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New 3rd Brigade leader: U.S. military should be like Wayne Gretzky

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Sep. 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
September 30, 2010 3:50 pm

The next leader of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint-Base Lewis McChord is coming off an assignment at the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth where he analyzed what he called “an era of persistent engagement” for U.S. forces.

Col. Charles Webster is to take command of the brigade at a ceremony Friday. He succeeds Col. David E. Funk, who has led the brigade since November 2007. With Funk, the brigade returned from a yearlong deployment in Iraq last month.Webster led a Stryker battalion in the Alaska-based 172nd Brigade from June 2004 to December 2006, including a 16-month deployment to Baghdad and Mosul.More recently, he was an instructor at Fort Leavenworth.

In August 2009, he submitted his study of asymmetrical threats against the U.S., concluding that American forces would have to remain continuously engaged at different levels to head off surprises like the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He wrote that the U.S. military that fits that strategy should feature:

“Forward engaged forces, such as general-purpose forces, with easier insertion and greater local knowledge providing greater power and utility than large formations deploying from remote, home-based installations.

“Forces able to operate within urban environments.

“Surveillance-oriented forces embedded with the host nation security forces to counter weapons of mass destruction.

“Forces with interagency capabilities for nation building and constabulary operations.”

The paper has a quotable metaphor:

“U.S. operations should seek to resemble hocky superstar Wayne Gretsky‘s ―speed on the ice. Never the fastest skater, Gretsky concentrated less on skating to where the puck was and more on skating to where the puck will be. The goal of U.S. military capability speaks to this type of speed, not trying to be everywhere all the time, but to be exactly where it needs to be exactly when it needs to be there.”

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