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Army Magazine >> Army Magazine Archive >> ARMY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2007 >> Letters Email this... Email    Print this Print


Lt. Gen. Becton

The October AUSA News announced that the 2007 George Catlett Marshall Medal would be awarded to Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., U.S. Army retired, at the AUSA Annual Meeting. This award has been presented to the officer that I have always regarded as the most outstanding officer and leader I knew in more than 30 years of active Army and Army Reserve duty as both an enlisted soldier and officer.

Gen. Becton was direct and emphatic with his orders, yet he showed compassion. He is the only officer about whom I never heard a comment of dissatisfaction from either officer or enlisted. All spoke of him with great admiration and respect.

The article in the AUSA News told much about Gen. Becton but had no mention of his distinguished service with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He served as a cavalry regiment commander and deputy commander of the division’s 3rd Brigade. He was promoted to colonel while serving with the 101st.

That he should have received his third award of the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) for his service with the 101st in Vietnam is a noteworthy achievement. He had received a CIB for his World War II service and one for his service in Korea. There were not many people of any rank who had received two and should have received a third.

Because of Gen. Becton’s uncommon leadership, counseling and compassion, which I witnessed for nearly one year in Vietnam, I have followed closely his outstanding careers in the military, public service and education.

AUSA’s selection of Gen. Becton could not have been better for an example of person, officer or gentleman. He is the best officer with whom I had the honor to serve.

Lt. Col. Robert D. Williams, USA Ret.
Sherwood, Ark.

Military Police

I found the September “Front & Center” article “Put the ‘Police’ Back in Military Police” enjoyable, having personally experienced much of the Military Police (MP) Corps history that Col. David L. Patton, U.S. Army retired, recounts. I do, however, want to emphasize that much work is ongoing inside the Army to develop an optimum MP force; several initiatives are in progress to maintain its law-enforcement capability.

The MP lessons learned from the global war on terrorism confirm the criticality of the MP law-enforcement function to our combatant commanders. It is undoubtedly the foundation of our ability to establish and train civilian police in Iraq and Afghanistan—a cornerstone for reestablishing safe and secure environments independent of U.S. and Coalition forces. One of the most significant decisions senior Army leaders have made to positively shape our Corps is the reestablishment of the Provost Marshal General on the Army Staff. This position provides senior MP representation in major force structure, materiel acquisition, resourcing and other important decisions that are helping to build the right MP Corps for our Army.

Meeting the operational demand for MP expertise is one of the Army’s highest priorities and a main factor in providing installation law-enforcement support. At the outset of the war, our force structure was not optimally postured to meet the sudden enormous demand for MP capabilities. The Army made the decision to create selected provisional MP units (from other branches) to perform installation law-enforcement support, filling the gaps created by the operational deployments of our active and reserve component MP units. These provisional units are trained to perform law-enforcement tasks; a majority of them were fully converted to full-fledged MP units inside the Army National Guard.

Correctly anticipating the high demand for MP units, the Army also increased both active and reserve component MP force structure as early as 2002. Currently programmed MP growth now includes an overall increase of almost 40 percent from a 2002 baseline (before Operation Iraqi Freedom). In 2011, the Army will have more than 56,000 soldiers serving in deployable MP units and brigade combat teams. This increased force will significantly improve MP support to the Army in future large-scale operational deployments while making some of these MPs available for installation law enforcement when not deployed.

We also are implementing a “clustered stationing model” for active component MP units to meet the high demand for MP capabilities. Under this concept, installations with only one or two MP companies are being rounded out with additional companies to reduce the need to hire large numbers of Army civilian police to backfill frequently deployed MP soldiers. Clustering of MP companies enables an optimal number of companies to deploy, prepare to deploy and refit upon returning from deployment, while still fulfilling installation law-enforcement requirements with MP soldiers. This stationing plan is also targeted at eliminating the need to create provisional MP companies in the future. It should also eliminate the need to deploy reserve component MP companies to continental U.S. installations solely for law-enforcement duties, preserving them instead for deployment to warfighting. In Europe, MP companies are being resourced with specially designed law-enforcement platoons to allow commanders to rotate soldiers into law-enforcement duties. In addition, these platoons will free the rest of the company to deploy to meet operational demands without having to split the company to cover two simultaneous requirements—community law enforcement and deployment missions.

In addition to maximizing MP deployment capabilities, we are striving to ensure that our MP soldiers retain a role in providing installation law enforcement and maintain proficiency in the critical policing skill sets. To this end, we are working with Installation Management Command to determine the right mix of military and civilian policing on each and every Army installation.

The Army understands the vital need for our MP soldiers to maintain law-enforcement skills and is pursuing steps to promote those capabilities. Given the intense demand for all MP capabilities, however, MP leaders can no longer emphasize two or three functions to the exclusion of others. From my perspective, the best way ahead is to shape the MP Corps with balanced skill sets in all five doctrinal MP functions: area security, maneuver and mobility support, internment/resettlement operations, law enforcement and police intelligence. The demand for all functions is real, and the process to respond to it, using MPs qualified in all five functions and working in more numerous and adaptable organizations, is well under way.

