Army ASI U8: Asymmetric Warfare Operations Specialist

I am doing a series of articles on Additional Skill Identifiers (ASIs). Army personnel have a primary job that they are trained for, but additional skills can be attained as the person completes the required training to do so. When that person completes this training, they are given a code that distinguishes any added skills they have gained.

In today’s post, we are going to examine a somewhat new ASI that is of utmost importance in the types of warfare the United States Army has been involved in. We will look at Army ASI U8: Asymmetric Warfare Operations Specialist. I will immediately tell you that the majority of personnel that hold this ASI are Special Forces troops.

What Is Asymmetric Warfare?

The best way to describe Asymmetric Warfare is to define the word asymmetric for you. Essentially, it means the absence of symmetry. Symmetry is a balanced proportion.

So how does this play in warfare?

In previous wars, you could use symmetry to know who the enemy was. During the Revolutionary War, the British wore uniforms that were easily distinguished, and they marched with a precision that only the Redcoats would. In the Civil War, the colors were blue or gray and you knew the enemy from this. During the World Wars, the enemies had uniforms that were easily seen.

But, in the wars we have been in the Middle East, we often do not know who the enemy is until he or she has killed or injured American soldiers or American allies. While there may have been slight asymmetric issues in all wars, the wars in the Middle East have had a high percentage of asymmetry.

Vietnam was a lesson for the United States military in asymmetry, but nothing was done to solve it then. In all actuality, military leaders were in the CRS mode (can’t remember shit) in learning during Vietnam.

When a strong military power goes against a weaker force, the weaker force will often use non-military means to accomplish their missions. In Vietnam, this was evident in the underground tunnels, in attaching mines to crying babies and in other ways that are considered morally wrong even in war.

After the high success rates of IEDs and suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army leaders have found that they need to determine and defeat asymmetric warfare using all the resources at its disposal. In 2003 the Army had developed the Army Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, and from that the Asymmetric Warfare Group was established in 2004.

We now have a new threat with the ISIS terrorist organization. Our use of experts in asymmetric warfare will surely help us against this threat to not only the United States, but also to our allies.

Any personnel who have the ASI U8 are most likely attached to the Asymmetric Warfare Group.

Asymmetric Warfare Group’s Primary Responsibilities

The headquarters for the Asymmetric Warfare Group is at Fort Meade, Maryland. Personnel from this group are deployed to “hot spots,” and their job is to “tag along” with units on patrols to gather information to find solutions for equipment upgrades and training programs for persistent threats from terrorist organizations. They have been the key personnel in safety upgrades in regards to flash suppressors on rifles to material that lessens the damages to personnel carriers from IEDs.

Army ASI U8 Training

There is nothing easy about gaining the ASI U8 designation. While the training is not super difficult in physical aspects, the mental part is rigorous, and many individuals can not handle the strain. Individuals who want to achieve an ASI U8 must have good communication skills, innovative personalities, problem solving and have knowledge of military history. The estimates show that from all applicants, only about 35% are accepted to take the training.

The training takes place at Fort AP Hill, Virginia and lasts for 7 days.

For officers, they must have completed at least 12 months of command and be a graduate of the Captain’s Career Course.

For NCOs, they must have completed 24 months as platoon sergeant or equivalent.

The individual will be required to pass the APFT and height and weight standards. There will be a psychological evaluation. They will be reviewed by the Commander’s Board, and they will have to walk 7 to 10 miles daily with a 35 pound backpack.

The course will have multiple scenarios in which the individual will have to take notes and offer suggestions for the best methods in solving problems and issues.

Asymmetric Warfare Is Needed

Personally, I am in full agreement with the Army in the development of Asymmetric Warfare systems. While there are not a large percentage of Army personnel that have the Additional Skill Identifier U8, I believe we will see the number grow over the next years.

If you think you have what it takes to be a part of the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, you should probably visit their website here and see what you need to do to apply for the course.

The Commander of the Asymmetric Warfare Group is Colonel Michael Loos.

To learn more and see what all the Asymmetric Warfare Group has going on, you may want to visit:

and, this video shows the group in action:

Final Thoughts

The motto for the Asymmetric Warfare Group is “Think. Adapt. Anticipate!”

It is a unit that has been needed for quite some time in the United States Army, as well as jointly in all the military branches. Even though enemies have adopted asymmetric means to try and kill and destroy United States soldiers and civilians, with a program like this, we can turn the tables and still have the upper hand. Using prior military skirmishes, battles and wars, we can adjust our knowledge to understand the enemy’s thought patterns and strategies so we can adopt a winning strategy.

We would love to hear from anyone who is a member of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, or who holds the ASI U8 status. Please tell us more about asymmetric warfare and what your part is in the operations of this new Army system.

We also enjoy all opinions and questions. Feel free to post them in the comment section below. I am sharing several reference links so you can learn more about Asymmetric Warfare and what the United States Army is doing in this regards. Thanks for visiting.

References

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2 thoughts on “Army ASI U8: Asymmetric Warfare Operations Specialist”

  1. Great run down of the ASI U8. I am an AWG member and I wanted to give you a little more insight. There are actually two ASIs within the AWG. The U8 ASI is AWG support and U9 is OA (Operational advisor). What you described above is more geared toward the U9 ASI. The U8 ASI is obtained by a different process and the selection is held at FT Meade MD, where AWG is located. Furthermore; the selection for the U8 ASI is an APFT, psychological interview, and a CDR’s interview. After an SM serves in AWG for a year, the get the ASI. They do not get it automatically. I hope this helps

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