navy’s ATFP program and identify actions to improve areas that need attention. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the attack on USS COLE. As the CNO’s Executive Agent for ATFP, I have directed a year long series of events to assess our ATFP capability and readiness. In October of this year, we will host a Flag Officer Summit to review what we have learned and identify solutions to our ATFP vulnerabilities. The summit will be followed by a service at the USS COLE memorial where we will honor our 17 fallen shipmates and their families.

The next event starts Monday and continues through the end of next week (22-26 MAR 10). Exercise SOLID CURTAIN-CITADEL SHIELD 2010 (SC-CS10) includes over 250 individual events and represents the largest anti-terrorism exercise conducted by any Service. The exercise will affect all Navy installations, units, activities and Sailors in the USNORTHCOM AOR.

SC-CS10 is a complex, multi-level exercise that encompasses:
  • SOLID CURTAIN – A Command Post Exercise (CPX) conducted at the Operational Level exercising Navy Force Protection Command and Control.
  • CITADEL SHIELD - a simultaneously held Field Training Exercise (FTX) conducted at the Tactical Level that exercises ATFP tactics, techniques, and procedures.

Evaluation data and lessons learned from SC-CS10 and follow-on events will identify gaps and seams that may require material and non-material solutions, and the development/revision of plans, policy, doctrine, and CONOPS. Unless we are able to determine an accurate accounting of where our current Force Protection posture stands we will be unable to develop a cogent and executable action plan to resolve our shortcomings.

Although we have greatly improved our security and force protection over the past ten years, we must always be focused on improving our policies and procedures; we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. To that end, I want your personal thoughts on the Navy’s ATFP capability and readiness. I would like to know what you think we do well and what we don’t do well.

Remember, there are plenty of people out there who have stated, repeatedly, they want to attack our ships and kill our Sailors. It’s up to us, all of us, to take a cold, hard look at our capabilities and ensure we do whatever it takes to keep our enemies from succeeding. All the best, JCHjr




Sun Tsu said:

"The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself."

That statement applies to how the enemy views us just the same as we view him.
They will choose the time of their attack, it is up to us to be prepared for it.

"We train how we fight." If this is true, our AT/FP training needs to have the same nature to it that the attacks against us have: Random, unannounced, quick and violent. FPEX needs to be held at a time and date that a crew cannot have a week to prepare for. That duty section that night needs to be flexed to respond to
whatever is thrown at it. Even attacks that there is no precedent for. Force that watch stander to have to think on their toes when they are not expecting to have to.

I would want to know if my Sailors could shoot. Not at a range. But, from
the flight deck providing an over watch about 150m back from the ECP. Can SN Timmy hit the person running down the pier with homemade explosives strapped to his chest? Can
he do it before he gets to the Quarterdeck? From what little I am privy to,
I know of no such metric that exists.

Right now, in AFG. I own my weapon, it goes everywhere with me, I clean it
constantly, I zeroed it for my eye.
I never even knew the serial number of any weapon handed to aboard ship. I was trained to hit targets at 300m, and able to
consistently hit them at 150. But, not until I went to Camp McCrady. The SB-IED that hit the COLE, how effective would it have been at 150m?

The Army was never afraid of me having my weapon during training. But, the
Navy seems afraid to give their Sailors weapons. Ever since boot camp,
where a GM handed me a shotgun, everyone seemed afraid of Sailors with weapons (it be can't that
they're afraid of just me... Right?). We need the Army/Marines to teach us how to think about carrying weapons. We had an O-6 JAG in our group going through McCrady. When we were all done he told our trainers there that it was
'Nothing short of remarkable, how you took this group of Sailors and trained them to shoot in two short weeks. You made them all confident with their weapons.'.

I was on the Small Caliber Action Team (SCAT... not the best acronym) aboard
my Ship. By the time of my deployment I was one of the more seasoned members of the team, having been on it for nearly 3 years. I never shot at anything that moved more than the ocean moved it. We never had enough trigger time. When I tell the Army what my benchmark was for qualifying as a 50cal gunner, they laugh. However, the best way I've come to, explain to
them what a Sailor on a ship is, is that they are a 11-Bravo as well as their rate. Being on a ship is that intense compared to being in garrison here at KAF in AFG. Cont...

Battle Yeoman said...

cont from previous...

I don't mean to make this all sound like GMs and MAs are not doing their jobs. They are. I've been pretty blunt with GMs and MAs that are friends of mine, they'd all tell me that we spent every penny we were allowed on rounds for
us to practice with. In training for FPIA/1/2/3/EX, other things just wouldn't get done. Everyone involved did all they could to prepare for what ATG said we needed to be prepared for. Usually, we'd know what we needed to
do well in advance and just study the test.

