Learning As You Go

I have now been serving with the Patricia’s close to a month and a half. In my tenure here we have been involved in both steady state and combat operations, I planned and executed my first leaflet drop (I was going to go on the helicopter to push the leaflets out but the Special Ops guys had a fixed wing available and they took the mission. Those guys have all the fun!), and managed to get the battle group to change some of its procedures. The last bit is a major victory for me. Allow me to explain why.

A couple of weeks ago I worked late one night and was heading back to my quarters when the TF Orion commander waved me on over for a chat. He was sitting on the deck outside his office puffing on a cigar and he kindly offered me one. I accepted and he started the conversation saying that I have more experience and background in IO than everyone in the battle group combined, how is the battle group “fucking it up”?

The commander wanted an honest assessment and I gave him one. I said that the battle group needs at least one more company and that Canada did not resource the battle group properly. I also said that the PRT needs to report directly to TF Aegis and have its own operationally controlled force protection so it can conduct its own operations. Right now the battle group is trying to coordinate the efforts of the PRT as well as conduct combat operations. I explained that the PRT I was at in Tarin Kowt reported directly to CJSOTF-A, not the Special Forces “B” Team co-located with the PRT, and it had its own force protection. CJSOTF-A, acting as a brigade HQ, coordinated the PRT’s efforts with the SF teams.

He agreed with everything I said. We went on and talked about Information Operation doctrine and the differences between how the US and Canadian Army treats its IO assets. We both agreed the 10th Mountain Divisions arbitrary division of operations into kinetic and non-kinetic is doctrinally wrong and that it is having a deleterious effect on planning and execution. What do I know; I am just a school trained IO officer and the commander is a Jedi Knight (what we in the US Army call graduates of the School of Advanced Military Studies at Ft. Leavenworth, KS).

Last week the TF Aegis IO officer and I were in a meeting with the commander about an event we were planning. The discussion eventually turned to how to better achieve the effects we wanted to achieve in the information battle space. The commander wanted our input and we gave it to him. That evening at the staff meeting the operations officer announced that there will be changes in how the battle group manages the PRT, the PSYOP team, and CIMIC (what we in the US Army call CA, or Civil Affairs) team.

To say that I was pleased is an understatement. In one month I was able to positively change the way the battle group uses its IO assets. My input (backed by six months of experience as a PRT IO officer in Tarin Kowt and three months as a IO Planner in Kosovo), plus hard experience on the ground by the battle group conducting a combat operation, contributed to the changes. Not all of my recommendations were implemented, only the ones the commander can change. Some of the changes that need to be made are structural and needs buy in by the flag officers in Ottowa.

This is the first major combat operation the Canadian Army has conducted in over thirty years. The commander knew that there will be lessons learned. The Canadian Army, just like the US Army, is learning as it goes. I am damned proud to have done my part for my former countrymen.


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