The Rapid Deployment Force (Peter Antill)

The Rapid Deployment Force (Peter Antill)

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The Rapid Deployment Force (Peter Antill)

What is a rapid deployment force?Some interesting problemsThe end of the Cold WarThe History of the Rapid Deployment ForceBibliography

What is a rapid deployment force?

What is a rapid deployment force? How does it differ from other forces in structure, mission and use? A rapid deployment force is usually configured as an elite body of troops that are designed to move greater distances and in shorter times than their counterparts in the rest of the armed forces. Of course regular military formations are designed to be reasonably mobile and capable of distant deployment if necessary. For example, the Reforger reinforcements from the Continental United States, which were designed to reinforce NATO's Central Front in time of crisis, were expected to be withdrawing their equipment from the POMCUS (Prepositioned Overseas Material Configured in Unit Sets) stores in around ten days. These reinforcements consisted of two divisional and ten non-divisional units of the US Army, as well as additional tactical fighter wings from the US Air Force. While this seems impressive (and it is) it should be remembered that the majority of these units would only have to be flown in by air into a Central European infrastructure (airports, military airfields, tarmac covered autobahns, major and minor roads) and assuming that they were mobilised ahead of hostilities (a good chance) would not be facing enemy action as soon as they arrived (or even as they were en route).A rapid deployment force must be prepared to have only a few, or possibly none of these luxuries. It must be able not only to move great distances in as short a time as possible, but take much of what it needs with it. Prepositioning, of course, can help to a certain extent but because rapid deployment forces are supposed to be mobile and cover a wide geographical area, this would unnecessarily tie it into one specific area, although maritime prepositioning is not as bad as the ships can be sent to the particular troublespot in question. The RDF may also have to arrange for the equipment to be unloaded (a problem if there is a lack of available landing strips or cargo handling facilities at the ports) and "marry up" the equipment with the appropriate personnel if they have arrived separately (as they did during Operation Desert Shield) and deploy, possibly under hostile fire. This is where the rapid deployment force differs from its counterparts - its flexibility, mobility and speed.

Some Interesting Problems

But the very nature of rapid deployment forces also brings a number of questions and issues into focus. The very specialised nature of the forces means that they also tend to cost more than their counterparts, not only in terms of the force itself (personnel, equipment, training in exotic locations and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I)) but of the assets required for it to do its job. These include strategic lift (airborne and maritime) and the logistical requirements they have, making sure the bases used on the way have the necessary equipment and supplies, the upkeep of equipment and supplies held in storage at prepositioned sites and the inevitable opportunity cost that this involves (for example, more prepositioning and fast break-bulk carriers means less money for the US Navy to spend on their submarines and carrier battle groups). There is also the question of effectiveness. In order to travel any sort of distance in a short time the force (or the initial elements of it anyway) will have to be based around light infantry, such as airborne or air mobile troops. As such these troops will only be able to carry a small amount of equipment and supplies until reinforced either by airlift or in the longer term, sealift. As very few transport aircraft can carry oversized loads (the Russian An-124 and American C-5 are examples) this will limit the number of vehicles the initial force can take with it and thus while it may have great strategic mobility initially, it will be limited in the amount of tactical mobility it has, once it deploys.It is worth noting two relationships that all planners of rapid deployment forces have to take into account, that of strategic mobility verses tactical mobility (the more a force has of one, the less it tends to have of the other) and the related one of airlift verses sealift (airlift can get to different areas of the world quickly but is limited in the amount of material it can carry, while sealift can carry vastly more in terms of material but takes a lot longer to get anywhere). so any initial force, while getting to the troublespot quickly will be limited in the amount of tactical mobility it has and may be in trouble if faced with a more tactically mobile opponent, especially if they are highly mechanised or even motorised.Rapid deployment forces also raise political issues, due to their funding and may be perceived as an implicit threat by those countries or actors with whom the state owning the force has relations with. It could also be used as a method of deterrence or political gesture if the force regularly exercises in allied territory. C3I is also a consideration which impacts on cost but also standardisation. The very mission of the rapid deployment force means that it may require more sophisticated or specialised C3I assets which may have to be developed differently from the rest of the armed forces. There is also the question of usage, do they have to react to every crisis, and if not, which ones do they react to? Are they a liability, meaning that once you have them, do people start looking to you in times of need? Does this saddle you with additional responsibility, that perhaps you were not ready for?

The End of the Cold War

With the end of the Cold War and the resultant budgetary pressures on the military establishments, particularly of the Western states, and the lowering of military readiness which this entails, there will still be a need in the post-Cold War international environment for small, well trained and equipped forces to act as intervention forces, either in the national interest or at the behest of an international organisation, such as the UN. As such it is interesting to note that the United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom and Germany will be keeping their rapid deployment forces and even upgrading them. Several smaller states have expressed a desire to have such forces, or have actively started to set them up, for example, South Africa, Brazil and Malaysia, and even the North Atlantic Alliance has set up its own large scale rapid deployment force, known as the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) and is organised on a multinational footing in a similar manner to the ACE (Allied Command Europe) Mobile Force, which is a brigade sized formation which is designed to be sent in a short period of time to any troublespot in Alliance territory, as a show of determination and Alliance solidarity.In a similar vein, there have been suggestions regarding the setting up an African rapid deployment force, possibly based around the South African unit, although by no means limited to South Africa alone, and preferably having contingents from several OAU (Organisation of African Unity) members, to act under UN and / or OAU auspices. Such a unit would be a brigade sized unit, realistically, and be made up of light infantry with light and reliable equipment, be self-contained in terms of logistical and combat support assets, have C3I assets that can interface with various national ones if required, and is capable of being deployed by parachute or air-landed, by helicopter or amphibious vessel. [note 1] There has even been talk of setting up a UN rapid reaction force in order to speed up the deployment of peacekeeping operations and prevent needless lives being lost due to slow reaction times, a factor that was highlighted in the Rwandan crisis. Such ideas that have been reported [note 2] include the setting up of a 5000 man brigade sized unit, whose component formations would be on call in their respective countries, and a permanent military planning staff at the UN of around thirty to fifty personnel to organise standard operating procedures and contingency plans. Such a force should have the capability, it is argued, to put the headquarters in place within a week, and have the brigade deployed in about three to five weeks.

The History of the Rapid Deployment Force

The history of the rapid deployment force is rich and varied, as with all military formations. The various component formations that are traditionally associated with rapid deployment and power projection each have a varied history by themselves. By these formations I mean marines, airborne and air mobile troops, light infantry and special forces. Marines are the oldest of the formations and modern marines can trace their history back to the naval landing parties of Peter the Great (at the turn of the Eighteenth century) and the US Marine Corps which was originally set up by the Continental Congress in 1775 (and as an historical aside, are the only part of the US Armed Forces that has their strength mandated by Congress not to fall below a certain level). [note 3] The concept of light infantry and special forces goes back a long way, but the modern equivalents trace their history back to the beginning of the Eighteenth Century with the French adoption of light cavalry (hussars), through to the American War of Independence and the Wars of Revolution / Napoleonic Wars with the light infantry formations that were used as scouts and sharpshooters in front and to the flanks of the main forces and were known as Grenz, Chasseurs and Jagers depending on the country of origin. These troops were usually huntsmen, trappers or woodsmen, possessed initiative, independence and could live off the land, and were thus not as dependant on command and control as the traditional heavy formations. Airborne and air mobile troops are the youngest of the formations. These were first tested by the Soviet Union in a parachute drop on the 2nd August 1930, near Voronesh, [note 4] and subsequently refined by the Germans and western Allies, particularly the Americans who went on to develop the concepts of Air Mobility and Air Assault with the extensive use of the helicopter in Vietnam, and which was again refined by the Soviets in Afghanistan.


  1. Asa Bates, Dr.E., "The Rapid Deployment Force - Fact or Fiction", RUSI Journal, June 1981, pp23 - 33
  2. Dumouriez, Gen. F., Memoir Militaire sur l'Angleterre, Public Record Office, London, War Office Papers W.O. 30/116 and 30/72
  3. Eshel, David, The US Rapid Deployment Forces, 1985 (1st Edition)
  4. Gates, David, "Western Light Forces and Defence Planning", Centre Piece 8, Summer 1985, Centre for Defence Studies, University of Aberdeen
  5. Glantz, David M., A History of Soviet Airborne Forces, 1994
  6. Hobson, Sharon, "Canada proposes rapid reaction force for UN", Jane's Defence Weekly 7th October 1995, p.6
  7. McGill, Colonel Alexander, "The Charge of the Light Brigade for Africa in the 1990's", Armed Forces, December 1989/ January 1990, pp.18-25
  8. McGill, Colonel Alexander, "An African Rapid Deployment Force for Peace Operations on the African Continent", Briefing Booklet from FMSO, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  9. Pugliese, David, "Canadians Pursue UN Rapid Reaction Brigade", Defense News January 16-22 1995, p.3 & p.28
  10. Ramsey, Charles R., "US Central Command : Into The Gulf", Strategy and Tactics 98, November / December 1984
  11. Reed, John "Military Sealift Command" Armed Forces, November 1982, pp.378-383
  12. United States Department of Defense, Factfile on the United States Marine Corps, April 1993
  13. US Central Command History Office A Brief History of the US Central Command February 1995

United States Central Command

The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM) is one of the eleven unified combatant commands of the U.S. Department of Defense. It was established in 1983, taking over the previous responsibilities of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF).

Its Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes the Middle East, including Egypt in Africa, and Central Asia and parts of South Asia. The command has been the main American presence in many military operations, including the Persian Gulf War's Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War from 2003 to 2011. As of 2015 [update] , CENTCOM forces are deployed primarily in Afghanistan under the auspices of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, which is itself part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission (from 2015 to the present), and in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve since 2014 in supporting and advise-and-assist roles.

Of all seven American regional unified combatant commands, CENTCOM is among three that are headquartered outside their area of operations (the other two being USAFRICOM and USSOUTHCOM). CENTCOM's main headquarters is located at MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, Florida. A forward headquarters was established in 2002 at Camp As Sayliyah in Doha, Qatar, which in 2009 transitioned to a forward headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

In January 2021, Israel became the 21st country of the AOR, added to another 20 nations including: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. [4]

CENTCOM is designated as a terrorist organization by the government of Iran. [5]

The Carter Doctrine

With the new administration elected in 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed Presidential Review Memorandum (PRM) 10, which undertook an evaluation of US strategy. The President signed Presidential Directive (PD) 18 on August 24, 1977, a part of which called for the establishment of a mobile force capable of responding to worldwide contingencies that would not divert forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or Korea. In 1978, three Army divisions (the 9th, 82nd, and 101st) and one Marine division were earmarked for such duties. There were however no substantial funds allocated and it remained a paper exercise. [2] [3]

There were several reasons why the move to a Rapid Deployment Force did not occur in the 1970s. Unlike previous Cold War administrations, the US foreign and defense policies under President Carter saw retrenchment, not intervention in foreign affairs. Also, the Carter Administration had NATO as its focus with conventional force policy as a result of the buildup of Warsaw Pact forces. Domestically, there were many objections from the Congress and the media with regards to the use of United States military forces in the wake of the Vietnam War and in addition within the Defense Department, the Armed Services were just not enthusiastic about the establishment of another limited contingency organization. [2] [3]

A concerted effort to establish the envisioned force was not made until world events in 1979 ended the post-Vietnam malaise in the United States after the Fall of Saigon. The 1979 SALT II agreement with the Soviet Union led to a vigorous debate (and subsequent rejection by Congress of the treaty) which illustrated how far the United States military had fallen into disrepair during the 1970s. The 1979 Iranian Revolution the 1979 energy crisis the April 1980 failure of Operation Eagle Claw to rescue United States diplomatic personnel from Tehran, and the 1979 acknowledgment of a Soviet Army combat brigade in Cuba reinforced the appearance of weakness. [2]

However, even before the 4 November 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by a group of Islamist students and militants in support of the Iranian Revolution, President Carter announced the establishment of the Rapid Deployment Force, or RDF. The RDF concept was to develop a mobile strike force of Army, United States Navy, Marine and Air Force elements that could independently operate without the use of established forward bases or the facilities of friendly nations globally. The orientation of the RDF, however, was on the Middle East. [2]

This statement was followed-up in Carter's 1980 State of the Union address when he announced that any attempt by a foreign power to gain control of the Persian Gulf and surrounding area would be regarded as an attack on the vital interests of the United States, and be stopped by all means necessary including the use of military force. This was the first formal commitment of US military power to the region. [2]

Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force

The Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), as the organization was officially designated, was activated on 1 March 1980 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The RDJTF was established as a part of U.S. Readiness Command (REDCOM) and initially commanded by Lieutenant General Paul X. Kelley, USMC. The mission of the RDJTF was that of deterrence—against possible Soviet or proxy invasion, conflict among the states of the area and subversion and insurrection within the states and thus "help maintain regional stability and the Gulf oil-flow westward". [2] [4]

The RDJTF was planned from the beginning to be highly mobile, its components to be drawn from central pool of resources allocated by the combined services as required to meet mission objectives and the nature of the specific threat to US interests.

Initially conceived as a force with a global orientation, the RDF soon focused its attention and planning to the Persian Gulf region. This narrowing of emphasis was precipitated by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on 26 December 1979 and the subsequent announcement of the Carter Doctrine which stated that because of its oil fields, the Persian Gulf area was of vital interest to the United States, and that any outside attempt to gain control in the area would be "repelled by use of any means necessary, including military force."

