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Fuchs
02-08-2014, 02:18 AM
Quick recommendation: Look at the article "Training observations" on Volume 2 Issue 1 of the Journal of Military Operations (https://www.tjomo.com/).

It's about observations after a two-week battle group* exercise (apparently Brits). It gives a nice glimpse of how difficult it is to shake off "Afghan-ism"s.

Red Rat
02-08-2014, 08:57 AM
It looks like the author was talking about an armoured BattleGroup exercise on Salisbury Plain or Germany.
The lessons are split. Some of them are 'Afghanisms' and relate directly to the use of TTPs in Afghanistan. Interesting that no mention was made of the 'Afghan Snake'. Most lessons in my opinion simply reflect a lack of experience. The British Army increasingly focused training away from high tempo combined arms operations against a peer/near peer opponent from 2008. There is very little experience left. This linked with resource constraints that mean that few units do much effective tactical training with their vehicles mean that trying to recover from this training/experience deficit will take time.

The article would have benefited considerably from additional context, in particular the exercise scenario. Understanding 'why' is far more useful then knowing 'what'.

JMA
02-08-2014, 02:27 PM
Quick recommendation: Look at the article "Training observations" on Volume 2 Issue 1 of the Journal of Military Operations (https://www.tjomo.com/).

It's about observations after a two-week battle group* exercise (apparently Brits). It gives a nice glimpse of how difficult it is to shake off "Afghan-ism"s.

The problem only arises when you apply troops out of role. For example using armour in an infantry counter-insurgency role.

Has the British military (or the Yanks) really learned anything from the war in Afghanistan? And what if anything that they learned there must be discarded before they can get back to 'proper' soldiering playing soldiers like in the style of WW2 driving up and down in tanks?

All this again reminds me of the outstanding man and his magnificent book The Anatomy of Courage (http://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Courage-Classic-Psychological-Effects/dp/0786718994/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391865813&sr=1-1&keywords=anatomy+of+courage)

Lord Moran wrote 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 the 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 man’s 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.

Fuchs
02-08-2014, 03:27 PM
I read a long time ago that based on observations after the world wars, a rule of thumb was that it takes an army three years to discard lessons learned and go soft and unrealistic again, and it takes about two decades till the very last experienced NCOs and officers leave the army.

Most training in the field lacks wartime experience after a few years already, since even the most junior NCOs and officers with wartime experience move into cushier jobs than training green troops outdoors.

Red Rat
02-09-2014, 10:02 AM
Has the British military (or the Yanks) really learned anything from the war in Afghanistan? And what if anything that they learned there must be discarded before they can get back to 'proper' soldiering playing soldiers like in the style of WW2 driving up and down in tanks?


As with any conflict the issue is determining which lessons are specific to this time & space (the war) and which lessons are applicable to all times & space (a war). The process that the UK is going through is therefore much like that it underwent post-Boer War (demonstrated in Spencer Jones excellent book From Boer War to World War (http://www.amazon.com/From-Boer-War-World-Commanders/dp/0806142898)), indeed many of the lessons are not new and are simply old lessons relearnt.

Afghanistan was a limited war fought with limited means and to uncertain strategic ends. The big lesson from Afghanistan is how to use military means to achieve policy ends in the current (western liberal) social and political climate which demands wars of discretion be fought not for national interest but for moral imperatives, with a finite horizon and very low appetite for risk.

At the lower tactical level the lessons revolve around targeting and planning cycles, understanding and mitigating risk, use of PGMs, the reluctance to use Fires (indirect & direct) to suppress and a focus on using them to destroy (this in turn born out of an intolerance for collateral damage), tempo and combined arms manoeuvre (emphasis being on manoeuvre).

Structurally UK infantry has fundamentally reshaped and augmented battalion HQ structures and Rifle Coy structures. Adaptive Force brigades are geographically focused on specific areas and career streams are opening up similar to the US Foreign Military Service Officer stream.

With most company commanders and below having known nothing but Afghanistan the army is to a large extent captive to its own experiences, there is a depth but not breadth of knowledge. Few have experience of training in combined arms manoeuvre against a peer foe or of operating outside of a Forward Operating Base lay down.

In 1914 approx 40% of the BEF's established 165,000 strength had served with the Colours for 2 years or less. The British Army is already discharging officers and soldiers who have completed their minimum engagement period but who have never deployed on operations. Armies are traditionally young and traditionally inexperienced.

JMA
02-09-2014, 05:37 PM
As with any conflict the issue is determining which lessons are specific to this time & space (the war) and which lessons are applicable to all times & space (a war). The process that the UK is going through is therefore much like that it underwent post-Boer War (demonstrated in Spencer Jones excellent book From Boer War to World War (http://www.amazon.com/From-Boer-War-World-Commanders/dp/0806142898)), indeed many of the lessons are not new and are simply old lessons relearnt.

12 years later. What would be interesting is what the ranks of the the officers with Boer War experience were at the time of the Boer War. This also for the senior NCOs.

Bought the book on Kindle, thank you.


Afghanistan was a limited war fought with limited means and to uncertain strategic ends. The big lesson from Afghanistan is how to use military means to achieve policy ends in the current (western liberal) social and political climate which demands wars of discretion be fought not for national interest but for moral imperatives, with a finite horizon and very low appetite for risk.

It was a cock-up.

The decision to stay and get involved with 'nation building' rather than leave after the Taliban broke and ran for Pakistan with the threat to come back if AQ ever returned was a catastrophic error.


At the lower tactical level the lessons revolve around targeting and planning cycles, understanding and mitigating risk, use of PGMs, the reluctance to use Fires (indirect & direct) to suppress and a focus on using them to destroy (this in turn born out of an intolerance for collateral damage), tempo and combined arms manoeuvre (emphasis being on manoeuvre).

It is at this 'lower tactical level' that future senior officers and senior NCOs learn their trade. The question is whether these future generals and sergeants major have been exposed to war/combat/operations sufficiently to give them the needed grounding? Or did they just have the odd 6 months tour over a number of years?


Structurally UK infantry has fundamentally reshaped and augmented battalion HQ structures and Rifle Coy structures. Adaptive Force brigades are geographically focused on specific areas and career streams are opening up similar to the US Foreign Military Service Officer stream.

How exactly does all this improve the Brit military as a fighting force?

Whenever I hear of reorgs and reshapings I think of this quote:


“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed. I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organizing, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” - Charlton Ogburn, pp. 32-33, “Merrill’s Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure,” Harper’s Magazine, January 1957Previously falsely attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter


With most company commanders and below having known nothing but Afghanistan the army is to a large extent captive to its own experiences, there is a depth but not breadth of knowledge. Few have experience of training in combined arms manoeuvre against a peer foe or of operating outside of a Forward Operating Base lay down.

Well that is another self inflicted wound.

The Brit rotation was 6 months in Afghan and then 18 months sitting around doing apparently very little before the next tour.

