Section 3: Fires
ANGLICO: The Great Enabler
Lt. Col. Michael D. Grice, U.S. Marine Corps
Reprinted with permission from the May-June 2009 issue of Fires
"To provide Marine Air Ground Task Force commanders a liaison capability . . . to plan, coordinate, employ and conduct terminal control of fires in support of joint, allied and coalition forces."
-Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company mission statement
The days of unilateral service action are over. Joint, combined and coalition operations are de rigueur in the "Long War." With the drawdown of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) embraces the opportunity to join the U.S. Army and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan. Joint task force, coalition and combined endeavors provide forces, equipment and expertise not available to a single service or even a single nation. In addition to the increased capability, they present significant challenges in the areas of command, control and integration.
Due to its inherent flexibility, born of a culture of task organization based on the Marine air ground task force (MAGTF), the USMC stands ready to lead, follow and otherwise embrace such efforts. To be successful, however, the MAGTF commander needs a trusted agent to bring his intent to nonorganic subordinate and adjacent units, to provide planning expertise and to leverage U.S. Navy and USMC combat power to support all partners. Fortunately, the commander has an agent to meet the demanding, challenging and dynamic requirements of diverse confederations-the air naval gunfire liaison company. Unfortunately, the air and naval gunfire liaison company (ANGLICO) remains a little-known and often poorly understood organization. To understand ANGLICO, its origins and its potential future, this article provides a brief history of the organization, an example of its employment in support of OIF and recommendations for this specialized organization's future.
The ANGLICO was created during the reactivation of the 1st and 2nd companies in 2003, but its storied lineage reaches back to the hard-fought amphibious campaigns in the Pacific during World War II. Then called the Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO), the specialized unit performed the communications and control functions of sea-based and airborne fires-in support of assault forces as it stormed hotly contested beachheads. Through World War II, the unit evolved to a crucial component of amphibious operations.
In 1949, the organization traded the JASCO moniker for ANGLICO. The company participated in the daring amphibious assault at the Battle of Inchon during the Korean War in 1950. In 1951, the company grew into a two-company unit and participated in combat operations throughout the Korean Conflict. Following active combat operations on the Korean peninsula, ANGLICO Marines and sailors deployed to Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and the emergent war in Vietnam.
In 1965, Sub-Unit 1, 1st ANGLICO, was created as a fire support coordination and control organization under Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The newly formed unit specialized in controlling naval gunfire and U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines close air support. The organization served throughout the entire theater of operations, providing support to various allied and sister service units, including the U.S. Army, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the Republic of Korea army and marine corps, the Australian army and others.
Although Sub-Unit 1's primary mission was integrating fires, it also provided the essential liaison function between MACV and the varied supported units. ANGLICO Marines and sailors continued active service in Vietnam until the end; it was one of the last American combat units to leave Vietnam. They departed in early 1973 after providing crucial fire support to the Republic of Vietnam soldiers and marines during the North Vietnamese army's offensives in 1972.
ANGLICO provided support for deployments throughout the 1970s and 1980s-most notably during the Lebanon peacekeeping operations in 1982 and the invasion of Grenada in 1983. The unit's liaison and fires integration capabilities were an integral part of Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) deployments. ANGLICO detachments trained with countless armed forces in coastal areas and participated in combat and contingency operations. As the MAUs transitioned to Marine Expeditionary Units-Special Operations Capable (MEUSOC), ANGLICO became one of the MAGTF commander's most useful tools for training and humanitarian operations with other militaries from the Mediterranean Sea to the Korean peninsula to Australasia's beaches.
Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 showcased the unit's value as the MAGTF commander's enabler. Active and reserve ANGLICO units provided fire support and liaison to the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and coalition units from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Syria, Morocco, Spain and the French Foreign Legion.
ANGLICO Marines and sailors also conducted pre-battle combined arms and fire support training to ensure all supported forces functioned effectively within or adjacent to a MAGTF. When Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm, ANGLICO units integrated all forms of fire support on the battlefield and provided crucial communications links between U.S. and Coalition units.1
In 1999, USMC manpower reductions forced the deactivation of active duty ANGLICOs. They were replaced by much smaller Marine Liaison Elements (MLE) at I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces-each had a significantly reduced communications and fire support coordination capability. Although greatly reduced in size and ability, the I MEF MLE supported the British Royal Marines' 3 Commando Brigade in Basra during the initial months of OIF, operating closely with the 15th MEUSOC and other I MEF forces.