The Commander of RDJTF was a three star position, first held by General P.X. Kelley and then by General Robert Kingston, USA (the commander alternated between the Army and Marine Corps). The Deputy Commander was usually an Air Force two star general officer. [2]

Its command staff was drawn from all four armed services. Component commanders of RDJTF consisted of:

  • Army Force Commander (ARFORCOM) (Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps)
  • Navy Force Commander (NAVFORCOM) (Assistant Chief of Staff for Planning, United States Pacific Fleet)
  • Air Force Force Commander (AFFORCOM) (Commander, Ninth Air Force, Tactical Air Command)
  • Marine Force Commander (MARFORCOM) (who was subordinated to NAVFORCOM, and Commander, 1st Marine Division)

A Washington Liaison Office also existed. [5]

In the event a conflict had occurred these personnel would have controlled deployment and operations and been augmented by around 200 personnel from REDCOM and another 250 if they were to go to a remote area. The headquarters at MacDill AFB in Tampa created some tension between the commands. This command relationship proved unsatisfactory, because in 1980, before the 1986 Goldwater–Nichols Act, there was significant separation within the chain of command of the separate Armed Services and no single channel of communication through which the RDF commander could communicate directly to the United States Secretary of Defense on matters specifically relating to the RDF. [2]

Army elements

Designated Army elements of the force were: [6]

  • HQ Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps was designated as the commander of Army Forces within the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force and rotated with the other service or assigned as the overall commander depending on mission. All of the following units were permanently assigned under the XVIII Abn Corps, except the 9th Infantry Division, which was assigned under III Corps and was to be attached to XVIII Abn Corps when used as part of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force.
  • 9th Infantry Division, "Old Reliables", Fort Lewis, Washington
  • 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), "The Victory Division", Fort Stewart, Georgia
  • 82d Airborne Division, "The All-Americans", Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
  • 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), "The Screaming Eagles", Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), Fort Hood, Texas

Marine Corps elements

Designated USMC elements of the force were:

Navy elements

Designated United States Navy elements of the force were:

  • Three carrier battle groups (one each in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Pacific Ocean)
  • A surface action group, antisubmarine warfare patrol aircraft, the amphibious ships to carry a MEU on station, and the prepositioning ships at Diego Garcia which by 1982 could provide the supplies to sustain the 7th MAB for over two weeks and supply several tactical air force squadrons. [2]

The Navy also operated Military Sealift Command (MSC) which would have been tasked in providing the RDJTF with long term sustainability. The heavier items of equipment would also have to be transported by sea such as the 100,000 tons of equipment for the 24th Mechanized Division (which would take five weeks by air using every transport available). While bulky items and sheer tonnage are the advantages of sealift, its main disadvantage was speed—as it would take longer to deploy, and be more vulnerable to enemy action. [2]

USAF elements

Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, USAF emblem The Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force of the early 1980s led to this prototype desert livery shown on this Little Rock AFB-based C-130E, AF Ser. No. 64-0557, assigned to the 314 TAW

Designated United States Air Force elements of the force were from Tactical Air Command (TAC): [2]

  • 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia (F-15 Eagle)
  • 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cannon AFB, New Mexico (F-111D)
  • 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, New Mexico (F-15 Eagle)
  • 347th Tactical Fighter Wing, Moody AFB, Georgia (F-4E Phantom II)
  • 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina (A-10 Thunderbolt II)
  • 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, (F-111F)
  • 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah (F-16 Fighting Falcon)

Additional secondary units consisted of squadrons deployed from the following USAFE-committed TAC wings: [2]

  • 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, Homestead AFB, Florida (F-4E Phantom II)
  • 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina (F-4E Phantom II)
  • 23d Tactical Fighter Wing, England AFB, Louisiana (A-7D Corsair II)
  • 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Shaw AFB, South Carolina (RF-4C Phantom II)
  • 552d Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma (E-3A AWACS)
  • 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, (EC-130H Compass Call)

The Air Force also controlled the Military Airlift Command (MAC), which put the "Rapid" into the RDJTF. The RDJTF relied upon the C-5 Galaxy (70 aircraft), C-141 Starlifter (234 aircraft), and C-130 Hercules (490) of MAC to deploy the fastest reacting ground forces, the forward elements of the 82d Airborne, Special Forces and USMC personnel of the 7th MAB. [2]

The RDJTF could also call upon the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) of 111 long-range cargo and 231 long-range passenger aircraft. [2]

Individuals assigned for Rapid Deployment assigned to the Air Force Communications Command consisted of Air Traffic Controllers staged for deployment around the world to handle the increased level of Air Traffic.

Formation of United States Central Command

On 24 April 1981, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger announced that the RDJTF would evolve into a separate command with specific geographic responsibilities. The planned change was favorably received in the Congress, though not unanimously. Both the Senate Committee on Armed Services and the Senate Committee on Appropriations expressed their concern "about the absence of an organized effort to plan and provide for possible power projection requirements in other Third World areas which are also critical to U.S. interests." The decision to focus the attention of the RDJTF solely on the Middle East and Central Asia—to the exclusion of other areas, such as central and southern Africa—did little to ease this concern.

On 1 January 1983 the RDJTF became a separate Unified Combatant Command known as the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM). The USCENTCOM commander enjoys the same stature as other theater commanders, and he reports directly to the Secretary of Defense. His operational planning responsibility is limited to the Middle East and Central Asia only.


Establishment of Coast Garrison Force Edit

The South African Corps of Marines was established as a corps in 1951, though the unit has it origins much earlier than 1951.

In 1912, a Coast Garrison Force was established consisting of two Corps, the South African Garrison Artillery (SAGA) and the South African Coast Defence Corps. [1] In turn, the South African Garrison Artillery consisted of two Divisions.

  • 1st Division SAGA - this division had previously been a Cape Colonial Force Volunteer unit, and became the Cape Garrison Artillery. The Cape Garrison Artillery manned batteries at Sea Point, Fort Wynyard, The Castle at Cape Town, as well as Noah's Ark and other Batteries at Simonstown. [2]
  • 2nd Division SAGA. This division was converted from "A" and "B" Batteries of the Natal Field Artillery and was known as the "Durban Garrison Artillery," commanded by Lt. Col. C. Wilson. They manned four 15-pounder guns mounted on the concrete gunpits on Durban Bluff which years previously had been manned by the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

First World War Edit

On the decision to invade German South-West Africa, the need for Heavy Artillery was recognised and a Heavy Artillery Brigade was formed in 1915 to accompany the SA Expeditionary Force. Command was given to Lt. Col. J. M. Rose, Royal Marine Artillery, and the Brigade was constituted from elements of the RMA stationed in South Africa, together with officers and men of the Cape and Durban Garrison Artilleries. The initial one Brigade was eventually expanded into three Brigades, ultimately consisting of 60 officers and 1,000 other ranks. Durban Garrison Artillery provided "K" Heavy Battery armed with 12-pounders, which accompanied Col. Berrange's Eastern Force in German South-West Africa, and "N" Heavy Battery armed with 6-inch 30-cwt. Howitzers was attached to Northern Force. The Northern Force was also strengthened by the remainder of the Heavy Artillery Brigade consisting of "0" Battery, armed with 4-inch Naval Guns "D" Battery with 12-pounder Naval Guns and "F" Battery with 5-inch Howitzers.

On the conclusion of the War, the Coast Garrison Force was reconstituted, and in 1921 the SA Permanent Garrison Artillery was established to undertake maintenance and instruction with the Coast Garrison Force. In due course the Permanent Garrison Artillery and the Coast Garrison Force became so integrated that Coast Garrison units were commanded and administered by permanent force officers who were in turn understudied by the more numerous Coast Garrison Force officers.

World War II Edit

The approach of war led to expansion of artillery forces and in 1934, the Cape Garrison Artillery became 1st and 2nd Batteries of the Cape Artillery Brigade [3] which was equipped with Heavy Coast Batteries, two medium Batteries with 60-pounders and 6-inch howitzers, and was also responsible for the operation of No.1 Armoured Train. During World War II, permanent Batteries of Heavy Artillery were established from Walvis Bay to Durban, [4] being responsible for general coast defence. With the aid of the new part-time Coast Defence Corps units specially created to assist the Permanent Units, many Cape Artillery Brigade troops were released for full-time volunteer service with Artillery in the Desert and Italy.

This Coast Defence Corps was different from the South African Coast Defence Corps created by the Defence Act of 1912. It was created at the time of Japanese landings in the Far East and when the East Coast of Africa was believed threatened. Consequently, the objective was to form a force specially mustered to repulse coastal landings. The effectiveness of the SA Coast Defences can be gauged from the fact that no German vessels ever attempted to bombard South African ports and the only time that a shot was fired in anger was when the Portuguese frigate Afonso d'Albuquerque neglected to respond to signals on passing a shore station. One round was sufficient to bring her to, and she was duly identified. [1]

South African Corps of Marines Edit

Brig. Pieter de Waal [5] on insistence of South African officers who had served in the Royal Marines, led the establishment of the SA Corps of Marines on 1 July 1951, when he became the first Naval and Marine Chief of Staff, on the abolition of the post of Director-General of Naval Forces. In tribute to his services, De Waal Battery, the heavy battery on Robben Island, is named after him.

The South African Corps of Marines which began to function as a Corps in 1951, consisted of:

  • 8 Permanent Force Coast Regiments,
  • A Marine Technical Centre,
  • The Marine Branch of the Naval and Marine Gymnasium,
  • One Training Unit (PF),
  • Seven Citizen Force Coast Regiments including I and 2 Coast Regiments (CGA) and 4 Coast Regiment (DGA),
  • One Heavy Battery at Walvis Bay,
  • Two Light Anti-Aircraft Regiments,
  • Four Heavy Anti-Aircraft Batteries
  • Three Radar Companies

The role of the Marines was the Coastal Artillery, Anti-Aircraft and Radar defence of South African ports and coast, the Anti-Aircraft defence of other strategic points in South Africa and provision of Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery for South African forces in the field. In addition Marines, including the Active Citizen Force Marines were trained on water assault tactics and also in infantry patrolling and tactics. Marine complements were maintained on certain ships and the SAS Simon van der Stel, was brought to South Africa by a crew containing a Permanent Force Marine complement. On occasion, small groups of Citizen Force Marines also accompanied naval vessels afloat. Brig. de Waal's object was to train a Marine Corps to the same standard as those of the Royal Marines and the United States Marine Corps.

The Marines were greatly favoured for ceremonial activities, owing to their striking dark blue service dress embellished with orange trouser stripes. They frequently formed the guard at Government House when the Governor-General was in Durban or Cape Town and also furnished a guard of honour for Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands on his visit in 1954. On Union Day 1952 they provided the Colour Guard for the Naval Colour at the combined parade held by all the fighting services at Kingsmead, Durban, when Brig. de Waal was inspecting officer and the parade was commanded by Commandant P. F. van der Hoven, O.C., 4 Coast Regiment, SACM. It is understood that the Governor-General of the time contemplated their constitution as a Household Corps in the manner of the Brigade of Guards, but that their disbandment prevented this. A detachment led by Comdt. van der Hoven, led the South African contingent in the Coronation parade in London in 1953.

By 1954 the Marines had been found to be functioning well and it was hoped to extend their functions to the manning of guns on defensively equipped merchant ships and the manning of coast defence vessels, such as the Gelderland (for which purpose officers would have obtained the Board of Trade Navigation Certificate). It was also intended to form fully integrated composite regiments where Coast, Anti-Aircraft and Radar elements were found at one centre, and for this purpose units were to be renamed "Marine Regiments", and the title of "Coast Regiments" being abandoned. A Marine band was established for the Fleet under the direction of Capt. Imrie.

The introduction of Soviet warships equipped with guided missile launchers at this time rendered counter-bombardment forces out-of-date and an unwarranted expense. Acting on advice from abroad, the authorities decided to abandon Coastal Artillery since it was felt there was no justification for the retention of the Corps and in the absence of the main function, the Marine Corps was disbanded on 1 October 1955. Anti-Aircraft Artillery reverted to the Army, and the Coast and Radar units were embodied in the Navy.

The last time the Marines were seen on a large parade was when the 1st Coast Regiment was disbanded and their Colours were laid up in St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town in 1955 [1]

The second marine force was formed in 1979 in order to enable the South African Navy to take a greater part in counter-insurgency operations. A brigade-strength unit was envisaged and was designated as 1 Marine Brigade. However, training and operational units never exceeded one or two battalions in strength. The initial vision was for a fully seaborne amphibious brigade that could be deployed on operations in the southern Angolan and Mozambique regions and ports. However, budget cuts, a greater emphasis on land-based raids into southern Angola by the SADF as well as the strong defensive capabilities of the major Angolan ports led to the original plans being changed. A more limited role was envisaged, which included developing a force capable of providing beachhead protection to allow the extraction of special forces when required.

Furthermore, the Marines deployed Marine Companies which operated as regular infantry but were also responsible for conducting riverine patrols in the eastern Caprivi of the north eastern border of South-West Africa until 1988. Thereafter their role became that of conducting counter-insurgency operations inside South Africa while small Marine platoon sized units performed harbour protection duties using Namacurra-class harbour patrol boat (HPBs) in the major South African harbours.

A limited Marine amphibious landing capability, using Delta boat landing craft from SAS Tafelberg, was retained until the brigade was disbanded.

Establishment and training Edit

The initial officer cadre of the brigade was drawn from South African infantry units [6] as well as a number of officers from the Rhodesian forces. [7] [8] [9] Senior NCO’s were selected from the South African Navy and Rhodesian Light Infantry squadrons. Officers were required to complete all SADF infantry training courses as well as specialised navy training courses for promotional purposes. Recruit training focused on regimental training as well as conventional warfare, which was then followed by rural counter-insurgency operations. After this training, some recruits moved into specialist fields whilst the majority were posted on a rotational basis to naval units and to operational deployments in South-West Africa. Advanced training was carried out with 44 Parachute Brigade [10] for conventional amphibious operations, with 4 Reconnaissance Regiment (See South African Special Forces Brigade) for small tactics amphibious operations and with 1 Reconnaissance Regiment [11] in Durban for advanced urban counter-insurgency operations. Forward Observation Officer / Fire control training, involving directing ship's artillery fire onto enemy position targets from within enemy territory, was also regularly conducted with naval strike craft in northern Zululand. Brigade staff members were responsible for defining SADF amphibious warfare doctrine.

Amphibious Operations Edit

Together with the SA Navy and 44 Parachute Brigade, the Marines demonstrated their capability during a small amphibious exercise held during the negotiations on Angola and Namibia - Exercise "Magersfontein", in Walvis Bay in September / October 1988. [12] It was referred to by senior Cuban officers as having convinced them that "the South Africans were serious" and certainly influenced the negotiations. [13]

Bush War Operations Edit

Operations included deployments to Sector 10 in central Owambo for counter insurgency operations as well as deployment in support of SADF and SWATF units during Operation Daisy in November 1981 and later SADF raids into southern Angola. Subsequently, the Marines were withdrawn from Section 10 and re-deployed to Sector 70 in the north east of South-West Africa, where deployments were made from Wenela in the eastern Caprivi covering a 50 km land border with Zambia to the west and 200 km of riverine border to the east. The Marines Occupied the most easterly point of South-West Africa - Impalila island at the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers, observing and photographing vehicle traffic crossing the Zambezi on the Kazungula ferry. The base is now utilised as Naval Base Impalila after it has been refurbished by the Namibian Navy.

Dress and equipment Edit

Marine combat dress comprised a black beret, web belt and boots, worn with nutria brown fatigues. Early marines were distinguished by being issued with the H&K G3 7.62 LAR as opposed to the traditional FN FAL used by the SADF. The G3s were later replaced by the SADF standard R4 assault rifle and later R5s.

Disbanded Edit

The Marines were disbanded on 18 January 1990, [14] following a major restructuring of the Navy at the end of the South African Border War.

After the integration of the South African National Defence Force the Navy was increasingly called on to assist with peacekeeping operations. Realising that this situation would continue, the then Chief of the Navy Refiloe Johannes Mudimu, decided to create this capability by creating a Naval Rapid Deployment Force. [15] An Operational Boat Squadron was formed in 2006 [16] to ensure that South Africa could commit meaningfully to the peacekeeping at the Great Lakes. [17]

The Rapid Deployment Force became the Maritime Reaction Squadron on 1 September 2006. [17]

Colombian Military Forces

T he purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to the Colombian Army. It will describe the military chain of command, the Colombian Army’s main operational units, give a brief look at Colombia’s special operations forces and the system of Army schools and address the reforms being embraced by the Colombian military under the auspices of Plan Colombia. The Colombian military is composed of three branches: the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The Army is the dominant service. All services play a role in the counter-insurgency campaign but their participation is minor in comparison to the Army. Those services will not be discussed in any detail.

General Mario Montoya Uribe, Commanding General of the Colombian Armed Forces

The Colombian President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, while the Minister of Defense has operational and administrative control. Next in the chain of command is the military commander of the armed forces, which, given the Army’s size and influence, has always been an Army three-star General. This is also the highest rank in the Colombian military. The Army is officially charged with the defense of Colombia from outside aggressors. In actuality its mission has undergone extensive restructuring since 1999, and is now almost completely focused on fighting the counterinsurgency.

Main article


The Army is composed of 180,000 personnel in seven infantry divisions and a number of special units, compared to 23,000 in the Navy and 10,000 in the Air Force . 1 The 160,000-man Colombian National Police (CNP) is part of the Ministry of Defense and works with the Army in its internal-security role against the paramilitaries. However, the CNP is not considered part of the armed forces.

1 Jane’s Information Group, “Army, Colombia,” 16 November 2006 “Navy, Colombia,” 23 October 2006, “Air Force, Colombia,” 5 December 2006, .