I asked again and again (in the Afghan thread) whether the most productive use of the 18 months had been made. No satisfactory reply. I am left to assume that the Brits being financial over extended anyway that there were no respources available to continue with training in other phases/types of warfare.


In 1914 approx 40% of the BEF's established 165,000 strength had served with the Colours for 2 years or less. The British Army is already discharging officers and soldiers who have completed their minimum engagement period but who have never deployed on operations. Armies are traditionally young and traditionally inexperienced.

Not sure where you are going with this.

I would suggest that an important statistic is rather what percentage of officers and senior NCOs with significant combat exposure are retained to be in place for the next war ... and having passed on their experience in the intervening period.

I remind you a lesson from the Australian experience (this quote from the Brit document 'Serve to Lead'):


"In August 1942 the 39th and 53rd Battalions of the Australian Militia, composed of 18 year old conscripts, collided with a Japanese brigade advancing south across Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Trail. The 53rd battalion turned and ran. The 39th battalion, which a few weeks earlier had received an influx of experienced officers and NCO’s, stood its ground and over the next month fought the Japanese to a standstill. This action is regarded as a test in laboratory conditions of the impact of leadership on fighting performance."

So sadly the Brits have missed the point again.

PS: good to see you back posting. May be travelling to mud-island shortly, you around?

Red Rat
02-09-2014, 08:27 PM
12 years later. What would be interesting is what the ranks of the the officers with Boer War experience were at the time of the Boer War. This also for the senior NCOs. For the officers generally Major & above. The Boer War was unique in the annals of British Imperial military history in that it had an institutional effect on the British Army, most probably because it involved most of the British Army. It would be interesting to see what % of the US Army (Active & Reserve) have participated on operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.


Bought the book on Kindle, thank you.

You are very welcome. I'm sorry to say that I don't receive commission!:D



It was a cock-up.

The decision to stay and get involved with 'nation building' rather than leave after the Taliban broke and ran for Pakistan with the threat to come back if AQ ever returned was a catastrophic error.

it will be interesting to see what Chilcott says on the matter. What Chilcott has revealed so far is the absence of any coherent strategic decision making apparatus. That said, the UK does generally get a Government it voted for & that reflects society at large. :rolleyes:



It is at this 'lower tactical level' that future senior officers and senior NCOs learn their trade. The question is whether these future generals and sergeants major have been exposed to war/combat/operations sufficiently to give them the needed grounding? Or did they just have the odd 6 months tour over a number of years?

Well, in a year on operations on the Western Front in 1916 the average subaltern would spend 101 days at the front of which 2/3 would be in frontline trenches. So a FOB deployed subaltern (as most Infantry platoons were) in Afghanistan would fit in slightly more frontline time (circa 150 days) then his 1916 contemporary. The difference of course being that a subaltern in WW1 had 4 x 101 whereas in Afghanistan a subaltern in 4 years would expect to deploy only twice. I'm not aware of WW2 being significantly different in terms of ratios, but I would have to do more analysis.



How exactly does all this improve the Brit military as a fighting force?
On the plus side:
Better targeting cycles
Better ISTAR
Better medical support
Better C-IED
All Pl Sgt & Coy Comds (and above) are operationally experienced, most combat proven.

On the minus side aspects of basic field craft are down (the Afghan snake is still too prevalent) and our planning cycles remain cumbersome and tempo low. At the strategic level an emphasis on the Army has lead to a haemorrhaging of Navy capabilities which I think the UK will rue in the long term.



Whenever I hear of reorgs and reshapings I think of this quote:

“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed. I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organizing, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” - Charlton Ogburn, pp. 32-33, “Merrill’s Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure,” Harper’s Magazine, January 1957 Previously flasely attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter
Phew! We're only doing the one!




Well that is another self inflicted wound.

The Brit rotation was 6 months in Afghan and then 18 months sitting around doing apparently very little before the next tour.

I asked again and again (in the Afghan thread) whether the most productive use of the 18 months had been made. No satisfactory reply. I am left to assume that the Brits being financial over extended anyway that there were no respources available to continue with training in other phases/types of warfare.
It was a self-inflicted wound. But there was no political or military appetite to break the army out of shape. Britain was committed to operations in Afghanistan, the nation & the Army were not at war per se. Was it smart? IMHO no, but it suited the Army to do what it did the way it did it. The fact that no politician would sign off on anything that looked like a deeper more enduring commitment to Afghanistan is in my opinion just a happy coincidence. Conflicts reflect the nature of the societies that wage them and the UK military commitment precisely matched the UK political commitment.



I would suggest that an important statistic is rather what percentage of officers and senior NCOs with significant combat exposure are retained to be in place for the next war ... and having passed on their experience in the intervening period.
I agree, but we cannot keep them in if they do not want to stay. Many I suspect will leave because of the lack of operational opportunities.



PS: good to see you back posting. May be travelling to mud-island shortly, you around?

Long weekend! Back to the grind tomorrow. I'm around all summer; it would be good to meet up again. I'd better warn you now though, the island is not so much muddy as sunken in the bottom half!:eek:

Granite_State
02-09-2014, 09:05 PM
On the minus side aspects of basic field craft are down (the Afghan snake is still too prevalent)


Do you mean what we call the Ranger file, long single-file formations?

Red Rat
02-10-2014, 07:45 PM
Do you mean what we call the Ranger file, long single-file formations?

Yup! The only thing harder than getting the military to innovate is dismantling a tradition... :rolleyes:

Kiwigrunt
02-11-2014, 01:18 AM
An OC of mine used to refer to single file as 'idiot file'.

However, is a single file always necessarily an idiot file? Is it not a matter of balancing pros against cons? I assume (please correct me if this is wrong or simplistic) that a reason for it in Astan was to follow narrow routes, where IEDs were (perceived as) the main threats. Kinda like a cleared route through a minefield.

Terrain can be another reason for using the idiot file, if narrow channels of undulation or vegetation in otherwise flat or open ground provide the only cover or concealment. A double edged knife of course, given that these channels are ideal places for IEDs.

Another reason for single file could be control during night movement, think Falklands with its battalion snakes.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that emotive labelling of tactics or methods that - under the right context - can be quite valid, may lead to unjustified exclusion of those methods. (Junior) commanders can be quite sensitive to emotive labels. Saying 'the use of single file needs to be carefully tested against its tactical disadvantages' is not the same as saying 'use the idiot file at your peril.' 'Afghan snake' is of course not as emotive as 'idiot file', and may well have the context built in.

I'm not bringing this up to pin-pick on this particular example for its own sake, but as a training observation I made years ago. My section commander under afore mentioned OC did all he could to avoid using single files during one exercise, sometimes to the point of ridiculous. It opened my eyes to other such examples where labelling can have an adverse effect on training. However, I'm still interested to see if my assumption as to why single file was so prevalent in Astan is correct.