Brig. Gen. Rodeny L. Johnson
Provost Marshal/Commanding General, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command
Washington, D.C.

Col. Patton is 100 percent on point.

Someday the bean counters are going to say, “There’s never a cop around when you need one.” Not to question the dedication or professionalism of the DoD police, but they can’t be deployed.

Some contract security guards I’ve seen at some installations look like they just got out of county lockup.

Neither DoD police nor the contract guards form professional relationships with the troops on the installations because they don’t train, live or deploy with the troops. Whatever happened to the motto “Of the troops and for the troops”?

Now we see—because of a lack of military police (MP) troop strength in the structure of the active Army, National Guard and Reserve—the necessity of drawing troops from other than MP units to perform MP missions.

This takes valuable training time, and it isn’t what these converted troops signed on to do.

Certainly the adjutants general of the various state National Guards must recognize the necessity of more MPs in their inventories to perform homeland security missions and military support to civilian authorities.

I hope some decision makers will read and understand Col. Patton’s arguments and adjust the troop strength accordingly.

Maj. Joseph F. Kennedy, AUS Ret.
San Francisco, Calif.

Advising Forward

I would like to expand on Col. Robert B. Killebrew’s excellent article “The Army and the Changing American Strategy” (August). I believe the most significant point in his thoughtful paper is that “‘advising forward’ is going to become a central, mainstream mission of the entire Army, not a subcategory of mission that can be left to special operating forces or foreign area officers.” In that vein, one point he touched on briefly—personnel resourcing—deserves further discussion and direct attention. In addition to his suggestion that the Army overbuild its officer and NCO strength to best support overseas military assistance advisory groups (MAAGs) and MAAG-type missions, DoD—and the Army in particular—should reconsider assigning more field grade and general officers to international staffs and formations.

Two cases in point: (1) Because of post-Cold War downsizing and current personnel tempo, the Army has been compelled to abandon many influential international billets throughout the NATO structure and other international bodies. These are not only lost opportunities to shape allies and Coalition partners; they also constitute the quintessential cultural training environments that are tailor-made for future U.S. Army leaders of Coalition forces. Furthermore, this sends an unintended negative message about our commitment to Coalition operations. Generals like John Shalikashvili, Eric Shinseki and David Petraeus had those kinds of jobs in their formative years. (2) Part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s approval of the new Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters manning, which calls for 10 flag officer billets, stipulates there will be no additional increase in the overall DoD number of admirals and generals. This is one small example of how we are moving in the right direction on identifying future requirements and developing suitable organizations, but we are going to fall short on the personnel-manning side. Should the Army choose to play in manning the leadership billets at AFRICOM (and it most definitely should), another three or four generals will be taken out of a hide that’s already been skinned more times than we can count.

Col. Killebrew’s call for overbuilding officer and NCO strength should be taken very seriously and acted upon.
In addition, we quickly need to find a better way to collaborate with Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to overcome the current cap on general officers in order to minimize the worsening trend in general officer-manning deficiency for multinational and overseas/forward Joint positions.

Lt. Col. Joe Drach, USA Ret.
Washington, D.C.

“Could It Happen to You?”

I have enjoyed reading ARMY Magazine for the last four years that I’ve been an AUSA member. I especially enjoyed reading the article “Could It Happen to You?” in the August issue.

My grandfather, Eugene E. Lamarre, was a sergeant in Company C, 103rd Infantry Regiment, 26th Infantry Division. He was the company clerk and maintained a journal from the day he left Woodsville, N.H. (July 25, 1917) to the day he was discharged at Camp Devens, Mass., 21 months later. On May 10, 1918, he was at P.C. Naud and recorded in his journal: “Enemy threw over gas on the right of my sector at 1:15 o’clock, two projectiles were used, followed by a barrage of whiz-bangs, lasting 20 minutes.” He was gassed in his sleep. He developed polyps, and his olfactory nerves were severely damaged.

I am in possession of my grandfather’s journal, the 103rd Infantry Regiment history and a framed Company C group photograph. I wore the shoulder patch of the Yankee Division as a member of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 172nd Armor, in 1991–92.

SSgt. David E. Johnson Jr., USA Ret.
Woodsville, N.H.

U.S. Flag Sleeve Display

The sleeve flag placement controversy, addressed in the September issue (“Letters”), began at least in Desert Shield in 1990-91, before Bosnia. With all that was going on, we enlisted folk were amazed at the command attention as to whether it should be right sleeve or left sleeve, blue field left or blue field right. At one point, we were issued some of each style. The word finally came down from the highest echelons: right sleeve for foreign service, blue field forward like a charge of the 7th Cavalry.

MSgt. Henry Frank, USAR Ret.
Philadelphia, Pa.