Force protection—transformation to a new normalcy

Force protection—transformation to a new normalcy

Joel Rindal

The terrorist attack on September 11th caught the entire nation by surprise. What we understood and acknowledged as normal drastically changed. This change has affected all facets of American life–including our Army. These events have forced the Army to direct its organizational energy toward two separate actions. First, the transformation to the Objective Force continues and due to the attack on American soil, the Army must look to change how our institution conducts force protection operations. Second, we must become accustomed to a new “normalcy.”


This new battle will make the MP Corps Regiment change our focus. The new normalcy may move our organizational emphasis away from the combat-support missions that our Corps has performed so magnificently and toward an increased emphasis on the core competency that makes us unique in the Army. With our law enforcement capability and expertise, especially in the key area of force protection operations, the Regiment will be a key player as our Army adapts to new requirements.

As a Regiment, we have always been in this business. The nation has turned to our Army before for assistance with, what we now know as, force protection. In World War II, MP were deeply involved in force protection operations in the continental United States. The Zone of Interior battalions and companies were formed to protect the sensitive wartime points in the country such as–railroads, telegraph, telephone lines, wharves and docks, and important bridges. Their duties expanded quickly to include–

* Providing security for industrial facilities, depots, terminals, and other government agencies.

* Serving as mobile and internal security forces.

* Quelling riots and controlling labor strikes.

* Supervising and controlling the evacuation of civilians during emergencies and disasters.

* Controlling discipline on posts, camps, and stations.

* Guarding the White House and the President.

For a more complete look at this era, see Dr. Ronald Craig’s article on page 59.

Force Protection and our Installations–Establishing a Baseline

Shortly after the September 11th attacks, the TRADOC commander tasked the U.S. Army MP School (USAMPS) to deploy force-protection-assistance teams to assess the force protection posture of his installations. These teams consisted of subject-matter experts who assisted installation commanders and their staffs with implementing force protection measures and identifying trends, seams, and synchronization issues.

The force protection teams analyzed tasks in the functional categories of–

* Intelligence.

* Command, control, and communications (C3).

* Security/response forces.

* Access control.

* High-risk personnel (HRP).

* Mission-essential vulnerable areas (MEVAs).

* Command information/ community interface.

Further, the teams sought to apply immediate on-site fixes; assist in the implementation of near-term solutions; and institutionalize mid- to long-term solutions across the doctrine, training, leader development, organizations, materiel, and soldier (DTLOMS) spectrum.

The teams found that our installations’ intelligence systems were not functioning effectively. Split organization of assets (between military intelligence and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CIDC) created multiple seams which, in turn, weakened the force protection posture. Garrisons inherently lacked the organic capability to produce full-spectrum-threat assessments.

In the area of C3, the teams’ assessment indicated that most emergency operation centers (EOCs) were poorly equipped and the individuals involved did not have clearly defined roles. Installation plans often failed to identify or prioritize MEVAs properly. Anti-terrorism officer positions also lacked definition and were not adequately trained to operate at the installation level. Antiterrorism plans required refinement, and radio communication systems were vulnerable and not redundant.

Emergency response forces were often poorly coordinated and misunderstood. Response forces and quick-reaction forces (QRFs) lacked collective tactics, techniques, and procedures; guidance; and standing operating procedures to effectively man, equip, train, and employ these forces. Special-reaction teams (SRTs) (and/or supporting civilian assets) appeared generally incapable of meeting special threat situations.

Our high-risk leaders did not understand the purpose of the personal-security vulnerability assessment (PSVA) provided by the CID and declined it. They are at risk due in part to the biographical information and photographs easily found on installation Web sites.

Command information/community interface were found to be functioning well. Public affairs offices were transmitting information effectively; however, these systems were often not integrated into installations’ overall antiterrorism plan. The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network system and the Nonsecure Internet Protocol Router Network system within our garrisons were extremely limited and usually had no backup communication system.

In sum, the findings were a wake-up call for all of us who are concerned with force protection. From the force protection assessment team perspective, it appears that, over the years, we have used force protection assets, personnel, equipment, and training to pay other bills. Plans and systems have suffered from significant neglect. As an institution, we have work to do across the DTLOMS to correct our force protection shortfalls. Many of these shortfalls have been fixed through on-the-spot corrections and direct leadership involvement, but the intermediate and long-term challenges remain. Funding and personnel requirements will continue to be an Armywide challenge.

The Way Ahead

As an Army, we have reviewed our force protection posture and identified our challenges. Now, we must build a new playbook. The work across DTLOMS has begun. The USAMPS, the Combined Arms’ Center, and TRADOC are currently finalizing the force protection operational and organization plan. This document will serve as the doctrinal baseline, facilitating the resolution of the long-term issues.

The rapid creation of training support plans has addressed immediate training requirements. The topics include–

* Reserve Component MP mobilization.

* Airport security supporting mobilized National Guard units. This one includes Federal Aviation Administration requirements and sustainment training.

* Chemical storage-site security in support of the Army Material Command.

* Quick-reaction force employment.

These immediate actions are only a small part of the Army’s ongoing effort. Much of what we will do will require our military to change its mind-set, and ultimately our culture. This mind-set, focused on the new normalcy, will be much like our overseas environment where force protection is an everyday reality. Change is never easy. The resource challenge will always be a constant. There still is much work ahead for years to come.

Major Joel Rindal currently serves as the chief, Officer Basic Branch, Command and Tactics Division, Directorate of Training, USAMPS. His past assignments include tactical officer, U.S. Military Academy; assistant S3, 18th MP Brigade; commander, 3d MP Company, 3d Infantry Division; and deputy division Provost Marshal, 1st Infantry Division. He holds a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Bemidji State University and a master’s from Long Island University.

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