Granite_State
02-11-2014, 09:02 AM
An OC of mine used to refer to single file as 'idiot file'.

However, is a single file always necessarily an idiot file? Is it not a matter of balancing pros against cons? I assume (please correct me if this is wrong or simplistic) that a reason for it in Astan was to follow narrow routes, where IEDs were (perceived as) the main threats. Kinda like a cleared route through a minefield.

Terrain can be another reason for using the idiot file, if narrow channels of undulation or vegetation in otherwise flat or open ground provide the only cover or concealment. A double edged knife of course, given that these channels are ideal places for IEDs.

However, I'm still interested to see if my assumption as to why single file was so prevalent in Astan is correct.

Yes, you've pretty much got it. It sometimes is the best tactical option for small patrols. But when it becomes your default formation and you lack the ability to move competently in any other way, that's a problem. Most of Helmand, let alone Afghanistan, is not a minefield.

Red Rat
02-11-2014, 09:53 AM
Yes, you've pretty much got it. It sometimes is the best tactical option for small patrols. But when it becomes your default formation and you lack the ability to move competently in any other way, that's a problem. Most of Helmand, let alone Afghanistan, is not a minefield.

I quite agree.

It is a training and education problem to correct an experience mindset. The 'Afghan Snake' developed from the requirement to minimise the threat from IEDs. IED belts tend not to be widespread and tend to be focused around FOB locations, this means that most deployed infantry (in FOBs) will have operational experience of mostly moving in a particular manner - that becomes their default approach. Once you understand the threat then you understand when a particular TTP is relevant and as importantly when not. IED belts are obstacle belts, they are less likely to be found in a highly dynamic environment where locations have not gone static and the Forward Line Own Troops and/or Forward Line Enemy Troops are not well defined; UK training for contingency operations is focusing more on this latter type of operational environment.

I often think that low level tactical training focuses too much on what to do at the expense of why. If you do not understand the why then you cannot easily adapt.

JMA
02-12-2014, 02:57 PM
When you restrict soldiers to strictly follow in the "Barma lane" ( as cleared by engineers) they have little choice but to use single file. In addition when ridiculously overloaded soldiers are sent out on 'patrol' what do you really expect?

Back to our discussions on the Afghan thread the question of what was the purpose of sending out these human pack mules? To draw fire from the Taliban so as to allow them to be taken on through an air strike?

It is not the patrol formation that needs to be ridiculed but rather the aimless wondering around. Don't lose sight of the real problem.

(all that said clearly patrol formations must be varied according to the ground/terrain and the proximity to the enemy. This was also discussed at some length in the Afghan thread)


I quite agree.

It is a training and education problem to correct an experience mindset. The 'Afghan Snake' developed from the requirement to minimise the threat from IEDs. IED belts tend not to be widespread and tend to be focused around FOB locations, this means that most deployed infantry (in FOBs) will have operational experience of mostly moving in a particular manner - that becomes their default approach. Once you understand the threat then you understand when a particular TTP is relevant and as importantly when not. IED belts are obstacle belts, they are less likely to be found in a highly dynamic environment where locations have not gone static and the Forward Line Own Troops and/or Forward Line Enemy Troops are not well defined; UK training for contingency operations is focusing more on this latter type of operational environment.

I often think that low level tactical training focuses too much on what to do at the expense of why. If you do not understand the why then you cannot easily adapt.

JMA
02-12-2014, 03:25 PM
On the plus side:
Better targeting cycles
Better ISTAR
Better medical support
Better C-IED
All Pl Sgt & Coy Comds (and above) are operationally experienced, most combat proven.

On the minus side aspects of basic field craft are down (the Afghan snake is still too prevalent) and our planning cycles remain cumbersome and tempo low. At the strategic level an emphasis on the Army has lead to a haemorrhaging of Navy capabilities which I think the UK will rue in the long term.

The problem with looking for positives out of Afghan is that the guys in the flip-flops and a pocket full of rounds have won the war at tactical level and are about to outlast the the 'invaders' in all respects.

The greatest negative is that while experiencing combat exposure there are few if any actual combat skills that can be taken away not only as lessons learned but as skills acquired.

Given the greatest weakness of the British officer corps - that being arrogance - they may start to use failed and fruitless tactical methods as a basis for training the next generation of soldiers. This would be disastrous.

Red Rat
02-12-2014, 03:49 PM
When you restrict soldiers to strictly follow in the "Barma lane" ( as cleared by engineers) they have little choice but to use single file. In addition when ridiculously overloaded soldiers are sent out on 'patrol' what do you really expect?

Back to our discussions on the Afghan thread the question of what was the purpose of sending out these human pack mules? To draw fire from the Taliban so as to allow them to be taken on through an air strike?

It is not the patrol formation that needs to be ridiculed but rather the aimless wondering around. Don't lose sight of the real problem.

(all that said clearly patrol formations must be varied according to the ground/terrain and the proximity to the enemy. This was also discussed at some length in the Afghan thread)

'Afghan snake' is only appropriate to high IED threat areas and British troops are trained to only use it in such areas. Unfortunately the British operational experience is almost exclusively of operating in high IED threat areas - we are all victims of our own experience. I have spoken to plenty of Brit Commanders who have used other patrol formations in theatre, varying according to ground/terrain and enemy threat.

Overloading is an issue. British soldiers have a historical tendency to not trust the supply chain and carry a little bit of everything 'just in case' and always too much ammunition. There is a Risk Management issue as well. Patrol commanders are accountable in a court of law for why they did/did not carry the equipment they did. I've yet to hear a Patrol Commander being held culpable for carrying too much, but I have for not taking something that with hindsight was needed. :rolleyes:

Every patrol has a task, no task then no patrol. I'm not denying that some patrol tasks may be abstruse - but they all have tasks.

Red Rat
02-12-2014, 03:56 PM
The problem with looking for positives out of Afghan is that the guys in the flip-flops and a pocket full of rounds have won the war at tactical level and are about to outlast the the 'invaders' in all respects.

Debatable. Interested what matric you are using for this - perhaps on the Afghanistan thread?

Kiwigrunt
02-12-2014, 10:30 PM
I often think that low level tactical training focuses too much on what to do at the expense of why. If you do not understand the why then you cannot easily adapt.

“Form over function.” - Wilf.

Would it be a shortcoming inherent to the low level, as a result of insufficient contextual insight at that level? Or is it imposed through excessive form from higher levels? My guess, probably a bit of both.

JMA
02-13-2014, 12:57 AM
“Form over function.” - Wilf.

With the deepest respect to Wilf who I have found in a different forum where he is up to his usual tricks.

Then in our discussions of a few years ago it was evident that much of the discussion comes from 'theorists' with no combat experience at that level.

Of course all this theorising ceases when war finally arrives and the first combat is experienced and the first casualties are taken.

It is then that one can look back at the futility of the time wasted on this theorising.


