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Granite_State
04-25-2007, 10:45 PM
So says former Air Force counterterrorist coordinator John Robb, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2007/04/the_second_fron.html . Curious what people here think of his theories of open source warfare.

TROUFION
04-25-2007, 11:13 PM
My favorite part of this article was the end:

"BTW, if you want to understand where all of this is going longer term, please buy my book, "Brave New War." -Posted by John Robb on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 11:44 AM "

Also just a comment. IF the General and his staff are wrong then what is right? Guess I'll have to buy the book to find out. :rolleyes:

SWJED
04-25-2007, 11:19 PM
"MaYHeM" comments on that blog entry:


I see by your many comments that you don't think the current leadership, nor the current methods can succeed in stamping out the insurgency in Iraq.

What I don't see, is a suggestion of how you might approach this problem successfully.

I'd love to see an article on your approach to counter-insurgency in Iraq.

Thanks

John T. Fishel
04-25-2007, 11:26 PM
Mr Robb's article is full of assertions unsupported by any facts. It is also focused very much on the tactical.

One real problem is that it neglects (forgets - if he ever knew) over 110 years of research and lessons learned the hard way on insurgency.

In the end, Troufion says it all:wry:

Cheers

John

RTK
04-25-2007, 11:37 PM
My first post was a little jaded and improper.....


I guess life is pretty easy to figure out at 25,000 feet.

Jimbo
04-26-2007, 02:30 AM
Rant Mode On:

This is why 4GW is so dangerous as a framework, it can be all things to all people. Robb, using his interpretation of Lind and Hammes, has come up with taregting options based on assumptions which some others have pointed out are false. He has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the sunni violence, and the nature of the Shi'ite violence. the only part he got right was they both try to kill one another with targeted violence at times.

goesh
04-26-2007, 03:43 AM
- and to think I was betting on General P. Where have I gone wrong?

Jimbo
04-26-2007, 03:47 AM
You didn't drink enough cool-aid.:D

John T. Fishel
04-26-2007, 11:17 AM
And Robb drank too much...

J Wolfsberger
04-26-2007, 12:31 PM
And Robb drank too much...

Clearly, he still hasn't drunk enough...

Steve Blair
04-26-2007, 12:32 PM
Typical AF approach, I'm sorry to say. They don't understand that not every problem can be solved with a suitably large bombload or with some stealth system or another.

dusty
04-26-2007, 01:50 PM
John Robb wrote,
Since the American military's objective is to gain a monopoly on violence in Iraq, these developments indicate that it has sustained the commercial equivalent of a rapid loss in market share

OFF TOPIC:
The interchangeability of commercial thought and military thought scares me. You can't even read an article on the conflict without the terminology pervading it. War is not business.

sullygoarmy
04-26-2007, 01:53 PM
Typical AF approach, I'm sorry to say. They don't understand that not every problem can be solved with a suitably large bombload or with some stealth system or another.

You forgot wearing a flight suit and neck scarf...that always helps the focus on COIN!

While I'm open to hearing new theories, discussions and approaches, there is nothing worse than criticisms without an alternate solution. We all know COIN is hard and there are no cheap or easy solutions. But if he want's to complain about the current theories/practices, offer up some new ones we haven't tried before. Or in the immortal words of Jerry McGuire..."SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!"

Back to my kool aid and coffee....

Tom Odom
04-26-2007, 01:55 PM
John Robb wrote,

OFF TOPIC:
The interchangeability of commercial thought and military thought scares me. You can't even read an article on the conflict without the terminology pervading it. War is not business.


Hardly off topic, mate! One is directly related to the other and we as a nation have struggled with this phenomenon forever. Sometimes itv has been a force for good: Elihu Root's reforms were a case in point. Then again we have the "Shock and Awe" (Translated "I'm shocked my model din't work and Aw, Sh%# they don't love us) crowd.

