The Reconnaissance-Strike Group Proposal
By Douglas Macgregor, EVP, BMG LLC
Taylor Building, 2530 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA
18 November 2015
The current defense budget is the latest in a series of projected
spending plans by the U.S. Army and its sister services to re-equip the
Cold War Organization for Combat with new versions of equipment and
weapons the force already fields. At the same time, the U.S. Army’s
high-profile, multibillion-dollar acquisitions graveyard continues to
grow with recently canceled programs such as the Ground Combat Vehicle,
Armed Aerial Scout, and the sprawling 20 Billion Dollar Future Combat
In spite of these acquisition failures, it is “business as usual”
inside the U.S. Army; an army in which the senior leadership insists the
readiness of Army combat forces to deploy and fight is at historically
It is against this backdrop of the Army’s inability to provide ready,
deployable combat power and sustainable modernization programs that the
RSG proposal must be viewed.
What is the RSG? The Reconnaissance Strike Group
(RSG) is a fundamental departure from “business as usual” in Army force
development and acquisition. The RSG is about innovation, not invention.
Instead of replacing systems inside the Army’s existing organization
for combat, the RSG involves full spectrum rapid prototyping of
the operational capability—organizing construct, human capital strategy
and equipment—not just the technology. As a prototype formation it is
designed to explore new capabilities with smaller inventories of new
systems before larger, Army-wide, investments are made.
How is the RSG organized? The 5,500 man RSG is a new
fighting formation with (4) Maneuver battalions, (1) Strike Battalion,
(1) ISR Battalion and (1) Sustainment Battalion. The RSG is commanded by
a Brigadier General with a Colonel as Chief of staff and Lieutenant
Colonels in primary staff positions. The RSG’s C2 structure consolidates
more combat power under fewer headquarters allowing it to respond
directly to a Joint Task Force (TF).
The RSG is designed from the bottom up around Maneuver (mobile armored firepower for positional advantage), Strike (Stand-off Attack Systems), ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) and Sustainment (logistics).
Adding maneuver and sustainment to the ISR-strike framework that
already exists in the aerospace and maritime forces is a vital step in
the evolution of warfare.
It is the key to the integration of capabilities across Service lines
in joint, integrated combat operations. As a One Star-commanded force
package, the RSG complements the capabilities of the One-Star force
packages that reside in the other services (Carrier Battle
Group-CVBG/Air Expeditionary Force-AEF/Marine Expeditionary
Because of the increasingly accurate delivery of munitions (including
thermobaric warheads) from proliferating rocket artillery systems
dense, static combat formations in land warfare are at high risk of
The RSG copes with this environment through the use of its organic and
Joint ISR and Strike capabilities to detect, monitor, track and destroy
enemies inside a 360 degree battlespace while the RSG’s dispersed;
mobile maneuver elements position to wipe out the opposing force with
direct fire and stand-off attack systems. In addition, the RSG’s
ISR-Strike systems not only afford protection to the RSG’s maneuver
elements, these systems also magnify the striking power of America’s
Aerospace and Maritime Forces.
How is the RSG equipped? The RSG utilizes the best,
off-the-shelf, state-of-the-art weapon systems to mitigate risk, save
money and speed up delivery of new systems to Army Forces. Weapon
systems are mounted on a common chassis, the German PUMA, the world’s
best infantry fighting vehicle. The Puma’s 1003 horsepower engine, high
power to weight ratio, modular armor plus superior suspension
performance allows the mounting of larger weapon systems creating
multi-weapon variants on a single Puma chassis. This represents a
capability that cannot be achieved with other existing platforms.
Moreover, the common chassis is not only a huge logistics force
multiplier inside the RSG, the common chassis promises more combat power
at lower procurement and life cycle costs.
Consequently, the RSG has
significantly more firepower, mobility and protection than any existing
Brigade Combat Team. The RSG can bypass or punch through all types of
enemy resistance to encircle and destroy sub-national groups or
nation-state forces. Most important, the RSG can take hits and keep
Summary. The RSG provides significantly more combat
power per metric ton, flattens command and control (C2), and enables
Army Formations to plug into Joint Commands without reliance on
intervening, large, vulnerable Division/Corps HQTRS. For these reasons,
the RSG should be viewed as the vanguard for future Army contributions
to Joint Warfighting Operations; structured for flexible mission sets
and tight integration with aerospace and maritime power.
These points notwithstanding, only the President and Congress can
create the funding path for the RSG. The Army cannot be expected to
reform itself. Like many corporations in a volatile, rapidly changing
marketplace, the U.S. Army cannot get out of its own way.
One for one replacement of equipment within the same force structure is
not the answer for the future. Doing so puts the nation at risk in
future wars against formidable adversaries who have been studying our
operations for decades.
 Joe Gould, “McHugh: Army Acquisitions’ Tale of Failure,” Defense News, 19 March 2015.
 Michelle Tan, “Army Readiness at Historically Low Levels,” Army Times, 12 March 2015, p. 1.
45% of the RSG structure is organic support. Organic support inside the
BCT is 30% making it dependent on the division support command for its
sustainment. 55% of the Army Division consists of support troops. RSG
integrates more sustainment troops (2,426 Soldiers) than an entire
Brigade Support BN (1,357 Soldiers).
 Lt Gen (ret) David Deptula, USAF, Statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Revisiting the Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces,” 5 Nov, 2015, pp. 15-16.
 Sydney Freedberg, “Ukraine: Sneed Preview of WW III?” Breaking Defense, 13 July 2015, p. 1.
 Frances Hesselbein, My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way, (San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 2011), p. 135.