The Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) is one of the newest organizations created during the War on Terror. Its principal mission is to advise commanders on the best methods to use in defeating a foe using asymmetric methods such as terrorism and guerrilla tactics to offset troop and equipment advantages the U.S and its Allies hold in fighting them.

AWG traces its origins to 2003, when the emerging threat to coalition forces in Iraq was the use of the improvised explosive device (IED). This weapon caused more deaths during the insurgency than did small arms and suicide bombings. So, a task force was created by the army to develop countermeasures to defeat the threat. From this AWG was born at the request of Army Operations staff in 2004.

Though not a special operations force per se, it is labeled as a special missions unit, with many of its members once a part of Special Forces.

Numbering about 400 in two squadrons, the men and women of AWG are dispatched in teams up to 30 to American and Allied headquarters and field units in or near hot spots, to offer solutions and training programs on how to deal with present and future threats. They patrol with units, collect information, and help fast track equipment upgrades.

“We solve problems for the Army in order to get ahead of the enemy,” a member said.

For example, one of their most recent successes was spearheading the effort and testing for a ‘quick fix’ in finding an effective flash hider for the M4 carbine.

The Asymmetric Warfare Group

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Others, and perhaps most important, include helping to develop a counterinsurgency doctrine known as ‘Attack The Network’. This is based on recent experiences U.S. forces have learned in blood, and consists of techniques on how to dismantle insurgent or terror networks all the way down to individual targeting.

How to Join the Asymmetric Warfare Group

Asymmetric Warfare Group conducts selections for new applicants twice a year. Paramount in the requirements are good communication skills, knowledge of military history, good problem solving ability, and to be thinking ‘outside the box’ and innovative.

It’s not easy. Though its physical tests aren’t especially demanding, more emphasis is placed on mental aspects, and only about 35% of applicants are accepted.

A Soldier with the Asymmetric Warfare Group, provides security from an observation post overlooking the Kholbesat bazaar, in Khowst province, Afghanistan, March 13, 2011.
A Soldier with the Asymmetric Warfare Group

Those that are accepted don the unit patch consisting of a single arrow within a roundel, and agree to sign on for a 3 year tour with the title Operational Advisor, or Operational Support & Staff. This may see them contracted out to units anywhere in the world as part of a ‘Forward Operations Cell.’

Qualifications for Operational Advisors

  • Active duty SFC-SGM, senior CPT-LTC.
  • 110 GT score for NCOs, no waivers.
  • Pass the APFT in current age group with no APFT limiting profiles.
  • Able to obtain and maintain up to a Top Secret clearance.
  • Officers must have completed at least 12 months of command and be a graduate of the CCC.
  • NCOs must have completed at least 24 months of platoon sergeant time or an equivalent assignment.

Operational Advisor (U9) Assessment and Selection takes place at Fort AP Hill, Virginia. The course lasts seven days and is offered twice a year, in March and September. The course is 75 percent mental and 25 percent physical.

Events:

  • Pass a standard APFT and be IAW AR 600-9 HT/WT standards.
  • Psychological screening and evaluation.
  • The course is scenario-based, but the candidate must come prepared to walk 7 to 10 miles per day while carrying a 30- to 35-pound day pack, as well as undertake some other light-to-moderate physical activities.
  • Commander’s Board (candidate will be informed as to the results of the Board at that time).
  • Various other events.

Qualification for Operational Support

Operational Support and Staff Assessment and Selection takes place at Fort Meade, Maryland. The selection course for support positions lasts three days and is conducted monthly.

  • Active duty SGT-SGM, CPT-LTC.
  • 110 GT score for NCOs, no waivers.
  • Pass the APFT in current age group; profiles are considered on a case-by-case situation.
  • Able to obtain and maintain up to a Top Secret clearance.
  • Officers must have completed at least 12 months of command and be a graduate of the CCC.

Events:

  • Pass a standard APFT and be IAW AR 600-9 HT/WT standards.
  • Psychological screening and evaluation.
  • Commander’s Board (candidate will be informed as to the results of the Board at that time).

Think. Adapt. Anticipate.

Asymmetric Warfare Group personnel are unique in today’s world. In past conflicts, the U.S. Army (and other services as well) became notorious for discarding techniques learned on battlefields that ended up costing lives to relearn. To put it more bluntly, in some circles it was called CRS (Can’t Remember Shit) syndrome.

Asymmetric Warfare Group Set to be Deactivated After Nearly 15 Years

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With the advent of the AWG, now referred to as the ‘Crown Jewel’ of Army Operations and Training command (TRADOC), it appears the Army is at last realizing that some things about fighting terrorists and insurgents ought never to be forgotten.

If you’re interested in joining AWG, head on over to their website and tell them SOFREP sent you!

Featured Image: A member of the Asymmetric Warfare Group walks soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, through Glass House drills during Focused Targeting Force training. The AWG, helped U.S. and Afghan security forces brush up on their urban combat skills with a series of live-fire drills, tactical movement training and other combined exercises, which took place March 22 through March 25, at Forward Operating Base Sharana in Paktika province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

 

This article previously published on SOFREP 09.30.2012 by Mike Perry.