Best

Tom

John T. Fishel
04-26-2007, 02:13 PM
Historically, it has been business thinkers who have appropriated military terminology while rarely internalizing or even comprehending the concepts. This is often seen in what business calls "strategy" which they seem to think has something to do with planning for quarterly profits. :cool:

I am reminded of the discussion among the wives of the test pilots in the film version of The Right Stuff where one says that her college friends married to businessmen talk about the vicious warfare on Wall Street but have no idea what it is like wondering if their husbands will come home from work that day alive, in a body bag, or at all.

marct
04-26-2007, 02:45 PM
Hi John,


Historically, it has been business thinkers who have appropriated military terminology while rarely internalizing or even comprehending the concepts. This is often seen in what business calls "strategy" which they seem to think has something to do with planning for quarterly profits. :cool:

I'll beg to differ on this - the original relationship, at least in the modern world, was the other way; business to the military. It really starts with the Dutch in the 16th century and the application of manufacturing processes,particularly interchangeability and standardization, to producing civil militias that could fight the Spanish. It really goes into high speed in the late 18th century / early 19th century with the centralization of military logistical production (especially cannon balls) and with Napoleon's integration of civilian and military production.

I think, although I could easily be wrong, that what you are referring to is the application of the General Staff model to business organization with the development of FW Tyler's Scientific Management and the rapid spread of Fordist production techniques. That's certainly when we start to see large amounts of military rhetoric and terminology appearing in the business literature. I've also found it fascinating that most business authors and practitioners know so little about their original impacts on the military.

As far as your point about business "getting the concepts", you are totally right and I couldn't agree more. Even worse, over the past 25 years or so, the model of "military" that appears to have been adopted by business is closer to that of the "military" after the fall of the Minoan Empire. Look at the terms used: "raiders", "acquisitions", "pirates", etc. On the whole, few of them seem to have the same time horizon as the military (BTW, this is also seen in the use of the term "consumer" rather than "customer" in terms of relationship).

Marc

MountainRunner
04-26-2007, 03:23 PM
War is not business.
War is absolutely business. I'm surprised Marc didn't raise the linguistic connections "made famous" in dialogues about privatization, such as the origin of words like freelancer, company, filibuster, soldier, and ideas about contracts. Also in the course of discussing privatization, especially historical models such as the Dutch Marc mentions, you see war, or simply war powers, are fully integrated into the business of making money.

Socrates wisely said all wars are fought for money.

Wars of national passions aren't. They're about treasure and the business of treasure acquisition, protection, distribution, etc.

John T. Fishel
04-26-2007, 03:23 PM
Hi Marc--

I defer to you on the early history. But the main point there is that an interaction and interchange has taken place. It probably started before the Greeks came up with the word 'Strategos' and has been bouncing back and forth incorporating other 'disciplines' ever since.

Since I am positively ancient, my personal historical frame of reference is from WWII to the present. Frederick Taylor and the Scientific Management school certainly had an influence and was influenced in turn.

Agree completely regarding the analogous business version of the military as being 'post-Minoan' or perhaps, just Caribbean pirates, or the Sumatra ones who took on a US nuclear attack sub in the early 90s in the Straist of Malacca...

Cheers

John

marct
04-26-2007, 03:44 PM
Hi John,


I defer to you on the early history. But the main point there is that an interaction and interchange has taken place. It probably started before the Greeks came up with the word 'Strategos' and has been bouncing back and forth incorporating other 'disciplines' ever since.

Oh, totally true. Sorry if I sounded a bit touchy about the early modern stuff, but it's been a bit of a button for me with many of my colleagues (in Sociology especially) disregarding it. Actually, I think we could certainly make a good case for the linkages going back to at least the Minoan period - those Linear B texts from Pylos and Knossos are really pretty boring, but they do show a strong linkage on the logistics side.


Since I am positively ancient, my personal historical frame of reference is from WWII to the present. Frederick Taylor and the Scientific Management school certainly had an influence and was influenced in turn.

