Training Soldiers to execute Air-Mech-Strike 3D Asymmetric Maneuver Warfare

Listen to General Grange host the Weekly Veteran's Radio Hour every Sunday Night at 9PM Central Standard Time through your personal computer or over your local radio station:

Call in, ask him questions about Air-Mech-Strike or any other military topic!

Lieutenant General Hal Moore in his foreword to our AMS book, stressed that a leader with a flexible mind who can see in many dimensions is critical to an air-mobile, 3D maneuver unit to succeed in battle. If you have read his book or seen the movie starring Mel Gibson, you will note that then, LTC Hal Moore "what iffed" his men in event things went wrong to "continue the mission" if situations drastically changed--exactly like lead author, General David Grange did while Division Commander of the 1st Infantry Division "Big Red One" using the "Mangudai" technique.

War is a contest of human wills and we should not think technology on its own can provide us victory. For the U.S. Army to be "all it can and should be", it needs to be a place where Soldiers can experiment with new tactics, techniques and procedures and encounter shortcomings---problems without being given negative career damage. Remember, at one time all of our "tried and true" war forms; the Airborne, Air Assault, Mechanized Infantry, SOF etc. were all untried and experimentation was needed from-scratch. We dare say, to keep these methods vibrant, a continuous infusion of new tactics, techniques procedures and equipment must be incorporated!

This is what "Air-Mech-Strike" is all about: fighting TOGETHER for the best man/machine interface possible to prevail on the 21st century battlefield!

The Staff

What is Mangudai? One Awesome Soldier
What You Can Learn From The Leader Of "The Big Red One"

By Sean D. Naylor


The year is 1944.

The place: the Ardennes hills in Belgium, where German panzers are hurling themselves against U.S. defenses in one last, desperate attempt to break the Allied line before the growing Anglo-American force on Hitler's Western Front becomes irresistible...

As two German trucks roll down a narrow, moonlit track, an infantry platoon from the 1st Infantry Division -- the famed "Big Red One" -- waits in the shadows of the tall pines that line the roadway. The troops have hiked 12 klicks just to get here, stumbling and cursing through snow that drifted to almost waist height. They have been awake for nearly 24 hours and have eaten nothing in that time. Stress and fatigue are written on their faces.

But a closer look at those faces reveals some interesting details. They do not belong to fresh-faced, 19-year-old privates; they are the lined countenances of Soldiers approaching 40. Two are the faces of women, and like the others, they are peering out from under helmets that each sport the black oak leaf of a lieutenant colonel.

No, this is not 1944.

This is the Big Red One of 1998.

But it is the Ardennes, and the pain, the snow, the sweat and the stress -- especially the stress -- are all very real, because this is officer professional development, David Grange-style.

The exercise that had 1st Infantry Division's lieutenant colonels alternately sweating and freezing in the snow of the Belgian countryside was called "Mangudai." It is the brainchild of division commander Maj. Gen. David Grange, and, say the participants, it is typical of the dynamic impact Grange has had on every Soldier in the division since taking command of the "Big Red One" in July 1997.

The son of a legendary three-star general, Grange commands the Army's oldest continuously serving division. But his background is profoundly atypical for a heavy division commander.

Grange has spent most of his career in special operations forces. His life as a commando has ranged from time as a Ranger platoon leader in Vietnam to a stint as deputy commander of "Delta Force" during the 1991 Gulf War.

Few officers emerge from the world of special operations to forge successful careers as generals in the heavy force. But those who serve under him say Grange has turned his special ops background to his advantage while in command of the Big Red One, with his Soldiers reaping the benefits. Like so much of what sets Grange apart from his peers, according to his subordinates, the Mangudai exercise has its roots in his special operations experience.

Mangudai was the name of 13th-century Mongol warlord Genghis Khan's elite forces. Grange, who first learned about the Mangudai while taking a U.S. special operations course, said he models his officer professional development exercises along the lines of those used by the Mangudai commander.

"He had a selection process that he put potential leaders of his force through," Grange said in early December, 24 hours into the most recent Mangudai exercise. The Mangudai commander would take his troops out into the wilderness for several days, deprive them of food and sleep, and then present them with physical and mental challenges to wear down their bodies and their brains.

"It had to do with inducing stress, and then watching how those possible leaders adapted to those conditions," Grange said, seated in his Spartan quarters in this Belgian military camp where the latest Mangudai session took place.

Since taking command of an infantry battalion in Korea in 1987, Grange has sought to adapt Mangudai techniques to the Army of the late 20th century. He always tries to focus two levels of command down, so as division commander, it is his lieutenant colonels -- specifically, battalion commanders and those slated for battalion command -- who are put through the wringer. "Battalions fight battles for divisions," he said.