Since the start of Plan Colombia in 2000 and the beginning of Plan Patriota, in 2005, the armed forces defense budget has increased from two to five percent of Gross National Product (GNP) under President Alvaro Uribe Vélez . 2 Concurrent with the increase in budget is a growth in the size of the military and the police. Conscription fills the ranks of the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Police, with draftees incurring a two-year term of service at age 18. The National Service obligation has been attacked for its inequalities. For instance, conscripts with the equivalent of a high school education do not have to go into combat and the wealthy can buy their sons way out of service . 3 There are volunteer enlistment options for both the Army and Navy, and those seeking a career in the Army may volunteer for the non-commissioned officer’s school.

2 “Executive Summary, Colombia” 24 August 2006, .

3 Angel Rabasa and Peter Chalk, Colombian Labyrinth: The Synergy of Drugs and Insurgency and Its Implications for Regional Stability (Washington DC: RAND, 2001), 104 Jane’s Information Group, “Armed Forces, Colombia” 4 July 2005, .

The army is organized into seven numbered divisions that are geographically-based around the country in regional Areas of Responsibility (AORs) . 4 A soldier is usually drafted into the division in his home region and it is possible for him to serve his entire career in a single geographic area. There is also an Aviation Brigade, the Brigada de Aviación del Ejército and the Brigada de Apoyo Logistico (Logistics Brigade) with a supply battalion, maintenance battalion, a Batallón de Intendencia which supplies clothing and footwear to the Army, and a separate logistics battalion supporting Joint Task Force–South . 5 Colombian divisions are not uniform in structure and can have two to five infantry brigades. Each brigade is organized with three infantry battalions, a cavalry group for reconnaissance, one direct support artillery battalion, an engineer battalion and a service battalion. The Army is improving its mountain warfare capabilities as part of the counter-insurgency campaign and has fielded special battalions designed for combat in the Alta Montaña (High Mountains) in those divisions in the mountain regions. Presently only six of twenty-one brigades within the army are fully manned with the remainder under strength . 6 The Colombian Army has no Corps headquarters. Each division is an autonomous entity within its AOR.

4 Colombian Army, “Divisiones,” (accessed 6 December 2006).

5é , hereafter Translation 1 from http://www.Ejé .

In addition to the divisional brigades in the seven territories, the Colombian Army has a number of special units with functional responsibilities. The Rapid Deployment Force, known as the Fuerza de Despliegue Rápido (FUDRA), created on 7 December 1999, has countrywide responsibilities. The FUDRA is composed of three mobile brigades and one special forces brigade, and has organic UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. These are separate from those in the Army Aviation Brigade, or Brigada de Aviación del Ejército, which provides rotary-wing airlift to the Army in addition to the FUDRA, and other counter-insurgency forces. The FUDRA is supported by a newly-created Military Intelligence Center that provides intelligence on insurgent units and their activities.

Brigada Contra el Narcotráfico patch

The counter-narcotics brigade or Brigada Contra el Narcotráfico, (CD Bde) was activated on 8 December 2000. The CD Bde, headquartered at Tres Esquinas, is composed of three large 900-man CD battalions, and works with the CNP to secure coca-producing areas for spraying as part of the aerial eradication program near the borders of Ecuador and Peru. The CD Bde works closely with the Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) in the U.S. Embassy. There are similar mission-specific units in the Colombian Army.

Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas (AFEAU) patch

Functionally-oriented forces include the Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas (AFEAU) or Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Group, designed to combat terrorist activities in urban environments, and the Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Rurales who perform a similar counter-terrorist mission in the rural areas. The Brigada de Fuerzas Especiales, or Special Forces Brigade, has four battalions capable of both airborne and counterinsurgency operations. A unit similar to the U.S. Army Rangers is the Agrupación de Lanceros or AGLAN, an elite strike force. U.S. Army Special Forces has a long history of assisting and training the Colombian Special Forces Brigade and the Lanceros.

The GAULA, or Grupos Acción Unificada por la Libertad Personal (Groups of Action Unified for the Liberation of Persons), was set up in 1996 to be a force responsible for recovering kidnap victims and to battle the kidnappers.

Created by Colombian Law 282 in 1996, the Grupos Acción Unificada por la Libertad Personal (Groups of Action Unified for the Liberation of Persons) or GAULA are elite units exclusively dedicated to respond to kidnapping and extortion. These highly trained military units work closely with the national judiciary to recover kidnapping victims and to capture the kidnappers. There are sixteen GAULA in the Army, two in the Navy, and ten in the National Police . 7

7 Translation 1 from http://www.Ejé .

The M-113 is a U.S.-produced armored personal carrier and is in widespread use worldwide, seeing use in some forty-four militaries. It can carry eleven personnel and two crewmembers. Although it can be armed with a number of weapon systems, the most common are a heavy machinegun or a grenade launcher.

All members of the United Nations, in order to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, undertake to make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces, assistance, and facilities
-- United Nations Charter, Article 43 (1).

The planning of peacekeeping operations is the ultimate challenge because you never know where you have to operate you never know what they want you to do you don't have the mandate in advance you don't have forces you don't have transport and you don't have money… We always have to start from zero. Each and every operation that we start, we start with nothing.
-- Major-General Frank van Kappen, Military Advisor to the Secretary-General, March 1997 [2]


Fifty-five years after the United Nations was formed, we continue to explore ways to empower the Organisation. On balance, its record in preventing and resolving violent conflict is characterised by modest progress not what it could or should be. Recent efforts to enhance a UN rapid deployment capability parallel that assessment. One defining moment and opportunity has already passed in this decade, but in exposing our collective limitations, another arises. Finally, there is agreement that preventive action, through a combination of conflict resolution, diplomacy and even prompt deployments, is far more cost-effective than later, larger efforts. Similarly, many recognise that one essential mechanism for conflict prevention is a reliable and effective UN rapid deployment capability. Whether these will be lessons learned and institutionalised or spurned may depend on the extent to which 'we the people' organise, inform and democratise further efforts. It is time to consider a more inclusive approach one that draws on new partnerships to encourage the ideas and approaches essential for effective political, military and humanitarian responses to complex emergencies.

The rationale underlying recent initiatives to enhance UN rapid deployment capabilities was very compelling. Frequent delays, vast human suffering and death, diminished credibility, opportunities lost, escalating costs – just some of the tragic consequences of slow and inappropriate responses. Unprecedented demand for prompt UN assistance highlighted the deficiencies of existing arrangements, challenging the Organisation, as well as member states. Most recognise the UN was denied sufficient resources, as well as appropriate mechanisms with which to respond. Fortunately, an array of complementary reforms have combined to expand the options. As expected, there are limitations and competing alternatives, but few easy or immediate remedies.

International efforts in this endeavour focused primarily on improving peacekeeping. The larger process involves measures to organise the contributions of member states, as well as the establishment of basic mechanisms within the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Several initiatives are quite promising.

Approximately twenty-seven member states, designated "Friends of Rapid Deployment," co-operated with the DPKO to secure support for developing a rapidly deployable mission headquarters (RDMHQ). As well, since 1994 a DPKO team has organised the UN Stand-by Arrangement System (UNSAS) to expand the quality and quantity of resources that member states might provide. To complement this arrangement, the Danish government, in co-operation with thirteen regular troop contributors, has organised a multinational Stand-by High Readiness brigade (SHIRBRIG).

SHIRBRIG is improving the tactical foundation by promoting further co-operation in multilateral planning, establishing training and readiness standards, and furthering the pursuit of inter-operability. By years end, the void at the operational level within the Secretariat may be partially filled by a permanent, albeit skeletal, UN rapid deployment mission headquarters. Once funded and staffed, it will simply enable the prompt co-ordination and control of diverse missions authorised by the Security Council. At the strategic level, the Security Council has agreed to provide further consultation with troop contributors [3].

Thus, as the tactical, operational, and strategic foundation is strengthened, participants look for a corresponding response at the political level. Hopefully, these arrangements will combine to inspire a higher degree of confidence and commitment among member states. In short, these various "building blocks" are gradually forming the institutional foundation for future peacekeeping. Initially, they are likely to circumscribe activity to Chapter VI, albeit, within a flexible interpretation of peace support operations for complex political emergencies [4].

The efforts of the UN Secretariat, the 'Friends' and member states such as Denmark, Canada, and the Netherlands were laudable and deserve support. There remain a number of issues, however, that warrant further effort and scrutiny. This paper explores several initiatives to enhance a UN rapid deployment capability. It provides an overview of recent proposals, considers the progress within DPKO and the related efforts of Friends of Rapid Deployment, and it identifies the potential limitations of the new arrangements. To activate and revitalise support for further measures, it points to the need for a new 'soft power' approach. Finally, a vision-oriented, cumulative development process is proposed as a means to expand on this foundation.

How are we to assess such initiatives? Within the Secretariat, one focus is on reducing response times [5]. Other considerations must address whether these measures, when combined, contribute to:

We must also ask whether the measures under way are sufficient to build an effective and reliable UN capability. Are these initial efforts likely to build a solid foundation with the capacity for modernisation and expansion? Alternatively, is there a risk of being locked into another ad hoc, conditional system requiring last-minute political approval and improvisation prior to each mission? Can we identify national defence reforms that would complement UN rapid deployment and conflict prevention? At the dawn of a new millennium, the question also arises as to what additional measures will be necessary to institutionalise and consolidate a dedicated UN standing capability?


Since the release in 1992 of former Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's An Agenda for Peace, there has been a wide-ranging discussion of the UN's options for responding to violent conflict [7]. Among the various catalysts for the debate were the Secretary-General's call for peace enforcement units and Article 43-type arrangements, as well as Sir Brian Urquhart's efforts to revive Trygvie Lie's proposal for a UN Legion [8]. As these ideas began to attract a constituency, they also generated apprehension and a search for less ambitious options in many national capitals.

Opinion on the subject of any UN capability is always mixed. The debate here tended to follow two perspectives: the "practitioners" who favoured strengthening current arrangements, and the "visionaries" who desired a dedicated UN standing force or standing emergency capability [9]. With notable exceptions, the official preference focused on pragmatic, incremental reform within the structure of the UN Secretariat and available resources [10]. The latter was also assumed to entail fewer risks, fewer obligations and more control.

In the early years of the decade, there were promising indications of support for some form of UN rapid reaction force [11]. The need for a new instrument was widely recognised in the aftermath of Bosnia, Somalia and the failure to avert the Rwandan genocide. Regrettably, few governments were willing to back their rhetoric with meaningful reform. Prior commitments tended to be followed by carefully nuanced retractions [12]. There were exceptions, notably among middle-power, regular UN troop contributors. Yet, even supportive governments were worried about moving ahead of public opinion, fellow member states, the international defence community and their own capacity to secure more ambitious reforms.

National Studies

Prior to the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, the Netherlands, Canada, and Denmark commenced studies and consultative processes to develop options for a UN rapid reaction capability. These studies were followed by concerted diplomatic efforts to organise a wider coalition of member states and secure the co-operation of the UN Secretariat. These initiatives were instrumental, first, in narrowing the range of short-term options - allaying official fears of a potentially large and expensive supra-national intervention force - and second, in informing others as to how they might best contribute to the process.

The Netherlands Study

In 1994, the Netherlands began to explore the possibility of creating a permanent, rapidly deployable brigade at the service of the United Nations Security Council. A team of experts conducted the study, and an international conference was convened to review their initial report. They then released The Netherlands Non-Paper, "A UN Rapid Deployment Brigade: A Preliminary Study," which identified a critical void in the UN peacekeeping system. If a crisis were not to escalate into widespread violence, they argued it could only be met by dedicated units that were instantly deployable: "the sooner an international 'fire brigade' can turn out, the better the chance that the situation can be contained" [13].

The focus, the Dutch stressed, should not be on the further development of the UN Standby Arrangements System[14] so much as a military force along the lines advocated by Robert Johansen[15] and Brian Urquhart[16] - a permanent, rapidly deployable brigade that would guarantee the immediate availability of troops when they were urgently needed. The brigade would complement existing components in the field of peacekeeping and crisis management. Its chief value would be as a 'stop-gap' measure when a crisis was imminent[17], and its deployments would be of strictly limited duration. The brigade's tasks would include preventive action, peacekeeping during the interval between a Security Council decision and the arrival of an international peacekeeping force, and deployment in emergency humanitarian situations[18]. The annual cost of a 5,000-person brigade was projected at approximately $300 million US, the initial procurement of its equipment at $500-550 million [19]. "Adoption" of the brigade by one or more member states or by an existing organisation such as NATO was recommended as a means of reducing the expenses of basing, transportation, and equipment acquisition.[20]

The non-paper succeeded in stimulating an international exchange of views. It was clear, however, that only a less binding, less ambitious arrangement would be acceptable, at least for the immediate future. A few member states were supportive of the Dutch initiative, but the majority were opposed to any standing UN force, and even the modest expenditures outlined.

The Canadian Study

In September 1995, the Government of Canada presented the UN with a study entitled, Towards a Rapid Reaction Capability for the United Nations[21], with twenty-one recommendations to close the UN's capability gap in the short to mid term [22]. The report also offered five recommendations to stimulate further research and development over the long term.[23]

After establishing the need for a rapid reaction capability [24], the report examined a number of principles such as reliability, quality, and cost-effectiveness[25] before identifying the primary components of such forces in France, the United States, and NATO [26]. Among the elements deemed necessary were an early warning mechanism, an effective decision-making process, reliable transportation and infrastructure, logistical support, sufficient finances, and well-trained and equipped personnel. The UN system was then evaluated with respect to these requirements.[27]

A range of problems spanning the political[28], strategic[29], operational, and tactical levels were identified and addressed. The intent was to "create an integrated model for rapid reaction from decision-making at the highest level to the deployment of tactical levels in the field"[30]. The report made a case for building on existing arrangements to improve the broader range of peacekeeping activities.

At the operational level, however, the UN suffered a dearth of related capabilities. Several new mechanisms were imperative, including a permanent operational-level rapid reaction headquarters.[31] This multinational group of thirty to fifty personnel, augmented in times of crisis, would conduct contingency planning and rapid deployment as authorised by the Security Council. The headquarters would have a civil affairs branch and links to related agencies, non-governmental and regional organisations.[32] Aside from liaison and planning, it was to be tasked to an array of training objectives.

The vanguard concept was highlighted as "the most crucial innovation in the UN's peace support operations over the next few years."[33] It would "link the operational level headquarters with tactical elements provided by Member States to the Secretary-General through the standby arrangements system."[34] It entailed identifying national 'vanguard component groups' that might be called upon as needed by the operational-level headquarters.[35] These forces would remain in their home countries under the command of national authorities until they were notified by the Secretary-General and authorised to deploy by their own national government.

The Canadian study reaffirmed "broad support for the general directions of the Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat in building its peace operations capability for the future."[36] Recommendations were refined to appeal to a broad range of supportive member states. This would be an inclusive, co-operative building process with the objective of developing a unity of both purpose and effort. Charter reform would be unnecessary, nor would there be additional expenses for the organisation. In many respects, it was a compelling case for pragmatic, realisable change within the short to medium term. "Clearly, " the report cautioned, "the first step is to implement these ideas before embarking upon more far-reaching schemes which may in the end prove unnecessary."[37]

The Danish-led Multinational Study

In January 1995, the Danish government announced that it would be approaching a number of nations for support in establishing a working group to develop a UN Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG).[38] Thirteen member states with extensive experience in peacekeeping agreed to explore the option of a rapid deployment force within the framework of the UN's Stand-by Arrangement System.[39]

The guiding assumption of the study was that a number of countries could, "by forming an affiliation between appropriate contributions to the [UNSAS], make a pre-established, multinational UN Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade available to the United Nations, thus providing a rapid deployment capability for deployments of a limited duration."[40] It noted that the brigade should be reserved solely for providing an effective presence at short notice, and solely for peacekeeping operations, including humanitarian tasks.[41] National units would be required on fifteen to thirty days notice and be sustainable for 180 days. Standardised training and operating procedures, familiar equipment, and joint exercises, it was felt, would speed up national decision-making processes in times of crisis, as would the fact that the operating conditions for troop contributors would be understood in advance. Moreover, with an agreed focus on being "first in" and "first out," participants would have some assurance of the limited duration of their deployment.

