View Full Version : Dave Barno’s top 10 tasks ...

J Wolfsberger
01-25-2011, 01:14 PM
From Foreign Policy (via CNAS (http://www.cnas.org/node/5576)): Dave Barno’s top 10 tasks for General Dempsey, the new Army chief of staff (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/21/dave_barno_s_top_10_tasks_for_general_dempsey_the_ new_army_chief_of_staff)

A lot of food for thought and discussion here. (I didn't see it anywhere else.)

Item #8 stuck out for me, since I think the the services and industry have serious problems at the front end of the development/procurement process. In particular, the example of a "requirement" he cites, "gotta have a full 9-man squad dismount," for GCV should not, in fact, be contained in any RFI/RFP. It's a design point, not a capability.

Bob's World
01-25-2011, 02:13 PM
Ok, I about fell off my chair at General Barno's top item of "Finish the Fight." He could have just as well labeled this "Protect my Legacy."

Anyone who understands insurgency can look at what LTG Barno set in motion during his tenure in Afghanistan as the planting of the seeds and the fertilization of the growing insurgnency that is being harvested today. I'd toss Amb Eikenberry in there with him. Well intended? Undoubtedly, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions. There was little in the way of insurgency for several years following the flip between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. But once we made it clear that we were going not only allow, but enable and support the Northern Alliance in creating a government designed to deny the entire segment of society that the Taliban drew their power from, it was game on. This is the problem with COIN doctirne that is premised in placing and sustaining a particular government in power over the express will of the affected poplace; or that is designed to oppress some significant segment of the populace.

I'll go on an read his remaining 9 points, but for my money as an operator, as a strategist, as a student and practitioner of insurgency/UW/FID/COIN, if one is looking to pin the tail on the donkey for the current violence in Afghanistan, that donkey is LTG Barno. Frankly I am surprised that CNAS brought him on in his current capacity, as it reflects upon the credibility of that entire organization in a manner that overshadows some of their other efforts.

01-25-2011, 10:15 PM
I'm partial to his #s 3,6,8,and 9. To me, they are all related. Our Army systems are caught in a Cold War era, draftee army mentality, where we dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator, in order to give everyone the same chance to succeed, and retain the (dubious) ability to mobilize like we did for WW2. We don't have an industrial era Army anymore, we have a professional Army, but we are stuck with industrial era systems.

I question how #1 is even related to the CSA job- preparation of Army forces for employment by the GCCs is only tangentally related to "finish the fight." This priority is much more appropriate for ADM Mullen and whoever succeeds him.

05-24-2011, 05:08 PM
I think the comments are pretty sound. Hard to resolve #1 with the rest, especially when he calls for some tidal shifts in the Army culture. Not sure you can do that while "finishing" a war that will likely take more time and more people (and more commitment) than most are ready for at this moment. However, if it's "finish" that higher wants, then higher (including congress) must be ready to stay the course and pay the bill.

He's right about austerity and embracing it. But, we don't have to sacrifice Soldier welfare. Do we need so many camelbacks, do we need stacks of Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks in our supply rooms? Do we need color printers in virtually every office? Of course not. However, there are housing issues at many posts right now and if OIF and OEF culminate, housing will be a serious, serious issue. With fuel costs so high, many will leave the service out of the frustration felt at the gas pump from having to live 30 miles away. As per the norm, cost cutting will be looked at by the bean counters at the Pentagon, but no allowances will be made for how those savings end up being cast off on Soldiers as what effectively become pay cuts.

As for resilience...I maintain that it's not the OPTEMPO and deployments that are hurting resilience. It's the TRADOC grind, it's the unit reset, it's the new PRT mandate with the APFT test and of course it's the toxic leadership.

Until I see otherwise, LTG Barno can speak all he wants about leadership. But the truth is, the system that created, rewarded, and promoted our generals is the same system that produced those toxic leaders he refers to.

Flatten out is right...and let officers stick around for a while if they desire, let them switch year groups with no negative consequence, etc. HRC is a monster and it needs to be beheaded. I know that is a tough, tough system and personnel is never easy. But it must be fixed.

Get ready for the next war...well yes, but at the same time we can't really lessen the importance of combat and combat-focused training. Hard to find a balance on that one.

All in all, not too bad.