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jonSlack
10-24-2006, 01:13 PM
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.army24oct24,0,1244250.story?coll=bal-home-headlines


The Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody, recently told reporters that there is growing concern that the Army's skills are eroding and that if the war in Iraq continues at current levels, the United States could eventually have "an army that can only fight a counterinsurgency." Cody is broadly responsible for manning, equipping and training the force.


That uncertainty is what worries the Army. Young sergeants and captains, the next generation of Army combat leaders, know only counterinsurgency operations and, between deployments to Iraq, are not getting time away to study and practice high-intensity combat, Cody said.

If SGTs and CPTs are adapting and learning how to wage a counterinsurgency how are their skills eroding?

I do not think that the ability to wage high-instensity warfare should be the only the metric of skill within the Army.

marct
10-24-2006, 01:26 PM
If SGTs and CPTs are adapting and learning how to wage a counterinsurgency how are their skills eroding?

I do not think that the ability to wage high-instensity warfare should be the only the metric of skill within the Army.

I would agree with you, but the problem is institutional in nature. Ever since WWII, the US army has concentrated on state vs. state warfare and most of the training systems and tasks that construct its professional career ladders have reflected this. Counter insurgency warfare is, by its very nature, opposed to the skill set of set piece combat, so expertise in COIN will inevitably be perceived as non-expertise in "real" combat skills. At least, Gen. Cody isn't talking about cavalry winning the war...

Marc

aktarian
10-24-2006, 01:53 PM
If SGTs and CPTs are adapting and learning how to wage a counterinsurgency how are their skills eroding?

I do not think that the ability to wage high-instensity warfare should be the only the metric of skill within the Army.

But I don't think it's possible to have force skilled both in conventional warfare and unconventional warfare. Unless you earmark part of your force for each mission but that causes whole new set of problems.

marct
10-24-2006, 02:20 PM
But I don't think it's possible to have force skilled both in conventional warfare and unconventional warfare. Unless you earmark part of your force for each mission but that causes whole new set of problems.

Tell me about it! Take a look at the Canadian Forces where the split was between Peace Keeping training and combat training. That "little incident" in Somalia certainly shows some of the problems with trying to shift troops between different roles!

Marc

Steve Blair
10-24-2006, 02:33 PM
Interesting comment on the army's focus. They never seemed to care that the skillsets needed for small wars were eroding or disappearing during the Fulda Gap era. Gen Cody used a poor choice of words. I wouldn't say the skills are eroding - rather they are shifting to reflect the new style of warfare the army is facing.

Merv Benson
10-24-2006, 03:16 PM
A more accurate description of what is happening is that the troops are gaining experience and being "battle hardened" in the skills needed for the combat they are facing. Since we do not have enough troops to choose either or, the ones we have, must adapt to the war we have.

Leaders have to be able to prepare their troops for the battle they are facing and if more conventional battles appear on the horizon, the leaders will get the troops ready to deal with it. It is a little like a defensive coordinator in football preparing one week for an option oriented ground game and the next week facing a high powered passing attack. In both cases he has to adapt and get his team ready for the attack they are facing that week.

aktarian
10-24-2006, 03:22 PM
A more accurate description of what is happening is that the troops are gaining experience and being "battle hardened" in the skills needed for the combat they are facing. Since we do not have enough troops to choose either or, the ones we have, must adapt to the war we have.

Leaders have to be able to prepare their troops for the battle they are facing and if more conventional battles appear on the horizon, the leaders will get the troops ready to deal with it. It is a little like a defensive coordinator in football preparing one week for an option oriented ground game and the next week facing a high powered passing attack. In both cases he has to adapt and get his team ready for the attack they are facing that week.

I disagree. The problem with these options is that they are often at odds and what works in one type of war dosn't in others.

In conventional wars military has to be prepared to fight short, intense and high tempo wars (e.g. 6 day war, Yom Kippur war, ODS....). In unconventional wars military has to be prepared to fight long, drawn out wars where most of the time there is little action overall.

