What's Old is New Again

Posted By: Tyger T Lyons Professional Content ,

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN 

CPT Tyger Lyons          

 

            As the Field Artillery transitions its focus from counterinsurgency to Large Scale Ground Combat Operations (LSGCO), every battalion is faced with the challenge of instilling that focus on the junior leaders of the institution. In 2-2 FAR at Fort Sill, we found ourselves in a unique position. As the only direct support cannon battalion at the home of the Field Artillery, we faced the challenge of changing the mindset from being a low angle adjust HE/PD organization to being a true direct support FA battalion. That process began with leader development. Over the past 16 months, we recognized that we tended to say the same things over and over. Every discussion and LPD was rooted in personal experience. Yet the same themes arose over and over again. It wasn’t that we were saying anything earth-shattering; we were simply speaking from personal experience that happened to bear striking similarities. As we dove into historical primary sources, we identified many common ideas and patterns began to emerge. We found out that our ideas were not new; what’s old is new again. Our problem statement then became: “in order to build an ethos of warfighting, how do we use primary sources and our position here at Mother Sill to create a leader development program that is relevant, sustainable, and operational for the force at large?” Stated more simply, how do we get people to do what is right—not because we say so—but because it is relevant?

 

            As we set out to design such a program, we focused on three areas: FA tactics, leadership, and doctrine. The Army has a wealth of wisdom captured in official documents going back to the Civil War. The 1864 Artillery Tactics manual published by the US War Department provides insights into the organization, field service, and instruction for artillery officers. Most notably, it provides an early description of the requirements for service as a field artilleryman that remains relevant to this day. The manual describes the ideal artilleryman to be active, muscular, and well-developed. Stature of 5’ 7” was preferred. Today, we have developed these requirements into quantifiable statistics, measured by ASVAB requirements, APFT/ACFT scores, and height/weight requirements, the basic premise remains the same. Holistic health and fitness (H2F) has always been foundational to success in the artillery. Strong, resilient, and well-balanced artillerymen and women continue to be an indelible part of the fire support team.

 

            Artillery Tactics also provides timeless guidance for officers directing their units in battle. Rather than dictating the location of officers in battle, Artillery Tactics provides guidance which is perhaps reminiscent of mission command. The manual instructs that “the captain commanding goes wherever his presence may be needed, or his commands best heard.” From the age of black powder to Excalibur, leader presence has mitigated risk and enforced organizational discipline. But the presence of artillery leaders also has an outsized impact on the battlefield as a whole. As 1864 Tactics notes, “the value and importance of an efficient artillery increases on proportion as the troops with which it serves are undisciplined and unrestrained.” In other words, the proper application of firepower, directed by a well-positioned artillery leader, can steel even an undisciplined maneuver force. The value of leader presence is not to be underestimated.  For a unit such as 2-2, with limited manning and high OPTEMPO, leader presence can be the difference between mission success or failure.

 

            While we draw leadership instruction and inspiration from many sources, the end state of leadership in the artillery is the proper application of lethal fires on the battlefield, and maximum destruction of the enemy through indirect fires. As Big Deuce 6 is fond of saying, “we are in the death dealing business.” The mission of 2-2 FAR is to provide timely and accurate fires and uninterrupted logistical support to enable the US Army Field Artillery School. We are the King of Battle, and our leaders need to know what artillery does, not just in the impact area, but on the battlefield. Nearing 20 years of uninterrupted counterinsurgency operations, many leaders lack perspective of the raw killing power of the artillery in battle. As the force shifts focus from counterinsurgency to LSGCO, the image of our future is engrained in our past. The Army’s Field Service Regulation of Operations (FM 100-5, 1941) provides a clear description of the role of artillery in LSGCO: “Artillery fire possess great power of destructing and neutralization.. [artillery fire] provides great moral effects.”