One influence (B2M) that I always thought was very useful was the "trouble shooters" in WWII. In some ways, I'm rather surprised that we haven't used them in this war.

Marc

Tom Odom
04-26-2007, 03:57 PM
One influence (B2M) that I always thought was very useful was the "trouble shooters" in WWII. In some ways, I'm rather surprised that we haven't used them in this war.

We do, Marc. JIEDDO is just that on a mega scale.

Tom

marct
04-26-2007, 04:00 PM
We do, Marc. JIEDDO is just that on a mega scale.

Hi Tom,

Sorry, I was subconsciously thinking about Canada :wry:.

Marc

dusty
04-26-2007, 07:49 PM
Socrates wisely said all wars are fought for money.

Wars of national passions aren't. They're about treasure and the business of treasure acquisition, protection, distribution, etc.


Historically, using warfare for economic gain was common practice, I agree. To clarify,for guys at my level, where the metal strikes the flesh, the idea of war as a business is repulsive because there are men and institutions that make money during conflicts, but the individual soldier pays the highest price.

Ski
04-27-2007, 01:00 AM
From a grand strategy and strategic view, economics is most certainly a part of war. Business is part of economics the last time I looked.

Agree that Robb tends to look at things with USAF tinted glasses - his book, of which there are some excellent points, trends too heavily towards EBO and destroying critical nodes/targets at the tactical level.

He does bring up a very salient point - AQ and their ilk attack us at far less cost (monetarily) then we attack them. Can/will the nation spend $600-700B a year on the military? Probably not until the next attack, but the question still hasn't really been asked - are we really getting the military to defeat the islamic radicals for that $600-700B a year?

zenpundit
04-27-2007, 03:13 AM
I understand why John Robb has irritated some ppl here, including our much admired SWJED, with one of his previous posts on Col. Kilcullen; they were correct to be upset; in my view his comments there were obnoxious.

In fairness, however, I'd like to make two brief points:

1) Mr. Robb's previous military career was in the special forces community, not dropping bombs from B-52s.

and, more significantly

2) Network Theory has too much scientific validity demonstrated by peer-reviewed research in too many domains to be lightly ignored by a community whose professional raison d'etre is suppressing very specific kinds of adaptive social networks. It's a subject worth looking at with an open mind - it ain't just electrical grids, bacterial colonies and internet hubs.

Granite_State
04-27-2007, 03:50 AM
"MaYHeM" comments on that blog entry:

From what I've read, Robb is much bigger on pointing out problems than offering solutions, but I think this is the basic thrust of his thinking on solutions to terrorism and the decline of the state's ability to protect us:

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/103/essay-security.html

Granite_State
04-27-2007, 03:51 AM
Rant Mode On:

This is why 4GW is so dangerous as a framework, it can be all things to all people. Robb, using his interpretation of Lind and Hammes, has come up with taregting options based on assumptions which some others have pointed out are false. He has a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the sunni violence, and the nature of the Shi'ite violence. the only part he got right was they both try to kill one another with targeted violence at times.

Could you elaborate on this?

Granite_State
04-27-2007, 04:06 AM
I'm by no means convinced by Robb's theories, and he loses me with some of the programmer talk occasionally, but I think they're very interesting. It seems people here are quick to dismiss him because he's former Air Force, and because he believes small wars have fundamentally changed and the old solutions no longer apply.

He believes small group of terrorists, "global guerrillas," have the ability to cause state failure by attacking critical nodes in infrastructure (power, water, etc.) and denying the state the ability to provide for the basic needs of the populace. Reversion to primary loyalties (ethnicity, religion, tribe, etc.) will be the result in places where the state is already weak (much of the Middle East and Africa). Along the same lines, he emphasizes the power of black globalization, i.e. drug traffickers, oil smugglers, and the economic interests at play in state failure. Far from being an Air Force guy trying to put firepower on targets, he's arguing that open source insurgencies, where there is no central direction, just a unifying theme, are extremely tough to combat.