The MLE Marines and sailors-critical enablers for the MEF and the British forces-were the primary link to the direct air support center and Coalition air support. The MLE's successful support of British forces proved the effectiveness of ANGLICO capabilities, but it found the MLEs inadequate for the requirements for liaison and fire support integration in support of OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).2
Growing operational demands required the reactivation of the active duty 1st and 2nd ANGLICOs in 2003. A new unit, 5th ANGLICO stood up in 2005.3 The reactivated active duty ANGLICO units gave the MAGTF commander a robust capability that enabled him to bring his intent, planning expertise and the full spectrum of Marine fire support to every member in the joint, coalition or allied fight-including the enduring deployment of rotational ANGLICO units to Iraq.
ANGLICO is a separate company located in the MEF Headquarters Group and serves as the primary liaison between the MAGTF command and non-Marine units.3 Each company numbers more than 200 Marines and sailors-equivalent to a battalion-level command. A command screened and slated lieutenant colonel leads the ANGLICO, consisting of a headquarters platoon and three brigade platoons. The company is self-sufficient with organic logistical, supply, motor vehicle, ordnance and communications resources to support any assigned unit.
Company headquarters. Headquarters includes the command element and the headquarters platoon. The company headquarters has the staff elements of a typical battalion-size organization-administration, intelligence, logistics and a large, robust operations section that incorporates subject matter experts for all forms of supporting arms. The headquarters platoon maintains a large, armory, motor pool, a comprehensively equipped communications section and an organic motor vehicle maintenance capability. It equips, trains, deploys, commands and controls the subordinate ANGLICO elements.
The company headquarters is staffed and equipped to be an independently deployable fire support coordination center that can embed into a joint, coalition or allied division-level organization. It provides liaison, planning expertise and detailed integration and de-confliction of MAGTF fires for the supported unit.
Embedding ANGLICO units-at the division and down to the line company-is arguably the company's most valuable service. It provides a direct link between the MAGTF commander and the non-Marine unit-either part of or adjacent to the Marine area of operations. At the division level, the ANGLICO headquarters as a fire support coordination center (FSCC) performs all fires related battlefield functions, such as naval surface fire support, close air support (CAS) and surface-to-surface integration. It is digitally capable and integrates into all USMC and nearly all U.S. Army, USN and U.S. Air Force battlefield systems.
Brigade platoon. The company's three brigade platoons perform fire support integration, MAGTF planning, communications and liaison between the MAGTF and an adjacent or subordinate brigade or regimental-size non-Marine unit. During OIF, ANGLICO brigade platoons supported coalition forces from Great Britain and Poland and U.S. Army units, Special Operations Forces and U.S. Army and USMC military transition teams and their Iraqi counterparts, including combat operations outside Multi-National Force-West (MNF-W) in Basra and Baghdad.
Doctrinally, the brigade platoon embeds in a brigade-size or equivalent coalition or allied unit that requires either MAGTF fires, falls within a command relationship with the MAGTF commander or both. Once attached, the platoon headquarters becomes a special staff section at the brigade headquarters. The subordinate units within the platoon join the battalion task forces and company teams, bringing their requisite expertise to all levels of the supported unit. In reality, this model works well with U.S. Army and other top-tier brigades due to their similarity in capabilities. However, the brigade platoon moves up one level to provide support at the Iraqi Army division level because of the design of the Iraqi Army formations.
The ANGLICO has three brigade platoon listed on its table of organization. Within each platoon, there are platoon headquarters, two supporting arms liaison teams (SALTs) and four firepower control teams (FCTs)-two within each SALT. Functionally, each element operates independently without relying on the supported unit for vehicles, radios and other equipment or supplies. Like the company headquarters, the brigade platoons and SALTs perform as complete doctrinal Marine FSCCs at the brigade and battalion levels. The FCT has the trained personnel and necessary equipment to fight as a fire support team.
Although their ranks range from major to first lieutenant, the platoon, SALT and FCT leaders largely share the same billet description, acting as the subject matter expert on the MAGTF, fires, communication and planning for the unit they support. The principal difference is the level of their assigned units, ranging from the brigade/regiment to the company/team.
These leaders provide planning and execution expertise for the supported commander. They may prepare a traditional fire plan, conduct a helicopter-borne combat resupply, plan an air assault or explain how the Marine Corps planning process works.
They are interpreters who bridge the gap between the supported unit and the MAGTF. They also lead their own FCTs and deploy and deploy forward in support of combat operations and units-in contact with the enemy as needed and directed. The platoon command and SALT leaders also may act as either the leader or the co-leader of the supported unit's tactical air control party.4 If they cannot integrate into the marine aviation command and control system, the ANGLICO platoon commander establishes a tactical air control party capable of fulfilling the functions of Marine aviation that apply to the supported unit-offensive air support, assault support, control of aircraft and missiles, aerial reconnaissance and electronic warfare. If the platoon does not have an assigned aviator as the air officer, the platoon commander fills that billet, submits joint terminal attack and assault requests to the MAGTF air officer and plans for their integration.