A typical Mangudai exercise in the Big Red One follows this rough pattern:

Grange assembles virtually all his officers of lieutenant colonel-level rank and above for an officer professional development trip advertised as a "staff ride" or "terrain walk." For perhaps a day or so, the staff ride proceeds just like any other, the officers touring the sites of battles fought by their 1 ID forebears.

Then, with no warning, Grange will pull the lieutenant colonels aside and tell them that there's been "a change of mission," and that they will now be given a series of tactical challenges to overcome as a team.

Undivided attention

In the Ardennes, he told them, "We have been transported in time to support the operations of the 1st Infantry Division in World War II." Many commanders who announced to their subordinates that they'd all just been transported back in time could probably expect smirks or, at best, bemused glances, in return. But with three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts on his resume, Grange commands his officers' solemn, undivided attention.

The division commander forms the lieutenant colonels into an infantry platoon, issues weapons and gear for everyone -- other than BDUs and boots, no personal items are allowed -- and tells them to empty their pockets of all food, tobacco products and cell phones.

He issues them their first mission order, gives them some time to plan the operation, and then marches them out into the woods.

For three days they will receive no food except a single rice ball and little, if any, sleep, as they slog through mission after mission. They'll patrol, suffer endless road marches and conduct urban operations. At all times, Grange, approaching his 51st birthday, marches with them, functioning as an observer-controller and suffering all the same hardships, including food and sleep deprivation.

At the end of the exercise, the wrung-out officers are treated to a lavish meal. Grange then instructs them to fill out, anonymously, a questionnaire that asks pointed questions about what things they would like to change in the division, what they would like to sustain, and what their biggest concerns are. As subordinates eventually learn, there's a method to all the madness. In everything Grange does, there are lessons to be learned.

Grange, whose radio call sign is "Danger 6," said he and his commanders derive several benefits from the Mangudai exercises:

He learns how his commanders would cope under stressful combat conditions. Uncertainty is what troubles the typical U.S. Soldier the most, he said, so he gives it to them in spades during Mangudai sessions.

Grange said it otherwise would take him six months to a year to learn as much about his battalion commanders' character as he learns during a three-day Mangudai exercise. After such an exercise, he said, "I do know who would adapt to combat better, and I also know who to give the difficult missions to, and who I'd have to (give) more supervision to."

The exercise forges bonds between the officers. This is particularly important in the Big Red One, which is stretched over six installations across a swath of southern Germany. (The division has a third ground maneuver brigade at Fort Riley, Kan., but "day to day this is a two-brigade (ground maneuver) division," according to Grange.)

In this respect, Grange's methods are a huge success. "It's amazing how close you become after three days in the field relying on each other," said Lt. Col. Tom Schneider, special projects officer in the Big Red One's headquarters.

It forces the participants to experience some of the hardships they routinely impose on their Soldiers. One battalion commander commented after the first night that he hadn't experienced "anything like this" since he'd been in basic training.

"Just because you've done it once 15 or 20 years ago doesn't mean you remember how hard it was," said Lt. Col. Jim Shufelt, commander of the Big Red One's division cavalry squadron.

Setting a personal example is something Grange takes seriously, and he expects his subordinate commanders to take it equally seriously.

"He's very good at not asking someone to do something he wouldn't do himself, and that's what he expects from his commanders," said Lt. Col. Jim Coyne, the division's judge advocate general.

"Gen. Grange's philosophy is experience the hardships of your Soldiers, be visible or be down to where the hardship is," said Lt. Col. Bryan Norman, commander of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment.

It is a message that resonates with officers like Norman, who see the quality of leadership slipping in today's Army. "A lot of leaders today are what I call cameo appearance leaders," he said. "(Their attitude is,) 'I'll check training, or I'll check the motor pool;' so they'll come down, they'll talk to somebody, and then they'll leave, but they won't get down into the hard business of ... being there when it's pouring down rain.

"We've got our captains and lieutenants doing that, and that's scary."

Exceptional by any standard

By all accounts, Grange is not a "cameo appearance" leader. When he visits subordinate units, which is often, he will show up unannounced and talk to sergeants and privates, not to the field grade officers.

"There isn't anybody here (in the division) who doesn't know him by sight," said one field grade officer who asked not to be named.

Several officers also testified to Grange's extraordinarily high personal energy level, which they said marked him out as unique, even by the standards of most hard-charging generals. "Grange is exceptional based upon the energy and the enthusiasm with which he approaches everything he does every day," one of his officers said.

He puts more into a standard work day than probably any other three generals I've been associated with."