Ski
04-27-2007, 09:28 AM
GS - yes, that's a good description of the book. I didn't want to seem overly anti-USAF...sometimes it's hard to overcome.

SoiCowboy
04-27-2007, 12:46 PM
Using John Mackinlays model for insurgents:

In some places it has become war as an extension of economics, where lumpen insurgents just want to continue looting the remains of the state and flogging their goods on the black market, most notably in West Africa. For clan insurgents like in Somalia and Afghanistan, govt collapse is great because it lets the clans get along with making money on the blackmarket selling drugs or whatever because the return of the rule on law means they go out of business. Most of the above don't care about taking on the West and just want a continuation of the status quo.

While global insurgents could, (and have done with Al-Qaeda) jump from one collapsed state / warzone to another its very hard for anyone to unify such disparate types of insurgents, and the best you can hope for is mobilising individuals with a grand narrative through the internet and media.

In Afghanistan you've got people who don't want the government to succeed because that would mean no more poppy money, and they don't want the Taliban back - which is one reason why the Taliban have moved on into Pakistan tribal areas, and people have stayed under their warlords. One of the biggest mistakes was taking the War on Drugs to the middle of a counter insurgency war.

The one thing I did like was 'open source warfare' while it does point out the obvious 'whatever works will be copied' it is important to remember because it does come up and surprise you, now and then, such as when the Somalians copied the Sudanese tactics of using RPGs as anti aircraft (who copied it off the Afghans.)

Steve Blair
04-27-2007, 12:55 PM
History footnote here: RPGs were first used against helicopters in Vietnam. It's an old tactic...which makes me wonder why it surprised us so much in Somalia.

RTK
04-27-2007, 01:29 PM
I understand why John Robb has irritated some ppl here, including our much admired SWJED, with one of his previous posts on Col. Kilcullen; they were correct to be upset; in my view his comments there were obnoxious.

In fairness, however, I'd like to make two brief points:

1) Mr. Robb's previous military career was in the special forces community, not dropping bombs from B-52s.

and, more significantly

2) Network Theory has too much scientific validity demonstrated by peer-reviewed research in too many domains to be lightly ignored by a community whose professional raison d'etre is suppressing very specific kinds of adaptive social networks. It's a subject worth looking at with an open mind - it ain't just electrical grids, bacterial colonies and internet hubs.

Let's be clear on Mr. Robb's previous military career. He was in an Air Force Special Operations outfit as a pilot, probably for an AC-130 or HC-130. This doesn't necessarily translate to good perspective in terms of boots on ground. His aviation missions supported the Special Operations community, which no one can take away from him. But it's a lot like saying that a fueler knows about reconnaissance operations because he puts gas in my tank.

TROUFION
04-27-2007, 02:20 PM
History footnote here: RPGs were first used against helicopters in Vietnam. It's an old tactic...which makes me wonder why it surprised us so much in Somalia.

Steve, we were 'surprised' by the RPG attacks against helos in Somalia the same way we were 'surprised' by RPG attacks against M1A1/2 tanks in Iraq. We had been told/taught/exposed to the perception that Vietnamese Regulars and VC troops were 'bad*sses' while African and Arab troops and insurgents were rabble, unprofessional, and down right silly. I believe we have learned much since then, respect your enemy.

Cori
04-28-2007, 05:21 PM
On the question of evaluating capabilities and fighting methods of tribal societies, http://www.amazon.com/Insurgents-Terrorists-Militias-Warriors-Contemporary/dp/0231129823/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-5344435-6495215?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177780744&sr=8-1:

Armchairguy
08-15-2007, 02:35 AM
I hope Robb is wrong. His statement "Further, the relative modernity of Iraq features vectors of cross-connection that undermine any and all attempts at clearing/holding territory (the core of the Petraeus plan)." doesn't make a lot of sense to me. How does that physically prevent clearing territory? Perhaps someone else can translate what he is saying for me.

