S7s–how about sharing with your fellow FA 30s what you did–or are doing–to prepare for your BCT deployment. Is there anything you WISH you’d done? Let us know…
As I prepared to deploy as a BCT S7 one thing that helped me and the BCT was to have as many Officers and NCOs from the subordinate BNs attend the TIIAC. I conducted a few OPDs with the BNs and I got buy-in from their XOs and S3s to send one Officer and NCO from their staffs to attend a TIIAC MTT that our DIV HQ was able to schedule. I was lucky that the DIV was able to schedule two separate MTTs so all together I was able to get 24 Officers and NCOs from the BNs into the course. Since the BNs sent these individuals to the course they designated them as their BN IO representative. To build on what they learned in the course I scheduled a weekly IOWG to conduct OPDs and coordinate STRATCOM activities that were going on in the BCT prior to deployment. Unfortunately due to staff turn-over during our deployment, we were not able to keep the individuals that attended the TIIAC as the BN IO reps. through the entire deployment. So, I continued IO OPDs to BN IO reps. during our deployment. Developing IO knowledge at the BN level was imperative as the S7 during the deployment and helped me develop solid relationships with the BNs.
Where to start. First thing is to task organize your shop and share with your boss how you envision the shop being built. Every S shop has some sort of “cell”, ie fires cell, planning cell, personnel section, and there is no reason a non- lethal cell consisting of the S7, S9, PAO section, PSYOP and any other enabler shouldn’t be brought together. This requires some buy in from the the other sections, but when the mission of each section is impacted/ influences the other there, there is no good reason not to work together. In my situation, when the PAO was gone I spoke for him in meetings, along with the S9 and so on. There are going to be those that say that IO and PAO cannot work together, but at the BDE level there is no misinformation that is legal, so there is no reason the PAO and the IO/ PSYOP cannot work together reinforcing each others messages through their various channels. An example we had while in Afghanistan is a car bomb detonated downtown. One of my local Afghan contractors calls me to let me know know. At the same time, the PAO was receiving calls from his sources about the event. We were able to inform the Brigade TOC and get a patrol to assist. From this point, we had locals in position to gather information and we were able to dictate the message from there… messages coming from local Afghans on the street on what they knew to happen versus what the “other” guys were saying. It doesn’t always work this well, but it was alot better then had I or the PAO been working alone.
For the sake of keeping this post short, I’ll cover one other topic: getting into the BNs training and manning plan for IO/ IE/ PARs (public affair representatives). I had to get alot of help from the BDE CDR to get our battalions to tman their IO/IE cells with just the bare bones personnel. Its not that they didn’t want to man the cell, its their priority and available manning kept them from getting it “set” to get those identified into any training. Army manning calls for the fewest IO/ IE guys at the levels where they count the most, the company and battalion level. The BCT is authorized one FA30, and that needs to change, but i digress. We never got into the BNs training in a beneficial manner. My PSYOP NCO and I went had open forums with as many platoons as we could, but I didn’t get to the BCT until one month prior to our NTC rotation and 3 months prior to deployment.
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Prior to BCT S7 deployment I wish I had mastered CPOF because you can use the CPOF to develop and maintain a CIO which then could be used as part of an IIAWG, a Targeting meeting, CIED meeting, a BUA and be used as part of a trend analysis over time. The other item I wish that was set in place and standardized was the method of reporting SLE/KLE. It is imperative that that others know where reports are and how to retrieve them. CIDNE should be the standard because it is the lowest commonly available reporting system. Mission reports should be standardized to list: What the audience said, what the audience did, how did the audience react to the mission, and what does the audience want.
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