Would it be a shortcoming inherent to the low level, as a result of insufficient contextual insight at that level? Or is it imposed through excessive form from higher levels? My guess, probably a bit of both.

Certainly at the 'low level' it will be found that 'contexual insight' with be in short supply - except for those few who are destined for promotion up the ladder - and that is why 'drills' and 'encounter actions' are important - indeed critical - components of infantry training.

This lack of contextual awareness increases in times of mobilisation of reserves and/or civilians to any conflict when fresh semi-trained or untrained people are radpidly processed.

Given the movies and the computer war-games it would be difficult to take the modern junior soldier's eye off what he sees/learns there.

I've used the scenario where you brief platoon level soldiers that they need to think like the enemy on how to take on troops who always move in single file, with the machine gun(s), command groups etc in predicable positions in the formation. With half acting as enemy and rotating it is very soon that they start to make the necessary adjustments themselves. The good thing about this is that they believe they saw the need rather than had it imposed on them. Psychology 101.

JMA
02-13-2014, 01:18 AM
Debatable. Interested what matric you are using for this - perhaps on the Afghanistan thread?

Is there any doubt that come the end of 2014 when all but a few 'advisors' have left what is going to happen in places like Helmand?

Certainly the end result is going to find the Taliban and the drug trade remaining intact and in place and claiming victory.

Reading Company Commander (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Company-Commander-Russell-Lewis/dp/0753540312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392250084&sr=1-1&keywords=Company+commander) one is able to see clearly how the Brits had no idea how to take the war to the Taliban and were mainly confined to Beau Geste forts rather than operating out of a growing and expanding 'ink spots'.

Afghanistan has proven to be a sad and tragic experince for the British military.

Red Rat
02-14-2014, 08:19 PM
Is there any doubt that come the end of 2014 when all but a few 'advisors' have left what is going to happen in places like Helmand?

Certainly the end result is going to find the Taliban and the drug trade remaining intact and in place and claiming victory.

A viable scenario, but that does not equate to the tactical defeat of Coalition Forces on the battlefield, more to a flawed strategy. If the strategy had however remained one of simply Counter-Terrorism at arms length then the endstate you infer would be a strategic success.



Reading Company Commander (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Company-Commander-Russell-Lewis/dp/0753540312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392250084&sr=1-1&keywords=Company+commander) one is able to see clearly how the Brits had no idea how to take the war to the Taliban and were mainly confined to Beau Geste forts rather than operating out of a growing and expanding 'ink spots'.

That was 2008. It is hard to inkspot if your pen has run dry. :D We all know that the UK was overstretched in Afghanistan in 2008, even at the time it was recognised, but the Main Effort remained in Iraq. To expand from inkspots the UK would have had to collapse in to focus combat power and then to expand out. Collapsing in was not a politically viable (in UK or by Karzai), sending more combat power was not politically viable so the only option was to slog it out. Was it a mess? You betcha - but then the Coalition reorganised refocused, surged and 'inkspoted'.



Afghanistan has proven to be a sad and tragic experince for the British military.
I think they view it more as immensely frustrating at the operational level and disappointing at the strategic level. Corporately I am not aware of any feeling of sad or tragic.

Red Rat
02-14-2014, 08:26 PM
“Form over function.” - Wilf.

Would it be a shortcoming inherent to the low level, as a result of insufficient contextual insight at that level? Or is it imposed through excessive form from higher levels? My guess, probably a bit of both.

Just a lack of thought. Theorising does not really come into it (the British Army remains largely antagonistic to theorists). The British Army remains a bottom up driven institution for low level TTPs.

Fuchs
02-14-2014, 11:56 PM
Then in our discussions of a few years ago it was evident that much of the discussion comes from 'theorists' with no combat experience at that level.

Of course all this theorising ceases when war finally arrives and the first combat is experienced and the first casualties are taken.

It is then that one can look back at the futility of the time wasted on this theorising.

That's incredibly stupid *******.

You can play the veteran card as much as you want, this doesn't change the fact that it's excessively bloody to figure out everything new during a war only.

There wasn't enough theorizing prior to the First World War, and the Second World War showed the power of theorizing done well. Combat experience is no important ingredient; the combat experience was more often than not largely irrelevant to the new challenges, if not misleading.
The US Navy didn't figure out air-sea battles based on North Sea patrols of 1918, nor did the USMC figure out the need for forced landings based on its trench war experience. Guderian didn't figure out the employment of mechanised combined arms formations based on WWI barrages and infantry assaults. Bloch didn't serve ever, but still proved to be a better seer in regard to military affairs than generals and field marshals with decades worth of small wars on their resume.

Nobody ever said "Let's wait till WW3 before we make up our minds on how to deal with a nuclear battlefield" because that would be an extremely stupid and potentially fatal idea.

JMA
02-15-2014, 04:15 PM
The British Army remains a bottom up driven institution for low level TTPs.

Interesting comment. Care to elucidate?

JMA
02-15-2014, 05:36 PM
A viable scenario, but that does not equate to the tactical defeat of Coalition Forces on the battlefield, more to a flawed strategy. If the strategy had however remained one of simply Counter-Terrorism at arms length then the endstate you infer would be a strategic success.

Been there. In Rhodesia and also the South Africans in Angola there was no question that there was a tactical victory in probably 99% of combat situations. The military strategies - in both cases - were severely limited/confined/restricted by the 'fluid' and ever changing political strategy and policy (much to the frustration of the combat troops).

Now I accept that the RoE have proved to have adversely affected the tactical options available to those actually making contact with the Taliban. Just like street criminals back in the home country the Taliban have exploited the restrictions placed on police/combat troops to their advantage.

Can't win even at the lowest tactical level with opposible restrictions.


That was 2008. It is hard to inkspot if your pen has run dry. :D We all know that the UK was overstretched in Afghanistan in 2008, even at the time it was recognised, but the Main Effort remained in Iraq. To expand from inkspots the UK would have had to collapse in to focus combat power and then to expand out. Collapsing in was not a politically viable (in UK or by Karzai), sending more combat power was not politically viable so the only option was to slog it out. Was it a mess? You betcha - but then the Coalition reorganised refocused, surged and 'inkspoted'.

Before you ask for more troops you need to utilize existing force levels optimally. Not sure this was done - given the information available.

I also question this metric that you need a 10:1 ration to fight insurgents. I suggest what is needed is to maintain contact with the Taliban and follow them relentlessly until you have accounted for maximum possible - killed or captured or as a consolation prize escaped but wounded. The Taliban was allowed time and again to "melt away" and fight another day with more combat experience.


I think they view it more as immensely frustrating at the operational level and disappointing at the strategic level. Corporately I am not aware of any feeling of sad or tragic.

Of course. From the nation that turned Arnhem into a 'victory' (for determination/resilience/dedication/bravery) there is no doubt the official spin will be to turn the whole Afghan debacle into something similar.