SALT. There are two deployable SALTs in each brigade platoon. Each SALT is equipped for independent operations. The team includes a combat arms officer, a naval aviator and a staff sergeant scout observer; they may be joint terminal attack controllers, communicators, drivers and/or scouts.
The SALT serves as the senior fire support element for the subordinate FCTs and performs the primary mission as the supported unit's 24-hour operations capable FSCC. If robust support is not required, the SALT may split into two SALT (-) elements-capable of providing planning and MAGTF integration expertise while simultaneously acting as the higher headquarters for one or more FCTs.
The SALT leader serves as the MAGTF representative to the battalion/task force commander and usually serves on his staff as an advisor. His duties include attending meetings, planning sessions and conducting training on the MAGTF and supporting arms.
FCT. The FCT is subordinate to the SALT and is the smallest, lowest level independently deployable unit within ANGLICO. There are two FCTs per SALT that support company-size units during combat operations. The FCT has the same capabilities as a doctrinal USMC rifle company fire support team plus the mobility and communications capabilities from its organic equipment.
The FCT leader is a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC)-qualified combat arms officer or a naval aviator. His team has a scout observer FCT chief, a radio operator and a driver. All personnel in the FCT are cross trained to perform the duties of any other member. The driver can act as the gunner and call for fire. The radio operator can talk to aircraft over the appropriate nets when required.
Operational Employment in Iraq
ANGLICO's configuration is based on the doctrinal model of "two up and one back." Supported organization would have two units-in-contact and one in reserve-the two SALTs with two FCTs per brigade platoon.5 In OIF, the conflict's stabilization into a counterinsurgency fight considerably changed that dynamic.
Despite the nonstandard combat environment, ANGLICO's inherent flexibility provided robust support to meet the changing requirements. ANGLICO elements supported U.S. Army units from independent task forces to entire brigades, simultaneously working with military transition teams (MiTTs) and their Iraqi counterparts, coalition partners, and USMC units that required fires and CAS control and fire support.
An example of the organization's flexibility is the brigade platoon that supported the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. The U.S. Army brigade was a subordinate unit within the Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and was a battlespace landowner in the MNF-W area of operations. During a highly active 2006 to 2007 deployment, the ANGLICO brigade platoon that supported 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, reorganized to support five separate maneuver task forces-each with numerous company teams.
To meet this large requirement, the SALTs were restructured; five SALT (-) elements were created, and each was coupled with one deployable FCT. In addition, the platoon was complemented by the Air Force tactical air control party, providing additional JTACs and air liaison officers.6
The platoon's members were employed at the tactical level, supporting armored and infantry task forces as they conducted offensive operations in and around Ar Ramadi. They occupied overt and covert observation posts, integrated CAS in the tightly confined urban canyons of the city and de-conflicted surface-to surface fires that ranged from mortars to Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System missiles. They were inculcated into the U.S. Army and coalition units that they supported and served in combat side-by-side with their non-Marine counterparts.
ANGLICO proved to be an invaluable part of the MEFs (Forward) that have been winning the fight in al Anbar. As Iraq stabilizes, the need for the ANGLICO's specialized capabilities in Iraq has declined. The focus is shifting toward Afghanistan where the skills provided by ANGLICO are in high demand. To meet the demand, the company headquarters redeployed to the continental U.S. to train, equip and deploy brigade platoons to both combat theaters. In addition, West Coast Marine Expeditionary Units will deploy with SALTs in the near future.
As the USMC's presence in Afghanistan grows, the requirement for the MAGTF to work with joint, coalition and allied organizations increases. ANGLICO is the USMC organization that meets this need; it is staffed with trained and equipped professionals who are ready to bring the full spectrum of capabilities resident in the MAGTF to support non-Marine units. ANGLICOs and the U.S. Army enjoy a strong, habitual relationship in training and at war, strengthening the bonds between these services. In the future, this bond will serve both services well as they continue to train, deploy, and fight side-by-side.
Navy Trains Airborne Forward Observers
SSG Mike Pryor, Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office
FORT BRAGG, N.C.-Soldiers in ground contact with the enemy may not care where their fire support comes from, as long as it's accurate. But standing on the deck of a Navy destroyer and looking at the five-inch deck guns that can rain down rounds on enemy forces from 10 miles offshore, it's hard not to appreciate the uniquely powerful capabilities of naval gunfire.
Ten paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) learned that lesson when they attended the three-day Naval Surface Fires class at the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Va. from September 2-4, 2009.
