PDA

View Full Version : Volunteers!!



Bob's World
07-21-2012, 04:55 PM
They were first to mobilize.

They captured the critical Pacific island of Guam with it's protected deep water port.

They accepted the surrender of the Spanish Garrison in Manila.

They were on average: "25 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 148 pounds. Most were single; fewer than ten percent had graduated from college. Their professions were quite varied; many were farmers, but more were clerks, students, or laborers. Fewer than half were members of a church."

They earned three Medals of Honor.

They were highly regarded by the Regular Army Generals appointed over them:

General General Wheaton at Malabon March 25th was asked "Where are your regulars"? Pointing to the Oregons then advancing on the first entrenchment he replied, "There are my regulars"!!

Again at Malinta March fith the General said "Orderly overtake those Oregon greyhounds on the road to Polo and order them to Malinta. Go mounted or you will never catch them"!

http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=7615D91A-FBD0-BF23-9CED1FECDEC4E121

http://books.google.com/books?id=yUwTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA627&lpg=PA627&dq=greyhounds,+regulars,+oregon+volunteers&source=bl&ots=q6y7NgzGxT&sig=vlqG8JC6hQ0Qyo8YnltnFvrJ34o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wNUKUOvUO5Ko8gSryOm6Cg&ved=0CHoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=greyhounds%2C%20regulars%2C%20oregon%20volunteer s&f=false

There is a legend that lives among our military forces today that only regular army forces can fight wars. This is completely contrary to the history of our nation. Offered here is but one small example of how the American militia has stepped up in time of need to serve the nation, providing the time and space to allow the regular force to prepare for war.

Varity
07-21-2012, 05:05 PM
There is a legend that lives among our military forces today that only regular army forces can fight wars. This is completely contrary to the history of our nation. Offered here is but one small example of how the American militia has stepped up in time of need to serve the nation, providing the time and space to allow the regular force to prepare for war.

One question. What militias do we have today other than of course, groups like the Michigan Militia?

I think it would be hard to go back to the old "well-regulated militia" paradigm, because our culture and even the meaning of the word militia has changed so much. Who would even join a militia when they could join the regular army?

Ken White
07-21-2012, 05:05 PM
In every war, they have also introduced innovative thinking, new and better ways of doing things and changed a rather hide bound regular force for the better. The longer we have gone without such infusions, the more stultified the regular force has become. For an example, see the period 1953-2001. :mad:

Bob's World
07-21-2012, 05:21 PM
One question. What militias do we have today other than of course, groups like the Michigan Militia?

I think it would be hard to go back to the old "well-regulated militia" paradigm, because our culture and even the meaning of the word militia has changed so much. Who would even join a militia when they could join the regular army?

These men were mostly members of the Oregon National Guard, and volunteered for wartime service when the call went out.

Similarly, on 15 September 1940 the 162nd Infantry of 41st Division mobilized and boarded the train up to Fort Lewis Washington. They were aboard the fleet that sailed from New York, splitting underway, with half heading to North Africa and the other half going through the Panama Canal and to Australia. The 41st is credited with killing more Japanese soldiers than any other division serving in the Pacific, and was one of the first American Divisions to deploy for WWII and one of the last to return. They had served in France in WWI as well, but did not fight under their division patch guide-on and patch in that campaign.

"Militia" is a term that has fallen to hard times of late. Our fear of militias in Afghanistan led us to avoid the obvious security solution of building locally recruited and employed security forces answering to District and Provincial governors. Instead we have been on a 11 year effort of attempting to create an Afghan National Army, a force that answers to the central government for the sole purpose of preserving the central government.


So long as we protect the 2nd Amendment we will have a "militia" in the US. Not "well regulated" to be sure, but one very deadly force that keeps our current government in check, and that deters any foreign force from even dreaming of invading us.

JMA
07-21-2012, 05:58 PM
In every war, they have also introduced innovative thinking, new and better ways of doing things and changed a rather hide bound regular force for the better. The longer we have gone without such infusions, the more stultified the regular force has become. For an example, see the period 1953-2001. :mad:

These infusions seem to have a merely temporary positive effect before in the immediate post-war period the same bunch of garra-troopers (or their clones) emerge and bring the army back to some real soldiering.

From Lord Moran's "The Anatomy of Courage" written six-months after the Armistice:


The clear, war-given insight into the essence of a man has already grown dim. With the coming of peace we have gone back to those comfortable doctrines that some had thought war had killed. Cleverness has come into its own again. The men who won the war never left England; that was where really clever people were most useful. I sometimes wonder what some of those good souls who came through make of it all. They remember that in the life of the trenches a few simple demands were made of all men; if they were not met the defaulter became an outlaw. Do they ask of themselves when they meet the successful of the present how such men would have fared in that other time where success in life had seemed a mirage? Are they silently in their hearts making those measurements of men which they learnt when there was work afoot that was a manís work? They know a man, for reasons which they are too inarticulate to explain, and they are baffled because others deny what seems to them so simple and so sure.

Of course this quote is more than the military reverting to type immediately after a war. In the current circumstances where relatively small percentages of the forces are deployed a long way from home it is a relatively simple matter for the garra-troopers to ring fence and protect their territory from war learned changes and progress. I wonder how many times modern returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been admonished (or worse) to remember that they are not in Iraq/Afghanistan anymore and they need to get back to 'real' soldiering?

Further, I share his concern for the qualities of the "successful of the present". With the return to the pre-war selection processes nothing changes at officer or enlisted levels. There is no hope.

Varity
07-21-2012, 05:59 PM
"Militia" is a term that has fallen to hard times of late. Our fear of militias in Afghanistan led us to avoid the obvious security solution of building locally recruited and employed security forces answering to District and Provincial governors. Instead we have been on a 11 year effort of attempting to create an Afghan National Army, a force that answers to the central government for the sole purpose of preserving the central government.

I would argue that the fear of militias in the US originated from the radicalization of American militias that ended in the Oklahoma City Bombings (though domestic terrorism is not over yet...).



So long as we protect the 2nd Amendment we will have a "militia" in the US. Not "well regulated" to be sure, but one very deadly force that keeps our current government in check, and that deters any foreign force from even dreaming of invading us.

But we don't have militias today, meaning right now in 2012, as far as I know (again, not counting right wing extremist paramilitary "militias"), do we? The second amendment says a militia is good, but does not say we must have one. It simply says we have the right to keep and bear arms, whether we're in a militia or not.

wm
07-21-2012, 06:18 PM
Yes, Varity, there is a militia.

a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia areó
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

At least one state that I know of, New Mexico, also refers to its militia in its state constitution:


Sectuion 1. The Militia of this State shall consist of all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, except such as are exempt by laws of the United States or of this State.
The organized Militia shall be called the "National Guard of New Mexico," of which the Governor shall be the Commander in Chief.
Section 2. The Legislature shall provide for the organization, discipline and equipment of the Militia, which shall conform as nearly as practicable to the organization, discipline and equipment of the Regular Army of the United States, and shall provide for the maintenance thereof.

Bob's World
07-21-2012, 06:27 PM
"militia" is a term that has been hi-jacked by several groups of disgruntled wantabes who spend their weekends camping out with their buddies, dressing in camo and playing with rediculous weapons (If America was ever invaded by a professional army, I figure I could take my Ruger 10-22 I bought as a kid and have all the military weapons I needed in short order. Not because I'm John Rambo, but just because it isn't that hard to isolate some REMF and take his gear.)

As to the existence of formal militias that are not part of the federally supported National Guard, I know Oregon has one, and I suspect many other states do as well.

When the Constitution was written it had been the law of the land for nearly 200 years that every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 45 (or there abouts) was required to be a member of the militia and to bring his own firearm. While this is no longer the case, America is still a land with a large armed male populace that would respond as irregulars if we were ever invaded, and that steps forward to voluteer or fill draftee ranks in times of war. Do we need a more formal system? Probably not. But don't let those who have hi-jacked the term of late lead you to believe that that is what a militia truly is all about.

Bill Moore
07-21-2012, 06:40 PM
Posted by Bob


Offered here is but one small example of how the American militia has stepped up in time of need to serve the nation, providing the time and space to allow the regular force to prepare for war.

So true if you go want to go back 60 plus years in our history. Fortunately we now have a standing professional Army ready to answer our nation's call to arms, while the NG generally remains in a state of partial readiness. Now the Active Component will hold the line while the NG works off the effect of too many twinkees and lattes, and industry produces enough military kit to equip them thus enabling them to deploy and be combat effective.

The million dollar question (perhaps the trillion dollar question) is how big does the AC need to be to hold the line?

I understand what you're saying and I know you are chumming the waters hoping I would take the bait, and of course having a pea sized brain, and a body designed for killing I couldn't resist the temptation. :D

I think that you're proposing is standing our current process on its head by increasing the readiness of the NG and decreasing the readiness of the Active Component by downsizing it, and then assuming we can expand the AC rapidly if required during a time of crisis. Did I get it right?

In hindsight, this may be feasible and even desirable, but I suspect that in this day and age this will only brief well, but in practice won't work due to changes in our culture, industrial base, complex skills required for a high tech military, etc. I always play counterpoint to your arguments (even when I agree with you on rare occassions :D) because it is fun, but in all seriousness I think there are serious risks with this course of action.

By the way where do the reserves fit into all of this? Add a layer of fidelity to your proposal and in broad terms describe the roles of the NG, AR, and AC (Army and other services' reserves) and how this would actually work in say 2020, not 1942.

davidbfpo
07-21-2012, 07:33 PM
There was a thread on State Militia organisations way-back, but searching failed to find it. Clearly my searching skills need an update.

carl
07-21-2012, 08:08 PM
Bob Jones:

I am so glad you brought this up. This is something that we used to do in every war until I believe we gave it up in WWI-volunteer units recruited for the duration of the war. I think that is how we came up with most of the manning for all our wars up to then. There were even volunteer units dispatched to the Philippines to deal with the Insurrection.

I think it a great way to connect the population of the country with the war effort and the military without having to maintain a draft. Perhaps it can be a way to deal with unforeseen conflicts without having to maintain so large a standing force as we have now. It can be a political brake on adventurism in that if an effort were so unpopular that sufficient volunteers couldn't be raised, that is a pretty good sign that maybe it is inadvisable. It might also concentrate the thinking of the powers that be when they first engage in something. Volunteers signed up to do a specific job and open ended efforts with no clear idea of how to do it would not be popular.