Agreement would still be required from individual participating nations. To address the concerns of countries that might have reservations over a particular operation, a relatively broad pool of participants would provide sufficient redundancy among units.[42] States could, therefore, abstain from an operation without jeopardising the brigade's deployment.

As proposed, SHIRBRIG was to provide the United Nations with immediate access to a versatile force comprising a balance of peacekeeping capabilities, thus overcoming a primary impediment to rapid reaction. The proposal soon attracted a supportive constituency within the UN Secretariat and among regular troop contributors, including Canada and the Netherlands. The Canadian study, similarly, generated considerable enthusiasm among member states.[43] Owing to its comprehensive approach, the UN MILAD, Major-General Frank van Kappen, referred to the Canadian study as the "red wine that linked the other studies together."[44]

It is noteworthy that these three national studies were not viewed as mutually exclusive but as compatible by their respective Foreign Ministers.[45] In 1995, UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Ismail Kittani, categorised them under "(a) what the UN can do now, (b) what member states can do, and (c) what is still in the future."[46]

Corresponding Developments

The Friends of Rapid Deployment (FORD)

On the occasion of the United Nations' fiftieth anniversary, Canadian Foreign Minister, Andre' Ouellet and his counterpart from the Netherlands, Hans Van Mierlo, organised a Ministerial meeting to generate political support for enhancing UN rapid deployment capabilities.[47] To promote the initiative, especially among the major powers, Canada and the Netherlands announced the creation of an informal group called the "Friends of Rapid Reaction", co-chaired by the Canadian and Dutch Permanent representatives in New York. Although they used the Canadian study as a baseline for their discussions, they agreed that this would henceforth be a multinational effort.[48] As a Canadian briefing paper on the status of the initiative acknowledges, ". the recommendations that are being implemented are, therefore, no longer just Canadian, but part of discussions and input from many different nations world-wide."[49] Indeed, by the fall of 1996, the group had expanded to include Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Senegal, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, and Zambia. The Friends also succeeded in attracting the co-operation of the UN Secretariat, particularly officials in DPKO.

Initially, they concentrated on building the base of support for an operational-level headquarters, expanding standby arrangements and explaining the vanguard concept. As it became apparent that the Danish proposal included many of the objectives of the vanguard concept, and the technical details had already been researched and agreed upon through an extensive multinational study, interest in the vanguard concept was superseded by a wider interest in the SHIRBRIG model.[50]

The Friend's efforts in 1996 continued to focus on improving the Stand-by Arrangements System, but they also began to assist DPKO in implementing the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters. A number of technical working groups were established to refine plans and proposals to improve logistics, administration, financing, sustainability and strategic lift.[51]

Despite having secured a relatively broad base of international support, it is apparent that the consultative process of the 'Friends' could have been more thorough. Several representatives of the non-aligned movement, including a few of the larger troop-contributing member states, were annoyed at having been excluded. In October 1996, for example, Pakistani ambassador Ahmad Kamal said that he "supported the concept of a rapid deployment headquarters team but was concerned at the action of a self-appointed group of 'Friends of Rapid Reaction' operating without legitimacy, and having half-baked ideas developed without broad consultations with the countries most concerned".[52] In turn, the Friends' agenda would be delayed as some members of the non-aligned movement (NAM) challenged specific arrangements. As the NAM included 132 member states, they had the potential to stem further progress.

However, efforts to develop a UN rapid deployment capability were not confined solely to the 'Friends'. Britain, France and the United States were working on improving the peacekeeping capabilities of numerous African member states. Italy and Argentina were promoting the creation of a rapid response capability for humanitarian purposes.

The United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, otherwise known as the Committee of 34, also continued to meet each spring to consider new requirements and forward related recommendations to the wider membership through the General Assembly. In 1996, the Committee was composed of 36 member states with 57 additional member states attending in observer status. Although the Committee hardly represents a vanguard of new thinking on peacekeeping, it provides an important consultative forum for discussing proposals and generating the base of consensus necessary to implement changes.[53] Rapid deployment featured prominently in their recent reports with strong endorsements of both standby arrangements and the rapid deployment mission headquarters.[54] Concerns would subsequently arise over equitable representation in the RDMHQ and the wider use of gratis personnel within DPKO. Some member states were also initially reluctant to support the SHIRBRIG on the grounds that it appeared to be an exclusive coalition that had no authority to present their arrangement as a 'UN' brigade.[55]

Senior officials from within the Secretariat participate in the discussions of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping, as well as in the former meetings of the Friends of Rapid Deployment. These were co-operative endeavours. After the first meeting of Foreign Ministers to establish the 'Friends', it was reported that "what was most important to Kofi Annan was an implementation plan, where the proposals of various countries could be structured into achievable pieces and pushed to a useful conclusion."[56] The UN Secretariat, particularly the DPKO, were already committed to the process of implementing related measures and they needed help.

DPKO and the UN Secretariat

Despite a persistent shortage of personnel and funds, there have been numerous heartening changes within the UN Secretariat over the past eight years.[57] In 1992, for example, the office responsible for peacekeeping was reorganised as the Department for Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO) in order to improve the capacity to plan, conduct and manage operations. This restructuring served to co-locate, and co-ordinate, within one department, the political, operational, logistics, civil police, de-mining, training, personnel and administrative aspects of peace-keeping operations. A Situation Centre was established within DPKO in May 1993, to maintain round-the-clock communications with the field and provide information necessary to missions and troop contributors. At the same time, a Civilian Police Unit was developed in DPKO's Office of Planning and Support, assuming responsibility for all matters affecting civilian police in peacekeeping operations.

A Training Unit was established in DPKO in June 1993 to increase the availability of trained military and civilian personnel for timely deployment.[58] In 1994, the DPKO established the Mission Planning Service (MPS) for the detailed planning and co-ordination of complex operations.[59] To enhance analysis, evaluation and institutional memory, the Lessons Learned Unit was instituted in early 1995. To improve logistics, especially in the start-up phase of an operation, the Field Administrative and Logistics Division was incorporated into DPKO. Approval was given to utilise the Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy as a centre for the management of peacekeeping assets. Aside from maintaining an inventory of UN material, it is to oversee the stockpiling and delivery of supplies and equipment for missions. Mission Start-up Kits will also be assembled at the Logistics Base. Despite limited financial and personnel resources, DPKO achieved a professional level of planning and co-ordination across a challenging spectrum of tasks.

The development of a rapid deployment mission headquarters and the expansion of the UN Standby Arrangement System are themselves part of a larger process to improve the UN's capacity to promptly manage increasingly complex operations. Rapid reaction was a prominent theme within the former UN Secretary-General's 1995 Supplement to An Agenda for Peace.[60] He cautioned that problems had become steadily more serious with respect to the availability of troops and equipment.[61] Although Boutros-Ghali repeated his support for a UN rapid reaction force, he did not endorse the development of a permanent UN standing force. On several occasions he stipulated that the answer was not to create a UN standing force, which he described as being "impractical and inappropriate."[62] This hesitancy should, however, be understood within the context of his having received little support for his earlier attempt to generate peace enforcement units and even less enthusiasm for negotiating Article 43 type agreements. In response to the 1995 "Supplement", the President of the Security Council indicated that, "all interested Member States were invited by the Council to present further reflections on United Nations peace-keeping operations, and in particular on ways and means to improve the capacity of the United Nations for rapid deployment."[63] The Security Council also narrowed the range of options, expressing its concern that the first priority in improving the capacity for rapid deployment should be the further enhancement of the existing standby arrangements.[64] Nothing was explicitly rejected, but the short-term priority was clearly stand-by rather than a standing force.[65] In December, UN Secretary-General Elect, Kofi Annan, reflected these concerns stating that:

I don't think we can have a standing United Nations army. The membership is not ready for that. There are financial questions and great legal issues as to which laws would apply and where it would be stationed. But short of having a standing United Nations army, we have taken initiatives that will perhaps help us achieve what we were hoping to get out of a standing army. The real problem has been rapidity of deployment. We are now encouraging governments to set up rapidly deployable brigades and battalions that could be moved into a theater very quickly, should the governments decide to participate in peacekeeping operations.[66]

In the short term, it appeared the UN Standby Arrangement System was to be the foundation, upon which much of the potential for rapid deployment would depend.

United Nations Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS)

In 1993, Boutros-Ghali identified the need for a system of Standby Arrangements to secure the personnel and material resources required for peacekeeping.[67] This system was specifically intended to improve the capability for rapid deployment. The Standby Arrangements system (UNSAS) is based on conditional commitments from Member States of specified resources that could be made available within agreed response times. The resources range from military units, individual civilian, military and police personnel to specialised services, equipment and other capabilities.[68]

UNSAS serves several objectives. First, it provides the UN with a precise understanding of the forces and other capabilities a member state will have available at an agreed state of readiness. Second, it facilitates planning, training and preparation for both participating Member states and the UN. Third, it provides the UN not only with foreknowledge of a range of national assets, but also a list of potential options if a member or members refrain from participating in an operation. Finally, although the arrangements are only conditional, it is hoped that those members who have confirmed their willingness to provide standby resources will be more forthcoming and committed than might otherwise be the case. In short, UNSAS provides an initial commitment to service, and a better advance understanding of the requirements, but is in no way a binding obligation.

In 1994, a Standby Arrangements Management Team was established within DPKO to identify the UN requirements in peacekeeping operations, establish readiness standards, negotiate with potential participants, establish a data base of resources, and assist in mission planning. They also reformed procedures for determining re-imbursement of member's contingent-owned equipment. Progress to date is encouraging.

By September of 1999, eighty-six member states had confirmed their willingness to provide standby resources, representing a total of 147,500 personnel that could, in principle, be called on.[69] The majority of states also provided detailed information on their specific capabilities.[70] Response times were registered according to the declared national capabilities. Resources were divided into four groups on the basis of their potential. Earlier reports suggested the majority (58%) of the overall pool fall into the first two categories of (1) up to 30 days, and (2) between 30 and 60 days.[71] In other words, the UN has a conditional commitment of over 50,000 personnel on standby assumed to be capable of rapid deployment. While UNSAS cannot guarantee reliable response, UN planners now have the option of developing contingency and 'fall-back' strategies when they anticipate delays. Member states are also more familiar with the system and with what they are expected to contribute. This has increased confidence and, as the numbers infer, a willingness to participate. In the words of one senior DPKO official, "this is now the maximum feasible option."

Some mission success has been partially attributed to UNSAS.[72] The former Secretary-General wisely cautioned, however, that while national readiness is a necessary pre-requisite, it does not in itself, give the UN a capacity for rapid deployment.[73] Several limitations remain. For example, many participants lack a capacity to provide their own support functions. The Organisation is still confronted with shortages in a number of critical areas, including headquarters support, communications, and both sea and air transport.

United Nations Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters (RDMHQ)

As a complement to the UN Standby Arrangement System, the Secretary-General decided to pursue the Canadian proposal to create a rapidly deployable mission headquarters (RDMHQ).[74] This is a multidimensional core headquarters unit of military and civilian personnel tasked to assist rapid deployment and manage the initial phases of a peacekeeping operation.[75] The RDMHQ is designed as an operational unit with a tactical planning function.[76]

Owing to budgetary constraints, the RDMHQ is officially described as the 'skeleton' of a mission headquarters. Once financing is approved, eight individuals are to be assigned to the RDMHQ on a full-time basis including its Chief of Staff and specialists in fields such as operations, logistics, engineering and civilian police. They are to be based in New York. The UN has received approval for their deployment into a mission area without further authorisation at the national level.

Aside from the 8 full-time staff, an additional 24 personnel are to remain earmarked in their home countries until required for training or deployment. Twenty-nine personnel in the Secretariat are also to be double-tasked and assigned to the RDMHQ, but will continue with their regular assignments until needed.[77] This initial team of 61 personnel is to co-ordinate rapid deployment and manage an operational-level headquarters, even in missions with the broadest, multidisciplinary mandates. Once deployed this headquarters is to be in a mission area for three to six months pending the arrival of and transition to a normal headquarters. Major-General Frank Van Kappen, has detailed the five primary tasks of the RDMHQ:

The Friends Group has stipulated that the RDMHQ will require the following capabilities:

a. It must be deployable at very short notice.
b. It should be able to deploy for up to six months.
c. It should provide initially the nucleus of a headquarters for a new PKO.
d. It must be integrated into DPKO as a core function in order to retain its interoperability with the UN headquarters in New York.
e. It must be capable of undertaking technical reconnaissance missions prior to deployment.
f. It must have undertaken operational deployment preparations prior to its commitment. This must include such things as the production of Standard Operating Procedures and the completion of pre-deployment training.[79]

When the RDMHQ was initially proposed, it attracted broad support in the UN Secretariat. In welcoming the proposal, Boutros-Ghali stated that the idea fostered a "culture of prevention" and that, "even if it will not be used it is a kind of dissuasion."[80] However, recruitment and staffing of this headquarters was far more controversial than initially anticipated. Only 2 posts have been established to date.[81] The remaining six positions were approved in the fall of 1999, but without the additional funding required. The RDMHQ is not operational but there are hopes it will be within the year.

The Danish-led initiative to develop a Multinational United Nations Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) will complement the UNSAS with a complete, integrated unit that has a projected response time of 15-30 days. As proposed, the SHIRBRIG is to consist of 4,000-5,000 troops, comprising a headquarters unit, infantry battalions, and reconnaissance units, as well as engineering and logistical support. The brigade is to be self-sustaining in deployments of up to six months' duration and capable of self-defence.[82]

On December 15, 1996, seven countries signed a letter of intent to co-operate in establishing and maintaining this high readiness brigade.[83] This initial group has expanded, as have the number of members providing a commitment to the actual brigade pool.[84] A steering committee and a permanent planning element are in place, as are arrangements for its operational headquarters and logistics. SHIRBRIG has been declared 'available'. The objective, and the basis for co-operation, is to provide the UN with a well-trained, cohesive multinational force to be deployed in Chapter VI operations mandated by the Security Council and with the consent of the parties."[85] Participants would thus have a mutual understanding of their combined capabilities, as well as their specific roles and requirements:

This would enhance the efficiency of a possible deployment and would enhance the safety of the troops when deployed. Common procedures and interoperability would be developed to allow for better operational planning, to insure common assessment of the operational requirements, optimise movement planning and reduce costs.[86]

Co-operation is clearly more cost-effective as participants have the option to pursue functional role specialisation in a coherent division of labour and resources. For example, rather than carrying a long independent national logistics train, such a task can be either shared or selected by one participant as their contribution.

SHIRBRIG also offers a cost-efficient model that is likely to be emulated elsewhere. As Danish officials informed the Friends Group, "the conceptual work done so far on the establishment of a multinational UN [SHIRBRIG] carries a relevance far beyond the group of nations participating in the present project. The concept could inspire other groups of nations to take a similar initiative."