Cavguy
08-15-2007, 02:11 PM
I hope Robb is wrong. His statement "Further, the relative modernity of Iraq features vectors of cross-connection that undermine any and all attempts at clearing/holding territory (the core of the Petraeus plan)." doesn't make a lot of sense to me. How does that physically prevent clearing territory? Perhaps someone else can translate what he is saying for me.

As a veteran who was both in Tal Afar and Ramadi - if that's Robb's position, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Ken White
08-15-2007, 03:00 PM
As a veteran who was both in Tal Afar and Ramadi - if that's Robb's position, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

Things just look different a few hundred feet above the fray. :D

Always been fascinated by the techno approach to 'organizing' ground combat and have noted that the bulk of proponents of such have little or no experience (or,really, concept...) of actually getting from point X to point Y or clearing point Z when someone who hasn't read the right books doesn't want you to do those things on 'his' turf.

RTK
08-15-2007, 04:28 PM
As a veteran who was both in Tal Afar and Ramadi - if that's Robb's position, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.


I second that remark as one in the same demographic.

Rob Thornton
08-16-2007, 12:32 AM
What makes the forum here unique is not that we often disagree, its how disagree. The best of what comes out of the SWC is the various perspectives so that we work through problem sets.

ZenPundit has a good point - don't discard the message jsut because the messenger sounds like he has a mouth full of marbles. Robb has made some good points, its his search for an application of them that often bothers me. He does often frame his questions in the context of the aviator (and its often worth hearing from our purple - winged brethen :) ), but that does not mean we can't evaluate some of the stuff he says and place in better context from our perspective.

I have my share of problems with both EBO and Net Centric Warfare - but I also have my own bias:eek: Sometimes you need a guy like Robb to force you to question your assumptions.

Now, I have to disagree with the over-arching statement. I think the approach that is ongoing in theater (the Petreaus/Kilcullen one in question) is evolving to meet the needs of the environment. I'll write more as to why I think it is later, but it has to to with the tactical price of operational success and translating that to meet strategic objectives that fulfill policy - (or in this case establishing the conditions where those political solutions can grow).

Good to be back - spent the last 3 days on a great staff ride considering Grant's Overland (AKA Wilderness) Campaign
Best regards, Rob

MattC86
08-16-2007, 05:32 AM
I'm not much swayed, but I think this does offer a good question. Much of the COIN theory we're taking as practice these days is intensely rooted in historical experiences. Which is all well and good - NOT using historical experience has gotten us fouled up in the first place - but one of Hammes' biggest points in "The Sling and the Stone" is that war, and insurgencies in particular, are constantly evolving. While I'm not gonna say Petraeus and Kilcullen are wrong, it is important to keep in mind that Iraq presents a wholly different COIN challenge than Algeria, Vietnam, or any of the other historical cases that seem to guide our thinking and practice. It is fair to ask whether the current strategy is too rooted in historical COIN examples rather than completely and effectively adapted to the unique Iraq situation.

Not that I'm the one to answer that, of course.

Robb's critique seems off-base to me, but continually questioning everything about COIN, even the dearly held principles we appear to take as gospel truth, is the only way to continue to evolve. And as many have said, adapt or die.



Good to be back - spent the last 3 days on a great staff ride considering Grant's Overland (AKA Wilderness) Campaign
Best regards, Rob

Ever find that open flank on Lee's line? I think they've been looking for 143 years now. . .

Matt

Rob Thornton
08-16-2007, 03:57 PM
Few can expect a more thorough critic then Ralph Peter's - here is what he has to say about Gen Petreaus's "generalship" (http://www.nypost.com/seven/08162007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/killing_for_congress_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.h tm)

From "Killing For Congress" in today's NY post


He's that rarer-than-a-unicorn beast, a full general capable of learning. Petraeus hasn't "defended his dissertation" in the face of contrary facts. The politically correct counterinsurgency manual he produced before taking up this assignment delighted the left-of-center think-tank crowd - but they must be very disappointed today. Once in command in Iraq, Petraeus kept the doctrinal bits that worked, but dumped the baloney.