I am talking about volunteer units, not mobilized NG or Reserve units. These units would be raised to be used for a pretty specific purpose and place. An advantage now (or say in 2002 or 2003) would be that volunteers would know what they were getting into, a small war with all the frustrations and ambiguities that entails, and they would be ok with that or they wouldn't volunteer.

I see many advantages in this arrangement except for 2 things. The first and most important is the military personnel system would have a kiniption if it was forced to deal with this and would fight it with all its might. The second is people would think it strange because we haven't done anything like this for a century. The second thing could be overcome, the first, probably not.

JMA
07-21-2012, 08:22 PM
I am talking about volunteer units, not mobilized NG or Reserve units. These units would be raised to be used for a pretty specific purpose and place.

... and how long would it take from the decision to raise these volunteer unit(s) until they were battle ready?

carl
07-21-2012, 08:27 PM
JMA:

With your particular experience you would be a much better judge of that than I. We could go back and look at American history and see how quickly units could be got up to speed depending on the type of unit and the quality of the leadership, but all of that would be over 100 years old.

I was thinking after I wrote that that the units in your war may have been pretty close to what we used to do so long ago. For example, Grey's Scouts (of which I only know a little about) seemed to have been a unit raised in the war for a particular purpose.

JMA
07-21-2012, 09:24 PM
JMA:

With your particular experience you would be a much better judge of that than I. We could go back and look at American history and see how quickly units could be got up to speed depending on the type of unit and the quality of the leadership, but all of that would be over 100 years old.

I was thinking after I wrote that that the units in your war may have been pretty close to what we used to do so long ago. For example, Grey's Scouts (of which I only know a little about) seemed to have been a unit raised in the war for a particular purpose.

Bill Moore hints at the problem (above) with: "... complex skills required for a high tech military..."

Carl sometime ago in another thread I referred to a little booklet (available through the Marine Corps Association) titled "Battle Leadership" by the German, Adolf von Schell. Von Schell attended The Infantry School, Fort Benning in 1930-31 and noted in Chapter IX that because an invasion of the US was unlikely the US could prepare for war and choose to enter into it at a time of its choosing. It would follow that a 'quick' response would be out of the question unless there was a standing army in a battle ready state.

A totally 'scratch' unit would be out of the question because of the skills and experience required up the rank structure. For example your battalion commander would require 15-20 years service as would your top unit NCOs with the requirement for the company commanders (Brit system) being ten years and the platoon sergeants between 7-10 years and the section/squad NCOs at 3-7 years. Troopies you can do in 20 weeks IF you have the Officers and NCOs - against the above criteria - to command them. Officers at platoon commander level can be produced under the "90-day Wonder" regime at a pinch.

So what am I saying... if you have the command and leadership cadre in place you can possibly ship a newly trained battalion off to war in six months.

If you don't have the trained cadre then quite frankly I can't see how it could be done.

As far as the Grey's Scouts were concerned as a mounted infantry unit they drew their cadre from volunteers from across the army. I would think that in the US such a unit could be put together in a jiffy with the fully infantry trained manpower requiring only the 'mounted' aspect of training to be added... and the horses of course.

Bob's World
07-21-2012, 09:26 PM
Bill,

Actually I started this thread primarily as a tip of the hat to an obscure, but distinguished unit. (But I'm not surprised to see you jump in. ;-)

But yes, I am also a proponent for having a peacetime army in times of peace, and only having a wartime army in times of war. Currently we are excessively engaged in conflicts of choice, but we are not a nation at war. One reason we are so excessively engaged in these conflicts of choice is because with a warfighting army sitting on the shelf it is far too easy for the President to launch the nation into such a conflict in the heat of emotion that follows some traumatic event, such as what occurred on 9/11.

America's major wars have all been fought and won primarily by citizen soldiers, men who either volunteered or were drafted for the fight and who returned to civilian life at first opportunity. European countries, prior to garnering the commitment of the US to protect them, all had large standing armies. With just a line on a map between you and your opponents one must have a rather large standing army as well as a large reserve. Maritime nations don't have that problem.

Japan and Britain both had about 225,000 men under arms to manage their empires in 1914; while France and Germany had much larger armies, and Russia had a huge army. The US at that time was less than half that of Japan and Britain. Now, I don't think the US could get by with 100,000 today, and probably not with 225,000 either. But we could cut to 3-400,000 easy, particularly if we would update some policies and take some outdated missions off the books.

I am a firm believer, that when it comes to trimming military budgets, armatures argue programs, while experts argue policy. Problem is that the Congress always wants the military to cut manpower and costs, but Congress never seems to have the sack to kill wasteful programs that profit their respective districts or to update old security policies either one. Or to tell Presidents "No" when they come up with some hair-brained military adventure to lark about with.

But this thread is a hat tip to the Oregon Volunteers and others like them. I know you've been to Guam many times. But next time thank the Oregon Volunteers who stopped there on their way from San Francisco to Manila back in 1998 to take the keys to the place away from the Spanish. Similarly next time you are in Manila, imagine the scene, the proud garrison of Spanish regulars in their fine dress uniforms, humiliated beyond words when a rag-tag bunch of Oregon country boys came into the fort and accepted their surrender. Story says the wives of the Spanish officers cried in outrage that their husbands would have to surrender to such commoners. I'm sure they did. I wish I had the DVD.

Also, next time you are in Zambo, thank the Oregon volunteers for that one too, as it was a very veteran 41st Infantry Division that secured that bit of real estate, coming off a very hard fight on Biak island (and a couple years of hard fighting up the coast of New Guinea before that).

Our Cold War history skews our thinking, and breaks our budgets. Time to move on. Looking back offers the keys to how we move forward.

Bob's World
07-21-2012, 09:40 PM
... and how long would it take from the decision to raise these volunteer unit(s) until they were battle ready?

23 April 1898 President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers.

11 May 1898 the Second Oregon Volunteers were on the train from Camp Withycombe outside Portland, Oregon ( a great little military museum there, btw for those who enjoy that kind of thing) to their port of debarkation in San Francisco. As I recall they took up the motto "First to Assemble" as they were the first such volunteer regiment to form and ship out.

25 May they sailed from San Francisco.

20 June the Spanish Garrison on Guam surrenders (little to no fighting)

(8 July the US annexes Hawaii - oops, we tend to overlook that little land grab)

13 August Manila falls.

Dayuhan
07-21-2012, 11:08 PM
Similarly next time you are in Manila, imagine the scene, the proud garrison of Spanish regulars in their fine dress uniforms, humiliated beyond words when a rag-tag bunch of Oregon country boys came into the fort and accepted their surrender. Story says the wives of the Spanish officers cried in outrage that their husbands would have to surrender to such commoners.

Actually that "proud garrison of Spanish regulars" was in desperate straits, surrounded by an army of Filipino insurgents who had driven them out of the surrounding provinces and short of food and water. They requested (some would say begged) the privilege of being allowed to surrender to Americans (after a brief staged "battle" to assuage pride) to avoid the impending ignominy of having to surrender to Filipinos. They may have feared more than ignominy, though in fact the Filipino insurgents generally treated Spanish prisoners far better than the Spanish treated captured Filipinos. Also far better than American volunteers treated captured Filipinos a bit down the line, when they even bothered capturing any: many of the American volunteers had received their early martial experience during the Native American genocide, and brought the associated tactics with them.

If you went out tomorrow and called for volunteers to go fight in Afghanistan, providing their own officers and equipment (as was the habit in the days of your nostalgia), who do you think you'd come up with, and how do you think they'd fare if deployed?

Bob's World
07-21-2012, 11:19 PM
That sounds about right in regards to the Spanish already being bottled up.

As to a call for volunteers for Afghanistan? Well, all the current forces there are volunteers, the vast majority joining long after the conflict began. But what is the majority popular opinion to that fight? For a government always in search of metrics, that might provide a powerful one.

Have the President make an empassioned call to college students across America to provide 125,000 volunteers to go to Afghanistan and finish this essential campaign once and for all. The sound of crickets would be the most likely response.

carl
07-21-2012, 11:43 PM
Have the President make an empassioned call to college students across America to provide 125,000 volunteers to go to Afghanistan and finish this essential campaign once and for all. The sound of crickets would be the most likely response.

I am not sure about that. That has almost never been the case when volunteers were called for in the past. One reason is, for good or ill, I think Americans like to fight.

But more importantly is what you imply when you say "Have the President make an empassioned call". I don't remember that being done. I remember being called upon to shop, and I remember the military pitching people to become soldiers. That is qualitatively different from having the President, and with him all the powerful and culturally influential people he can call upon, saying there is a vitally important job to be done and it can't be done without you. We need you. I think you would get a good response. Maybe not 125,000 but enough.

The difference between asking people to join the military and become part of the military to do a particular job is subtle but important.

carl
07-21-2012, 11:46 PM
If you went out tomorrow and called for volunteers to go fight in Afghanistan, providing their own officers and equipment (as was the habit in the days of your nostalgia), who do you think you'd come up with, and how do you think they'd fare if deployed?

Things would have to change of course as regards to officer selection. That is critical.

But you are wrong about vols having to supply their own equipment. Except for some of the fancy units early in the Civil War and Confederate cavalrymen supplying their own mounts, they were supplied mostly by the state and ultimately the federal gov.

Ken White
07-22-2012, 12:00 AM
23 April 1898 President McKinley called for 125,000 volunteers.

11 May 1898 the Second Oregon Volunteers were on the train from Camp Withycombe outside Portland, Oregon ( a great little military museum there, btw for those who enjoy that kind of thing) to their port of debarkation in San Francisco. As I recall they took up the motto "First to Assemble" as they were the first such volunteer regiment to form and ship out.