In conventional war bringing massive firepower is mandatory. In unconventioanl wars it's likely to be counter productive.

Jedburgh
10-24-2006, 04:53 PM
As an aside, I would argue that Army CSS troops are finally getting a long overdue emphasis on real soldier skills in their training at all levels. In general terms, the new FOBbit is far better trained in basic combat skills than the old REMF. That is a significant improvement, not a degradation, by any measure.

jonSlack
10-24-2006, 05:47 PM
In conventional wars military has to be prepared to fight short, intense and high tempo wars (e.g. 6 day war, Yom Kippur war, ODS....). In unconventional wars military has to be prepared to fight long, drawn out wars where most of the time there is little action overall.

While you cannot change gear in the manner of minutes, I believe that those who understand low-intensity conflicts have the ability to quickly make the shift to high-intensity operations than vice-versa.

Since "down on the line" the majority of the force is becoming trained in low intensity operation, the burden will be on the schoolhouse (BNCOC, ANCOC, OBC, CCC, CGSC, SAMS...) to be the main proponent for teaching high intensity tactics and doctrine. That is not the say the schoolhouse should not be teaching low-intensity conflict; they need to be teaching both.

In general, the strength of the Army lies in having leaders with the ability to learn and adapt quickly.

slapout9
10-24-2006, 06:36 PM
I posted this on another thread but it has a lot of bearing on this discussion and what to do about it. Give it a read if you get a chance.


http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/bassim.pdf

RTK
10-24-2006, 08:16 PM
I think the main issue that GEN Cody alluded to, and we're seeing it daily in the schoolhouses, is that a good deal of the young crop of junior NCOs and officers have joined after 2003, when we were already engaged in COIN in Iraq. Because of that, there is a fair share that never had to go against 11ACR at Fort Irwin and fight a tank on tank battle.

Even seeing it here at Knox, because there are new Captains of Armor who went to Iraq without their tanks, many of them haven't boresighted a tank since the basic course. Few of us have fought with tanks, bradleys, and trucks in both the LIC and HIC environments.

It's playing headaches in the scenarios we're running with HIC battlefield conditions in simulation and CCTT. Those who understand both flourish. Those who are good at COIN and horrible at HIC are evident. There are very few that I've seen who can hold their own with both (maybe 20%). Of that 20%, about half of them are Marine infantry officers. Maybe that's a telling statistic in itself.

Steve Blair
10-24-2006, 09:00 PM
This does beg the question, though: do you train your people to fight the war they will be fighting or the one they might fight? This is in part a short term question, and many things factor in (like how long these sergeants and captains will stay in the service).

It's a tough thing, and maybe the Army would benefit from looking at how the Marines train their people to think about and do warfare if their officers seem to be doing better in the scenarios you mention.

Stu-6
10-24-2006, 11:01 PM
I would say if you have to lose some ability to fight a future war which may or may not happen in exchange for success in the war you are currently fighting that is just a price you have to pay.

I would also say that the likelihood of a prolonged conventional war in the next 10 years is pretty remote. The likelihood of a prolonged guerilla war in the same period is about 100%, it still about 80% if you donít count our current wars. So I know where I would put my money, if I was in charge.

J.C.
10-26-2006, 02:23 AM
First, we are still training for High intesity operations. In the school houses we change the names and places on training opords, but their can be no doubt, that it is not COIN that is being taught in training.

Second, you train on the tactical level for the war you are fighting, it would be stupid and even criminal to train our forces that are in deployment cylces to fight russian division style wars for deployment to Iraq and Afganistan.

Third, are we really going to lose this knowledge, come on. We are a armor and tech heavy army that still has the expertise to fight any 3GW apponient that may pop up on the horizan. Is the 2nd division in Korea, going to suddenly forget what to do if something should happen in the next decade. Are all our senior level officers and NCO's who were raised in 3GW going to say I don't know.