In the hearts of the soldiers who fought there the sadness and tragedy of the failed Afghan campaign as the country reverts to a state where there is no evidence of anything having been achieved through the sacrifice of the men involved.

JMA
02-15-2014, 05:52 PM
That's incredibly stupid ********.

In your opinion.


You can play the veteran card as much as you want, this doesn't change the fact that it's excessively bloody to figure out everything new during a war only.

If you had any combat experience you would very quickly identify the nonsense spoken and the time wasted in speculation and guesswork by those who have none.


There wasn't enough theorizing prior to the First World War, and the Second World War showed the power of theorizing done well. Combat experience is no important ingredient; the combat experience was more often than not largely irrelevant to the new challenges, if not misleading.
The US Navy didn't figure out air-sea battles based on North Sea patrols of 1918, nor did the USMC figure out the need for forced landings based on its trench war experience. Guderian didn't figure out the employment of mechanised combined arms formations based on WWI barrages and infantry assaults. Bloch didn't serve ever, but still proved to be a better seer in regard to military affairs than generals and field marshals with decades worth of small wars on their resume.

You are talking of high level so-called 'new challenges'. OK so let anyone who thinks he has all the answers speculate and pontificate on high level 'new challenges'... but leave the know aspects alone and to those who know through - sometimes bitter - experience.


Nobody ever said "Let's wait till WW3 before we make up our minds on how to deal with a nuclear battlefield" because that would be an extremely stupid and potentially fatal idea.

Who said 'let's wait'?

Here's an area for the non-combat experienced to get invoved in - cyber warfare... but for heavens sake leave low level tactics alone.

Fuchs
02-16-2014, 03:14 AM
The first problem the armies ran into in 1914 was actually a "low level" tactical problem; firepower either killed or pinned them down if they found no route for flanking, and there was no such route once defensive lines became continuous.

Theorists who knew about the Boer Wars made small notes in published works, pointing out that this was a yet unsolved question - and they did so years prior to the war. No practitioner came up with a solution from previous wars because the problem was new. At least none made a decisive impact. Obviously, his insight would have needed to be distributed through military theory / doctrine, as obviously the NCOs and junior officers who led the men in 1914 did not know how to cope.

A bit more theory progress and armies might have understood before 1914 that the advance to the enemy position not only had to be done with benefit of concealment, but that this actually required small unit manoeuvre instead of unit manoeuvres. This would have saved the bloodletting of the first half of the war, and the war might have ended much, much sooner.

Practitioners know what worked under certain conditions and what not - it takes a theorist to explore what works under different conditions and what not.

The problem isn't the theorizing, but the insufficient quality and quantity of it. Millions of men are employed by Western military forces, but only a few dozen add much to military theory.
Look at the theorist sub-forum; I asked for notable theorists on infantry and other combat arms, and the then still much more active forum knew almost no answers.
THAT is the problem.

Ulenspiegel
02-16-2014, 09:17 AM
@JMA

If you check the official manuals for the years 1905-14 you find that the Boer war and the Russian/Japanese war had indeed an impact. However, only for aspects on side of the defender: Better field fortifications, hand granades, etc. ...

The crucial question, how could the attacking force overcome this improved defense was not answered, despite the fact that the war of 1904/5 already showed most of the problems the attacker faced when there were long fortified lines.

The impact of veterans depends on the relevance of their knowledge, if they provide the relevant stuff they are a kind of force multiplier, if their knowledge is not longer relevant they may even become a problem when being higher commanding officers.

Military history shows all facettes of this problem.

The BEF had 1914 IIRC a much higher percentage of officers and NCOs with combat experience compared to the French and German forces, did this translate into better performnace? To my best of knowledge the first attemps -after half a million KIA/WIA on each side - to develope small unit tactics that allowed attacking fortified enemies without crippling losses were made by French and German officers in 1915.

davidbfpo
02-16-2014, 02:23 PM
The nearby University of Birmingham has a Centre for War Studies, until recently it was the Centre for First World War Studies, has at least one post-graduate student is working on the themes raised here.

Aimee Fox-Godden - Beneath the Learning Curve: Inter-theatre Knowledge Management in the British army, 1914-1918. From her official bio:
My research examines the British army’s use of knowledge as a force multiplier through the identification and examination of formal and informal processes for knowledge sharing between three operational theatres in the First World War: the Western Front, Gallipoli and Palestine. Underpinned by the concept of the ‘early information society’, the efficacy of these processes is examined through engagement with Knowledge Management theory, particularly the work of Ikujiro Nonaka, Gabriel Szulanski and Linda Argote, providing a framework within which the British army’s acquisition, exploitation and adaptation of knowledge can be measured and validated. Knowledge sharing will be considered with reference to key areas such as artillery, logistics and medical services, charting whether there is evidence of best practice from various theatres influencing their development.

Over the last twenty years, First World War scholarship has been driven by the broad concept of the ‘learning curve’ theory. Despite recent re-evaluations of other operational theatres and attempts to position them within the broader experience of the British army, the learning process still remains focused on the Western Front. Manpower and materiel constraints aside, there has been limited research into the relationships between theatres and even less about how knowledge and experience were exchanged between them. My research will address this gap by assessing how operational theatres shared best practice and, ultimately, whether they were successful in doing so. By considering these relationships, my research seeks to show how the British army developed a cross-theatre ‘learning network’ to increase its competitive advantage, thus enhancing its ability to cope with the changing nature of warfare.

Link:http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/warstudies/postgraduate/current-students.aspx

Fuchs
02-16-2014, 03:56 PM
The whole quote only shows the effect of the language barrier.
It's quite obvious in German literature how the Eastern Front experiences influenced the final offensives against Italy and France:

Bruchmller became famous after the breakthrough at Riga and his brand of breakthrough artillery support proved itself on the Eastern Front.

The Brussilov offensive initially featured several highly effective tactics, and delivered a demonstration of what was at the same time being developed in by the German army on the Western front in limited attacks.

The large-scale advances in the East reawakened the belief of the OHL in the possibility of manoeuvre past the breakthrough.

The success against Italy in the final offensive (half of Italian army was ruined) again confirmed and convinced; the breakthrough and exploitation happened in a high force density battle, more reminiscent of the Western front than almost anything in the East. Equipment and ammunition supply of the Italians were also more Western Front-like. Success was achieved with relatively modest advances, so the problem of supply past the railheads did not seem as importnat as it turned out to be in 1918.


The British forces' learning was particularly poor in regard to the defensive system, since they hadn't been on a large-scale defence since 1914 and the typical German limited attack provoked exactly the opposite defence as required to stop a large-scale offensive without excessive losses (the dilemma about how many forces shall be exposed in the forward defences to stiffen them).

davidbfpo
02-16-2014, 04:40 PM
What I did find curious browsing in the RUSI Library, some years ago, was that for at least sixty years up to WW1 it was common to have official military observers missions on both sides, which published volumes of work. One wonders how those missions reported on the Boer War, but more particularly the significant "peer on peer" Russo-Japanese War - which I think signaled many lessons for WW1.