Current Status: Modest Success In The Short Term

In hindsight, one could argue there were good reasons for developing this UN capability in the context of prevailing practices, resources and structures. Considering the impediments of limited political will, insufficient funding, and overworked personnel answerable to 185 bosses with divergent interests, the progress to date should not be under-estimated. Moreover, it was attained in the absence of powerful national champions, and most observers recognise that the larger UN system is not altogether amenable to rapid modernisation. Some officials assume that the task is well underway, with seventy-three per cent of the recommendations either accomplished or in the process of being implemented. As early as 1996 a Canadian briefing paper noted that, "between the Group of Friends and the initiative of the Secretariat, 19 of the 26 recommendations have been acted upon in the past nine months.[88] In the same year, Kofi Annan claimed that the lead-time of the UN's rapid deployment capabilities would be reduced by 50 per cent during the next two years.[89]

Nevertheless, one might argue that these arrangements reflect the pursuit of agreement only slightly above the level of the lowest common denominator. The context placed a priority on modest short-to-mid term changes that could be promoted among diverse states without major controversy, major funding or major national contributions. Few can be heralded as visionary, courageous gestures that correspond to the wider human and global security challenges of the next millennium. It remains to be seen whether these arrangements will attract a broad constituency of support. Few efforts were made, moreover, to build a coalition among NGOs, related agencies and the interested public, effectively limiting the leverage and political pressure that would be needed to launch further reforms.

Hans van Merlo, co-chair of the Friends of Rapid Deployment, acknowledged that progress has been modest "that given the complexities, this is going to be an incremental process, but one where we cannot afford to let up."[90] Regrettably, some initiatives were deliberately stymied. For example, despite the Secretary-General's authorisation to establish the RDMHQ, Pakistan succeeded in mobilising wider resistance to this development.[91] In 1998, Cuba denied approval of the necessary funding for RDMHQ staff in the accounts and budgetary committee (ACABQ). Unfortunately, controversy and political opposition have also diminished the momentum of the 'Friends' and, to a lesser extent, the Secretariat. The 'Friends' have yet to decide whether they will re-convene. They did not meet in 1998 or 1999. There are concerns that ideas emanating from this group will be actively opposed. In response, some diplomats believe that the only remaining option is to leave rapid deployment to the UN Secretariat that a restructuring from within may gradually occur on the basis of pragmatic evaluations and lessons learned. However, due to budgetary constraints and the elimination of all gratis personnel, DPKO suffered the loss of numerous professionals and numerous key positions.[92] With fewer staff and fewer resources, DPKO claims it has retained a critical mass, but it may now be incapable of managing additional responsibilities. Moreover, given the recent intransigence of the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has had insufficient support to encourage the process. Clearly, the wider initiative has reached a political impasse. There is little indication that further initiatives, or even incremental steps, are being actively pursued. Yet the larger task is far from finished.

Potential Limitations

If rapid reaction is a demanding concept, it is an even more difficult reality to achieve. The Organisation must be sure of each critical element in the process. Missing components and conditional agreements can only lead to delays. It may be wise, therefore, to temper our expectations by acknowledging some inherent problems.

Standby arrangements for nationally-based units do not provide an assurance of their immediate availability. As the former Secretary-General acknowledged in 1995, "a considerable effort has been made to expand and refine standby arrangements, but these provide no guarantee that troops will be provided for a specific operation."[93] He noted further that "the value of the arrangement would of course depend on how far the Security Council could be sure that the force would actually be available in an emergency."[94] With respect to UNSAS, there are few, if any, certainties. The promptness with which national contingents are provided will depend on the discretion of participating member states, the risks perceived, and the level of interests at stake.[95]

Reliability will be a key determinant of rapid deployment. In the case of UNSAS, there is no assurance that the political will exists. Critics frequently point to the refusal of member states to provide adequate forces to avert the 1994 catastrophe in Rwanda. Not one of the nineteen governments that had undertaken to have troops on standby for UN peacekeeping agreed to contribute to the UNAMIR mission under these arrangements.[96] Proponents of UNSAS now have grounds to argue that the system has been expanded and improved, but commitment to the system will have to be far more comprehensive and binding if it is to succeed. The onus is now clearly on member states to demonstrate the viability of this system.

Once approved for deployment, standby units will have to stage independently and assemble in-theatre. For some, this will be their first experience working together, and it will likely occur under conditions of extreme stress. Some military establishments are reluctant to acknowledge the need for prior training of their personnel beyond a general combat capability. Thus, high standards of cohesiveness and interoperability will be difficult to assure in advance. Moreover, the UN will continue to confront the complex task of co-ordinating lift capabilities for participating elements across the world. This, too, can only slow deployment. Logistics and sustainment arrangements are gradually improving, but the UN is still coming to grips with the challenge of supplying different national contingents with a wide range of equipment.

A UN RDMHQ of some sixty-one personnel could provide the necessary impetus for developing and co-ordinating headquarters arrangements, but there are legitimate doubts about its ability to fulfil its five primary tasks in any period of intense activity where it may face multiple operations. Even in its full composition, it is still only the shell of an operational mission headquarters. As presently constituted, it is best seen as a necessary improvisation, an arrangement that may need to be rapidly augmented.

Current plans entail a multidimensional RDMHQ of both civilian and military personnel. This is to be encouraged, as it has grown out of the requirement to address the diverse needs of people in desperate circumstances. SHIRBRIG, however, is a purely military force. While this facilitated the brigade's organisation, planners would be wise to expand its composition with civilians in both planning and deployable elements. For there are limitations to what military force alone can achieve. To secure respect, legitimacy, and consent (i.e., host nation approval) it is increasingly important, even in rapid deployment, to provide a broader range of incentives and services in the initial stages of a UN operation.

In sum, while current efforts are definitely helpful, additional arrangements will be necessary to provide reliable and effective responses to increasingly complex conflicts.

There are numerous potential tasks for a UN rapid deployment capability. Roles and responsibilities for specific missions will vary with Security Council mandates, of course, and much will depend on what is provided and on what terms. Expectations vary considerably over the tasks that should be incorporated into planning.

Many officials propose that any rapid deployment capability should assume responsibility for the initial stages of a peacekeeping mission. Deployable elements will be the first in to establish security, headquarters, and services, and then the first out, to be replaced by regular peacekeeping contingents within four to six months. Such a capability is also seen as the preferred instrument for preventive deployment.[97] Moreover, as the effectiveness of any UN rapid deployment capability will diminish once a conflict has escalated to open warfare, there is a case to be made for restricting its early use to proactive and preventive measures. If it is to succeed in stemming imminent crises, an enduring emphasis will have to be accorded to flexibility and mobility. In 1995, Sir Brian Urquhart outlined the following range of potential roles:

Urquhart expressed support for a new standing UN capability in which the "rules of engagement and for the use of force will be different from either peacekeeping or enforcement actions." Flexibility was a prerequisite: the force "will be trained in peacekeeping and problem-solving techniques but will also have the training, expertise and esprit de corps to pursue those tasks in difficult, and even violent circumstances."[99] Indeed, such a mechanism can be more easily justified if it can provide a cost-effective and timely response to an array of challenges.

The confusion emanating from discussions of what a rapid deployment capability is intended for stems partly from two distinct but complementary objectives.[100] Initial interest in developing a rapid-deployment capability was premised on the need to improve peacekeeping. But expectations were also raised at the prospect of a mechanism which would be capable of prompt, decisive responses to desperate situations even those which necessitated humanitarian intervention and limited enforcement. In the near term, these latter hopes may not be fulfilled. It should be acknowledged that there are also far more ambitious objectives similar to those outlined in the UN Charter, including the gradual development of a collective security system that facilitates a wider process of disarmament.

However, as we begin to understand the need for increasingly flexible options and a wider array of instruments, the range of choice appears to have narrowed. UNSAS stipulates that the resources are to be used exclusively for peacekeeping.[101] Similarly, the RDMHQ and SHIRBRIG are also strictly for Chapter VI operations. While this may attract initial support, it may entail political and operational constraints. In cases involving extreme violations of human rights, including genocide, the UN may be unable to intervene rapidly if the situation demands a mandate beyond peacekeeping. Strict adherence to Chapter VI, could diminish the wider deterrent effect, as well as its capacity for dissuasion.

The prospects for preventive deployment in the critical early stages of a conflict may be impeded by delays in arranging the consent of various factions or agreement among contributors. The experience of the past decade suggests that even supportive member states are inclined to "wait and watch" as they assess the risks, the costs, and the conditions for participation. Incipient distant crises seldom present the images or the political pressure necessary to mobilise governments into preventive action.

This dilemma may be partially resolved with the 'wider' interpretation accorded to peace support operations. Over the past five years, this has become an increasingly sophisticated exercise combining positive incentives with coercive inducement strategies. Kofi Annan suggests UN operations will continue to evolve and expand with two main tasks: first, suppressing violence with a credible coercive capacity, the purpose of which is to intimidate recalcitrants into co-operating and second, assisting the parties toward reconciliation with the provision of rewards in the mission area, including what the military refers to as "civic action," as well as broader peace incentives.[102] Expanded multidimensional operations entailed some of the more robust tools associated with limited enforcement, as well as broader peacebuilding services. Security Council mandates for Chapter VI operations began to acknowledge these wider requirements and DPKO has demonstrated its capacity to provide sound guidance and planning. An array of expanded tasks may be accommodated within Chapter VI, but these and others that require immediate preventive action will continue to challenge both the UN and its member states. Neither will be able to escape the need for more substantive resources, new mechanisms, and innovative practices.[103]

Further Requirements: A Proposal to Expand the Foundation[104]

The development of a reliable and effective UN capability will take time, vision, and a coherent, goal-oriented plan, one that is guided by a long-term sense of purpose and the prospect of contributing to a critical mechanism for conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. As we look to the long term, it is evident that there will be a need for further measures that complement and build on the existing foundation. The prospect of immediately initiating some form of UN standing capability is remote, but an ongoing cumulative development process appears feasible. Several stages are envisaged in this development. As capabilities are consolidated at each stage, one can anticipate a parallel expansion in the scope and scale of potential activities. One assumes the UN will require a capability commensurate with the tasks it is likely to be assigned.

There are several cost-effective options that merit consideration by the United Nations, its member states, and interested parties. The following sequential proposals are intended to stimulate further discussion and analysis:

UN Standing Emergency Capability

Experienced officers, civilian experts, and qualified planners can be seconded to the base and co-assigned responsibility to expand the operational and tactical foundation for future efforts.

To manage a variety of complex tasks effectively, it is in the interests of all parties to shift from a skeletal RDMHQ within UNHQ, New York to a static, expanded operational-level headquarters at a UN base. It would also be prudent for cost-effectiveness, as well as for the obvious benefits from a military, doctrinal, and administrative perspective, to co-locate two field-deployable tactical (mission) headquarters at this base.

The general reluctance to move quickly can be partially overcome by stationing these multinational elements in a sound operational and tactical structure. The response times of standing multinational elements should be considerably quicker than the projected fifteen- to thirty-day response from home-based national SHIRBRIG elements. Tactical units and civilians would still remain under national political control and operational command. Locating these elements under the operational control of the permanent headquarters would improve multinational training, exercises, lift, and logistics co-ordination. Standing co-located national units would enhance overall effectiveness, increase the prospect of timely national approval and lead to faster responses. Several multinational SHIRBRIG's might also fill a large void in the current system of conflict prevention and management.

Stage Four: A Composite Standing Emergency Capability

The integration of UN volunteers into this group should be viewed as a complementary and mutually reinforcing stage in the development of an increasingly effective UN rapid deployment capability. Its relatively small size would alleviate fears of a new supranational force. Moreover, the use of this relatively discrete UN emergency capability could only be authorised by the UN Security Council and directed by the UN Secretary-General or his special representative.

A standing emergency capability with dedicated UN volunteers might respond to a crisis within twenty-four hours of a decision by the Security Council. Expanding the operational and tactical structure of this capability to include dedicated UN personnel would also expand the range of options at the political and strategic levels. As the Commission on Global Governance reported in 1995, "the very existence of an immediately available and effective UN Volunteer Force could be a deterrent in itself. It could also give important support for negotiation and the peaceful settlement of disputes."[105] The Report of the Independent Working Group on the Future of the United Nations expressed its preference for a standing UN Volunteer Force to enhance the UN's performance in both time and function.[106] The Carnegie Commission report acknowledged that "a standing force may well be necessary for effective prevention."[107] A Canadian discussion paper on the issue acknowledges that:

It would provide the UN with a small but totally reliable, well-trained and cohesive group for deployment by the Security Council in urgent situations. It would break one of the key log-jams in the current UN system, namely the insistence by troop contributing nations that they authorise the use of their national forces prior to each deployment. It would also simplify command and control arrangements in UN peace support operations, and put an end to conflicts between UN commanders and contingent commanders reporting to national authorities.[108]

The case for such a capability is premised on the need not only to avert human suffering, but also to reduce the high costs of major peacekeeping and enforcement operations, not to mention the reconstruction of war-torn societies.[109] As Urquhart writes, it"…should be seen as a vital investment for the future, and one which by its very nature, is designed to act at the point where action can be most effective, thus eliminating or reducing the necessity for later, larger, less effective, more costly options."[110]

Recurring costs for a standing UN brigade have been estimated at $253 million US per annum. Acquiring a redundant military base capable of hosting 10,000 personnel might reduce the start-up costs. Ultimately, the UN will also require its own equipment if the deployable elements of a standing capability are to be interoperable. Standardisation of equipment and vehicles would greatly reduce overall costs in terms of manpower and overhead. To acquire equipment for a UN brigade would likely entail an expenditure of approximately $500-600 million US. Clearly, this new UN capability would not entail a significant financial burden if shared proportionally among 185 member states.[111]

A host of related issues will have to be addressed before any standing capability becomes a reality. Financing is one major concern. Developing the organisational and operational capacity of the United Nations to the point where it has the confidence of member states is another. But these issues hardly preclude the need to design a compelling sequence of steps that will facilitate the transition to a viable, permanent UN capability. Making the case for a more robust force, Carl Kaysen and George Rathjens write:

There could be great benefit in getting on with dealing with these other problems — regardless of the creation of a standing military force — but we do not believe that progress in the analysis of the case for a standing force, and possibly its recruitment and training should be delayed pending its resolution. We do concede the case for such a force will be much stronger to the extent one can assume substantial progress in these other areas.[112]

The Netherlands study demonstrated that many of the technical obstacles are surmountable. The Danish study did not rule out permanently assigning military units to the UN, but acknowledged that it was a long-term option.[113] And the Canadian study noted that, "no matter how difficult this goal now seems, it deserves continued study with a clear process for assessing its feasibility over the long term."[114]

One of the initial statements of the Canadian study cautiously advised that, "any plan to operate a standing force presupposes adjustments at the political, strategic and tactical levels, which in many cases must be put in place on an incremental basis, starting as soon as possible."[115] Many of these adjustments are now in place. Although no time frames were established, it would appear we are now at the mid-term of a process that needs to be revitalised. Both the Security Council and other member states are likely to need powerful encouragement to resume and expand this process. In this respect, there are several preliminary yet, critical requirements.

First, the need for a wider educational process is now evident, as is the need for a broad-based coalition and constituency of support. A new 'soft power' approach could help to advance both objectives.[116] Aside from the benefits of informing member states and citizens, it might rejuvenate the 'Friends', prompt further partnerships, and activate numerous supportive NGOs and related parties. Of equal importance, is the need to draw the initiative back from the exclusive domain of 'high politics' between states, and what has become a relatively dysfunctional Security Council. This would effectively entail a campaign to democratise, politicise and publicise further discussions. By encouraging a clearer appreciation of the issues and current arrangements, there is the prospect of increasing confidence and commitment. This might also be a useful step toward acquiring wider political influence and leverage, as well as attracting powerful political champions. The latter can only lead as far as their constituents are prepared to provide support.