The only recourse I believe we have is to train smarter. Some of the trainers we had at McCrady were retired Army. Guys who had probably fired a million rounds in their life time and pushed thousands of boots. Let's get them to work for us. Form a squad that is in each Fleet concentration area and let them train Sailors how to shoot. They've trained hundreds of Soldiers how to shoot and did so for at least two decades. If you want to keep it in family, I am sure there are plenty of retired Gunny's out there that'd love the chance as well, not to mention GMC/CS/CMs. It is not that GM2 who personally owns 15 guns himself isn't a good marksmanship trainer. I think it is that we've gotten ourselves to the point to where we have to have someone with 20+ years experience giving the training, because we do not have time to train the trainers, as we are training the rest of the crew. We just do not have the time, money or rounds to do both.

I heard that BLACKWATER doesn't have a contract to train the Navy any more. If this is true, let's find the guys who they can't afford to employ, and put them in ATG. Have those guys make their rounds amongst the
waterfront and train the SRF/BRF teams on their own ship. Let them use simunition on the ship as well. I don't think anyone is ready for just how loud a weapon fired inside the skin of the ship is. We need to get used to it.

The Coasties are allowed to send some of their guys to BUD/S, they want to do this because the Coasties don't have anything like BUD/S. The lead for our VBSS team while deployed was a LT(jg) Coastie, because they specialize in VBSS. Just as they send guys to BUD/S, send some of our VBSS guys through the Coast Guard version of the VBSS pipeline. If we're doing joint operations anyway and signed the Maritime Strategy along with them, why not just merge the school? We're all seafarers. Lastly, A sailor going through the VBSS pipeline might attend SRF-B in November, SRF-A in April, and VBSS-TT in August. There needs to be more continuity in their training. Rather than a roller coaster ride of learning-forgetting-relearning. In the best case, increase the amount of training and qualify the Sailors to do H-VBSS, almost like a Marine FAST platoon. Then give them their own NEC, and allow them to serve at Sea doing nothing but VBSS/SRF and BRF. Of course, they will still be able to do their in-rate work. But, that will be their collateral, not the other way around.

YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman

(sorry for posting twice, apparently you can only type 4,000 characters per post. Sorry for being so verbose).

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Battle Yeoman, as long as your words continue to express such particularly cogent thinking, your verbosity is OK with me! All the best, JCHjr



I'd would like to add one last thing. Col. John Boyd USAF (ret) developed the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act Loop (OODA Loop), which we made ORM out of.

ORM is good, but it lacks the offensive element that the OODA Loop has. Why don't we teach both? If we do not have the money for extra rounds, we could still find the time for one more thing to give for training on duty days.
Boyd's contributions do not end there. In his work "Destruction and Creation" he said the following:

"A looser is someone (individual or group) who cannot build [a metaphorical] snowmobiles when facing uncertainty and unpredictable change; a winner is someone (individual or group) who can build snowmobiles, and employ them in an appropriate fashion, when facing uncertainty and unpredictability."

Boyd's snowmobile he uses as an analogy to demonstrate how you can 'deconstruct' something to bare elements and find what it has in common with something otherwise thought completely unrelated.

Boyd's theories have to get out of the defense universities and onto the deckplates. Blueshirts don't need to know his name, but at least his ideas and how they apply them conscientiously or not.

It is the only way for us to start to focus on thinking faster than our enemy. SSDS can't do it all for us.

YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman

Anonymous said...

I will tell you from the perspective of a "guy on a ship in San Diego" all that happened was mass confusion and a gigantic traffic jam. There were people in line for FIVE HOURS just to GET OFF THE BASE.

Stovepipes: Base talks to region. Ships talk to CDS>CCSG>C3F. Result = ships can barely coordinate with the pier they are moored to.

Sir, with all due respect, this was an epic failure that resulted in massive traffic resulting in TARGETS vice defending them, as well as predictable communications failures.

Almost 10 years after 9/11, I am dissapointed in our ability to coordinate this excercise.

AngryNews said...