25 May they sailed from San Francisco...That was then, this is now.

You know perfectly well that today we cannot even activate and ship a trained -- even one that's been to Iraq -- ArNG unit in that time for a host of valid reasons. Not least laws passed by the Congress that dictate training times and AC 'Certification' of combat readiness prior to deployment. Carl is correct in ascribing some of those problems to the military personnel bureaucracy (which needs to be totally rebuilt in any case) but it's more complex than that. Not least the concern over poorly to marginally trained and equipped units taking mass casualties, particularly if most such units come from the same small towns. That concern is not or would not be limited to Politicians though that factor prompted those laws I mentioned.

I can sweep the streets and give you a slew of 1900 -- or even 1950 -- level Infantryman in two to four weeks, resource dependent. I could train them shipboard on the 30 day voyage to the Phillipines as I'm sure occured. I cannot do that for today's Infantry. And that's walking Infantry, add in vehicles or aircraft and we're in a different world.

JMA is correct, it would take six months, minimum, IF we had the Cadre. We do not, so that would take a year. It would also take that long or longer to equip them...

We can activate the Guard or Reserve and deploy them in 90 to 180 days. That's about as good as it's gonna get in this era...

It's okay to be proud of ones heritage and experience, it's okay to dream, even to share those dreams with the world but it's not okay to promulgate dangerous illusions.

Dayuhan
07-22-2012, 12:05 AM
Things would have to change of course as regards to officer selection. That is critical.

But you are wrong about vols having to supply their own equipment. Except for some of the fancy units early in the Civil War and Confederate cavalrymen supplying their own mounts, they were supplied mostly by the state and ultimately the federal gov.

Ok, grant that one... but are we talking about recruiting discrete volunteer units, as in the days RCJ is discussing, or simply recruiting volunteers into he existing institution?

I recall (from memory) a story of Frederick Funston, who had been appointed Colonel of a Kansas regiment being deployed to the Philippines, being asked what he knew of military tactics. The reply was something along the lines of "I have a book and expect to have mastered the subject by the time I reach San Francisco".

carl
07-22-2012, 12:11 AM
So what am I saying... if you have the command and leadership cadre in place you can possibly ship a newly trained battalion off to war in six months.

If you don't have the trained cadre then quite frankly I can't see how it could be done.

Exactly. I knew you were the guy to ask. It couldn't be done unless the leaders were available and the standing forces, be they regular, NG or Reserve would most likely have to provide those. That might require structuring the force with that in mind, or not. That is effectively what we did in WWII and the Civil War etc. Joshua Chamberlain got his training from self study and Ames, a West Point guy. No matter if you built up your force with volunteer regiments or enlarged regular units, the problem of supplying them with leaders would be the same.

The benefits to this kind of thing are both societal and military. Societal in that regular people who want to do the job would be going, not regular soldiers. Military in that the units and at least the lower ranks would be there for a particular job and thereby by the unit would be there for a particular job. That might (or not, you guys know better than me) cut down on the career centric coin phenomanom (sic) that so cripples us today. An additional benefit would be sidestepping the military personnel system, which I read over and over is poison to a small war effort.

Imagine the benefits of a unit that was created to serve in Afghanistan for 3 years straight after being trained up. Then when that time was done, it would be disbanded and if another was needed another could be formed. The guys would be told the terms of service so no complaint coming in fulfilling it. A unit staying in place for 3 years would be great.

I know this may be impossible but we did it in the past and it worked. Human nature doesn't change so I don't see and fundamental reason, human nature type fundamental, it couldn't work again.

Also for something like Afghanistan, you wouldn't have to recreate a brigade combat team. Since it would be a temporary volunteer unit, you could tailor it to the need.


As far as the Grey's Scouts were concerned as a mounted infantry unit they drew their cadre from volunteers from across the army. I would think that in the US such a unit could be put together in a jiffy with the fully infantry trained manpower requiring only the 'mounted' aspect of training to be added... and the horses of course.

Given your experience, do you think a unit like that would be useful in Afghanistan?

carl
07-22-2012, 12:20 AM
but are we talking about recruiting discrete volunteer units, as in the days RCJ is discussing, or simply recruiting volunteers into he existing institution?

I am talking about discrete volunteer units. And I realize that it probably could not be done nowadays.

But the critical thing is something Bob Jones, mentioned along the lines of an impassioned call for volunteers by the President. If he were to do that, joined by all the people he could get to join him in that call, maybe you could do almost the same thing without discrete vol units.

I still like the idea of volunteer units being created for a specific job though. It has some psychological advantages I think. Vols go into to do a job, not to be professional soldiers. That is important I think.

carl
07-22-2012, 12:28 AM
Ken:

All your points can't be argued with, at least not by me. But, just for a small war like Afghanistan, could you get away with a lesser level of training for a unit that was just going to go there for that conflict? I don't mean short small unit combat training, to the contrary on things like that. I mean things like chem warfare training, battalion or multi battalion level operations, things like that that may not have that much use against the Taliban.

I hope you get what I mean. These are just musings by a civilian so any specifics I come up with don't mean much. What I mean I guess is would a volunteer unit meant specifically for Afghanistan have to match the full range and level of training of a regular unit?

Dayuhan
07-22-2012, 01:12 AM
"Militia" is a term that has fallen to hard times of late. Our fear of militias in Afghanistan led us to avoid the obvious security solution of building locally recruited and employed security forces answering to District and Provincial governors. Instead we have been on a 11 year effort of attempting to create an Afghan National Army, a force that answers to the central government for the sole purpose of preserving the central government.

I don't know how well these things have worked in Afghanistan, but I have direct experience with them in the Philippines. That direct experience includes a thorough stomping at their hands (and feet, and rifle butts and barrels), so I am perhaps biased. Be that as it may, my observation is that in this environment those "militias" have in practice been little more than legally sanctioned goon squads for corrupt local and regional elites. They quickly pick up skills in extortion, oppression, abuse, and killing or intimidating people their boss doesn't like. They are rarely very effective at fighting the rebels. They are very effective recruiting agents for the rebels, as their victims frequently turn to the rebels to get revenge or fight back. The arms and ammunition issued to them are routinely snatched by the rebels.

In short in this environment efforts to form such civil defense "militias" have been counterproductive. That's particularly true in Mindanao. It's a bit different in the tribal areas where I live now: "militias" are less likely to abuse their own people, but there is a tendency for their arms to be used in inter-tribal conflicts. In fact most localities here in the Cordillera have simply refused to accept the formation of these units; they create more problems than they solve and the populace is already well armed and capable of looking after itself.

Again, I'm not saying any of that applies to Afghanistan, just that the whole idea of trying to use local "militias" against insurgents can have real problems associated with it.

Ken White
07-22-2012, 01:21 AM
What I mean I guess is would a volunteer unit meant specifically for Afghanistan have to match the full range and level of training of a regular unit?The Regular force there now is not doing all that well. I think that answers your question. If they need more and better training, then throwing together a crew of volunteers with less training -- that's a given; there will be no volunteers for the duration, never have been and training takes time out of their term so it has to be minimized.

Part of the Regular force problem is tours -- we haven't been in Afghanistan 11 years, we've been there eleven one year tours -- but part of it is turnover and level of training. The bottom line is what you suggest we do can be done but it almost certainly would be even less effective and would likely have a higher casualty ratio.

History is good, it is important but it also can breed dangerous illusions because too much of it is slanted to make ideological, political or military points. I mention that only to suggest that any sociological benefits from such Volunteer units may or may not appear. The US of today is quite different than the US in which I was a schoolkid and even more different than it was in the early 20th Century.

Also, I've talked to several who were USV in various units. Typical is the Father of a good friend who served in the 2d Georgia in Mexico looking For P. Villa. He later went to France with the 2d Georgia -- by then the 121st Inf, GA ArNG. When activated to go to Texas and then Mexico, they were initially USV, then they were mustered into Federal service and training began. His contention was that training was a lifesaver both in Mexico and later.

carl
07-22-2012, 01:44 AM
Ken:

I don't know if any sociological benefits from such units would appear. It is only my opinion that they would. That is based on my reading that in the past that form of service was on the whole beneficial and human nature hasn't changed so I think it could be beneficial again. That personal opinion holds despite the culture being very different as you note.

You are right of course about the importance of training. It would not work if the training was inferior. But I am thinking that if a unit was only going to be used for one purpose, small war in Afghanistan, training could be specifically tailored for that and that alone. All other things would be disregarded so training might actually be better for the things that only applied to the specific purpose for which the unit was raised.

The other thing that I think would be critical for this type of unit would be that it would go to one place and stay there for three years. Even if it started off with slightly inferior training by the time it had been there for a year or two it would be extremely good at what it was doing in that particular place. It might be completely lost if called upon to repel a North Korean combined arms attack but that would not be why it was created. And these would not be "for the duration" units. Specific term lengths would apply, say 6 months training then 3 years deployed in the same place with say 30 days leave once a year.

Like I said, I know the personnel bureaucracy will never let this come to be. But some way some how has got to be found to break that bureaucracy.

Bob's World
07-22-2012, 02:08 AM
James Madison, Federalist Paper 46:


Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

Dayuhan
07-22-2012, 02:18 AM
I wonder, on a rough basis... what percentage of the population owned arms and was skilled in their use in, say, 1776, 1876, 1976... and today?

Bob's World
07-22-2012, 02:20 AM
I have never argued that any RC army could be as fast and effective as a regular army to rapidly deploy and engage effectively. But that is not the point, and such a capacity has never, ever, been needed by our country. But the very effectiveness of such an active force is its greatest weakness as well. It is always an attractive option, and no President has shown the ability to ignore such an attractive option. This is a fact recognized by our founding fathers, that Kings always find good reasons for war that others don't see. That is why that power was placed firmly within the Congress. Not just to declare, but also to agree to resource and form such an Army in the first place. A cooling off period was built into the system and we have the geostrategic luxury to have such a period. Having a standing army in peace disrupts that system, and the facts speak for themselves. They founding fathers were spot on. Presidents find excuses for war and have worked to cut the congress out of the equation. It has not served us well and it has not made us safer.

For expeditionary interventions we have the USMC and a small number of Army units. That is more than sufficient to that mission. If a true war must be fought we have the time to build and train an army and to dust off our national militia as well.

When one commits the Army it commits the nation. It creates a de facto "war" and wars must be won. How many times must we fall into that trap before we learn that lesson??