Second, if rapid deployment is to succeed as a legitimate and widely-valued mechanism for conflict prevention, there will be a need to ensure a far more comprehensive and sophisticated approach. Whereas much attention has been devoted to ensuring sufficient 'hard power' (military forces) capable of restoring security, greater efforts will have to be devoted to ensuring they are accompanied by 'soft power' civilian elements that can restore hope and address human needs. Complex political emergencies will demand prompt attention from both.

Third, it is time to restore the vision that inspired these and former efforts to empower the United Nations. Regrettably, the earlier sense of opportunity and hope has faded, replaced by heightened cynicism and despair. Few recognise the potential to transform the wider security environment through an expansion of these capabilities. If we hope to inspire a broader base of support, there will be a need to demonstrate the potential benefits.[117] In the short-term, this capability should help to prevent and resolve some violent conflicts, not all. That is progress, as well as an indication of potential. Although there are risks in being too ambitious at the outset, there are reasons why opponents of a UN rapid deployment capability view it as a subversive process and a 'slippery slope'. Any demonstration of success might encourage further co-operation toward the far more ambitious objective of a co-operative security system – a likely pre-requisite for moving on to an era of global human security.

Progress in addressing the three preliminary requirements of revitalising wider efforts, ensuring the inclusion of appropriate elements, and restoring the necessary vision, will likely depend on the extent to which officials begin to recognise the potential contribution of conflict resolution and peace studies. These are common objectives that cannot be managed in isolation. It is time for a far more inclusive and co-operative approach that draws on the respective strengths of all supportive parties.


At the dawn of this new millennium, the UN will have a preliminary rapid deployment capability for peace support operations. Three middle powers -- Canada, The Netherlands and Denmark -- were instrumental in co-ordinating related studies and broad co-operation through national and international consultative processes, as well as the development of a supportive organisational framework. In turn the UN Secretariat and the Friends of Rapid Deployment played a pivotal role in both prompting and implementing supportive changes. The majority of their short-term objectives were either achieved or are being implemented. There are substantive increases in the quantity and quality of resources listed in the UN Standby Arrangement System. A UN rapid deployment mission headquarters may soon be available to assist in the critical start-up phase of new operations. A multinational Standby High-Readiness brigade is available. As previously noted, over the past five years there has been supportive innovation at the political, strategic, operational and tactical levels.

As Kofi Annan wrote, "the initiatives taken by these countries have been valuable both for what they have achieved in themselves and for the way in which they have refocused the debate among peace-keeping contributors at large." He went on to note: "in the context of that wider group, however, a number of further actions will need to be taken if we are to intervene more effectively in either a preventive or curative capacity."[118] Fortunately, both the UN and member states now have a base foundation on which to take further action.

The potential for wider systemic change is evident. There are cost-effective and more reliable options that merit serious consideration and action. In the last several years, there have been noteworthy attempts to model the composition of viable UN standing forces.[119] Several of these studies have demonstrated that there are few, if any, insurmountable operational or tactical impediments. One shortcoming, that is also frequently evident in the numerous studies cited since 1945, is the inability to address how such a dedicated UN mechanism might be established. What approach or transition strategy might mobilise political will, attract wider support, increase confidence and restore the necessary momentum?

Both pragmatists and visionaries are aware that the recent political environment was not conducive to the immediate establishment of a UN standing force. Nor, in the earlier period of unprecedented activity, was the Organisation prepared to manage additional, controversial capabilities. As well, by 1997 the former political and diplomatic enthusiasm dissipated quickly when it encountered concerns related to sovereignty, risks, representation, limited support and insufficient financing. Yet rapid changes, ongoing conflicts, and the wider challenges of interdependence, are now altering the former context. We can anticipate a review of contemporary approaches and mechanisms for preventing and resolving violent conflict, including the option of a UN standing capability or force. In the earlier words of Stephen Kinloch, "driven back, the idea will, as in the past, ineluctably re-emerge, Phoenix-like, at the most favourable opportunity."[120]

Rather than await the next catastrophe, it is time to consider how additional SHIRBRIGs and dedicated UN standing elements might be introduced as a complementary expansion on current arrangements.[121] In this respect, independent analysis may still be necessary to generate the ideas that can move events.[122] Further progress will likely depend on far wider educational efforts directed not only at the governments of UN member states but also at global civil society. Among the challenges that warrant consideration are:

Modest progress has been made since William R. Frye made the case for a planned evolution in his seminal 1957 study, A United Nations Peace Force. We have yet to achieve Frye's objective, but it is worth recalling his words:

Establishment of a small, permanent peace force, or the machinery for one, could be the first step on the long road toward order and stability. Progress cannot be forced, but it can be helped to evolve. That which is radical one year can become conservative and accepted the next.[123]

The failure to avert organised mass murder in Rwanda prompted a reappraisal, as well as a multinational process that must now be revitalised and accelerated in the aftermath of Kosovo and East Timor. The phenomenon of 'too little', 'too late', 'too lame' or 'too lethal' has simply gone on for far too long. But, there are promising options and with further co-operation, we can do better. The former UN DPKO web page on the RDMHQ provides an appropriate conclusion, as well as an indication of the need for further support:

United Nations Peace-Keeping
Please Bear With Us!
Under Construction


Published in Oliver Ramsbotham and Tom Woodhouse, (eds.), Warlords, Hawks and Doves: Peacekeeping as Conflict Resolution , (London: Frank Cass Publishing, 2000).
Reprinted in International Peacekeeping, Spring 2000. H. Peter Langille, MA, PhD
Global Human Security: Ideas & Initiatives
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About NFIU

NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius, Lithuania, was inaugurated on 3 September 2015 at a formal ceremony attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė.

The NFIU in Lithuania is one of the six small new headquarters established by NATO in Central and Eastern European member countries in response to the recent changes in security environment.

During the NFIU inauguration ceremony in Vilnius, a plaque with the NFIU sign was unveiled by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Gen. Peter Pavel and the Chief of Defence of Lithuania Gen. Ltn. Jonas Vytautas Žukas. Photos by Alfredas Pliadis.

The establishment of these six NFIUs in six Allies, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, was agreed by NATO Heads of State and Government at the Wales Summit in 2014. All the six NFIUs were officially activated on September 1, 2015.

The NATO Force Integration Unit Lithuanian has been officially declared Fully Capable on June 17, 2016 by Chief of Defence of the Republic of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas, following the signing of a letter informing the declaration to General Curtis Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

On June 10, 2016 Full Capability document marking full readiness of the unit to complete its tasks was signed at the Lithuanian Joint Staff HQ where the NFIU is based.

Achievement of Full Operational Capability after 9 months of intense work is an important landmark in the implementation of the decisions taken at the NATO Summit in Wales, and the first step on the NFIU LTU way to carry out its mission, i.e., to facilitate operative deployment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and other allied forces in Lithuania.

All the six NFIUs are planned to reach full operational capability by the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016.

Activation of the NFIUs is part of NATO's fundamental adaptation in the face of security challenges from the east and the south.

NATO Force Integration Units are small command and control headquarters whose key mission is to facilitate the rapid deployment of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and additional rapid response elements into the region if needed.

The NFIUs will have a key role in planning, exercising, and assisting potential reinforcements, providing a vital link between national forces and multinational NATO forces.


Post-Federation Edit

Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the structure of the new Australian Army was approved in 1903. Included in the new field force were three infantry brigades of both militia and volunteer personnel, each of which consisted of four infantry regiments, three field artillery batteries, a company of engineers, as well as a field hospital and veterinary and supply units in support. The 1st Brigade was raised in New South Wales and the 2nd in Victoria, each consisting primarily of troops recruited from those states respectively, while the 3rd Brigade was based in Queensland from troops based in the remaining states of Queensland, Tasmania, South Australian and Western Australia. [4] Units of the brigade included 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Australian Infantry Regiments. [5] However, by 1906 the field force had been restructured into just two infantry brigades, along with five light horse and four mixed brigades. As a consequence the 3rd Brigade was removed from the Australian Army's order of battle, and its units became part of the mixed Queensland Infantry Brigade established at that time. [6] In 1912, following the introduction of the compulsory training scheme, the brigade was assigned to the 1st Military District. At this time, the brigade's constituent units were located across south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales including Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Warwick, Lismore, Casino and Grafton. [7]

World War I Edit

The 3rd Brigade was re-formed in August 1914, as part of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) which was raised for service overseas during World War I. As part of the 1st Division, the brigade consisted of four infantry battalions—the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Battalions— [8] which were drawn from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. [2]

The brigade was initially commanded by a British regular officer, Colonel Ewen Sinclair-Maclagan. [9] After being deployed to Egypt where they undertook further training, the brigade was committed to the fighting in the Gallipoli campaign, being the first Australian unit to land at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915. They subsequently remained on the peninsula until the end of the campaign in December 1915, taking part in a number of battles including the landing at Suvla Bay and the fighting at Lone Pine and Sari Bair. [2] Following the conclusion of the campaign the brigade was withdrawn and returned to Egypt where a period of reorganisation was undertaken. During this time the AIF was expanded by raising new infantry battalions from cadre personnel drawn from experienced units and bringing in newly trained recruits from Australia. Personnel from the 3rd Brigade were used to raise the 13th Brigade, 4th Division. [10] [11]

Following this, the decision was made to transfer the AIF to Europe to take part in the fighting along the Western Front. In March 1916 the 3rd Brigade, along with the rest of the I Anzac Corps embarked from Egypt bound for France. [12] On 23 July 1916, the brigade took part in its first major battle when it was committed to the fighting on the Somme at Pozières, where the Australian 1st Division advanced 1,000 yards (910 m), capturing the village. [13] In December 1916, Sinclair-MacLagan handed over command to Brigadier General Gordon Bennett, who led the brigade for the rest of the war. [2] Later, throughout 1917 and 1918 battles were fought Bullecourt, Ypres, Menin Road, Passchendale, Hazebrouck, Amiens and along the Hindenburg Line before the fighting came to an end in November 1918. [2]

Interbellum and World War II Edit

Following the war, the 3rd Brigade was disbanded in 1919, [2] however the brigade was later re-raised as part the Citizens Force (which later became known as the Militia). Initially the brigade was based in Brisbane, Queensland, [2] however, in 1921, following a reorganisation of the Australia's part-time military forces, [14] later the brigade was re-allocated to the 4th Division and, consisting of the 10th, 27th, 43rd and 50th Battalions, it was headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia. [2]

In September 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, the Australian government decided to raise an all volunteer force for service overseas during the war. This decision was based upon the provisions of the Defence Act (1903) which precluded sending members of the Militia outside of Australian territory to fight. [15] Meanwhile, the Militia was tasked with home defence, and the 3rd Brigade was assigned a command reserve role within Southern Command. [16] At this time, units of the Militia were called upon to undertake defensive duties and to provide training for men that were called up for national service following the recommencement of the compulsory training scheme in January 1940. [15] Initially this was undertaken in small blocks of continuous training, however, following Japan's entry into the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Malaya in December 1941, the 3rd Brigade was mobilised for wartime service. [2]

Following this the brigade, consisting of the 10th, 27th, 43rd and 48th Battalions, [17] was attached to the Northern Territory Force [18] and sent to Darwin to defend the port against a possible Japanese invasion. Initially, only the 27th and 43rd Battalions were sent to Darwin, while the 3rd Brigade headquarters and 48th Battalion remained in Adelaide, and the 10th Battalion joined the Adelaide Covering Force. In early1943, brigade headquarters deployed north, and the 48th Battalion was transferred to Victoria to join the 6th Brigade. [19]

In March 1943, as the threat of invasion diminished, the brigade was re-allocated to the 4th Division [18] and was withdrawn to Adelaide, before moving to Queensland in July 1944. Here, the brigade concentrated around Townsville, assuming a defensive role across an area that stretched as far as Cape York. The brigade subsequently became a direct command unit of the First Army, and was bolstered with the 6th Field Regiment and the 1st Independent Light Horse Squadron. The 27th Battalion was later transferred to the 23rd Brigade, but was replaced by the 62nd Battalion following its return from Merauke. The brigade was disbanded in April 1944, [2] as part of the reduction of Australian forces that had begun in late 1942 in an effort to release manpower back into the Australian economy. [20] Upon disbandment, the brigade consisted of two infantry battalions, the 55th/53rd and the 62nd Battalions. [17] While the 62nd Battalion was disbanded at this time, along with the 3rd Brigade's headquarters, the 55th/53rd Battalion remained in existence as a direct command unit of the First Army. [21]

Post-war deployments Edit

When Australia's military began reforming in 1948, [22] the brigade was not initially re-raised under the reduced establishment that was adopted at the time. [23] In 1967, however, the brigade was returned to the order of battle, albeit under the guise of the 3rd Task Force, as part of the expansion of the Australian Army during the Vietnam War. [2] Based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville and under the command of Brigadier E. Logan, the 3rd Task Force was made up of three infantry battalions—the 1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment—as well as one squadron from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, the 4th Field Regiment and the 3rd Field Engineer Regiment. [2] Although the task force did not deploy to Vietnam as a formed unit, most its component units were sent. [2] In 1973, following the end of Australia's involvement in Vietnam, the 3rd Task Force was re-allocated to the 1st Division and later, in 1981, readopted the designation of the 3rd Brigade. [2] During the 1980s the brigade served primarily as the Operational Deployment Force, which was tasked with providing a robust warfighting capability to the government available for rapid deployment anywhere in the world. [24] In this capacity elements from the brigade took part in Operation Morris Dance in 1987, in response to a coup in Fiji. [25]

During the early 1990s, the brigade provided elements for a number of peacekeeping operations overseas. These included deployments to Somalia, [26] Cambodia, Rwanda and Bougainville. [2] In 1999, the brigade provided the majority of the Australian Army combat units that were initially deployed to International Force for East Timor (INTERFET)—the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment, [27] and elements of the 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment, the 4th Field Regiment and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment—with the brigade headquarters overseeing the force's operations along the tense East Timorese–Indonesian border. In May 2006 headquarters elements of the brigade, fundamentally personnel drawn from 3 RAR, deployed to East Timor to command all Australian forces operating in East Timor as part of Operation Astute, with subunits also provided by 1 and 2 RAR and the 4th Field Regiment (along with others drawn from outside the brigade). [28]

The brigade is currently a combined arms formation and it fulfils the role of the Australian Army's ready deployment force on rotation. Recent operations have included deployments to Iraq as part of the Security Detachment Iraq (SECDET) [29] and the Al Muthanna Task Group (AMTG-3), [30] Afghanistan, and the Solomon Islands. [2] [31]

The 3rd Brigade currently has an authorised strength of 3,800 personnel [32] and consists of the following units: [33]

  • Brigade Headquarters (motorised infantry) (mechanised infantry) (M777 Howitzer) (armoured cavalry)
  • 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion
  • 3rd Combat Signals Regiment.

The following units are not part of the brigade's establishment, but are tasked with supporting it: [34]

All of the brigade's units are based in Townsville, with 3 RAR re-locating from Sydney's Holsworthy Barracks in 2012. [35] 3 RAR had previously formed the main combat elements of Australia's parachute battalion group. Under reforms announced in 2006, 3 RAR converted to a pure light infantry battalion and relocated to Townsville. [36] [37]

In late 2011, the Australian government announced that under a restructuring program known as Plan Beersheba, the 1st, 3rd and 7th Brigades would be reformed as combined arms multi-role manoeuvre brigades with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (part of the 3rd Brigade) as the core of a future amphibious force [38] (similar to the US Marine Corps). [39] Under the plan, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was transferred to the 3rd Brigade from the 1st in October–November 2014, transitioning to the ACR structure. [40] As part of this transition, B Squadron, 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment, which was previously assigned to the 3rd Brigade, was transferred to the 11th Brigade and re-raised as a Reserve unit. [41]

As of mid-October 2017, the 3rd Brigade was reduced to two infantry battalions, with 2 RAR being transferred as a direct command unit of headquarters of the 1st Division, serving as a specialist amphibious warfare unit. [42]

Strategy [ edit | edit source ]

The concept of Rapid Deployment is a cornerstone of contemporary military defense and strike capabilities. The possibility to instantly move land units between any two cities, even if they're on different continents, allows for unparalleled strategic options, both in defense and offense. Keep a task force close to strategically placed Aerodromes with Airports and you will be ready to react instantly to any unpleasant surprises from your enemies (as long as their targets also have Aerodromes with Airports, of course).