I must look at those volumes one day (if they are still there).

Just as we are being told of a 'foreign fighter' issue, in the limited context of terrorism, it is useful to recall that before 1914 for a hundred years Europeans had fought as private citizens, sometimes liberated countries - Italy, more especially in Latin America. My recollection is that some of this experience was fed back to their home national armies.

Fuchs
02-16-2014, 05:09 PM
Just as we are being told of a 'foreign fighter' issue, in the limited context of terrorism, it is useful to recall that before 1914 for a hundred years Europeans had fought as private citizens,

This happened a lot in Finland 39/40 and in the Spanish Civil War as well. Later on, it was common in Bosnia and Chechnya is actually still in Europe, too.

Bill Moore
02-16-2014, 07:43 PM
That's incredibly stupid *******.

You can play the veteran card as much as you want, this doesn't change the fact that it's excessively bloody to figure out everything new during a war only.

There wasn't enough theorizing prior to the First World War, and the Second World War showed the power of theorizing done well. Combat experience is no important ingredient; the combat experience was more often than not largely irrelevant to the new challenges, if not misleading.
The US Navy didn't figure out air-sea battles based on North Sea patrols of 1918, nor did the USMC figure out the need for forced landings based on its trench war experience. Guderian didn't figure out the employment of mechanised combined arms formations based on WWI barrages and infantry assaults. Bloch didn't serve ever, but still proved to be a better seer in regard to military affairs than generals and field marshals with decades worth of small wars on their resume.

Nobody ever said "Let's wait till WW3 before we make up our minds on how to deal with a nuclear battlefield" because that would be an extremely stupid and potentially fatal idea.

This is an interesting and important post in my opinion. I can understand the different views and think they all can be defended by cherry picking historical examples that fit a particular argument. Nonetheless I agree with Fuchs' assessment on the value of military theorizing, and that many valuable theorists didn't have combat experience. Seems the best theorists don't correlate to combat experience, but correlate instead with high intelligence, curiosity, and creativity (regardless of whether or not the theorist had combat experience). Famed and successful insurgent leaders often developed useful theories/strategies to pursue their ends without the benefit of even previous military experience, much less combat experience. Of course they adjusted their theories as they tested them in the lab of conflict. This is something Western leaders often fail to do, and years later those who blindly followed these theories of Mao, Lenin, etc. were often defeated, as were those who embraced theories to counter these approaches. The world always moves on, unfortunately our institutional thinking doesn't always keep pace.

In the U.S. military there was considerable military theorizing prior to entering WWII which included the use of air power, projecting power via amphibious assaults, the use of armor, etc. which ultimately contributed to victory despite some initial tactical set backs. On the other hand, there didn't appear to be much theorizing at the military level during the short gap between the end of WWII and the Korean War, and we sent an unprepared military that the nation underfunded due to the illusionary peace dividend post WWII. I'm not sure about Vietnam, we may have theorized (special warfare concepts and such), but the theories we applied as well as the way we approached special warfare wasn't relevant to achieving our desired ends. That indicates to me that while theorizing is essential, there is no one size fits all theory that we can build doctrine and strategies on. We clearly theorized after in depth after the Vietnam War and saw great success in both Desert Storm and the initial phase of what was later called ironically Iraqi Freedom based on those theories, to include the air-land battle, cyber, and information operations (smart weapons, not psychological or other influence operations). Yet, once we transitioned into an irregular conflict conventional military theories fell short, and our old (relabeled as new) COIN doctrines proved to be irrelevant. Interestingly enough, those with combat experience are both its biggest advocates despite its many failures and it biggest critics. It is the media in our nation that decides who is correct and they have labeled those opposed to our COIN doctrine as a group of anti-intellectuals who simply don't get it. Something appealing about the language of winning hearts and minds in our culture, the illogic behind it doesn't matter when we manage perceptions through sound bytes.

Getting to JMA's point about training, the U.S. Army in many ways was better trained before 9/11 (at least in our combat arms units), but of course once you start fighting you adapt your training quickly to meet the demands of the current fight (the adversary, the terrain, the ROE, etc.), so for executing our COIN doctrine we're better trained now, but today's Army probably isn't as well trained to conduct major combat operations like the ones that defeated Iraqi's conventional military forces. I don't think peacetime is the sole factor that degrades combat readiness, because in many cases we have ample evidence that our forces retained a high degrade of readiness through long periods of peace, but our readiness was impacted at certain times in our history by insufficient funding to sustain combat readiness (training, equipment, etc.) between the wars. Other factors also contribute to ill-preparedness like political correctness, social engineering, and embracing faulty theories (COIN doctrine).

In the end it is all relative, if we end up transitioning to another COIN/stability operation in the next five years the combat experience we have now will be relevant. If we get into a conventional fight, the combat experience we have now could actually be detrimental to our success, but the young bucks on point will quickly identify what isn't working and will once again challenge the wisdom of their irrelevant seniors and adapt at the tactical level.

When I consider readiness, I try to consider ready for what because the answer will be different. I still embrace what a former team sergeant told me, "we don't know where, who, or how we're going to fight in the future, but the basics will always apply. You need to be physically fit and tough (its different), know how to shoot expertly in all types of conditions, be able to navigate, and use your radios." After that it is identifying the right tactics at the grunt level where it counts. I think we sustain all the above during peacetime in the regular army. I have my doubts regarding the reserves and National Guard. Of course there are other things that must be trained to include collective exercises and joint interoperability, etc., but the basics are essential.

JMA
02-16-2014, 08:45 PM
The problem isn't the theorizing, but the insufficient quality and quantity of it.

Yes, but the problem is who are these so-called theorists? There are wat too many people claiming to have all the answers and expecting to be taken seriously.


Millions of men are employed by Western military forces, but only a few dozen add much to military theory.

Yes, I said that around here years ago. There are indeed very few who are able to contribute to the advance of military theory. That of course should not open the door for any all comers to demand to be heard and taken seriously.


Look at the theorist sub-forum; I asked for notable theorists on infantry and other combat arms, and the then still much more active forum knew almost no answers.
THAT is the problem.

That is not the problem. It just confirms the true situation which you and I recognise that there are few competent people within the system who can contribute.

BTW what qualifies you to be 'considered' to be a military theorist?

JMA
02-16-2014, 09:21 PM
Yes in deed the Brits learned first hand many lessons from the Boer war.

Coming after the Sudan Campaign 1881-1899 a different enemy in different geography gave the Brits a wake up call.

I would suggest what is important is how the institution - in this case the British military - absorbs these lessons across the board. By who and why are changes resisted? To what extent and how rapidly are the lessons absorbed?

It would be interesting to know how many amendments have been brought into the basic training ciriculum for infantry soldiers (as one example) in the British and US basic training schools since Iraq and afganistan and are the instructors qualified - by experience - to conduct this new training?