The Soldiers, who were all forward observers (FOs) or members of the brigade's combat observation and lasing teams, were the first Army personnel to attend the training. The Marine instructors were pleased to have their Army brothers attend.
"This is exciting for us. We've never had anything like this in the past," said Marine Master Sergeant Ryan German, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Naval Experimental Warfare Training Group, Atlantic, which conducted the training.
"The inter-service cooperation says a lot about the state of relations, cooperation, and training between the Army and Marines," German said. The purpose of the class was to familiarize the students with the capabilities of Naval gunfire and to provide an overall introduction to Naval and Marine Corps combat assets.
Army Sergeant First Class Paul Morris, 2nd BCT targeting noncommissioned officer (NCO), coordinated the effort to get the Army personnel enrolled in the class. As a former Marine familiar with the capabilities of naval gunfire, Morris wanted to make sure FOs from 2nd BCT had the same knowledge.
"Being a former member of the Marine Corps and ANGLICO [Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company] teams, not only gave me a unique perspective as to the capabilities of these units, but allowed me to show the current FOs and COLTs [combat observation lasing teams] of the brigade what other assets are available to them to bring to the fight," said Morris.
The first day of training was centered on learning Naval gunfire capabilities and correct call-for-fire procedures. The students were also given a tour of the destroyer USS Ross, including an up-close look at the ship's five-inch deck gun.
The second and third days were focused on Marine and Navy close air support procedures along with computer simulations inside the school's $1.4 million simulator. Navy Experimental Warfare Training Group, Atlantic (EWGLANT) has a multi-person call-for-fire simulator that allows an operator to train multiple FOs using artillery, mortar, naval gunfire, fixed-wing close air support, and rotary-wing close air support.
All the participants in the class said the interservice training had been extremely valuable. "Because of the joint environment we are operating in, it's incredibly important that we understand the capabilities that the different services have," said Bishop. Morris agreed. "We're all on the same team, and the better we understand that, the better warfighters we become," he said.
Ten paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division got up-front and personal with Naval fire support onboard the USS Ross at Little Creek, Va. They were the first Soldiers to attend Naval Surface Fires training conducted by the Navy Experimental Warfare Training Group, Atlantic, 2-4 September 2009.
This article was originally published by Fort Bragg PAO, September 2009.
Army Special Forces and Navy Fighter Aircrews Hone Warfighting Skills at JRTC
Casey Bain and Lew Corlew,
Army special forces and joint fires observers (JFOs), Air Force joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs), and Navy fighter aircrews prepared for an upcoming deployment during a recent two-week Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and Green Flag East (GFE) exercise with the help of U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM's) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT).
The Army's 1st Special Forces Group from Fort Lewis, Wash.; JFOs from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; JTACs from the 19th Air Support Operations Squadron; and the Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 11 at Naval Air Station-Oceana, Va., partnered to conduct this mission rehearsal exercise. One senior fighter pilot said the exercise was the best predeployment training he has ever received.
The training, led by the Operations Group at JRTC and GFE with support from JFIIT, focused units on improving mission-essential close air support (CAS) skills they will use once they are deployed.
"This is the best predeployment training that we've ever experienced," said Navy Cmdr. JJ Cummings, commander, Strike Fighter Squadron 11. "I can't wait to get back and tell the other skippers about it so they can take advantage of this exceptional training opportunity."
Part of this training incorporated CAS situational training exercise (STX) lanes that allowed Army special forces to work closely with JFOs, JTACs, and Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircrews on emergency CAS tactics, techniques, and procedures used in an urban environment and while conducting combat patrols.
"This has been a great opportunity to work with JTACs and CAS pilots just as we will in theater," said Army Sergeant First Class Jeff Cudlich, 1st Special Forces Group. "This is about as real as it gets until we deploy. Learning how to utilize CAS properly will be vital to our success in theater and this training will go a long way in helping us achieve that goal."
"This has been just like a no-kidding deployment to us," added Cummings. "Being able to practice putting down fire in an urban environment near the proximity of friendly forces is something that makes our entire team better."
JRTC and GFE employs joint assets to provide realistic and rigorous training that replicates the operational environments found in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"JRTC and Green Flag have done a superb job of enhancing CAS training for the entire joint warfighting team," said Army Major Thomas Kokes, JFIIT lead at JRTC. "Our mission is to help integrate those assets and bridge fires related gaps between the services so they will improve their combat effectiveness while reducing the potential of fratricide and collateral damage when they're deployed."