Rapid Deployment allows all land units to be transported between any two Aerodromes that both contain an Airport. Transportation is possible from all tiles adjacent to the Aerodrome and/or City Center of the origin city, to all tiles adjacent to the destination city's Aerodrome.

Another option is to build a strategically located outpost city, then equip it with an Airport and it will turn into a base for an invasion. You will be able to move an army there instantly, without giving time to your enemies to prepare for defense.


The United States National Tactical Officers Association definition of SWAT is:

SWAT: A designated law enforcement team whose members are recruited, selected, trained, equipped and assigned to resolve critical incidents involving a threat to public safety which would otherwise exceed the capabilities of traditional law enforcement first responders and/or investigative units. [1]

Riots and political conflicts of the 1960s

According to the Historical Dictionary of Law Enforcement, the term "SWAT" was used as an acronym for the "Special Weapons and Tactics" established as a 100-man specialized unit in 1964 by the Philadelphia Police Department in response to an alarming increase in bank robberies. The purpose of this unit was to react quickly and decisively to bank robberies while they were in progress, by utilizing a large number of specially trained officers who had at their disposal a great amount of firepower. The tactic worked and was later soon to resolve other types of incidents involving heavily armed criminals. [2] [3] Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Inspector Daryl Gates has said that he first envisioned "SWAT" as an acronym for "Special Weapons Attack Team" in 1967, but later accepted "Special Weapons and Tactics" on the advice of his deputy chief, Edward M. Davis. [4]

The LAPD promoted what became known as SWAT teams for a variety of reasons. After the racially charged Watts riots in Los Angeles in August 1965, the LAPD began considering tactics it could use when faced with urban unrest, rioting, or widespread violence. Daryl Gates, who led the LAPD response to the riots, would later write that police at the time didn't face a single mob, but rather "people attacking from all directions." [4] New York University professor Christian Parenti has written that SWAT teams were originally conceived of as an "urban counterinsurgency bulwark." [5] : 112

Another reason for the creation of SWAT teams was the fear of lone or barricaded gunmen who might outperform police in a shootout, as happened in Austin with Charles Whitman. [4]

After the LAPD's establishment of its own SWAT team, many law enforcement agencies across the United States established their own specialized units under various names. Gates explained in his autobiography Chief: My Life in the LAPD that he neither developed SWAT tactics nor the associated and often distinctive equipment but that he supported the underlying concept, tried to empower his people to develop it, and generally lent them moral support. [6] [7]

SWAT-type operations were conducted [ when? ] north of Los Angeles in the farming community of Delano, California on the border between Kern and Tulare Counties in the San Joaquin Valley. At the time, the United Farm Workers union led by César Chavez was staging numerous protests in Delano in a strike that would last over five years. [4] Though the strike never turned violent, the Delano Police Department responded by forming ad-hoc SWAT-type units involving crowd and riot control, sniper skills and surveillance. [4] Television news stations and print media carried live and delayed reportage of these events across the United States. Personnel from the LAPD, having seen these broadcasts, contacted Delano and inquired about the program. One officer then obtained permission to observe the Delano Police Department's special weapons and tactics units in action, and afterwards, he took what he had learned back to Los Angeles, where his knowledge was used and expanded on to form the LAPD's own first SWAT unit.

John Nelson was the officer who conceived the idea to form a specially trained and equipped unit in the LAPD, intended to respond to and manage critical situations involving shootings while minimizing police casualties. Inspector Gates approved this idea, and he formed a small select group of volunteer officers. This first SWAT unit initially consisted of fifteen teams of four men each, making a total staff of sixty. These officers were given special status and benefits, and were required to attend special monthly training sessions. The unit also served as a security unit for police facilities during civil unrest. The LAPD SWAT units were organized as "D Platoon" in the Metro division. [6]

Early police powers and tactics used by SWAT teams were aided by legislation passed in 1967-8 with the help of Republican House representative Donald Santarelli. The legislation was promoted within the context of fears over the Civil Rights Movement, race riots, the Black Panther Party, and the emerging War on Drugs. [4]

The first significant deployment of the LAPD's SWAT unit was on December 9, 1969, in a four-hour confrontation with members of the Black Panthers in a densely populated area of Los Angeles. The raid was problematic from the start, leading to a shootout in which Daryl Gates phoned the Department of Defense, requesting and receiving permission to use a grenade launcher. The Panthers eventually surrendered, with four Panthers and four officers being injured. All six arrested Panthers were acquitted of the most serious charges brought against them, including conspiracy to murder police officers, because it was ruled that they acted in self-defense. [4]

By 1974, there was a general acceptance of SWAT as a resource for the city and county of Los Angeles.

1974 Symbionese Liberation Army conflict

On the afternoon of May 17, 1974, elements of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a group of heavily armed left-wing guerrillas, barricaded themselves in a residence on East 54th Street at Compton Avenue in Los Angeles. Coverage of the siege was broadcast to millions via television and radio and featured in the world press for days afterwards. SWAT teams engaged in a several-hour gun battle with the SLA no police were wounded, but the six SLA members died in the conflict, which ended when the house caught fire and burned to the ground.

By the time of the SLA shootout, SWAT teams had reorganized into six 10-man teams, each team being divided further into two five-man units, called elements. An element consisted of an element leader, two assaulters, a scout, and a rear-guard. The normal complement of weapons was a sniper rifle (a .243-caliber bolt-action, based on the ordnance expended by officers at the shootout), two .223-caliber semi-automatic rifles, and two shotguns. SWAT officers also carried their service revolvers in shoulder holsters. Standard gear included a first aid kit, gloves, and a military gas mask. At a time when officers were usually issued six-shot revolvers and shotguns, it was a significant change to have police armed with semi-automatic rifles. The encounter with the heavily armed Symbionese Liberation Army, however, sparked a trend towards SWAT teams being issued body armor and automatic weapons of various types.

A report issued by the LAPD after the SLA shootout offers one of the few firsthand accounts by the department regarding SWAT history, operations, and organization. On page 100 of the report, the Department cites four trends which prompted the development of SWAT. These included riots such as the Watts riots, which in the 1960s forced the LAPD and other police departments into tactical situations for which they were ill-prepared the emergence of snipers as a challenge to civil order political assassinations and the threat of urban guerrilla warfare by militant groups. "The unpredictability of the sniper and his anticipation of normal police response increase the chances of death or injury to officers. To commit conventionally trained officers to a confrontation with a guerrilla-trained militant group would likely result in a high number of casualties among the officers and the escape of the guerrillas." To deal with these under conditions of urban violence, the LAPD formed SWAT, notes the report. The report states on page 109, "The purpose of SWAT is to provide protection, support, security, firepower, and rescue to police operations in high personal risk situations where specialized tactics are necessary to minimize casualties." [8]

The "War on Drugs": 1980s and 1990s

In 1981 U.S. Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, giving police access to military intelligence, infrastructure, and weaponry in the fight against drugs. Reagan subsequently declared drugs to be a threat to U.S. national security. [9] : 76–77 In 1988 the Reagan administration encouraged Congress to create the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Program. The program modified existing federal aid structures to local police, making it easier to transfer money and equipment to fight the War on Drugs. Police forces also received increased assistance from the DEA. The money resulted in the creation of many narcotics task forces, and SWAT teams became an important part of these forces. [9] : 73–75

In 1972, paramilitary police units launched a few hundred drug raids annually within the United States. In the early 1980s, SWAT drug raid numbers increased to 3000 annually, and by 1996, 30,000 raids annually. [9] : 73–75 During the 1990s, according to The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, weapons donations from the Pentagon greatly bolstered the number of SWAT teams and the extent of their operations. The paper reported that the military transferred nearly 100,000 pieces of military equipment to Wisconsin police departments in the 1990s. [9] : 77

Criminal justice professors Peter Kraska and Victor Kappeler, in their study Militarizing American Police: The Rise and Normalization of Paramilitary Units, surveyed police departments nationwide and found that their deployment of paramilitary units had grown tenfold between the early 1980s and late 1990s. [10]

Columbine shooting

The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado on April 20, 1999 was another seminal event in SWAT tactics and police response. As perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were shooting students and staff inside the school, officers did not intervene in the shooting, but instead set a perimeter as they were trained to do. By the time they did enter the school, 12 people were killed and Harris and Klebold had committed suicide. They were also heavily criticized for not saving teacher Dave Sanders, who had died from blood loss, three hours after the SWAT first entered the school. [11] [12] As noted in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, "Instead of being taught to wait for the SWAT team to arrive, street officers are receiving the training and weaponry to take immediate action during incidents that clearly involve suspects' use of deadly force." [13] The article further reported that street officers were increasingly being armed with rifles, and issued heavy body armor and ballistic helmets, items traditionally associated with SWAT units. The idea was to train and equip street officers to make a rapid response to so-called active shooter situations. In these situations, it was no longer acceptable to simply set up a perimeter and wait for SWAT. As an example, in the policy and procedure manual of the Minneapolis Police Department, it is stated, "MPD personnel shall remain cognizant of the fact that in many active shooter incidents, innocent lives are lost within the first few minutes of the incident. In some situations, this dictates the need to rapidly assess the situation and act quickly in order to save lives." [14]

Post-9/11 and the War on Terror

According to criminal justice professor Cyndi Banks, the War on Terror, like the War on Drugs, became the context of a significant expansion of SWAT policing. [15] Whereas some have attributed this expansion to "mission creep" and the militarization of police, other scholars argue that increased SWAT policing is a response to real or perceived moral panics associated with fear of crime and terrorism. Banks writes that SWAT team employment of military veterans has influenced their tactics and perspective. [15] : 33–39

Countering the view that post-9/11 SWAT policing represents the militarization of police forces, scholar den Heyer writes that SWAT policing is part of a natural progression towards police professionalization. Den Heyer also argues that while SWAT teams continue to be deployed to executing large numbers of drug warrants, this is a rational use of available police resources. [15] : 39 Other defenders of SWAT raids state that police departments have every reason to minimize risks to themselves during raids. [15] : 39

By 2005, the number of yearly SWAT deployments in the United States had increased to 50,000, [16] : 183–4 [17] : 13–14 most often to serve drug-related warrants in private homes. [15] [18] : 205 According to a study by the ACLU, just under 80% of SWAT deployments were used to serve arrest warrants. [19]

Officers have cited safety as the main reason for use of SWAT teams, stating that SWAT units would frequently be called if there were a possibility a suspect might be armed. For instance in 2006, only two police officers were killed in the arrest of 2 million drug suspects, a low casualty rate possibly stemming from the military equipment and tactics used in the raids. [17] : 13–14

On February 7, 2008, a siege and subsequent firefight with a shooter in the Winnetka neighborhood of Los Angeles led to the first line-of-duty death of a member of the LAPD's SWAT team in its 41 years of existence. [20]

Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko, in his book Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, argues that increased SWAT raids have made no-knock raids, and danger to innocents and suspects, far greater. [21] Another study, Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments by Diane Cecilia Weber, also of the Cato Institute, raises concern about the increasing use of SWAT teams for ordinary policing tasks. [22]

The relative infrequency of SWAT call-outs means these expensively trained and equipped officers cannot be left to sit around, waiting for an emergency. In many departments the officers are normally deployed to regular duties, but are available for SWAT calls via pagers, mobile phones, or radio transceivers. Even in larger police agencies, such as the LAPD or the NYPD, SWAT personnel will normally be seen in crime suppression roles—specialized and more dangerous than regular patrol, perhaps, but the officers would not be carrying their distinctive armor and weapons.

Since officers have to be on call-out most of the day, they may be assigned to regular patrol duties. To decrease response times to situations that require a SWAT team, it is now a common practice to place SWAT equipment and weaponry in secured lockers in the trunks of specialized police cruisers. Departments that often use this style of organization are county sheriffs, due to the different sizes of counties, and the predominance of back-roads. In places like Los Angeles, where traffic may be heavy, the LAPD uses cruisers such as this to respond with their officers so they do not have to return to a police station to armor up. However, heavier duty equipment may be needed depending on the situation that arises.

By illustration, the LAPD's website shows that in 2003, their SWAT units were activated 255 times [23] for 133 SWAT calls and 122 times to serve high-risk warrants. The NYPD Emergency Service Unit is one of the few police special-response units that operate autonomously 24 hours a day. However, this unit also provides a wide range of services in addition to SWAT functions, including search and rescue, and car accident vehicle extrication, normally handled by fire departments or other agencies.

The need to summon widely dispersed personnel, then equip and brief them, makes for a long lag between the initial emergency and actual SWAT deployment on the ground. The problems of delayed police response at Columbine led to changes in police response, [24] mainly rapid deployment of line officers to deal with an active shooter, rather than setting up a perimeter and waiting for SWAT to arrive.

SWAT teams use equipment designed for a variety of specialist situations including close-quarters combat (CQC) in an urban environment. The particular pieces of equipment vary from unit to unit, but there are some consistent trends in what they wear and use. [25] Much of their equipment is indistinguishable from that supplied to the military, not least because much of it is military surplus. [26] [27]


SWAT personnel wear similar utility uniforms to the tactical uniforms worn by the military. Many police departments have diverged from the original standard black or blue uniforms, and SWAT uniforms now include plain military green and camouflage patterns. [28]

Originally SWAT units were equipped with WWII-surplus steel helmets, or even fiberglass motorcycle helmets. [29] Modern SWAT units commonly use the standard US military helmet. Fire retardant balaclavas are often used to protect the face, as well as to protect the identity of team members. [29] [30] Ballistic vests, sometimes including rigid plate inserts, are standard issue. [30] These vests are labelled with "POLICE", "SHERIFF", "SWAT" or similar, to allow for easy identification. [31]


While a wide variety of weapons are used by SWAT teams, the most common weapons include submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles. [25]

Tactical aids include flash bangs, stingers, and tear gas grenades. [32] Canine units may also be incorporated within SWAT teams, or may be used on an ad hoc basis. [33]

The 9 mm Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun used to be the mainstay of most SWAT teams, [34] but this has been phased out by many departments in favor of 5.56 carbines, [35] such as the Colt CAR-15 [34] and the more modern M4. [36] Common shotguns used by SWAT units include the semi-automatic Benelli M1 and, to a lesser extent, the pump-action Remington 870. [34]

Semi-automatic pistols are the most popular sidearms. Examples may include, but are not limited to: M1911 pistol series, [34] [37] SIG Sauer series [38] [39] (especially the P226 [37] [39] [40] and P229), Beretta 92 series, [39] Glock pistols, [38] [41] [37] [42] [43] [44] H&K USP series, [39] [45] and 5.7x28mm FN Five-seveN pistol. [46]

The Colt M16A2 may be used by SWAT marksmen when a longer ranged weapon is needed. [34] Common sniper rifles used are M14 rifle and the Remington 700P. [34] [38] [40] [43] [44] [45] Many different variants of bolt action rifles are used by SWAT, including limited use of .50 caliber sniper rifles for more intense situations. [47]

To breach doors quickly, battering rams, shotguns with breaching rounds, or explosive charges can be used to break the lock or hinges, or even demolish the door frame itself. SWAT teams also use many non-lethal munitions and weapons. These include Tasers, pepper spray canisters, shotguns loaded with bean bag rounds, Pepperball guns, stinger grenades, flash bang grenades, and tear gas. Ballistic shields are used in close quarters situations to provide cover for SWAT team members and reflect gunfire. Pepperball guns are essentially paint ball markers loaded with balls containing oleoresin capsicum ("pepper spray").


