6 Ways to Revolutionize the Infantry | #1 is a Top Gun for Grunts

The Close Combat Lethality Task Force is the mechanism by which the Warrior Monk SECDEF Mattis and Advisory Board Chairman Gen. Scales want to revolutionize the infantry, increasing lethality and survivability. Breach-Bang-Clear

Time for Better Tech, Better Training, and a Small Unit Top GunMajor Gen. Robert Scales (US Army, Ret.) will be chairing the advisory board to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force. Among his goals, to generate a “…quantum increase in the quality of close combat forces.”

Infantry, SOF, and other ground combatant personnel suffer far more casualties proportionately than any other specialty or career field in the US military, as much as 90%. The CCLTF will, at Mattis’s express behest, attempt to rectify that. The number and manner of ways Gen. Scales looks to revolutionize the infantry crosses the spectrum from training to selection, and it will cause a lot of ass pain — to everyone but the grunts, that is.

Scales, author of Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America’s Military, explained his ideas in a recent interview with Breaking DefenseSome of the things being discussed include:

1. Better training through leveraged technology.

Scales: “We’ve learned the effects of TOPGUN on fighter pilot proficiency, and yet today we don’t have the equivalent (for infantry squads). What if you had a small unit TOPGUN?”

2. Exempting Army and Marine infantry from bureaucracy — cumbersome DoD administrative policies are completely counter to maximized development of ground combat soldiers.

Scales: “Only 4 percent [of the force] go out every day with the intended purpose of direct, eyeball to eyeball killing. We need to promote them differently. We need to select them differently. We need to train them differently.”

3. Direct strike apps and electronic warfare (EW) capability to control improve squad level technologies, i.e. put ISR drones and fire support drones under the direct operational control of squad level leadership.

Scales: [The firepower and drone system used today]…can be replaced by stealthy orbiting drones and a squad leader with a fire support app.”

4. Over-manning infantry and similar billets, i.e. keeping them in excess of 100% strength. This could, for instance, mean assigning 15 grunts to a Marine rifle squad, or 11 to the Army’s 9 man infantry squad. It would also likely be in addition to a dedicated electronic warfare/drone operator under consideration by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

Scales: “The only way to maintain combat proficiency when the bullets start to fly is to go into combat over-manned.”

5. Cultivating and retaining older infantrymen.

Scales: “The optimum age for a close combat soldier is between 28 and 32…what if we recruited soldiers for close combat at the beginning of their second tour [after some seasoning and the acquisition of skills provided by a different MOS]?

6. Mandate and maintain small unit integrity for long periods of time. 

Scales: “Units have to stay together a long period of time in order to be bonded. Think about a squad that stays together four or five years.”

Revolutionizing the Infantry: Secretary of Defense Mattis and the Close Combat Lethality Task Force.
“Only four percent go out every day with the intended purpose of direct, eyeball to eyeball killing. We need to promote them differently. We need to select them differently. We need to train them differently.” – Gen. Scales


Virtually all these things are diametrically opposed to entrenched Pentagon policy and tradition, but they’re necessary. Something must be done. As Scales says,

“Special Forces, Marine infantry, Army infantry….these are the forces that are overused, overextended and the most likely to die.”

Secretary Mattis is doing something – and that is why he established the Close Combat Lethality Task Force.

Says the Warrior Monk,

“I am committed to improving the combat preparedness, lethality, survivability, and resiliency of our Nation’s ground close combat formations. These formations have historically accounted for almost 90 percent of our casualties and yet our personnel policies, advances in training methods, and equipment have not kept pace with changes in available technology, human factors science, and talent management best practices.”

Read much more in Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.’s Top Gun For Grunts: Mattis May Revolutionize the Infantry.

The most recent book by Gen. Scales is Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.

This article was brought to you in its entirely by Quantico Tactical (@quanticotactical), a member of JTF Awesome – find ’em on the Facetergrambook at /QuanticoTacticalOfficial/.

Quantico Tactical is a Gold Level Superior Supplier for the Defense Logistic Agency

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