So I suggest the 'relevance of veterans' depends on who they are. There are many who have value through their personal experience for as long as they serve... but are not able to transfer that knowledge and experience to those with little or no experience.

So once again it comes down to that select few capable of transfering the knowledge to others and converting it into policy and procedure.

I could go on...



@JMA

If you check the official manuals for the years 1905-14 you find that the Boer war and the Russian/Japanese war had indeed an impact. However, only for aspects on side of the defender: Better field fortifications, hand granades, etc. ...

The crucial question, how could the attacking force overcome this improved defense was not answered, despite the fact that the war of 1904/5 already showed most of the problems the attacker faced when there were long fortified lines.

The impact of veterans depends on the relevance of their knowledge, if they provide the relevant stuff they are a kind of force multiplier, if their knowledge is not longer relevant they may even become a problem when being higher commanding officers.

Military history shows all facettes of this problem.

The BEF had 1914 IIRC a much higher percentage of officers and NCOs with combat experience compared to the French and German forces, did this translate into better performnace? To my best of knowledge the first attemps -after half a million KIA/WIA on each side - to develope small unit tactics that allowed attacking fortified enemies without crippling losses were made by French and German officers in 1915.

JMA
02-16-2014, 09:27 PM
David, she says:


... my research seeks to show how the British army developed a cross-theatre ‘learning network’ to increase its competitive advantage...

If you know her perhaps suggest that she investigates the 'drag' on adopting necessary changes. Little point in exchanging reams of reports and lessons learned if few read them and they never get actioned.



The nearby University of Birmingham has a Centre for War Studies, until recently it was the Centre for First World War Studies, has at least one post-graduate student is working on the themes raised here.

Aimee Fox-Godden - Beneath the Learning Curve: Inter-theatre Knowledge Management in the British army, 1914-1918. From her official bio:

Link:http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/warstudies/postgraduate/current-students.aspx

Tukhachevskii
02-17-2014, 11:23 AM
That's incredibly stupid ******.

You can play the veteran card as much as you want, this doesn't change the fact that it's excessively bloody to figure out everything new during a war only.

There wasn't enough theorizing prior to the First World War, and the Second World War showed the power of theorizing done well. Combat experience is no important ingredient; the combat experience was more often than not largely irrelevant to the new challenges, if not misleading.
The US Navy didn't figure out air-sea battles based on North Sea patrols of 1918, nor did the USMC figure out the need for forced landings based on its trench war experience. Guderian didn't figure out the employment of mechanised combined arms formations based on WWI barrages and infantry assaults. Bloch didn't serve ever, but still proved to be a better seer in regard to military affairs than generals and field marshals with decades worth of small wars on their resume.

Nobody ever said "Let's wait till WW3 before we make up our minds on how to deal with a nuclear battlefield" because that would be an extremely stupid and potentially fatal idea.

Cant believe nobody has quoted Clausewitz' observation on the importance of theory for critical thinking and as part of historical research into trends in warfare etc (don't have the quote handy unfortunately).

Fuchs
02-17-2014, 03:12 PM
BTW what qualifies you to be 'considered' to be a military theorist?

This is always up to the reader.
I rate my sources based on whether I find gems in their writing. Whoever comes up with gems is good enough to be read in my opinion, even if the majority of what (s)he wrote otherwise was bullocks.

Red Rat
02-18-2014, 09:23 AM
Interesting comment. Care to elucidate?

There are debriefs after every incident, operation and tour. Lessons are identified and where appropriate TTPs and equipment are changed. It is a very dynamic system and allows for very rapid knowledge and lesson dissemination inter and intra Theatre. Key point is that the lessons process starts at the bottom with those at the sharp end and a frank assessment of what worked and did not work.

JMA
02-18-2014, 10:59 AM
OK thank you... if you follow my other posts I question how readily and how comprehensively feed back systems such as these are actually carried out if indeed read at all.


There are debriefs after every incident, operation and tour. Lessons are identified and where appropriate TTPs and equipment are changed. It is a very dynamic system and allows for very rapid knowledge and lesson dissemination inter and intra Theatre. Key point is that the lessons process starts at the bottom with those at the sharp end and a frank assessment of what worked and did not work.

JMA
02-25-2014, 08:16 AM
Found this piece online:

The Role of Small Arms in Dismounted Close Combat (http://www.army-technology.com/features/feature59727/)

I quote from the intro:

"What is the benefit of front-line experience in dismounted close combat? In the first of a regular column, military adviser Colonel David Benest argues why such experience may be more reliable than scientific theories."

Having been there, done that I can't see how those who have not can understand and contribute to training and preparing troops, tactically, for close combat anywhere near equally.

In response to another post we need IMHO to differentiate between 'theory' and 'theorists'.

In this regard Clausewitz expresses it clearly:

"Activity in War is movement in a resistant medium. Just as a man immersed in water is unable to perform with ease and regularity the most natural and simplest movement, that of walking, so in War, with ordinary powers, one cannot keep even the line of mediocrity. This is the reason that the correct theorist is like a swimming master, who teaches on dry land movements which are required in the water, which must appear grotesque and ludicrous to those who forget about the water. This is also why theorists, who have never plunged in themselves, or who cannot deduce any generalities from their experience, are unpractical and even absurd, because they only teach what every one knows—how to walk"

jcustis
02-25-2014, 01:16 PM
I quite agree.

It is a training and education problem to correct an experience mindset. The 'Afghan Snake' developed from the requirement to minimise the threat from IEDs. IED belts tend not to be widespread and tend to be focused around FOB locations, this means that most deployed infantry (in FOBs) will have operational experience of mostly moving in a particular manner - that becomes their default approach. Once you understand the threat then you understand when a particular TTP is relevant and as importantly when not. IED belts are obstacle belts, they are less likely to be found in a highly dynamic environment where locations have not gone static and the Forward Line Own Troops and/or Forward Line Enemy Troops are not well defined; UK training for contingency operations is focusing more on this latter type of operational environment.

I often think that low level tactical training focuses too much on what to do at the expense of why. If you do not understand the why then you cannot easily adapt.

That ingrained behavior is going to be a hard one to shake--like most behaviors that are not necessarily born of careful reflection, but more of mimicry. The same can often be said of weapons manipulation techniques, choice of weapons caliber, and on and on. As an example the FBI is looking at going back to 9mm for its service pistols (from the current .40 caliber) and it is causing the interwebs to go absolutely bat#### crazy with opinion. Very few of them are based on scientific fact...

JMA
02-25-2014, 02:19 PM
Cant believe nobody has quoted Clausewitz' observation on the importance of theory for critical thinking and as part of historical research into trends in warfare etc (don't have the quote handy unfortunately).

Appreciate it if you can find that one...

Fuchs
02-25-2014, 06:01 PM
I made a partial text search for "theo" at the Gutenberg archive (there are too many results; sighting a full search might take hours).