 

            It is important for artillery leaders to understand that such moral effects are part of the combined force and not to be used in isolation. “Field Artillery contributes to the action of the entire force through the fire support which it renders to other arms.” The moral effect of massed artillery fire, combined with the “fire, movement, and shock action” of the infantry presents the enemy with a powerful dilemma. The level of coordination required to create such a dilemma, however, is not easy to achieve. It requires both a high level of training on the part of the artillery unit, and close coordination with the other combined arms branches. The artillery battalion certification program both assesses and enforces artillery skills. From safety and gunner certification, through Artillery Tables XI and XII, to CALFEX and air assault operations, the goal of certification is to enable and ensure fires force readiness.

 

            Achieving the great moral effects of the artillery on the enemy also requires close coordination with the maneuver force. This coordination is achieved by the fire support rehearsal. Unfortunately, according to the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), this skill has been largely forgotten by both the artillery and infantry. In teaching our leaders the importance of the fire support rehearsal, we return to its inventor: Colonel Georg Bruchmüller. In his book Steel Wind, author David T. Zabecki recounts how Colonel Bruchmüller began the practice of briefing the infantry on the fire support plan in World War I. Those early fire support rehearsals, called “Vortrage”, meaning lectures, enabled the close movement of infantry behind short, intense bombardments and rolling barrages. The techniques Bruchmüller developed were unprecedented in the German Army, and enabled the major German advances in Operations. Michael Bruchmüller understood, as we are relearning today, the deadly potential of artillery to create windows of advantage to enable the maneuver force.

           

            The final line of effort of our leader development program is doctrine. In 2-2, we teach leaders the history of Army doctrine to make them doctrinally sound, not doctrinally bound. We focus on exposing out leaders to the critical concepts that have shaped the artillery and its role in the combined arms fight. The combined arms dilemma is the foundation of Army doctrine. The 1982 edition of  FM 100-5, Operations, was pivotal to the artillery branch. It describes the high lethality and expanded violence of the artillery in the Air Land Battle fight. That focus was largely lost after the Army transitioned to the concept of Full Spectrum Operations. This led the authors of the white paper “The King and I” to lament: “the only remaining source of [fires] expertise is the FA School at Fort Sill.” The Army’s newest doctrinal concept, Multi-Domain Operations is a reintroduction and expansion of the combined arms dilemma. The goal is to force the enemy into a dilemma, make him commit forces, and exhaust his resources, making use of the mission-focused lethality that is the hallmark of the field artillery. This new concept (what’s old is new again), when fully realized, will see the King of Battle return to his throne. In order to realize the return of the king, we have to do more than understand doctrine; we must also practice it. We leverage challenging combined and joint training exercises, such as air assault artillery raids and a Deployment Readiness Exercise to Fort Hood, to demonstrate the doctrinal role of artillery in the future fight. We have found that by framing challenging training events within the “big picture”, we have been able to overcome some of the resistance and institutional inertia that comes with going the extra mile in training.

 

             The Big Deuce leadership process requires our leaders to be students of history. They must understand the past to fight and win in the future. The field artillery branch is in a challenging and exciting period of change and rediscovery. The leaders we build today will carry the artillery into the future fight and beyond. We owe it to them, and the artillerymen and women they will lead, to relearn the lessons of the past before they are retaught on the future battlefield. Teaching leaders where we have been helps them understand where we are going, and why what we do now is important. It helps us gain and maintain organizational buy-in necessary to make 2-2 a reliable, credible, and disciplined organization.

 

AUTHOR: CPT Tyger T. Lyons
Commander of Bravo BTRY, 2-2 FAR

CPT Tyger T. Lyons was born in Branson, Missouri in 1988 and raised in Mason, Texas. He graduated from the United States Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science in International Relations, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 2011.

Upon completion of the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course, CPT Lyons was assigned to 1st Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served as a Fire Direction Officer and Platoon Leader in what was then the world’s only airborne 155mm cannon battalion. When 1-321 AFAR cased its colors in 2013, CPT Lyons served as a M777A2 Platoon Leader in 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment—the Army’s first composite 155mm/105mm cannon battalion.

After graduating US Army Ranger School in 2014, CPT Lyons served as the Assistant Brigade Fire Support Officer for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. After moving to Fort Sill, he deployed as an individual augmentee in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2018. Since FEB 2019, CPT Lyons has served at the Battery Commander for Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery Regiment.

His awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Ranger Tab, and the Basic Parachutist Badge.