I've been thinking about that first statement - especially in light of the staff ride & reading Grant's memoirs.

Nope - didn't find that flank, but ultimately it did not matter - While Lee arguably won some significant tactical engagements, he lost the operational initiative to Grant. While winning tactically is good, it does not guarantee operational or strategic success.

I'll probably get to it (writting more) this weekend, but I think the same lessons can be applied today. We often get caught up in tactical outcomes, without considering how tactical outcomes contribute/detract from operational and strategic success. LTC kilcullen wrote in one of his blogs about "securing the people". I think you can look at this as the "ways" portion of the "ends/ways/means" three legged stool - with means being the "surge" and the "ends" being a stable and politically/economically viable Iraq.

Securing the populace I think is an "operational" endevour. Much like Grant turning Lee out of his breast works as they proceeded South toward Richmond and denying Lee the initiative, we are also denying the AIF freedom of maneuver and influence by seperating them from the populace. We have taken the operational initiative.

There is a tactical cost though (though not the one that Grant and the Army of the Potomac paid). The AIF has decided to go after targets like the Yizidi, and what ever it can find to grab a headline and influence our public and political will. I believe though the operational momentum has turned and is on our side.

The next question I think is what it will take to translate operational success into the strategic kind - that stable, political and economically viable Iraq we want. Here too I think there is something to be learned from our own Civil War. What was required to politically and economically re-integrate the country? What was sacrificed to do so? How long did it take? What should be the public (both ours and the Iraqi's) expectations? I think we will require some additional means to do so, but I don't think it is beyond our physical capability. I also believe MNFI has recognized this and has a plan - but will require political leadership to allocate the means.

Rank amateur
08-16-2007, 09:39 PM
I hope Robb is wrong. His statement "Further, the relative modernity of Iraq features vectors of cross-connection that undermine any and all attempts at clearing/holding territory (the core of the Petraeus plan)." doesn't make a lot of sense to me. How does that physically prevent clearing territory? Perhaps someone else can translate what he is saying for me.

I don't think he's saying you can't clear territory: just that clearing territory doesn't work like it used to. Here's an example off the top of my head. Kicking Philippine rebels off an island and holding the village might work because the villagers lose all communication with their leaders. (Holding territory destroys command and control.)

That's not true anymore. Occupying Sadr City won't do any good because Sadr can pick up a cell phone and order attacks whenever he wants attacks. Killing Sadr doesn't do any good, because people can post his old anti US speeches on the Internet. Holding territory no longer denies command and control to the insurgents.

To use an Iraq example. Holding territory in Ramadi didn't work. Cutting a deal with local sheiks did. Occupying Afghanistan just forced Al Qaeda to the net and terrorist attacks have increased.

RTK
08-16-2007, 11:51 PM
I don't think he's saying you can't clear territory: just that clearing territory doesn't work like it used to. Here's an example off the top of my head. Kicking Philippine rebels off an island and holding the village might work because the villagers lose all communication with their leaders. (Holding territory destroys command and control.)

That's not true anymore. Occupying Sadr City won't do any good because Sadr can pick up a cell phone and order attacks whenever he wants attacks. Killing Sadr doesn't do any good, because people can post his old anti US speeches on the Internet. Holding territory no longer denies command and control to the insurgents.

To use an Iraq example. Holding territory in Ramadi didn't work. Cutting a deal with local sheiks did. Occupying Afghanistan just forced Al Qaeda to the net and terrorist attacks have increased.

This is becoming a conversation I have with my tactics students regularly.

Out of FM 1-02, Operational Terms and Graphics (All definitions are US Army definitions, as opposed to NATO or DoD):


Clear - A tactical mission task that requires the commander to remove all enemy forces and eliminate organized resistance in an assigned area.

Hold - To maintain or retain possession by force, as a position or an area.

Holding and Clearing are two different tactical tasks and missions. By themselves (by doctrine) you're not going to accomplish what you mentioned above in tasking units with clearing and holding. However...