The closest result was:
Wird eine verbesserte Theorie das Studium der Kriegfhrung erleichtern, den Geist und das Urteil der Mnner erziehen, die sich zu den hheren Stellen hinaufschwingen, so wird auch der Methodismus nicht mehr so weit hinaufreichen, und derjenige, welcher als unentbehrlich zu betrachten ist, wird dann wenigstens aus der Theorie selbst geschpft werden und nicht aus bloer Nachahmung entstehen.

Will an improved theory ease the study of warfare, train/nurture/raise/discipline the judgement of men, who rise to higher positions, so will the method(ism) reach not more so high up, and what was thought of as indispensable, will then at least be drawn from theory itself and not from mere imitation.

(And this is how the entire book is written in the German original edition!)

Clausewitz has also some candy for JMA:
Daher kommt es, da der richtige Theoretiker wie ein Schwimmeister erscheint, der Bewegungen, die frs Wasser ntig sind, auf dem Trocknen ben lt, die denen grotesk und bertrieben vorkommen, die nicht an das Wasser denken; daher kommt es aber auch, da Theoretiker, die selbst nie untergetaucht haben oder von ihren Erfahrungen nichts Allgemeines zu abstrahieren wissen, unpraktisch und selbst abgeschmackt sind, weil sie nur das lehren, was ein jeder kann - gehen.

Firn
02-25-2014, 06:03 PM
Chapter VIII

Concluding Remarks, Book I


Habituation to war no General can give his army at once; and the camps of manœuvre (peace exercises) furnish but a weak substitute for it, weak in comparison with real experience in war, but not weak in relation to other armies in which the training is limited to mere mechanical exercises of routine. So to regulate the exercises in peace time as to include some of these causes of friction, that the judgment, circumspection, even resolution of the separate leaders may be brought into exercise, is of much greater consequence than those believe who do not know the thing by experience. It is of immense importance that the soldier, high or low, whatever rank he has, should not have to encounter for the first time in war those things which, when seen for the first time, set him in astonishment and perplexity; if he has only met with them one single time before, even by that he is half acquainted with them. This relates even to bodily fatigues. They should be practised less to accustom the body than the mind to them. In war the young soldier is very apt to regard unusual fatigues as the consequence of faults, mistakes, and embarrassment in the conduct of the whole, and to become distressed by that. This would not happen if he had been prepared for that beforehand by exercises in peace.

Another less comprehensive but still very important means of gaining habituation to war in time of peace is to invite into the service officers of foreign armies, who have had experience in war. Peace seldom reigns over all Europe, and never in all quarters of the world. A State which has been long at peace should, therefore, always seek to procure some officers who have done good service at the different scenes of warfare; or to send there some of its own, that they may get a lesson in war.

However small the number of officers of this description may appear in proportion to the mass, still their influence is very sensibly felt. Their experience, the bent of their genius, the stamp of their character, influence their subordinates and comrades; and besides that, if they cannot be placed in positions of superior command, they may always be regarded as men acquainted with the country, who may be questioned on many special occasions.


Basically a headhunting operation to acquire the specific knowledge of competitiors without much regard to the nationality. It happened quite a lot back in past centuries, Clausewitz himself enrolled in the Russian army to continue fight the French and to work in his area of expertise. Perhaps too business-like for our age. :wry:

Fuchs
02-26-2014, 03:09 AM
Well, it's not common that officers serve different masters serially as if they were mercenaries, even collecting different noble titles from different monarchs.

What's common nowadays are fighting military advisers and military observers, as well as participation in small wars and peacekeeping instead of getting involved in conventional warfare.

I saw some hints that some countries appear to send otherwise implausibly small military observer teams to UN missions. This appears to be a kind of military experience gathering scheme.

Finland has seven such tiny missions now as far as I know, for example.

JMA
02-27-2014, 07:48 AM
The continuing decline of the Brit military is documented:

British soldiers banned from training for snowy conditions at Norwegian base because health and safety rules deem it too COLD (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2568384/British-soldiers-banned-training-snowy-conditions-Norwegian-base-health-safety-rules-deem-COLD.html)

"A Norwegian officer says the rules have caused 'amusement' among locals."

"Local politician Ida Kathrine Balto said: 'I have to admit I was stunned by the news. I wonder what the British would do if there was a war in winter?'"

... you can't make this stuff up...

JMA
02-27-2014, 07:57 AM
Quoting Clausewitz:
However small the number of officers of this description may appear in proportion to the mass, still their influence is very sensibly felt. Their experience, the bent of their genius, the stamp of their character, influence their subordinates and comrades; and besides that, if they cannot be placed in positions of superior command, they may always be regarded as men acquainted with the country, who may be questioned on many special occasions.

The problem here is that this minority is often squeezed out or ignored through the jealousy of the inexperienced wannabees.

This is the 'drag' I mentioned in another post. War inexperienced self important types will seldom adopt the advice and guidence from others - especially of a lesser rank - with alacrity.

(this of course we know yet continue to place youthful advisors of lesser rank with local forces - Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.)

JMA
02-27-2014, 01:57 PM
Standards at the SAS:

Health and Safety chiefs force SAS to soften entry test after deaths of three soldiers on training march (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2565717/Health-Safety-chiefs-force-SAS-soften-entry-test-deaths-three-soldiers-training-march.html)


Some quotes:

"Britain’s elite Special Forces have been ordered to soften their gruelling entry tests by the Government’s Health and Safety watchdog."

"Until now potential recruits would have to go without food if rations ran low and find streams if they ran out of water – skills SAS officers say are essential to survival in combat. Candidates who had to be ‘rescued’ automatically failed.

But new rules, to meet HSE demands, include providing extra rations, giving troops time to rest on marches, making sure safe drinking water is always available and introducing marshals to help stragglers cross the finishing line.

And in the jungle section of the two-venue test, held in Brunei, if several recruits suffer heat exhaustion marches will be shortened or cancelled so they can recover and receive medical treatment."

Now here is the rub:

"SAS sources say the pass rate has more than doubled since the changes were made in January ahead of the winter selection course. The Ministry of Defence refused to confirm this."

And from the serving soldiers:

"The move has sparked fury among officers and troops in the tough fighting units, who fear the calibre of soldiers winning places will decline, lives will be put at risk and the regiments’ fearsome reputation will be undermined."

Comment:

IMHO it is a case where British military tradition - expressed in resistance to change - has prevented the earlier implementation of common sense - safety based - changes to the selection process. That the Health and Safety changes has led to double the pass rate means that the SAS did not make compensating changes themselves (probably because that is the way they have always done things).

The SAS must remember that they brought this upon themselves through the deaths on an earlier selection course. Now they need to fix the course itself within the new guidelines to select out the best candidates (at a simliar pass rate of old).

JMA
03-02-2014, 12:00 PM
Clausewitz has also some candy for JMA:

Here is some more...

If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. -
Mao Zedong