Bob's World
07-22-2012, 02:35 AM
"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

"Political Observations" (1795-04-20); also in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491


"The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, & most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature. But the Doctrines lately advanced strike at the root of all these provisions, and will deposit the peace of the Country in that Department which the Constitution distrusts as most ready without cause to renounce it. For if the opinion of the President not the facts & proofs themselves are to sway the judgment of Congress, in declaring war, and if the President in the recess of Congress create a foreign mission, appoint the minister, & negociate a War Treaty, without the possibility of a check even from the Senate, untill the measures present alternatives overruling the freedom of its judgment; if again a Treaty when made obliges the Legislature to declare war contrary to its judgment, and in pursuance of the same doctrine, a law declaring war, imposes a like moral obligation, to grant the requisite supplies until it be formally repealed with the consent of the President & Senate, it is evident that the people are cheated out of the best ingredients in their Government, the safeguards of peace which is the greatest of their blessings."

Letter to Thomas Jefferson (1798-04-02); published in The Writings of James Madison
(1906) Edited by Gaillard Hunt, Vol. 6, pp. 312-14

Dayuhan
07-22-2012, 03:14 AM
For expeditionary interventions we have the USMC

Indeed we do... does anyone else remember Tom Lehrer? Remember, it was 1965...

Send the Marines

When someone makes a move
Of which we don't approve
Who is it that always intervenes
U.N. and O.A.S.
They have their place, I guess
But first... send the Marines

We'll send them all we've got
John Wayne and Randolph Scott
Remember those exciting fighting scenes
To the shores of Tripoli
But not to Mississippoli
What do we do, we send the Marines

For might makes right
And 'til they've seen the light
They've got to be protected
All their rights respected
Till somebody we like can be elected

Members of the corps
All hate the thought of war
They'd rather kill them off by peaceful means
Stop calling it aggression
We hate that expression
We only want the world to know
That we support the status quo
They love us everywhere we go
So when in doubt, send the Marines

Ken White
07-22-2012, 03:32 AM
You are right of course about the importance of training. It would not work if the training was inferior. But I am thinking that if a unit was only going to be used for one purpose, small war in Afghanistan, training could be specifically tailored for that and that alone.Doesn't work that way. Training for combat has to be full spectrum and we currently train folks only for the 'job at hand' and grade held instead of the old fashioned way for world wide service and a grade or two ahead of that currently held. See the result? What do you suppose would occur with even less training?

As wars go, Afghanistan is quite benign -- but that can change in any number of unforeseen ways -- like the sudden entry of the Army of Pakistan because they're upset with the Pakistani Taliban flowing over the Afghan Border. Even a large shipment of mortars and Ammo to the Talib would be a game changer. We could cope with it, could even if there were Volunteers but what if the first few uses of those mortars caught Volunteer units in a big way (the Talib are smart enough to target the elements with political penalties rampant. See the Canadian experience...)?

You may be willing to take a chance on the Volunteer program. I suspect few politicians would agree.
The other thing that I think would be critical for this type of unit would be that it would go to one place and stay there for three years. Even if it started off with slightly inferior training by the time it had been there for a year or two it would be extremely good at what it was doing in that particular place. It might be completely lost if called upon to repel a North Korean combined arms attack but that would not be why it was created. And these would not be "for the duration" units. Specific term lengths would apply, say 6 months training then 3 years deployed in the same place with say 30 days leave once a year.I'm unsure you'd get many volunteers to go to Afghanistan (for just one example) for three years.

It may also be unwise to predicate your efforts on being in one place for three years. For just one example, a slew of people left the Dominican Republic (conflict) and Germany (no conflict) in 1965-66 and went straight to Viet Nam with no replacements in the former nations.

You may start off with the premise that as they gain experience they'll get better but if they take a big hit from a North Korean attack (or anyone else's, large or small...) someone will pay. Particularly if it's soon after they get in theater, where ever it is...
Like I said, I know the personnel bureaucracy will never let this come to be. But some way some how has got to be found to break that bureaucracy.I don't think the personnel bureaucracy would be your biggest problem -- I suspect that would be politicians. Second, I suspect, would be the volunteers themselves...

JMA
07-22-2012, 06:22 PM
Exactly. I knew you were the guy to ask. It couldn't be done unless the leaders were available and the standing forces, be they regular, NG or Reserve would most likely have to provide those. That might require structuring the force with that in mind, or not. That is effectively what we did in WWII and the Civil War etc. Joshua Chamberlain got his training from self study and Ames, a West Point guy. No matter if you built up your force with volunteer regiments or enlarged regular units, the problem of supplying them with leaders would be the same.

This staffing challenge is not unlike what the US has faced and will face in times of general mobilisation. Where do the officers and NCOs come from?

I suggest one sets some ground rules in this regard that must be complied with.

* It remains undisputed that the NCO structure is the backbone of the infantry battalion.

* You cant instantly produce NCOs (especially not through the same training process as that of the basic troopies - meaning the better and brighter are selected an given a little extra attention with some rank at the end).

* As with officers, NCOs must be trained and exercised at two command levels above their current rank level. Meaning that a section comd/squad leader must be trained tactically at squad, platoon and company levels (platoon sergeant is not a command level).

* If during peacetime the training tempo is maintained along these lines a sudden influx of recruits at the time of mobilisation can be reasonably successfully absorbed. Unfortunately this does not happen as in peacetime all armies can't resist sliding into a routine where their are no military priorities - given that there will be budgetary restrictions.


The benefits to this kind of thing are both societal and military. Societal in that regular people who want to do the job would be going, not regular soldiers. Military in that the units and at least the lower ranks would be there for a particular job and thereby by the unit would be there for a particular job. That might (or not, you guys know better than me) cut down on the career centric coin phenomanom (sic) that so cripples us today. An additional benefit would be sidestepping the military personnel system, which I read over and over is poison to a small war effort.

May I suggest a small change of terminology here. I would suggest that such units be raised for a particular campaign or war (rather than a job).

Its only in times of almost total war that the mindset changes for the better - normally after taking a bloody nose : Kasserine Pass - but sadly it does not take long until things return to the old ways.


Imagine the benefits of a unit that was created to serve in Afghanistan for 3 years straight after being trained up. Then when that time was done, it would be disbanded and if another was needed another could be formed. The guys would be told the terms of service so no complaint coming in fulfilling it. A unit staying in place for 3 years would be great.

I suggest that you get the volunteers to sign up to serve in the unit for three years - this applies also to the leadership cadre. We are not talking about 100s of thousands of people here - you will find them out there. People like me ;) People you sign up to go to war. Once I got into a mostly peacetime environment it was so stifling suffocating to the extent I had to leave. There will be thousands like that in the US you will get a good day's work out of.

Looking into the low incidence of PTSD in the RLI I believe we stumbled upon the secret by chance. Therefore in my experience where I spent a full three years doing a 6week:10days rotation of ops:R&R without any long term ill-effect (any aggressive behaviour I may exhibit from time to time was there from before my service started ;) )

Now to page 251 of Stuart Cloete's book "A Victorian Son" talking about his time in hospital during the Great War, "The feeling that for the next few weeks I need no longer feel afraid or act with courage." That was it. Every two months you had a week when you returned to normality. You could drop your guard, you could wind down. I discussed this some time back somewhere here and suggested how such a rotation would work. That said little wonder - given what I saw in the movie Restrepo - that there is an increasing level of mental and PTSD incidence among those deployed to Afghanistan.

It will take a cost/benefit analysis before the power that be see the benefit of investing in R&R during tours/deployments/campaigns/wars in terms of reduced PTSD and associated costs.


I know this may be impossible but we did it in the past and it worked. Human nature doesn't change so I don't see and fundamental reason, human nature type fundamental, it couldn't work again.

It is absolutely workable ... but not perhaps under your current systems.


Also for something like Afghanistan, you wouldn't have to recreate a brigade combat team. Since it would be a temporary volunteer unit, you could tailor it to the need.

You need the leadership cadre who are in it for the duration. Command continuity and theatre experience are essential. That is your backbone and it extends down to corporal level (squad leader). Ttoopie replacements (as I remember discussing elsewhere here a few years ago) can be trickle fed into the units at a slow rate to never diminish the level of combat experience of units. This I submit needs to be managed and must be maintained down to section/squad level. Once the units have deployed promotions must in the main be from within.


Given your experience, do you think a unit like that would be useful in Afghanistan?

Quite frankly I can't say, but I sometimes wonder if it (and other methods and tactical options) has received any serious consideration.

I would ask the guys who have been there and those who are going there to actively give the use of mounted infantry some thought. You may be greatly surprised at what the troopies come up with.

carl
07-23-2012, 01:33 PM
May I suggest a small change of terminology here. I would suggest that such units be raised for a particular campaign or war (rather than a job).

Absolutely.


I suggest that you get the volunteers to sign up to serve in the unit for three years - this applies also to the leadership cadre. We are not talking about 100s of thousands of people here - you will find them out there. People like me ;) People you sign up to go to war. Once I got into a mostly peacetime environment it was so stifling suffocating to the extent I had to leave. There will be thousands like that in the US you will get a good day's work out of.

I think so too, even now and back in the early 2000s, very much more so. There are over 300 million people in this country and the right types would be found in sufficient numbers.


Looking into the low incidence of PTSD in the RLI I believe we stumbled upon the secret by chance. Therefore in my experience where I spent a full three years doing a 6week:10days rotation of ops:R&R without any long term ill-effect (any aggressive behaviour I may exhibit from time to time was there from before my service started ;) )

Now to page 251 of Stuart Cloete's book "A Victorian Son" talking about his time in hospital during the Great War, "The feeling that for the next few weeks I need no longer feel afraid or act with courage." That was it. Every two months you had a week when you returned to normality. You could drop your guard, you could wind down. I discussed this some time back somewhere here and suggested how such a rotation would work. That said little wonder - given what I saw in the movie Restrepo - that there is an increasing level of mental and PTSD incidence among those deployed to Afghanistan.

How beautifully and cogently stated by Cloete. Sometimes I think, Ken alludes to this, that the Americans are stuck with an early 20th century industrial view of human beings. We view them as just parts in a machine. Other countries seem to understand better that people are people and have be treated as such.