Isolate – A tactical mission task that requires a unit to seal off—both physically and psychologically—an enemy from his sources of support, deny an enemy freedom of movement, and prevent an enemy unit from having contact with other enemy forces.

Suffice it to say, with technology are you ever going to truely isolate an insurgent in a free society? Probably not without infringing pretty heavily on the rights of the populace. What else is there?


Control - A tactical mission task that requires the commander to maintain physical influence over a specified area to prevent its use by an enemy.

Contain – To stop, hold, or surround the forces of the enemy or to cause the
enemy to center activity on a given front and to prevent the withdrawal of any part of the enemy’s force for use elsewhere.

Occupy – A tactical mission task that involves a force moving into an area so that it can control the entire area. Both the force’s movement to and occupation of the area occur without enemy opposition.

Seize – A tactical mission task that involves taking possession of a designated area using overwhelming force.

Secure - A tactical mission task that involves preventing a unit, facility, or geographical location from being damaged or destroyed as a result of enemy action.

So here's the question. Out of the above options, which is the most feasible and which is least? Why? Additionally, what is the purpose of the task? Even better (looking for the prospective planners out there) put it into task, purpose, method, effect format. You might win a chance to serve on a Corps staff if your answer is good enough. :D

Rank amateur
08-17-2007, 01:13 AM
tactics: the branch of military science dealing with detailed maneuvers to achieve objectives set by strategy

What's the objective? Seriously. It's not obvious to me.

Mark O'Neill
08-17-2007, 01:39 AM
You might win a chance to serve on a Corps staff if your answer is good enough. :D

Hey RTK,

I thought we were trying to encourage folks to post.....

RTK
08-17-2007, 02:03 AM
tactics: the branch of military science dealing with detailed maneuvers to achieve objectives set by strategy

What's the objective? Seriously. It's not obvious to me.

In short, it's to win.

As per National Strategy for Victory in Iraq published November 2005 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/iraq/iraq_strategy_nov2005.html). This has not changed.

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages
• Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
• Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
• Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.



Additionally, people usually introduce themselves (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=1441&page=24) to add to their credibility, show us what experiences they bring to the table, and fill out their profile before starting the dull roar. Take this guy (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/member.php?u=1380) for example and the thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=3671) that ended his career here.

Rank amateur
08-17-2007, 11:49 AM
My bad. I thought my user name said it all. I have no relevant experience. I'm just interested in military tactics and strategy. (So I'm even less qualified than an Air Force guy;)) I've been browsing and only jumped in when I thought I could answer a question. Then I got asked a question.

Thanks for responding to my question. If anyone is interested in my opinion I guess I would agree with the antiquated/misguided premise. I don't believe that capture and hold automatically leads to:

"meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces."

At least at the national level. And even in Ramadi it seems to me that a political deal was reached with the sheiks first, who encouraged their followers to build up the security forces and if the locals didn't do the capturing, they did the holding.

I'd suggest that task, purpose, method, effect looked something like this. Task: negotiate. Purpose: establish non hostile local militias. Method: giving local leaders what they want. Effect: denying AlQaeda sanctuary and safe haven.

So Petraeus definitely deserves kudos for being creative and flexible, but it does suggest to me that the critical tasks need to be given to the generals and the politicians.

slapout9
08-17-2007, 12:52 PM
RTK, If you can talk about it? I read about Talafar and after they constructed a berm around the city they set up check points and screened the population as they were coming out to temporary shelter and then US forces entered to do the final clearing. After that the population was allowed to return. I thought that was a fantastic idea, most people think of check points as screening people coming in to an area, which you should do of course but screening people coming out is like working a crime secen where you seal it off and then interview witnesses as they are leaving, more than one person has been caught this way and at the least you can get alot of leads.

Which leads me to this question. Should we have a new doctrinal term called Separating for COIN ops. Seems to me the tactical objective is often not so much clearing and holding as it is separating the insurgents from innocent population. My 2 cents anyway.