"Ensuring all warfighters understand the capabilities and limitations of each system operating in the battlespace is crucial," said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rhude Cherry III, commander, GFE and the 548th Combat Training Squadron, Ft. Polk, La. "We reinforce the right process and best practices from units currently in theater to teach units how to achieve the ground commander's desired effects on the battlefield."
According to Air Force Staff Sergeant Chris Brown, GFE JTAC instructor, the unique opportunity for an Army BCT to plan and execute realistic missions with many of the same assets they will have in theater will be crucial to the unit's success once they are deployed.
"We're trying to simulate the battlefield conditions downrange," said Brown. "Part of that is to help teach the BCT how to employ CAS. We want to give them that experience before they deploy. If we're successful in our mission here then we will see those results when the units get into theater. They will be able to execute their job more efficiently and we'll save lives in the process."
"This CAS training is extremely realistic and replicates what the units will experience in theater," added Cherry. "JFOs and JTACs will pass 6-10 nine-line messages to CAS aircraft and fighter pilots will execute 10-20 lethal attacks, and that's in every training period or vulnerability window-that's great training."
The need for BCTs to continue honing their joint air-to-ground skills is an important part of their training mission at home station and in other training events, according to JRTC, GFE, and JFIIT leaders.
"BCTs need to become very familiar with what their JTACs and other joint assets can do to help the maneuver commander execute their mission more effectively," added Kokes. "That training may start here, but it won't end here. It's a set of crucial skills that needs to be practiced continuously."
According to senior leaders at JRTC, the importance of integrating joint assets at the combat training center has never been more important than it is today.
"You can't just talk about integrating joint assets," said Brigadier General James C. Yarbrough, commanding general, JRTC and Ft. Polk. "You've got to do it. You've got to do it slow, you've got to do it fast, you've got to do it at night, and you've got to make mistakes-that's how you learn. Units come here expecting to train jointly and it's up to us to deliver."
This article was originally published by JFIIT Public Affairs Office, September 2009.
Navy and Army Air Defense Units Improve Joint Integrated Training
Mario Wilhelm and Chris Corbitt,
NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nev.-Navy Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), with support from Air Force surveillance and electronic warfare aircraft and an Army Patriot battalion, worked closely together to defeat a three-dimensional irregular warfare threat over the snow-capped mountains of northern Nevada desert during the largest joint integrated training event (ITE) at NAS Fallon in years, according to officials at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC).
"Air Wing Fallon [AWF] provided our forces with a realistic and dynamic training opportunity that replicates the way we fight in theater," said Rear Adm. Mark Emerson, commander, NSAWC. "We provide end-to-end training for the forces that train here. This exercise was a culmination of almost six years of planning, coordination, and hard work. We believe it provided a unique joint training environment for the entire carrier air wing including joint terminal attack controllers, special operations forces, Air Force command and control and electronic warfare aircraft, and an Army Patriot battalion so they can learn how to better integrate and work together here exactly like they will in combat."
The AWF ITE incorporates a variety of missions that test the participants' abilities to work together as a well-synchronized joint warfighting team. Mission types include air warfare, joint suppression of enemy air defenses, joint close air support, theater air and missile defense, and combat search and rescue.
"The training event here at Fallon provided a great opportunity to conduct superb joint training," said Army MG Howard Bromberg, commanding general, U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. "Seldom have we been presented with the opportunity to train as part of this type of joint integrated team with live air and command and control assets."
Helping to support this joint integrated training environment was U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM's) Joint Warfighting Center (JWFC) and the Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT). "AWF is a great example of how an existing traditional service-level training program can be enhanced to conduct robust training that integrates other participants and services not normally found in a carrier air wing rotation," said Michelle Lewis, JWFC program coordinator for AWF ITE. "The real and distinct value of this ITE will be the synergy in training value created by enabling CVW-8, Army Patriot, and other joint forces to train together in an increasingly complex and demanding environment that will maximize joint training and lessons learned that units can leverage today and in future rotations."
The NSAWC provides a comprehensive training environment that incorporates 11,000 square miles of training ranges, a supersonic air corridor, and an instrumentation capability that can electronically track, record, and play back every training mission.
This venue is ripe with opportunity to exercise and stress the joint fires aspect of our mission," said Army LTC Nick Bernhardt, commander, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery from Fort Hood, Texas. "This environment provided us with an incredible opportunity to train with all our equipment that we need to be proficient with to support the joint fight. We can train on every major task within our mission essential task list here-something that we can't do back at home station. The ability to receive truth-based, joint focused after action reviews are priceless to our leaders and Soldiers. Everything we do here is warfighter focused and that helps to prepare our entire team for the challenges that lie ahead."
This article was originally published by JFIIT Public Affairs Office, October 2008.