Could you view the Taliban as doing the same thing you guys did but in an informal manner? They get tired or stressed, and they just don't do missions or they go to Pakistan for a while to chill out. Then when they feel better, back they go.


You need the leadership cadre who are in it for the duration. Command continuity and theatre experience are essential. That is your backbone and it extends down to corporal level (squad leader). Ttoopie replacements (as I remember discussing elsewhere here a few years ago) can be trickle fed into the units at a slow rate to never diminish the level of combat experience of units. This I submit needs to be managed and must be maintained down to section/squad level. Once the units have deployed promotions must in the main be from within.

Yes x 3. I remember your talking about how handling replacements. I cut that one out (so to speak) because it is an excellent example of recognizing that you are dealing with people, not parts.

Leadership cadre in for the duration and promotion from within would result, I think (in my civilian bookish way), in a unit like this getting better and better during the course of its 3 year deployment.

I think a volunteer unit like this could work but it would require at least 3 mainly cultural adjustments that the American military might not be able to make. The first is recognizing that small wars are really honest to goodness different and have to be handled differently. I know we've been at this for 11 years but I still don't think that has really been accepted. The second is that people are people, not parts and have to be handled as such. The third comes from the first sort of in that just because you make changes to handle something unique, doesn't mean you are locked into those changes forever. You can switch back again...and people being people, not parts, they will be able to handle the adjustment.

That is all part of being adaptable. We used to be able to adapt. Chesty Puller and his contemporaries could adapt. He started out leading local constabulary. Then Pacific island battles against the Japanese then winter rough country fighting with a great large combined arms unit. He was adaptable. i don't see guys now being any less so, if given the chance.


Quite frankly I can't say, but I sometimes wonder if it (and other methods and tactical options) has received any serious consideration.

I would ask the guys who have been there and those who are going there to actively give the use of mounted infantry some thought. You may be greatly surprised at what the troopies come up with.

The American troops would be, I would bet, be quite enthusiastic about something like this. American leaders no, because there would be no high tech involved and they would be afraid they would have to have mounted units forever.

Steve Blair
07-23-2012, 01:39 PM
In every war, they have also introduced innovative thinking, new and better ways of doing things and changed a rather hide bound regular force for the better. The longer we have gone without such infusions, the more stultified the regular force has become. For an example, see the period 1953-2001. :mad:

Yes and no, Ken. As far as I'm concerned, the Volunteer myth ranks right up there with "we have to have a draft." Some of the volunteers did bring in new ideas, but if you go back to the Civil War I'd also make a strong case for some of that innovating thinking actually came from Regular officers of junior rank who were quickly promoted to provide leadership for those new Volunteer units. A good chunk of the "volunteer" officers in the Civil War were West Point-trained (or had prior service experience) who gained their rank through State appointments.

Volunteer units also didn't start doing well until they were brought in on extended service terms (two years at least). Lots of issues, and I suspect that the "volunteer" question leads down the same rabbit hole as the draftee force.

carl
07-23-2012, 02:11 PM
Doesn't work that way. Training for combat has to be full spectrum and we currently train folks only for the 'job at hand' and grade held instead of the old fashioned way for world wide service and a grade or two ahead of that currently held. See the result? What do you suppose would occur with even less training?

I don't see why there would be less training. There would be more training, but specialized and adapted to the conditions to be faced. That is the idea of specialized troops isn't it? Abrams borne infantry doesn't train like foot borne infantry which doesn't train like artillerymen. This type of unit would be specialized. That has been done forever, hoplites and peltasts, legionaries and velites etc.


As wars go, Afghanistan is quite benign -- but that can change in any number of unforeseen ways -- like the sudden entry of the Army of Pakistan because they're upset with the Pakistani Taliban flowing over the Afghan Border. Even a large shipment of mortars and Ammo to the Talib would be a game changer. We could cope with it, could even if there were Volunteers but what if the first few uses of those mortars caught Volunteer units in a big way (the Talib are smart enough to target the elements with political penalties rampant. See the Canadian experience...)?

I don't see the sudden entry of the Pak Army having much to do with this. Units such as these would not be the only ones in Afghanistan. They would supplement not supplant regular units. That is the way it has always been with volunteer troops. You would naturally have some regular units there anyway. Besides would the regular units there now be able to handle Pak Army conventional units? Many are deployed in small outposts and if I've read correctly many have left a lot of their heavy equipment at home. I don't see too much difference.

Units such as I propose would be equipped and trained for small war. Mortars have been used by insurgents and part of small war for a long time. They would also have recourse to fire support from regular units. Remember they would only supplement not supplant regular troops. And I believe Taliban and Co. already use recoilless rifles. Those have a pretty big bang.


You may be willing to take a chance on the Volunteer program. I suspect few politicians would agree.I'm unsure you'd get many volunteers to go to Afghanistan (for just one example) for three years.

No, you would get the volunteers. Of that I am certain. You can disagree, but they would be there. Remember like JMA says, you don't need hundreds of thousands.

Political reluctance would be big and probably the real killer of the idea. But political outlooks change and can be changed. B.O. Davis probably saw the day when a Colin Powell would be the big boss but few of his contemporaries saw it.


It may also be unwise to predicate your efforts on being in one place for three years. For just one example, a slew of people left the Dominican Republic (conflict) and Germany (no conflict) in 1965-66 and went straight to Viet Nam with no replacements in the former nations.

No, the idea depends on being in one place for three years. That is the whole idea of having a special volunteer unit raised for a specific campaign. This wouldn't be a regular unit. If things really got bad of course it would be different but then everything would be different.


You may start off with the premise that as they gain experience they'll get better but if they take a big hit from a North Korean attack (or anyone else's, large or small...) someone will pay. Particularly if it's soon after they get in theater, where ever it is...I don't think the personnel bureaucracy would be your biggest problem -- I suspect that would be politicians. Second, I suspect, would be the volunteers themselves...

They wouldn't take a big hit from a North Korean attack because they wouldn't be in North Korea. They would be raised for service in the Afghan campaign and would serve there. I used the example of a North Korean combined arms attack as an example of something they would not face in Afghanistan and so would not be trained and equipped for that.

The same guys in the same place with the same leadership cadre promoting from within, as outlined by JMA above, the unit would get very much better.

If it came to pass that a critical emergency required them to move to Korea, they would have to be given new equipment and training. But the unit would be far ahead of any other newly raised unit because it would be cohesive with men, NCOs and officers known to each other who have worked together.

To the contrary, I think the volunteers would be the strength of the outfit, for this reason "In every war, they have also introduced innovative thinking, new and better ways of doing things and changed a rather hide bound regular force for the better. The longer we have gone without such infusions, the more stultified the regular force has become. For an example, see the period 1953-2001."

(Amendment Alert! Amendment Alert! I only just now read Steve Blair's comment on Ken's remark quoted above. Accurate comment but I think the effect is the same regardless of the exact mechanism.)

Ken White
07-23-2012, 02:32 PM
Yes and no, Ken.... some of that innovating thinking actually came from Regular officers of junior rank who were quickly promoted to provide leadership for those new Volunteer units...Volunteer units also didn't start doing well until they were brought in on extended service terms (two years at least). Lots of issues, and I suspect that the "volunteer" question leads down the same rabbit hole as the draftee force.All quite true. The same phenomenon occurred in later wars; Spanish American, WW I, WW II. The infusion of volunteers / guard or Reserve led in all those case to improvements in the way the Army did things in many areas and generally for long term improvement but that was as much a function of the huge change in structure as of 'volunteer' input.

Most of the military / tactical improvements were indeed introduced by the Regular Officers who were rapidly promoted due to a war (and those guys were in Regular as well as Guard / Reserve units) however most but not all of the nut and bolt, supply and service, housekeeping and administration, industrial and technical changes (most but not all were improvements) came from the RC folks. One of the 'strengths' they do bring is generally more current technical capability derived from civilian jobs. Another is that being less militarily knowledgeable (or conditioned...) in most senses, they are, as one bright young Regular Army BG once told me "...not aware of what they can't do..."

In all cases, it did take well over a year before most (again, not all) RC units began to function well tactically. That varies by type unit -- most RC Field Artillery and Combat Support units do well rather quickly; CSS is a mixed bag and the maneuver units take longer due to a relative lack of practice.

Totally agree that the "volunteer question" does lead down that rabbit hole. The world and too many thing in it have changed too much for either to be viable under other than unusual circumstances...

Ken White
07-23-2012, 02:45 PM
AddendumWe can disagree on most all that. I will offer just one statement of yours for you to ponder:
No, the idea depends on being in one place for three years. That is the whole idea of having a special volunteer unit raised for a specific campaign. This wouldn't be a regular unit. If things really got bad of course it would be different but then everything would be different.to expand on that comment in reverse order:

One of the problems with ground combat is that things tend to get really bad unpredictably. It may be only local but it can have significant impact.

If the US Congress is unwilling to leave all volunteer regular Army soldiers in theater for over a year, people who signed up to go anywhere and do anything and based on the precedents of Korea and Viet Nam with draftees involved, is it really possible they'd acceded to a three year tour for volunteers? If the volunteers are sent for three years tours, would the tours for regular Army people also have to be three years? If not why not? Would Congress concur? Would the Mothers and Fathers of the younger volunteers concur?

See also my response to Steve Blair just above.

Added: This also merits a response:
Besides would the regular units there now be able to handle Pak Army conventional units? Many are deployed in small outposts and if I've read correctly many have left a lot of their heavy equipment at home. I don't see too much difference.The difference is that the regular units have signed up for full spectrum warfare and heavy casualties can be a norm; that is an accepted fact. 'Volunteers' would be signed up for less that full spectrum warfare and implicit in that is no heavy casualties -- you don't say that but I assure you it would be so assumed -- and as for being able to "handle Pak(sic) conventional units," the answer is dependent on many factors but based on what you've written thus far, the answer to that question is a qualified yes -- mostly because your volunteers have been trained only to do tasks in the FID mode in Afghanistan, not to engage in conventional force on force war with a peer equipped unit

Bob's World
07-23-2012, 03:39 PM
What has not changed is the danger of a standing warfighting army in times of peace in terms of the dangers of overly empowering the executive to begin wars as described by James Madison.

