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SWJED
09-15-2006, 05:14 AM
15 September Washington Post - In a Volatile Region of Iraq, U.S. Military Takes Two Paths (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/14/AR2006091401900.html) by Ann Scott Tyson.


With a biker's bandanna tied under his helmet, the Special Forces team sergeant gunned a Humvee down a desert road in Iraq's volatile Anbar province. Skirting the restive town of Hit, the team of a dozen soldiers crossed the Euphrates River into an oasis of relative calm: the rural heartland of the powerful Albu Nimr tribe.

Green Berets skilled in working closely with indigenous forces have enlisted one of the largest and most influential tribes in Iraq to launch a regional police force -- a rarity in this Sunni insurgent stronghold. Working deals and favors over endless cups of spiced tea, they built up their wasta -- or pull -- with the ancient tribe, which boasts more than 300,000 members. They then began empowering the tribe to safeguard its territory and help interdict desert routes for insurgents and weapons. The goal, they say, is to spread security outward to envelop urban trouble spots such as Hit.

But the initial progress has been tempered by friction between the team of elite troops and the U.S. Army's battalion that oversees the region. At one point this year, the battalion's commander, uncomfortable with his lack of control over a team he saw as dangerously undisciplined, sought to expel it from his turf, officers on both sides acknowledged.

The conflict in the Anbar camp, while extreme, is not an isolated phenomenon in Iraq, U.S. officers say. It highlights two clashing approaches to the war: the heavy focus of many regular U.S. military units on sweeping combat operations; and the more fine-grained, patient work Special Forces teams put into building rapport with local leaders, security forces and the people -- work that experts consider vital in a counterinsurgency...

selil
09-15-2006, 02:47 PM
Is this tension between the Green Beretís and regular Army a similar tension to the differing views on handling domestic terrorism? I perceive a classic tension between the consensus building methods of the Green Berets and the authoritarian methods of the regular Army. Never mind the worker bee tensions alliterated between a working Green Beret captain and a ring knocker West Point Lt. Colonel.

Does this example show the classic tension between an egalitarian community (if flawed,) and the tyrannical "accept my way at the point of a sword" (if repressive) population controls? It would be interesting to look into the mirror and see if there are similar trends in the world of domestic terrorism. The article points out several long standing methods of working with populations and the regular army Lt. Colonel appears to be completely unable to be flexible enough to handle the situation. Then again the article is but one view of larger scale conflict between the two entities in even a larger world conflict.

jcustis
09-15-2006, 05:37 PM
But last spring, when the scouts spotted a roadside bomb during a solo mission and warned U.S. forces about it, they were detained by Graves's battalion, blindfolded and forced to sit in bitter cold for seven hours before the team could secure their release. "I was livid," the team sergeant said.


Issues of coordination are often rife between conventional and SOF forces. I suspect that the SF team thought that providing details of the scout mission would pose an OPSEC risk, and the conventional unit rolled them up because they had no identifying information on them.

Bill Moore
09-15-2006, 11:17 PM
The reporter did a very good job with this article, and she only used a few of the examples given to her. It clearly indicates that this ring knocker is simply incapable of understanding his operational environment. He went to the COIN academy in Taji, but apparently he refused to drink the water. Would he be a good conventional warfighter? I don't know, but he clearly isn't fit to lead troops in this environment and his leadership style is a detriment to our strategic interests.

I don't buy into the strategic corporal, especially when we can't get right with our educated officers. Recall the Australian author's comment (pardon me I don't recall his name), "talent is more important than rank". This ODA was making things happen despite this conventional commander, imagine what they could have accomplished together if the conventional commander simply understood the very basics of COIN.

SWJED
09-15-2006, 11:30 PM
The reporter did a very good job with this article, and she only used a few of the examples given to her. It clearly indicates that this ring knocker is simply incapable of understanding his operational environment. He went to the COIN academy in Taji, but apparently he refused to drink the water. Would he be a good conventional warfighter? I don't know, but he clearly isn't fit to lead troops in this environment and his leadership style is a detriment to our strategic interests.

I don't buy into the strategic corporal, especially when we can't get right with our educated officers. Recall the Australian author's comment (pardon me I don't recall his name), "talent is more important than rank". This ODA was making things happen despite this conventional commander, imagine what they could have accomplished together if the conventional commander simply understood the very basics of COIN.

...that fits here (from Tom Ricks' WaPo online discussion):


Quantico, Va.: First, I'd like to complement you on the large body of balanced material you've produced over the years.

I vividly remember a conversation I had with my Battalion Commander in Camp Lejeune about three years before the war started. I was a Marine Platoon Commander and we were conducting a formal professional discussion with all of the battalion officers on Dien Bien Phu. The subject turned to training for low intensity conflict (which includes counter-insurgency) and our ability to prepare for it adequately. The consensus was that we didn't have the time to prepare for the range of missions we might encounter and that we should focus on traditional high intensity combat. The theory was that we could always scale back but not up.

I think that, collectively, the entire U.S. military probably made the same decision. Thus, when the war evolved into an insurgency we started at a huge deficit. The result was that you ended up with a situation where every commander may have a completeley different idea of how to fight the war in Iraq. Your story of Major General Odierno is just one example of a failure to understand the nature of the conflict. Stories of very senior commanders being upbraided by LtGen Petaues (then the commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command), for instance, have made the rounds among junior officers. My question is this - do you really think that the services are making their best effort to adapt to the nature of the war considering the significant mental challenges that need to be overcome? For instance, we don't reward officers for serving as embedded trainers with Iraqi units. Many senior officers haven't even internalized the tenets of Manuever Warfare, the central warfighting theory of the Marine Corps, do you really think we can get all services to internalize the principles of counter-insurgency?