The drill packages utilized are designed to flex the ships through their use-of-force continuum / warning levels, not to provide realistic scenarios where it is possible to lose. In many instances, these drill packages are briefed to the crew along with the correct response. It becomes nothing more than kabooki theatre.
I would like to echo Battle Yeoman's sentiments. We do not trust our sailors with weapons. Why else would we post a sailor with a rifle in condition 3, slung across his shoulder (requiring four separate movements before he is ready to aim and engage)? Nobody is going to mistake a lackluster unmotivated / untrained / insert-rating-here for a US Marine. The deterrence factor of a man-with-a-gun today will be as effective as it were when the Cole was hit: ZERO. The effectiveness is how that Sailor knows his or her FP job, and their readiness/willingness to execute it.
Skills are perishable. While I recognize that we cannot afford to send the crew to quarterly simunition training, we can practice basics such as weapons engagement fundamentals such as taught at SRF-B and SRF-A (not just shooting into water), tactical movements / communications, and actually have ATG throw scenarios at ships that they haven't seen / practiced before. Losing in training beats your shipmates dying in real life.

A Former ATFP/VBSS Officer/Consultant, current beltway bandit

Anonymous said...


Send more enlisted for technical training and less officers. They are the ones that do most of the work anyways....just a thought.

YN2-A certain rate does not signify that a person will or won't be half way decent at shooting a gun or much less intelligent. Just a thought, but gang members have no problem (for the most part) hitting their targets. They might have had some rogue training. Though, I do agree, that there should be more training than the random trips to the shooting range merely to get qualified in shooting a gun. There is not enough hands-on training done within the commands. It seems to be once in a lifetime trip when the command decides that they will be having shooting range training or qualifications.
Instead of it being a once a year "field trip" , it should be done more often.
Practice makes perfect!
Even for SN Timmy who sometimes will end up being the hero at the end of the day. The military can only learn and make things better for their sailors and the commands. If they don't become balanced you will have unhappy serviceman and miserable commands that don't want to take part in any type of training whatsoever (*edited*). So, the balancing starts at the families and works its way up to the commands. I was under the command of the previous XO of the USS Cole when they were hit. He became the CO of our command and gun training was a focus, he also made training and qualifications "enjoyable". It was a great command. Still to this day, I have friends that were in the command with me say they've never been to a command like it, things just are not the same. I'm am no longer in the Navy, but my husband is. And yes, he could use some gun training. haha. I shoot better than him, but I've had prior experience with guns growing up. I myself was a Seaman, and worked my way up to YN2 in three years, left the Navy and am now in Nursing school for my BSN. (go figure a nurse who can shoot a gun).
From my experience, it was the Deck division that got a lot of shooting time. Which to me, seems appropriate considering they are always the ones standing out on deck and on watches day and night. So, yes, it is very important the "SN Timmy" gets more training. Not just because he is incapable, but because he/she is the one who is always topside.
I also, had a shipmate that was on the COLE who lost many friends. He was a SEAMAN (now BM1) at that time and when the time came he stepped up and did what he was suppose to do. They did everything that they could do, given the circumstances.
Also, I get so irritated by those who undermine others just because of their rates. Good grief.

PS. I like this blog.

ADM J.C. Harvey, Jr. said...

Thank you for the thoughtful responses. I take note of one consistency in your responses that we don’t train enough in the basics of ATFP. I share your concern. Exposing these concerns is exactly why we conducted the Fleet-wide exercise. We are still gathering the facts and lessons learned, but your comments will be part of the final analysis.

For Anonymous “Guy on a ship in San Diego,” When we conduct large scale security training events like this one, we do our best to simulate real world events. I understand it can be inconvenient and your comment about the second order effect of the traffic becoming TARGETS marries with the Regional Commander’s assessment to me at our wrap-up. No easy solutions that come to mind, but definitely something we have to work.

I disagree with your comment that the exercise was an epic failure. From my perspective, it would only have been a failure if we did not learn. We will also fail if we don’t act to fix these lessons learned.
I would like to hear more specifics about your comment concerning lack of coordination between the region, ISIC and other ships on the pier.

For Angry News, your “kabooki theatre” comment is the classic challenge we face attempting to make our drill cards as close to reality as possible for meaningful training. I take careful note of your comment about not trusting our Sailors with weapons. We do trust our Sailors with weapons; our challenge is providing them a continuum of training that gives them the confidence to use them. That confidence comes with more meaningful time on the range. To your point on weapons conditions, these conditions are layered to balance safety and readiness. The little time it takes to transition from condition 3 to condition 1 should be used by the watchstander to assess the situation to take the appropriate action.

For Anonymous “Nurse who can shoot a gun,” I completely agree with your comment that our Commanding Officers must focus the crew on small arms training. The Commanding Officer is accountable for the security of the ship and the crew. My job is to ensure they have the resources for proper training.

PS. I also like this blog and the candid feedback it provides. Keep it coming.

All the best, JCHjr