Close Combat Lethality Task Force – Warfighters, not Janitors

 In Military

Did you spend time handing out towels at the gym, or standing guard duty, or even raking sand and picking up litter during your time in the Infantry? The Close Combat Lethality Task Force directed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis is working to stop that kind of time waster for Infantry troops. He wants lethality in warfighting, and the new task force will be looking at changes in recruitment, retention, training and equipment. It is aimed at Army, Marines and Special Operations close combat formations.

On Wednesday, the Undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, Robert Wilkie, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales spoke at the Association of the US Army ‘s Headquarters, and released some of the details of the new task force that has been “years in the making.”  Now that James Mattis is Secretary of Defense, nearly everything is on the table to revamp.

Mattis stated in a memo from February that the Infantry units have been the victims of a lack of prioritization. He plans to change that.

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


Page one of the CCLTF memo

Todd South, a Marine Veteran writing for the Army Times reported,

The Close Combat Lethality Task Force is a cross-service group that formed earlier this year to focus on increasing the lethality of infantry and certain close combat troops with the goal of overmatch in the close, tactical fight.

Using findings from a Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, or CAPE, study last year, the task force, at Mattis’ direction, has already put $2.5 billion toward materiel and equipment improvements for the infantry, such as the Next Generation Combat Weapon being developed by the Army.

Scales serves as the chair of the task force. His 2016 book, “Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk,” serves as a kind of blueprint or potential road map for changes he sees necessary to the survivability and success of infantry and special operations forces in the Army, Marines and Special Operations Command.

“The secretary of defense has dedicated a great deal of time and effort,” Wilkie said. “He has tasked us with gauging the readiness of the entire force, enforcing decisions, making changes in force structure. We’re no longer just an oversight bot.”

The Task Force is working to remove outdated personnel management regulations (such as the 20 year ‘up or out’ rule), as well as revamp training time so that soldiers and Marines are trained more intensively for warfighting. They are trying to determine how the troops are being utilized, a plan called “rational workforce management.”

“There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.” General James Mattis

Featured photo: screenshot via

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