Tom Ricks: Thanks. Would you take our friend in Corpus Christi aside for a quiet chat?

Seriously, I think you raise good points. Counterinsurgency is tough--especially because it runs so contrary to much the US military has taught over the last two decades. For example, classic counterinsurgency doctrine says to use the minimal amount of force necessary to doing the job, rather than use overwhelming force. And it also says to treat the people well, even prisoners.

One senior officer in Iraq told me earlier this year that about one-third of his subordinate officers "get it," one- third are trying but not reallly getting it, and one-third just want to kick a little butt. That means your force is probably less than half effective, and part of it is counterproductive.

RTK
09-16-2006, 12:29 AM
I don't buy into the strategic corporal, especially when we can't get right with our educated officers. Recall the Australian author's comment (pardon me I don't recall his name), "talent is more important than rank".

The author is David Killcullen.

Regarding the strategic coporal (and perhaps I'm either in left field, one of the third that doesn't get it, or I'm spot on); when I commanded in OIF III I didn't get involved in a civil matter over-shadowing my NCOs and junior officers unless my lower echelon leaders were hitting a wall of resistance with local leaders. This increased my junior leader's credibility with the locals as they were seen as "in charge" of their specific areas. When I arrived, it made it look like they were important and I, as a troop commander, looked even more important to them. Consequently, the one or two times my squadron or regimental commander would engage specific populaces, it was a huge deal with the locals. It also made it look like we, as CPTs, LTs, and NCOs, were a hell of a lot more important than we were. Working for an SF AOB helped guide us down the right path (we are a conventional unit) and added certain traditionally SF skills to our personal kit bags.

Bottom line: Junior NCOs and officers who are placed in positions of greater responsibility and trusted with upholding the standard of excellence and supervised in the proper way (not micromanaged) can and do have significant pull and results in the COIN atmosphere.

SWJED
09-16-2006, 12:59 AM
Bottom line: Junior NCOs and officers who are placed in positions of greater responsibility and trusted with upholding the standard of excellence and supervised in the proper way (not micromanaged) can and do have significant pull and results in the COIN atmosphere.

My Bottom Line: Regardless of our personal bias' / opinions concerning the "strategic corporal" - it has been thrust upon us and is here to stay. It is not an option, so we will have to deal with it or suffer the consequences.

RTK
09-16-2006, 01:23 AM
My Bottom Line: Regardless of our personal bias' / opinions concerning the "strategic corporal" - it has been thrust upon us and is here to stay. It is not an option, so we will have to deal with it or suffer the consequences.


I would submit that the best way to deal with it is to place in positions of greater responsibility those who can handle themselves on a wide range of fronts and still be successful. Then train the hell out of them.

SWJED
09-16-2006, 01:35 AM
I would submit that the best way to deal with it is to place in positions of greater responsibility those who can handle themselves on a wide range of fronts and still be successful. Then train the hell out of them.
I would also offer up scenario general training situations rather than scenario specific / driven training. Anything that emphasizes "how to think" over the "what to think" is the way to go. I thank Australian Army Brigadier West for cutting to the quick on this subject during Joint Urban Warrior 06.

RTK
09-16-2006, 01:53 AM
I would also offer up scenario general training situations rather than scenario specific / driven training. Anything that emphasizes "how to think" over the "what to think" is the way to go. I thank Australian Army Brigadier West for cutting to the quick on this subject during Joint Urban Warrior 06.


To grab a post I used on another site regarding a training example in preparation for COIN operations:

Talk about different vignettes from what has actually happened. Make a psuedo-STX lane for Sergeant's time that will place your soldiers in difficult circumstances. It's a good way to throw a variable into a task you need to train anyway, like searching a vehicle, clearing a room, or something similar. Place a verbally hostile but unarmed non-combatant in the room and see how your guys react.

Repetition teaches the donkey, as an old Russian professor used to say. The point is to throw as many stressors at your guys in training as you can so that doing the right thing becomes second nature in combat, then evaluating who is good and who is weak. Know your soldiers. Leadership is the essence of using your unit's strongpoints to outweigh their shortcomings. This is an excellent measuring stick to ensure proper evaluation.

Uboat509
09-16-2006, 02:23 AM
The reporter did a very good job with this article, and she only used a few of the examples given to her.


I met her in Chad last summer. She is a very smart lady and does (in my opinion) a very good job at reporting the facts without obvious bias. She was with us for about three days and of course we were suspicious of her but I never could detect any agenda that she was pursuing. I try to read her stuff whenever it comes out.

SFC W

Bill Moore
09-16-2006, 04:49 AM
Gentlemen, my point about the strategic corporal not working is that if we can train our officers to properly employ their people because they themselves don't understand their operational environment, then the strategic corporal concept is doomed to fail. Maybe we should go back to combat commissions, and simply get the smart kids into the officer track, but then they get got up in that horrible check the block career management mentality. Even if you directly commissioned a smart NCO to CPT that was effective, he would still fall under that ineffective Bn Cdr. Maybe a Stalin like purge of our officer ranks is in order? Only joking, put your guns down....