Fourth, Gen. Cody's remarks are typical of the brass wanting to prod congress for funding to get joint vision 2010 and 2020 systems up off the ground. They bought the wrong Army in the nineties and still insist on doing it now.

Fifth, war changes. Do we still have a peer competitor out their on the horizan beyond China who is so wrapped in up our economic system that it would be suicide to fight us. Do we not have forces on both sides of Iran!!! Furhter, can North Korea even full supply, equip, and move a sizeable force for a long period of time.

Sixth, are we really conducting COIN operations in Iraq or are we just putting stuco on a 3GW platform. I don't know what more to say. If we keep telling our selves these lies and keep trying to fight WW3 then the Somolias, Iraqs, and Afganistans will continue to go badly. Moreover, if I sound upset, you bet I am upset. Lets try to get this one right and really look at our threat matrix over the next few years. Then maybe we'll see that we don't fight trench battles anymore, or charge with troops on line, nor do we need deep battle and an over inflated Air Force to solve our problems. What we need is smart tactically, physically, and mentally trained leaders and soilders who will fight and with that force I'll go to war any day.

If you don't agree you can e-mail my AKO any time.

marct
10-26-2006, 04:51 AM
Hi JC,

I'm not going to comment on current US Army training since I am woefully ignorant in that area, but I did want to make a couple of remarks on your last two points.


Fifth, war changes. Do we still have a peer competitor out their on the horizan beyond China who is so wrapped in up our economic system that it would be suicide to fight us. Do we not have forces on both sides of Iran!!! Furhter, can North Korea even full supply, equip, and move a sizeable force for a long period of time.

If by a "peer competitor" you mean someone who will fight an industrial age (3GW) war against the US, then the answer has to be "no". China would never be stupid enought to fight a 3GW against the US - there are much easier ways for China to shift the balance of power any time they feel like it and they certainly don't need infantry and / or armour divisions to do it.

As for Iran, if the US went in with full UN and Nato backing, specifically including Chinese troops, I would give about a 30% chance of "winning" within 20 years. The initial 3GW combat would be over in about 10-12 months, the COIN operation would last a generation or more. There are *much* smarter ways to get Iran to shift their stance and become a more open society, but they are not 3GW operations.

As for North Korea, well, let's go back to the last Korean War. The key was China then and it is China now. No individual country can win a conventional war against China and you don't even want to think about the type of insurgency operation they could run! It is imaterial whether or not North Korea can maintain their forces for "a long time", although they have done so for the last 50 years. All they have to do to "win" a conventional war is to gurentee that China will come in on their side if they are invaded and about to loose.


Sixth, are we really conducting COIN operations in Iraq or are we just putting stuco on a 3GW platform. I don't know what more to say. If we keep telling our selves these lies and keep trying to fight WW3 then the Somolias, Iraqs, and Afganistans will continue to go badly. Moreover, if I sound upset, you bet I am upset. Lets try to get this one right and really look at our threat matrix over the next few years. Then maybe we'll see that we don't fight trench battles anymore, or charge with troops on line, nor do we need deep battle and an over inflated Air Force to solve our problems. What we need is smart tactically, physically, and mentally trained leaders and soilders who will fight and with that force I'll go to war any day.

I must say, I like the stuco image :). Honestly, I don't know if *anyone* knows what the war in Iraq is - conventional, COIN, civil, or just plain gang style fighting. In my more morose moments, I think that it is almost inevitable that future operations will go poorly. I find the words of Yates flowing through my brain


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

To my mind, the core problem that we, in the West, face is one of meta-epistemolgies. Loosely translated into specifics - "we" are fighting for a general belief that individuals should have the right to be who they wish to be with a concommitant belief that the sole role and responsability of the state is to provide a secure place for indivisuals to do so. This is opposed by a general belief in a "one true way" - what I call a "theological meta-epistemology".

The problem is not the actual conflict, the problem is to identify who actually supports which side.


If you don't agree you can e-mail my AKO any time.

I'd far rather post here and get into a discussion :D

Marc