As to arguments about what type of force is most competent in the shortest period of time, those are interesting but moot to this discussion. The US has never needed a rapidly deployable warfighting army. Ever. Not in WWI. Not in WWII. Not in Korea. Not in Vietnam. And most certainly not in the subsequent era of conflicts that we have dived into head first.

Likewise, we do not need a large warfighting army on the books to defend our shores from invasion. Consider the example of our invasion of France. It took us two years to stage the men and supplies and capabilty to simply push across the English Channel. When China or Russia begin a two year program of staging on Vancouver Island or Nova Scotia, give me a call. Until then these are false arguements about false threats.

We are trapped in an inertia of thinking rooted in the anomoly of 60+ years of having to have a warfighting army on the books to implement containment in Western Europe, and then a long string of post Cold War conflicts that various Presidents have been able to engage upon simply because such an army was available.

We engage the future best when we apply our historical lessons properly. Madison was right, and if he could see what has happened over the past 40 years he would be shocked that we allowed this to happen. The original George W (Washington) would be equally alarmed and dismayed.

Steve Blair
07-23-2012, 05:32 PM
I don't recall ever contending that we need a force of the size we have today. And I think it's better if we stop trying to read the minds of historical figures and simply look at the situation. Arguably we have never scaled well (during the period of Western expansion the Army was consistently too small for the task it was expected to accomplish....which we then compensated for by maintaining a force post-WW2 that is likely too large for most of what it should be doing). Likewise the shortcomings of Volunteer forces became apparent during that same period (as did some of their positives, but I want to avoid that rabbit hole).

Relying on historical lessons would lead to a diminished Army, a reasonably-sized Navy (with concurrent strength in the Marine Corps), and an Air Force likely sized somewhat below the Marine Corps. Sea lane and trade protection has always been a historical interest of the US, and one that led to more overseas commitments than any other source prior to World War I. Those landing elements were normally Marines and sailors (although over time it evolved to mostly Marines based on training and a developed mission by the Corps). The Air Force would follow a similar pattern under this construct, relying less on silver bullet technology (which eats up huge amounts of funding for debatable results...a practice that has spread to the other services after they saw how effective the AF's approach was to winning funding), and the Army would shrink drastically.

You would still see overseas conflict and entanglement (Wilson, anyone? He did that with a small Army), but it would be at reduced levels (one hesitates to use the phrase acceptable levels, but it might be appropriate). And the temptation would always be there to use airpower (as it's viewed as somehow cleaner than other forms of violence...unless you're the one being bombed). These days, I do think you need some sort of standing force beyond what folks in Madison's time might have considered appropriate, but the world has also changed dramatically since then. Perhaps a rationalized form of the British model as it currently exists might be more appropriate.

Varity
07-23-2012, 11:02 PM
Yes, Varity, there is a militia.

At least one state that I know of, New Mexico, also refers to its militia in its state constitution:

Oops, I was thinking of organized state militias, but I guess my Californianess is showing. Turns out we (California) do have one though. I looked into it.

So...according to the constitution, much of the population is in the milita without knowing it. :)

Varity
07-23-2012, 11:25 PM
I wonder, on a rough basis... what percentage of the population owned arms and was skilled in their use in, say, 1776, 1876, 1976... and today?

Here's the 1976-today:

http://www.motherjones.com/files/images/blog_gun_ownership.jpg

Wow, and that's in the 70's. I never really associated the 70's with high gun ownership... I would imagine the downward trend is unbroken, starting from 1776.

Dayuhan
07-24-2012, 12:08 AM
Interesting... it would be even more interesting to know what percentage of those gun owners shoot or hunt regularly.

All of this of course is closely tied to the transition from a predominantly rural population to a predominantly urban population. Country kids have options that city and suburban kids don't when it comes to learning to shoot, not to mention learning the basics of woodcraft.

Bob's World
07-24-2012, 01:56 AM
Interesting... it would be even more interesting to know what percentage of those gun owners shoot or hunt regularly.

All of this of course is closely tied to the transition from a predominantly rural population to a predominantly urban population. Country kids have options that city and suburban kids don't when it comes to learning to shoot, not to mention learning the basics of woodcraft.

Equally interesting to know what percentage of the regular army who shoot or hunt regularly....probably about the same.

I wouldn't put too much stake on shooting or woodcraft. If the US were invaded city folk would fight in the city and country folk would fight in the country. Foreign invaders would die in both places, as would Americans, but ultimately the invaders would lose. Invading someone Else's country is always hard, but some countries are harder than others based on the nature of their terrain and the people who live there. Afghanistan is a country like that. So is America. So are many other countries.

carl
07-24-2012, 02:09 PM
If the US Congress is unwilling to leave all volunteer regular Army soldiers in theater for over a year, people who signed up to go anywhere and do anything and based on the precedents of Korea and Viet Nam with draftees involved, is it really possible they'd acceded to a three year tour for volunteers? If the volunteers are sent for three years tours, would the tours for regular Army people also have to be three years? If not why not? Would Congress concur? Would the Mothers and Fathers of the younger volunteers concur?

What if Congress did concur then changed its mind? And if it didn't, what if it was thinking about it? What if the Mothers and Fathers of the younger volunteers were divorced? Who would we listen to? What if forms have to be reprinted? What type face would be used? What if it had to be different from the regular Army forms so we could tell them apart? What if the Red Bull ran out? Would we have to withdraw? What if we had to have Red Bull runout adjustments to pay? What if...


Added: This also merits a response:The difference is that the regular units have signed up for full spectrum warfare and heavy casualties can be a norm; that is an accepted fact. 'Volunteers' would be signed up for less that full spectrum warfare and implicit in that is no heavy casualties -- you don't say that but I assure you it would be so assumed -- and as for being able to "handle Pak(sic) conventional units," the answer is dependent on many factors but based on what you've written thus far, the answer to that question is a qualified yes -- mostly because your volunteers have been trained only to do tasks in the FID mode in Afghanistan, not to engage in conventional force on force war with a peer equipped unit

I assure ypu that it wouldn't be implicit that there wouldn't be heavy casualties. It would be explicitly stated that the volunteers were signing up for war and war and battles are unpredictable and often massively and fatally dangerous. People aren't stupid, especially when you are honest with them. Those who would volunteer, and I agree with JMA that there would be enough, would know perfectly well what might potentially happen.

The volunteer unit I propose would not be able to face a Pak Army armored unit in conventional force on force war. Not surprising since that would not be the purpose for which it was raised, trained and equipped. Viewing that as a fatal flaw is like saying a Boston Whaler isn't a very good snowplow. If there was a danger that that type of a threat existed (it doesn't) you obviously would not employ a unit like this. The enemy to be faced and all that.

But then, as I said, I doubt the regular units could take on the Pak Army in conventional force of force war. They don't have hardly any of their heavy weapons and equipment. No matter that they have been trained to drive around in M-1s and prevail. There aren't any M-1s to drive around in. (Maybe the Marines have a handful) And the reason for that is there is next to no chance that the Pak Army is going to do that. They also probably are very light on anti-aircraft defenses because there is next to no chance the PAF or the IAF is going to strafe them.

Ken White
07-24-2012, 03:08 PM
What if Congress did concur then changed its mind? And if it didn't, what if it was thinking about it? What if the Mothers and Fathers of the younger volunteers were divorced? Who would we listen to? What if forms have to be reprinted? What type face would be used? What if it had to be different from the regular Army forms so we could tell them apart? What if the Red Bull ran out? Would we have to withdraw? What if we had to have Red Bull runout adjustments to pay? What if...What if indeed. What if the political realities were objectively and realistically considered... :rolleyes:
Those who would volunteer, and I agree with JMA that there would be enough, would know perfectly well what might potentially happen.I agree you could get 'enough volunteers' for some wars. I disagree that Afghanistan is one such war.
Viewing that as a fatal flaw is like saying a Boston Whaler isn't a very good snowplow.Both statements are true, yours is just more obvious... :D
If there was a danger that that type of a threat existed (it doesn't) you obviously would not employ a unit like this. The enemy to be faced and all that.And you propose to guarantee this with no changes in their tour just how? :confused:
And the reason for that is there is next to no chance that the Pak Army is going to do that...That is true but you did say "next to no chance" instead absolutely no chance -- so you're learning. ;)

Still, lacking the Pakistani Army, simply introducing Mortars -- or a bunch of these (LINK) (http://world.guns.ru/sniper/large-caliber-sniper-rifles/rus/ksvk-e.html) would be a temporary if minor game changer -- but minor game changes in the wrong place at the right time can do untold political if not military damage. Introduction of both at the same time along with a tactical revision by the bad guys could be a major minor game changer...

You can hang on to your dream. My disagreement with it doesn't affect it. We disagree on most things, this is just one more.

Bob's World
07-24-2012, 06:56 PM
There "not being enough volunteers" is a pretty good metric that the President is misreading the situation.

The Congress not agreeing to raise an Army and resource the same to wage such a war is another great metric for the President.

Having a warfighting army on the books ready to fight takes those metrics out of play. This is what President's Madison and Jefferson both wrote numerous cautions about.

We need to stop seeing the post-WWII era as the norm that we measure everything else against in terms of our national security. It was a fluke and anomaly in many ways, and the containment strategy was a choice - not the only option for dealing with security challenges in that era.

Today many pundits (Form the SECDEF to Think tanks to Services to GCCs to random people with access to some media) proclaim powerful and existential threats to America. But these are either grossly exaggerated (China currently, AQ-X ever, Iran ever), or are not military missions at all (cyber attacks on US infrastructure). Similarly we propose solutions that don't work to problems that don't exist (Massive conventional Army SFA conducted by rotating BCTS that have been trained first by SF and have a HTT attached to them; or A2AD to counter China's ability to project their defensive systems a few hundred miles from their coastline).

When does this stop? When does common sense once again prevail? It is time to have a new national dialog on our true national security concerns. Someone needs to put the services back into their respective lanes. Someone needs to take this dangerous toy away from the President. Someone needs to infuse a greater sense of responsibility and backbone into the Congress. That somebody is the American people.

Equally problematic are the social programs; our approach to education; our approach to immigration and integration of new citizens; and our puritanical approach to vice-related crimes that feeds such massive illicit economies and fills countless prisons with our young men. (but this site is about the military, small wars, etc, so we'll leave others to chew on these).