Although Grange focuses the Mangudai sessions on his lieutenant colonels, their impact reaches far beyond the 30-odd officers who participate.

Inspired by Grange's example, several commanders at lower echelons are now holding their own versions of Mangudai. In this way, Grange's impact on the division's Soldiers will be felt long after he changes command, officers said.

"He's planting seeds. It'll grow," said Lt. Col. Wallace Embrey, the division's provost marshal.

"A lot of Gen. Grange's attitude toward training has trickled down," said 1st Lt. Erik Martel of the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion. Martel said the 101st's battalion commander recently had sent his company commanders on a Mangudai-like three-day tactical exercise featuring sleep and food deprivation and live-fire training.

Indeed, Mangudai can be a boon to junior officers, because of its reputation among Soldiers not directly involved, according to Grange. Word soon gets around a unit that the officers are all out on a hooah exercise, he said.

"There's a mystique to it," Grange said. "It's great for lieutenants. ... How does a platoon leader get credibility quickly... that he's a tough Soldier? Well I would say that Mangudai helps the lieutenant do that. ... Troops like that. They like to hear about their platoon leader being tough."

Norman, the infantry battalion commander, said that in this respect Mangudai is typical of Grange's larger approach to training his troops.

"His philosophy is find a few people, train them very well, make them such experts that other people will jump on that model," Norman said. "He's done it with sniper programs, he's done it with Ranger programs, he's done it with Soldiers of the Month -- find your experts and your quality Soldiers, and use that momentum of their success, and other Soldiers will jump on the bandwagon."

Unorthodox methods

His methods may be unorthodox, but they appear to be working. When Grange took command of the Big Red One, the division had just relinquished the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. Although such noncombat operations can help to create more cohesive teams and to refine staff processes, units typically return from Bosnia with exceedingly rusty maneuver warfare skills.

Grange has left none of his Soldiers in any doubt that his mission, and theirs, is to regain and maintain combat readiness.

"If you look at the focus of this division, across the board, ... it is on ensuring that ... all elements within the division are prepared to perform their wartime mission," the field grade officer said. "The way to do that is to conduct vigorous, thorough, aggressive, no-bullshit training to the maximum extent that your people and resources permit."

Judging by the numbers, Grange is squeezing more out of his people and resources than any other division commander, and is also adept at finding more resources when he's used up all he's been given.

In fiscal 1998, Grange's Big Red One tankers put an average of 906 miles on their M1A1s, more than any other division in the Army, and 230 miles more than the Army average, according to Department of the Army statistics.

The Big Red One's numbers are even more remarkable in light of the fact that although the Army budgeted for 800 miles per tank in 1998, it only funded units in the field enough money to drive 652 miles, according to Army spokeswoman Maj. Debra Jackson.

The division likewise exceeds its allotment of live-fire rounds, according to Grange. "In ammunition, we shoot in most categories well over 100 percent of our authorization," he said. "But that's because other units don't use it ... It doesn't fall in your lap, you've got to go after it."

The success of Grange's methods has not gone unnoticed outside his division.

"He's the best trainer at his level that I've seen," said a fellow general, who asked not to be named, but said he had been "watching Grange from a distance for 25 years, and (had) worked with him closely at times.

"He genuinely focuses on training to ensure that Soldiers get the most from each training event at every level."

Grange freely acknowledged he was doing more training than allowed for in his annual budget. "In May I run out of money," he said. "I feel very comfortable I'll get money from somewhere. ... My training plans have been approved ... The (V) Corps knows exactly what I'm spending, and they support it."

Resourceful leader

Grange takes the same attitude toward his subordinates. "His philosophy is to train to standard, not to resources," said Shufelt, the cavalry squadron commander. "If you run out of resources, or it looks like you're going to, he'll find them for you."

The priority Grange places on training for combat is indicative of the strong bond he feels with his Soldiers, according to officers here. "There is a school of thought that the most telling means by which a commander can demonstrate his care and concern for the Soldiers under his command is in the quality of the training that he gives them, because his first and foremost obligation is to accomplish the mission and bring them back alive, and the way that you do that is with quality training," the field grade officer said.

This "care and concern" is clearly reciprocated by Grange's Soldiers, as evidenced by the comments of the officers here. Set against a backdrop of increasingly audible complaints on the part of many officers and NCOs across the Army about self-serving leaders who preside over zero-defect command climates, the near reverence in which Grange is held by many of his subordinates stands out.

"They say one man can't make a difference," said Col. Ken Hunzeker, commander of the Big Red One's division artillery. "But in the right place, sometimes he can." 1 1 1 1