SWAT units may also employ ARVs (Armored Rescue Vehicle [48] ) for insertion, maneuvering, or during tactical operations such as the rescue of civilians, officers, firefighters, and/or military personnel pinned down by gunfire. Helicopters may be used to provide aerial reconnaissance or even insertion via rappelling or fast-roping. To avoid detection by suspects during insertion in urban environments, SWAT units may also use modified buses, vans, trucks, or other seemingly normal vehicles. During the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, LAPD SWAT commandeered an armored cash-delivery truck, which they used to extract wounded civilians and officers from the raging firefight with the heavily armed bank robbers. [49] [50] [51]

Units such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Special Response Team (SRT) used a vehicle called a B.E.A.R., made by Lenco Engineering, which is a very large armored vehicle with a ladder on top to make entry into the second and third floors of buildings. Numerous other agencies such as the LAPD, [52] [53] LASD [53] and NYPD use both the B.E.A.R. and the smaller Lenco BearCat variant. [54] The Anaheim Police Department has a customized B.E.A.R. fitted with a ladder for assaulting multi-story buildings. Many SWAT teams in the states and around the world, including the LAPD, fit their armored and non-armored vehicles with the Patriot3 Liberator and 'MARS' (Mobile Adjustable Ramp System) Elevated Tactics Systems for gaining entry to 2nd- and 3rd-story buildings, airplane assault, sniper positioning, ship access, etc.

The Tulsa Police Department's SOT (Special Operations Team) uses an Alvis Saracen, a British-built armored personnel carrier. The Saracen was modified to accommodate the needs of the SOT. A Night Sun [ clarification needed ] was mounted on top and a ram was mounted to the front. The Saracen has been used from warrant service to emergency response. It has enabled team members to move from one point to another safely.

United States

In late November 2010, Huthaifa al-Batawi, known as al-Qaeda (in Iraq)'s "Emir of Baghdad", was arrested along with 11 others in connection with the 31 October 2010 assault on Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad. Batawi was locked up in a counter-terrorism jail complex in Baghdad's Karrada district. During a failed attempt to escape in May 2011, Batawi and 10 other senior al-Qaeda militants were killed by a SWAT team. [56]


In the colony of Massachusetts Bay, all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to participate in their local militia. [2] As early as 1645 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some men were selected from the general ranks of town-based "training bands" to be ready for rapid deployment. Men so selected were designated as minutemen. They were usually drawn from settlers of each town, and so it was very common for them to be fighting alongside relatives and friends. [ citation needed ]

Some towns in Massachusetts had a long history of designating a portion of their militia as minutemen, with "minute companies" constituting special units within the militia system whose members underwent additional training and held themselves ready to turn out rapidly for emergencies, "at a minute's notice" and hence their name. Other towns, such as Lexington, preferred to keep their entire militia in a single unit.

Members of the minutemen, by contrast, were no more than 30 years old, and were chosen for their enthusiasm, political reliability, and strength. They were the first armed militia to arrive at or await a battle. Officers were elected by popular vote, as in the rest of the militia, and each unit drafted a formal written covenant to be signed upon enlistment.

The militia typically assembled as an entire unit in each town two to four times a year for training during peacetime but, as the inevitability of war became apparent, the militia trained three to four times a week.

In this organization, it was common for officers to make decisions through consultation and consensus with their men, as opposed to giving orders to be followed without question.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress found that the colony's militia resources were short just before the American Revolutionary War, on October 26, 1774, after observing the British military buildup. They found that, "including the sick and absent, it amounted to about 17,000 men, far short of the number wanted, that the council recommended an immediate application to the New England governments to make up the deficiency,", resolving to organize the militia better: [3]

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress recommended to the militia to form themselves into companies of minute-men, who should be equipped and prepared to march at the shortest notice. These minute-men were to comprise one-quarter of the whole militia, to be enlisted under the direction of the field-officers, and divide into companies, consisting of at least 50 men each. The privates were to choose their captains and subalterns, and these officers were to form the companies into battalions, and chose the field-officers to command the same. Hence the minute-men became a body distinct from the rest of the militia, and, by being more devoted to military exercises, they acquired skill in the use of arms. More attention than formerly was likewise bestowed on the training and drilling of militia. [3]

The need for efficient minuteman companies was illustrated by the Powder Alarm of 1774. Militia companies were called out to engage British troops, who were sent to capture ammunition stores. By the time the militia was ready, the British regulars had already captured the arms at Cambridge and Charlestown and had returned to Boston. [ citation needed ]

Pequot War Edit

In August 1636, the first offensive military attack by militias failed when Massachusetts dispatched John Endecott with four companies on an unsuccessful campaign against the Pequot Indians. According to one man's account, the expedition succeeded only in killing one Indian and burning some wigwams.

Weeks elapsed between the incidents that caused the march and the arrival of Endecott's men in the area. Once they got there, they did not know which Indians to fight or why. This feeble response served to encourage the Indians, and attacks increased on the settlers in the Connecticut Valley.

In the following year, Massachusetts again put a force on the field in collaboration with Plymouth and Connecticut. By the time that Plymouth had gotten their force packed and ready to march, the campaign had ended. Massachusetts Bay sent 150 militiamen, Plymouth sent 50, and Connecticut sent 90.

New England confederation Edit

In May 1643, a joint council was formed. [4] They published the articles of the New England confederation. The real power of the confederation was that all four of the colonies promised to contribute soldiers to an alert force that would fight anywhere in the colonies.

On September 7, 1643 the towns were given more tactical control. A new rule allowed any general to call up his militia at any time. On August 12, 1645, 30% of all militia were made into short-notice groups (minutemen). Command and control were decentralized to the extent that individual company commanders could put their troops into a defensive battle if necessary. A portion of the militia was well trained and well equipped, and set aside as a ready force.

In May 1653, the Council of Massachusetts said that an eighth of the militia should be ready to march within one day to anywhere in the colony. Eighty militiamen marched on the Narragansett tribe in Massachusetts, though no fighting took place. Since the colonies were expanding, the Narragansetts got desperate and began raiding the colonists again. The militia chased the Indians, caught their chief, and got him to sign an agreement to end fighting.

In 1672, the Massachusetts Council formed a military committee to control the militia in each town. In 1675, the military committee raised an expedition to fight the raiding Wampanoag tribe. A muster call was sent out and four days later, after harsh skirmishes with the Wampanoags, three companies arrived to help the locals. The expedition took heavy losses: two towns were raided, and one 80-man company was killed entirely, including their commander. [ citation needed ] That winter, a thousand militiamen pushed out the Wampanoags.

In response to the success of the Wampanoags, in the Spring of 1676 an alarm system of riders and signals was formed in which each town was required to participate.

Queen Anne's War broke out in 1689, and militiamen throughout the Thirteen Colonies began to muster in preparation for the fighting. In 1690, Colonel William Phips led 600 men to push back the French. Two years later he became governor of Massachusetts. When the French and Indians raided Massachusetts in 1702, Governor Phips created a bounty which paid 10 shillings each for the scalps of Indians. In 1703, snowshoes were issued to militiamen and bounty hunters to make winter raids on the Indians more effective. The minuteman concept was advanced by the snow shoe men.

The Minutemen always kept in touch with the political situation in Boston and their own towns. From 1629 to 1683, the towns had controlled themselves but in 1689, the King appointed governors. By 1772, James Otis and Samuel Adams used the Town Meetings to start a Committee of Correspondence. This instigated a boycott in 1774 of British goods. The Minutemen were aware of this as well.

With a rising number of Minutemen they faced another problem: a lack of gunpowder to support an army for long enough to fight a prolonged campaign against the British. The people of an island controlled by the Dutch, Sint Eustatius, were supportive of the American revolutionaries. As a token of support, they traded gunpowder to the Colonials for other goods needed in Europe. Not only did the Minutemen have political awareness of events in New England, but also of those occurring in Europe, such as Britain's lack of allies. [ citation needed ]

In 1774, General Thomas Gage, the new Governor of Massachusetts, tried to enforce the Intolerable Acts, which were designed to remove power from the towns. Samuel Adams pressed for County Conventions to strengthen the revolutionary resistance. Gage tried to seat his own court in Worcester, but the townspeople blocked the court from sitting. Two thousand militiamen marched to intimidate the judges and get them to leave. This was the first time that the militia was used by the people to block the king's representatives from acting on royal orders and against popular opinion. Gage responded by preparing to march to collect munitions from the provincials. For 50 miles around Boston, militiamen were marching in response. By noon the next day, almost 4,000 people were on the common in Cambridge. The provincials got the judges to resign and leave. Gage backed off from trying to seat a court in Worcester.

The colonials in Worcester met and came up with a new militia mobilization plan in their County Convention. The Convention required that all militia officers resign. Officers were then elected by their regiments. In turn, the officers then appointed 1/3 of their militia regiment as Minutemen. Other counties followed Worcester's lead, electing new militia officers and appointing Minutemen.

The British practiced formations with their weapons, focusing on marching formations on the battlefield. It is a myth that the British and other professional armies of the 1700s did not practice marksmanship with their muskets the military ammunition of the time was made for fast reloading and more than a dozen consecutive shots without cleaning. Accuracy of the musket was sacrificed for speed and repetitive loading. [5]

The militia prepared with elaborate plans to alarm and respond to movements by the king's forces out of Boston. The frequent mustering of the minute companies also built unit cohesion and familiarity with live firing, which increased the minute companies' effectiveness. The royal authorities inadvertently gave the new Minuteman mobilization plans validation by several "show the flag" demonstrations by General Gage through 1774. [ further explanation needed ]

The royal authorities in Boston had seen these increasing numbers of militia appearing and thought that the militia would not interfere if they sent a sizable force to Concord to seize munitions and stores there (which they considered the King's property, since it was paid for to defend the colonies from the American Indian threat). The British officers were proven wrong. Shooting erupted at Lexington. There is still a debate as to whether it was a colonist or a British soldier who fired the first shot. The militia left the area, and the British moved on. The British then moved to Concord and faced a larger number of militia. The British were rapidly outnumbered at Concord, with the arrival of the slower moving militia they had not counted on a long fight, and so had not brought additional ammunition beyond the standard issue in the soldiers' cartridge boxes. This then forced a strategic defeat on Colonel Smith, forcing him back to Boston.

A "running fight" began during the retreat. Militiamen knew the local countryside and were familiar with "skulking" or "Indian Warfare." They used trees and other obstacles to cover themselves from British gunfire and pursuit by British soldiers, while the militia were firing and moving. This kept the British under sporadic fire, and caused them to exhaust their limited ammunition. Only the timely arrival of a relief column under Lord Percy prevented the annihilation or surrender of the original road column.

Most Colonial militia units were provided neither arms nor uniforms and were required to equip themselves. Many simply wore their own farmers' or workmen's clothes and, in some cases, they wore cloth hunting frocks. Most used fowling pieces, though rifles were sometimes used where available. Neither fowling pieces nor rifles had bayonets. Some colonies purchased muskets, cartridge boxes, and bayonets from England, and maintained armories within the colony.

The Continental Army regulars received European-style military training later in the American Revolutionary War, but the militias did not get much of this. They were better when used as irregulars rather than fighting formal battles in the traditional dense lines and columns, functioning primarily as skirmishers and sharpshooters. When used in conjunction with continental regulars, the militia would frequently fire ragged irregular volleys from a forward skirmish line or from the flanks of the Continental Army, while Continental soldiers held the center.

Their experience suited irregular warfare. Many were familiar with frontier hunting. [6] The Indian Wars, and especially the recent French and Indian War, had taught the colonials the value of irregular warfare, while many British troops fresh from Europe were less familiar with this. The long rifle was also well suited to this role. The rifling (grooves inside the barrel) gave it a much greater range than the smoothbore musket, although it took much longer to load. Because of the lower rate of fire, rifles were not used by regular infantry, but were preferred for hunting. When performing as skirmishers, the militia could fire and fall back behind cover or behind other troops, before the British could get into range. The wilderness terrain that lay just beyond many colonial towns favored this style of combat and was very familiar to the local minuteman. In time, however, loyalists such as John Butler and Robert Rogers mustered equally capable irregular forces (Butler's Rangers and the Queen's Rangers, led by Englishman John Graves Simcoe). In addition, many British commanders learned from experience and effectively modified their light infantry tactics and battle dress to suit conditions in North America.

Through the remainder of the Revolution, militias moved to adopting the minuteman model for rapid mobilization. With this rapid mustering of forces, the militia proved its value by augmenting the Continental Army on a temporary basis, occasionally leading to instances of numerical superiority. This was seen at the Battles of Hubbardton and Bennington in the north and at Camden and Cowpens in the south. Cowpens is notable in that Daniel Morgan used the militia's strengths and weaknesses skillfully to attain the double-envelopment of Tarleton's forces.

Historian M. L. Brown states that some of these men mastered the difficult handling of a rifle, though few became expert. Brown quotes Continental Army soldier Benjamin Thompson, who expressed the "common sentiment" at the time, which was that minutemen were notoriously poor marksmen with rifles: "Instead of being the best marksmen in the world and picking off every Regular that was to be seen, the continual firing which they kept up by the week and the month has had no other effect than to waste their ammunition and convince the King's troops that they are really not really so formidable." [7]

There was a shortage of ammunition and supplies, and what they had were constantly being seized by British patrols. As a precaution, these items were often hidden or left behind by minutemen in fields or wooded areas. Other popular concealment methods were to hide items underneath floorboards in houses and barns. [ citation needed ]

The Minuteman model for militia mobilization married with a very professional, small standing army was the primary model for the United States' land forces up until 1916 with the establishment of the National Guard. [8]

In commemoration of the centenary of the first engagement of the American Revolution, Daniel Chester French, in his first major commission, produced one of his best-known statues (along with the Lincoln Memorial), The Minute Man. Inscribed on the pedestal is the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1837 Concord Hymn with the words, "Shot heard 'round the world." The statue's likeness is not based on Isaac Davis as is widely claimed, the captain of the Acton militia and first to be killed in Concord during the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, but rather French used live models in the study of the anatomy and facial expression. [9] The Minute Man statue is still the symbol of the National Guard, featured prominently on its seals.

Minutemen are portrayed in "Paul Revere's Ride", a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although historians criticize the work as being historically inaccurate, Longfellow understood the history and manipulated it for poetic effect. [10]

The athletic teams of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst are nicknamed the Minutemen and Minutewomen. Until the 2003 rebranding featuring a modernized Sam the Minuteman, the logo featured the Concord Minute Man statue prominently.

The US Air Force named the LGM-30 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile the "Minuteman", which was designed for rapid deployment in the event of a nuclear attack. The "Minuteman III" LGM-30G remains in service.

The US Navy VR-55 Fleet Logistic Support Squadron is named "Minutemen" to highlight the rapid deployment and mobility nature of their mission.

One of the factions in Bethesda's 2015 video game Fallout 4, which is set in Massachusetts, is called the "Commonwealth Minutemen". The inspiration for their namesake comes from the requirement to be ready "at a minute's notice" to defend any settlement in danger. [11]

Sinclair Lewis portrays Minute Men as paramilitary forces of Buzz Windrip's despotic government in his 1935 book It Can't Happen Here. In the book the fascist-like militia is called "Minnie Mouses" by the populace.

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