When was the last MANDATORY "small war" for the US? What if we had limited Afghanistan to a punitive raid and avoided Iraq altogether? Would we be less safe than we are today?? We are drawn along by an inertia of thought and action that we seem unable (or unwilling) to break free of.

Steve Blair
07-24-2012, 07:26 PM
Let the mandated defense cuts go through and you may see some change.

Seriously, though, the volunteer thing is not the way to go. You simply open the floodgates again to political patronage in commissions, units, basing requirements, and so on. Some volunteer units performed well...others did not. It's same rabbit hole as the draft. Let it go.

If you want to shake the large standing army model, you have to go back to the days before World War II. Go back to a regimental system. Get rid of divisions, brigades, the whole lot. Then cap those regiments based on a funding model. That's how it was done in the "old days." Back before the deification of the military in the US, a standing army was viewed as a drain on the taxpayers. That viewpoint didn't necessarily apply to the navy, but it certainly did to the army. And I think your "dangerous toy" comment misses a number of points. In a society that values STEM degrees more than they do a balanced liberal arts education, it's not surprising that they latch onto those toys. And given a generational "bubble" that has turned "support the troops" into a successful effort to put the military on a pedestal it's even harder to reassess. So long as people buy the rhetoric that "the draft is the historical norm for the American military" and similar red herrings you won't see change.

A small, reasonably-trained (at least after 1880 or so) Regular Army has been our norm prior to 1940 or so. That Army was always volunteer-based, and often had a fair percentage of foreign-born members working their way toward citizenship. That was also the norm. Any time we wanted to get expansionist we called in Volunteers.

Uninformed leadership will never have informed discussions. That's the way of things. It's not a problem that will be solved overnight, or possibly in our lifetimes. Not something I like to think about, but so long as policymakers can buy loads of goods disguised as F-22s it's what we're stuck with.

Bob's World
07-24-2012, 07:46 PM
Steve. Agreed.

wm
07-25-2012, 11:52 AM
Uninformed leadership will never have informed discussions. That's the way of things. It's not a problem that will be solved overnight, or possibly in our lifetimes. Not something I like to think about, but so long as policymakers can buy loads of goods disguised as F-22s it's what we're stuck with.

How are the current hi-tech weapon buys for the services really all that different from the surge in coast defense fort building following the War of 1812 and then the Endicott Board and the Taft Board reports? Or the Nike boom of the 50's? Did we ever have to repel a foreign naval invasion after Washington DC was burned? How many enemy bombers did those Nikes shoot down?
I submit that a retrenchment from foreign adventuring, passed off as whatever will best sell in the press releases to the electorate, will not see a significant change in defense spending. What will change is simply what the Congress will authorize/direct the services to buy.

JMA
07-25-2012, 02:20 PM
I think so too, even now and back in the early 2000s, very much more so. There are over 300 million people in this country and the right types would be found in sufficient numbers.

There can be no question that there is a large enough pool from which to draw volunteers to deal with some local problem somewhere (for that read a small war or insurgency).

That Afghanistan is a small war the US is going to "lose" does not prove that in the event of a "call to arms" (as the Brits would say) where would not be a few thousand volunteers who would step forward. (The Oregon militia spoken of here numbered around 1,300).

I would agree with Ken (for probably different reasons) that it won't happen, not because it is not workable but rather because the politicians and the general staff won't let it. Different thing altogether.


How beautifully and cogently stated by Cloete. Sometimes I think, Ken alludes to this, that the Americans are stuck with an early 20th century industrial view of human beings. We view them as just parts in a machine. Other countries seem to understand better that people are people and have be treated as such.

To understand the learning curve the Brits went through you should read "Six Weeks : The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War" by John Lewis-Stempel. And of course my favourite "The Anatomy of Courage" by Lord Moran. We did touch on the replacement system in Gen Gerhardt's 29th Infantry Division (post D-Day) and the roll of neuro-psychiatrist, Major David Weintrob (who much like Lord Moran for the Brits a war before) in improving such and other systems. See post here. (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=135380&postcount=23)


Could you view the Taliban as doing the same thing you guys did but in an informal manner? They get tired or stressed, and they just don't do missions or they go to Pakistan for a while to chill out. Then when they feel better, back they go.

I understand they have a much more informal approach to the war than the NATO forces do. They are in it for the long haul and pace themselves pretty well. It also appears that they are lured into major actions by the promise of 'bonuses' so the whole dynamic is different. Yes, it appears as if those from Pakistan go home for winter.

On the allied side the US acknowledged that 180 in combat was "burn-out point". See post on this (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=135426&postcount=38). Hence my alarm on seeing the movie Restrepo where the company spent virtually the whole year in that hell hole with only one 2 week R&R in the middle (IIRC). Come....... on now!

I would be interested what the shrinks believe the best rotation is in today's circumstances. From my personal experience I liked the 6 week : 10 day rotation because is not long enough to start ticking days off the calender and the promise of some serious partying just next month is good for morale. The married from then will tell you that such (6 week) breaks don't lead to long sad farewells and while the wife will have to attend to leaking taps (faucets) he will not be away long enough to have to give her signing powers on the bank account ... ;)

Under current arrangements you can't fly everyone home every 6 weeks but once the long term cost of increased mental issues and PTSD are factored in a nice little rotation will indeed be feasible.

If you recall I spoke of upping the number of platoons in a company to 4 or 5 to ensure the company is not continually depleted through R&R.

All this can be done, will work well ... but won't - unfortunately - be allowed to happen. Old habits die hard.


Yes x 3. I remember your talking about how handling replacements. I cut that one out (so to speak) because it is an excellent example of recognizing that you are dealing with people, not parts.

Indeed. How did it ever get to the point the people part was lost sight of?


Leadership cadre in for the duration and promotion from within would result, I think (in my civilian bookish way), in a unit like this getting better and better during the course of its 3 year deployment.

That must be the general principle, difficult to maintain and there must be darn good reasons to deviate.


I think a volunteer unit like this could work but it would require at least 3 mainly cultural adjustments that the American military might not be able to make. The first is recognizing that small wars are really honest to goodness different and have to be handled differently. I know we've been at this for 11 years but I still don't think that has really been accepted. The second is that people are people, not parts and have to be handled as such. The third comes from the first sort of in that just because you make changes to handle something unique, doesn't mean you are locked into those changes forever. You can switch back again...and people being people, not parts, they will be able to handle the adjustment.

All valid IMHO. The field commander have to adapt - mostly they have no choice - but it is those back home in a peacetime environment that have the problems.


That is all part of being adaptable. We used to be able to adapt. Chesty Puller and his contemporaries could adapt. He started out leading local constabulary. Then Pacific island battles against the Japanese then winter rough country fighting with a great large combined arms unit. He was adaptable. i don't see guys now being any less so, if given the chance.

Perhaps officer and NCO selection goes some way to screening out the most adaptable people able to use their initiative. Don't believe the Brits or anyone has has followed what became apparent was needed from officers in the post WW2 insurgencies and small wars. I quote the British manual 'Keeping the Peace' Part 2 - Tactics and Training - 1963 again:


332. Leadership and battle discipline.. Fighting an underground enemy probably requires a higher standard of junior leadership than any other type of warfare yet experienced. ... Command often has to be decentralized and the training of junior commanders must, therefore, be directed towards giving them the ability and confidence to make sound decisions and act on their own initiative.

See where I'm coming from?


The American troops would be, I would bet, be quite enthusiastic about something like this. American leaders no, because there would be no high tech involved and they would be afraid they would have to have mounted units forever.

There has never been any doubt about the quality of the American soldier... but there are serious questions to be asked about their leaders and the politicians.

Steve Blair
07-25-2012, 03:06 PM
How are the current hi-tech weapon buys for the services really all that different from the surge in coast defense fort building following the War of 1812 and then the Endicott Board and the Taft Board reports? Or the Nike boom of the 50's? Did we ever have to repel a foreign naval invasion after Washington DC was burned? How many enemy bombers did those Nikes shoot down?
I submit that a retrenchment from foreign adventuring, passed off as whatever will best sell in the press releases to the electorate, will not see a significant change in defense spending. What will change is simply what the Congress will authorize/direct the services to buy.

I'd say part of it is a difference in scale. Your Nike example is probably the best one of that bunch when it comes to the change in funding models.

slapout9
07-25-2012, 06:21 PM
Or the Nike boom of the 50's? Did we ever have to repel a foreign naval invasion after Washington DC was burned? How many enemy bombers did those Nikes shoot down?


Having lived through the Cuban Missile crisis in Florida I can tell you they(Nike Missiles) were critical. And so were Pershing Missiles(and the Strategic Interstate Highway System) but you are not likely to see that talked about much because it proves Gavin's point that in modern War there is no more Army men or Air men or Sea men......they are just Missile men!! As we move into the future I fear we are going to learn that lesson again the hard way.

carl
07-27-2012, 06:19 PM
How are the current hi-tech weapon buys for the services really all that different from the surge in coast defense fort building following the War of 1812...

I don't think building coastal defense forts after the British burned Washington D.C. was an unreasonable action. Some coastal forts served the Confederates fairly well.

Just because you don't use a weapon or capability doesn't mean it isn't useful. Very few cops ever fire their weapons for real but they are quite useful to carry around.

carl
07-27-2012, 06:37 PM
And you propose to guarantee this with no changes in their tour just how? :confused:

I'll amend that statement to read "(it basically doesn't)". That should cover it. Tomorrow the sun might not rise in the east after all.


Still, lacking the Pakistani Army, simply introducing Mortars -- or a bunch of these (LINK) (http://world.guns.ru/sniper/large-caliber-sniper-rifles/rus/ksvk-e.html) would be a temporary if minor game changer -- but minor game changes in the wrong place at the right time can do untold political if not military damage. Introduction of both at the same time along with a tactical revision by the bad guys could be a major minor game changer...

That is the nature of men fighting men, things change. You figure what you are most likely to run into, plan for that and realize that something will happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with it.


You can hang on to your dream. My disagreement with it doesn't affect it. We disagree on most things, this is just one more.

