As it stands now, big Army can't figure out what it wants RSTA squadrons to be. Becuase of the amout of firepower we pack, BDE commanders want to use them as a third maneuver element, even though we're not organized, or equipped for that (namely becuase we're to damned small), as some sort of mobile reserve, convoy security, pressense patrols, etc., instead of what they were supposedly designed for, a reconnaissance asset. Over the course of two sepearate tours in Iraq, I performed exactly two route recon missions. Both were to check out to possible new convoy routes, and that was it.
Then you have guys trying to treat the HMMWV mounted units, as though they were actual armored forces. I had one PL tell me I needed to reorganize my section, and turn my vehilces facing out, so that the "Front armor was facing out, as it was the heaviest" I had to point out to him that we we're in UNARMORED HMMWVs and we back into a hide site so that if we have to un ass the area quickly we could just drop our camo nets, and drive straight out. He looked confused by the whole conversation. Then we have our Dismounted Recon Troop, that gets used for everything but actual ground recon work (PSD, security element for a SF or EOD, route security, route clearance, etc.).
The one good thing that's come out of the last few years, is that it looks like the Army has finally figured out we don't have enough bodies to do all of the tasks we're supposed to perfom, and has decided to add an dismount to each truck (as it is now a fully manned platoon only has 18 people, which includes and attached RTO and Medic).
They are also discussing adding mortars to the CAV Troops in the R&S Squadrons. I have spoken with several Cavalry officers and they're less than thrilled with the RSTA concept. I asked one of my SGI's while at MCCC as to why if its not broke is the Army making all these changes. Its the same old answer money!
The lack of bodies has been brought up with the powers that be and as you pointed out looks like their starting to listen.
Another problem is with everyone being tasked to perform security missions, people aren't keeping up with basic skills, much less more specialized training. We sent guys off to sniper school, hired a contractor to train up our DRT guys in the use of their zodiacs, sent guys to rappel master, RSLC, etc. That's not counting all of the new sensors, radios, NODs, etc. they've given us, and (and it takes a while to learn how to use all of this stuff), only to spend the last four years doing everything but reconnaissance missions.
I'm not being a dick (intentionally), but how much of the RSTA concept is taught at MCCC or OBC (or whatever OBC is called these days)? If leadership doesn't know how to use you, or have missions for you, then you'll suffer as you guys are pointing out. Today's ignorant Captain or Major is tomorrow's ignorant BN or BDE commander.
I'll go out on a limb and say you guys have tried like hell to make the CoC understand what you do and what you can do for them and they aren't terribly responsive?
I see it in Comm almost every day: guys doing a mission or working on equipment that is briefly mentioned in an officer's educational pipeline. Said pipeline may be network and IT heavy, said officer's background is IT and networks, and then suddenly the poor bastard has to deal with radio and radar...uh oh, Spaghetti-ohs.
I'd love to give you some hope, I really would, but for me it is a losing battle. Unless Big Army teaches commanders about RSTA and unless RSTA is used in places like JRTC or NTC, with almost career-killing implications for the commander who doesn't want to learn...not much will change because that's human nature. Historically, the Army is slow to grasp, if at all, the potential for a new tool. In some ways, I think commanders long for the days of dress-right-dress, fix bayonets, at the double quick, march.
Freefalling you are correct. I have walked into a TOC and introduced myself as the OPSO for the LRS company and was immediately asked what's LRS. Of course if a commande sin't sure about something due to a complete lack of training, knowledge and experience 9 times out of 10 they'll say no. However if you get an old school, former Ranger Regiment commander you will have no lack of missions. And as dsummer and I stated before there's a lot of emphasis on the high speed stuff and as a result the basic skill set starts to degrade. Some LRS companies are now nothing more than a jump club for the rest of the BFSB. I once had the BDE Commander show up on my UH-60s, who were late beause they had to pick him up, then later he was upset with me becuase I missed my TOT!
There are also a lot of commanders who can't seem to figure out that while we have a shit load of firepower, are greatest asset is not being seen. We can do him far more good remaining hidden, than we can by trying to go toe to toe with someone in a fire fight. They look at the number of weapons and vehicles we have, especially in what used to be light units, think we're more valuable to him as some sort mobile reserve. When we'd be far more useful in our primary role of providing him information, and marketing targets for naval gunfire, CAS, artillery, etc.
Concur, what's frustrating about all this is that these tactics and techniques you're describing were developed in Vietnam. Read Recon Command by LTC Alex Lee (ret). I read it twice prior to my last deployment! The Army is still struggling with CRS. Can't remember shit.
+ one to that. I had to brief my Squadron Commander on what the hell the DRT (infantry guys stuck in a Cav unit) was all about. He still wanted to use us for security checkpoints and taking objectives. Short story, I left and went to the Q.