Not so much my dream, my dream is a Skyote (LINK) (http://www.skyote.org/Welcome.html). No, it is more along the lines of an idea that I think might be useful and is interesting to discuss.

Some things we disagree on, but the really important basic ones, I think we see eye to eye.

carl
07-27-2012, 06:47 PM
Indeed. How did it ever get to the point the people part was lost sight of?

The answer to that question would win a prize for American history and cultural development. Maybe it started with mass production, scientific management and has been buttressed lately by the fascination with all things electronic. I wish it would change.

Ken White
07-27-2012, 09:21 PM
That is the nature of men fighting men, things change. You figure what you are most likely to run into, plan for that and realize that something will happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with it.While the vast majority of people will agree with that statement -- especially including Congress critters, many civilian 'strategists,' pundits and budgeteers -- no one with any serious involvement or experience in combat will agree.

They'll tell you you have to figure the worst thing you could run into, plan, equip and, very critically, train for that and realize that something will still happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with... :(

Undertrain and underassume and you'll pay, as we have seen recently; overtrain and cautiously assume and you'll prevail -- as has also been proven but not recently.

Murphy and all that. :wry:

Steve Blair
07-27-2012, 09:32 PM
While the vast majority of people will agree with that statement -- especially including Congress critters, many civilian 'strategists,' pundits and budgeteers -- no one with any serious involvement or experience in combat will agree.

They'll tell you you have to figure the worst thing you could run into, plan, equip and, very critically, train for that and realize that something will still happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with... :(

Undertrain and underassume and you'll pay, as we have seen recently; overtrain and cautiously assume and you'll prevail -- as has also been proven but not recently.

Murphy and all that. :wry:

Yes and no. You also have to recognize that some of our worst training/preparation models have originated with the military. It's easy to claim that "those pesky civilian 'experts' cause all our problems," but that would be incorrect. The American military has in many cases proven to be its own worst enemy when it comes to training, preparing, and learning from its own experiences.

carl
07-27-2012, 10:05 PM
They'll tell you you have to figure the worst thing you could run into, plan, equip and, very critically, train for that and realize that something will still happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with... :(

Undertrain and underassume and you'll pay, as we have seen recently; overtrain and cautiously assume and you'll prevail -- as has also been proven but not recently.

Murphy and all that. :wry:

Yes, Ken...sigh. I guess I'll defer to your precise phraseology because when I originally said "You figure what you are most likely to run into, plan for that and realize that something will happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with it." it is obvious that the word "likely" as I used it couldn't possibly encompass the worst you will most likely run into, and that "likely" isn't applicable because it won't happen that if you figure the simple worst thing you could run into you will try to account for everything and apply too little everywhere, over burden yourself so you can't move or paralyze yourself with indecision and not do anything at all...or all three and some more I didn't think of. I'll defer also because the word "could" as you use it couldn't also be written as "are likely to" or "are most likely to" because you never have to assume some limit on the threat in order to get anything done or avoid hugely overburdening yourself.

And I'll defer too because I never in all my posts on this thread mentioned properly training or equipping.

We're saying the same thing.

Ken White
07-27-2012, 11:09 PM
Yes, Ken...sigh. I guess I'll defer to your precise phraseology because when I originally said "You figure what you are most likely to run into, plan for that and realize that something will happen you didn't figure on you will have to deal with it." it is obvious that the word "likely" as I used it couldn't possibly encompass the worst...Words are important. "Likely" implies to be expected. You do offer the possibility of 'worse' with the follow on "deal with it" but the meaning of your sentence was clear -- prepare for what you expect (want?) to happen and be aware that it may change for the worse.

What I wrote was prepare for the worst and then everything else becomes simple or easy.

Those are emphatically NOT the same so we are far from saying the same thing.
...if you figure the simple worst thing you could run into you will try to account for everything and apply too little everywhere, over burden yourself so you can't move or paralyze yourself with indecision and not do anything at all...or all three and some more I didn't think of.That could happen but certainly need not and should not. In fact, any halfway decent military planner should easily avoid all those traps. Those things are all indicators of inadequate training.
I'll defer also because the word "could" as you use it couldn't also be written as "are likely to" or "are most likely to" ...Not so. 'are likely' or 'most likely' are less permissive than 'could' -- could opens up more possibilities and is simply worst casing the the possibilities whereas your likely is best casing. That may seem like semantics but it is not, it is indicative of a mindset and mindsets trigger actions in a certain way. I find it hard to believe if in a pre-flight briefing a pilot was told to prepare for the most likely events on a flight and that, alternatively, he or she was told to prepare for the worst possible alternatives enroute, at destination and on return they would go through exactly the same planning steps and arrive at the same alternatives

Your comments reinforce my point, that most people would agree -- simply because you reinforce your point that one does not need to plan for the worst case. We can differ on that.

It is important to note that I mentioned that Congress (among others) would agree with you. Their agreement in effect assures that no US military planner will be able to go absolute worse case because, in the eyes of the Congroids, it costs too much (not just in dollar terms but also in training time and training casualties and in domestic political / foreign relations messages sent among other things.

You obviously read a great deal and much of that is history, so you should be awar that Congress kept a lot of strings on FDR and the Service really until 1943-44 when we finally got serious and prepared -- and trained -- for the worst.
...because you never have to assume some limit on the threat in order to get anything done or avoid hugely overburdening yourself.Again, that should not be an issue. The earth is full of the bones of dead military leaders who 'assumed' some limits on threats. You have mentioned misreading the Mitsubishi Zero among others. Underestimation of an enemy is folly and the US is particularly prone to do that. That's a habit that does not need to be encouraged.
And I'll defer too because I never in all my posts on this thread mentioned properly training or equipping.You have mentioned both -- we just differ significantly on what's entailed in doing that. You can opt for minimum to hopefully get the job done or you can overdo it to make the job easy and assured. I specifically mentioned them in this context to highlight the necessity of correct training for the full spectrum of combat, not just 'adequate' training for the mission in question. As I mentioned, we're doing 'adequate' bit now. How's that working out for us...
We're saying the same thing.Not at all. Not even close.

carl
07-27-2012, 11:53 PM
Yes, Ken...as you say.

Bob's World
07-27-2012, 11:54 PM
I think the key is to "over do it" in the right areas...and assume risk in the rest. We don't do a good job lately of that little drill

We are too much about being "equal" across the services, and a hard cold fact of life is that nothing is less fair than equal.

We need to find the right balance for the world we live in today, and the threats we need to be prepared to deter or deal with immediately tomorrow. That demands a very unequal distribution of funding across the services.

JMA
07-28-2012, 01:12 PM
This discussion is getting a little confusing as it started off honouring the successes of 1,300 odd volunteers on what can only be termed a very limited overseas military intervention.

Not sure where it has ended up now.

My position has been that if a fully trained and experienced Leadership cadre is available - comprising 30 odd officers, 30 odd senior NCOs and 50 odd junior NCOs at squad level - then in six months at the earliest with 600 odd raw volunteers an infantry battalion can be sent off to war.

The challenge in a country with a large population - like the US - would not be attracting good/acceptable/adequate volunteers art troopie level but rather to identify and obtain the services of the "leadership cadre" to first take the raw volunteers through training and then to war.

The concern has been voiced that such a force may be up to the task as long as they do "not to engage in conventional force on force war with a peer equipped unit".

I would agree in principle on first thought but then I remember Fuchs asking sometime back when was the last time any army was truly well prepared for a war.

Then there is the quote I posted some time ago about the Brit experience during WW2:


A Grim Price in Blood
Possibly, like most of our infantry, they (the battle school directing staff) suffered from the consequences of the pre-war shortage of creatively intelligent regimental officers. Too few of them were professionally dedicated to the extent that they could visualise how battles would be fought and identify the problems that might arise when planning them. They seemed to lack the capacity to think relentlessly through these things until solutions were found. Much of their time had been spent policing the British Empire. Also, unlike the Germans, we British instinctively avoid displays of keenness. The enthusiast, particularly if he is innovative, is an embarrassment. Thus the battlefield became our teacher and, inevitably, it exacted a grim price in blood and time.
Sydney Jary, MC - 18 Platoon (1987).

Then I would ask when last the US put units into the field who were fully prepared for all types and phases of warfare?

Ken White
07-28-2012, 03:48 PM
Then I would ask when last the US put units into the field who were fully prepared for all types and phases of warfare?About 1965. The operative word being "units" and very few of them. Never the whole force. Not in over 200 years...

JMA
07-28-2012, 04:57 PM
About 1965. The operative word being "units" and very few of them. Never the whole force. Not in over 200 years...

Then why the concern over deploying a "one trick pony" unit raised and trained for a specific type of warfare to a small war environment?

Ken White
07-28-2012, 08:15 PM
Then why the concern over deploying a "one trick pony" unit raised and trained for a specific type of warfare to a small war environment?Just pointing out it's not going to happen because it isn't feasible for a host of non-military reasons and is questionable militarily.

The fact that the US has only rarely been able to offer more than a few units that are truly ready to fight in any type of war is not self justifying nor is it an excuse for deploying less than the most capable units we can. It would be better if that were not the case, if the bulk of the Armed Forces were indeed ready. However, they never have been and never will be.

Democracies won't accept the costs in several parameters for that degree of competence and readiness -- and even if they were willing to do so, ability to predict what will unfold is denied us and it is not possible to prepare for everything. However, one can prepare for the worst to the extent possible and adapt quickly to lesser problems -- one cannot prepare for the minimum and easily, rapidly scale up.

We should do better in the combat readiness aspect but probably cannot do so to any significant degree. That's no reason to volunteer to do worse...

JMA
07-29-2012, 01:40 PM
Just pointing out it's not going to happen because it isn't feasible for a host of non-military reasons and is questionable militarily.

That it is not going to happen because of the US system does not make it a bad idea.

Questionable militarily?

Volunteers are always better than conscripts in terms of attitude and commitment.

As far as serving soldiers at the outbreak of hostilities are concerned... what percentage signed up to wait for a war as opposed to the percentage who signed up because they needed a job?

Give me well led and commanded bright eyed and bushy tailed troopies anyday.

The challenge would be to get the right 100 odd man leadership cadre per battalion.