Rob Thornton
08-17-2007, 01:01 PM
From Rank Amateur:


That's not true anymore. Occupying Sadr City won't do any good because Sadr can pick up a cell phone and order attacks whenever he wants attacks. Killing Sadr doesn't do any good, because people can post his old anti US speeches on the Internet. Holding territory no longer denies command and control to the insurgents.

Well, its a reasonable question, based on reasonable observations. However, I don't think its as simple as it would appear. I'd also say that Sadr City is not a location that typifies the rest of Iraq. Even there though, its about creating the conditions where alternatives can be born. Its not just about clearing and holding physical terrain to secure the people who live there, or even physically isolating the leadership that opposes stability, however these are a part of it. Its about fostering the conditions that make the painfully slow process of political, social, and economic integration/reconciliation possible. I think MNFI understands this, and have been very frank in their assessment as to how long this is going to take, the resources its going to consume, and the obstacles that lay ahead. However, I thik they ave been equally on the mark in identifying the cost of doing it wrong or the danger of leaving it unstable and how that would works against our vital interests in the region.


To use an Iraq example, Holding territory in Ramadi didn't work. Cutting a deal with local sheiks did. Occupying Afghanistan just forced Al Qaeda to the net and terrorist attacks have increased.

Really two parts here. The first speaks to political integration, and generating capacity. It may be an interim solution, or it may be a long term one - hard to tell. However, it is an improvement. Although it'd be great to have a strong enough Iraqi central government to meet the needs of the people across Iraq, we're probably a ways off from that. In the mean time, the sheiks provide a tried means of providing a form of government/influence to reach those ungoverned spaces. They are also a means to help the central government build security force capacity - which also contributes toward the security goal. Hopefully as it evolves, the central government, and the more isolated and remote form offered by the sheiks will be integrated. Again, I believe MNFI understands this, and is helping to put the PRTs, etc that will build the bridge.

The second part
(Occupying Afghanistan just forced Al Qaeda to the net and terrorist attacks have increased) may be a bad cause and effect relationship. If the stated goal of AQ was to re-create a caliphate (Google Al Qaeda strategy) then you can equally infer that they would have increased their attack anyway, but on their schedule, and on terrain more accommodating to their goals. I think you can build an argument either way, but that is the danger with that type of thesis.


meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces."
At least at the national level. And even in Ramadi it seems to me that a political deal was reached with the sheiks first, who encouraged their followers to build up the security forces and if the locals didn't do the capturing, they did the holding.
I'd suggest that task, purpose, method, effect looked something like this. Task: negotiate. Purpose: establish non hostile local militias. Method: giving local leaders what they want. Effect: denying Al Qaeda sanctuary and safe haven.
So Petraeus definitely deserves kudos for being creative and flexible, but it does suggest to me that the critical tasks need to be given to the generals and the politicians.


Well, I know its Joint doctrine, but I still have issues with effects based planning - its a cause and effect thing where attributing success or failure to a cause that involves the messy world of people and emotions (or will) can potentially lead you down the wrong road.

However, as an end-state you have laid out some pieces and parts well I think. I'd say though that I'm not sure you want to make the fulfillment of one contingent on the other. If you get a "two-fer" well that is great.


So Petraeus definitely deserves kudos for being creative and flexible, but it does suggest to me that the critical tasks need to be given to the generals and the politicians.

You'll need to qualify this one for me - I think what you may be getting at is the linkage between operational art, strategy and policy. I think we'd all agree here that we need better synchronization. However, it is an evolving process. The policy ends are not going to be described as "tasks", they are going to be more generalized - like "facilitate the establishment of a secure, economically and politically viable Iraq that contributes to regional stability and is integrated into the global economy ". The strategy that promotes those policy ends is going to be more specific as it starts to marry "ways" and "means" with the ends. The operational art as defined by Colin Gray is:
"the skill with which forces are maneuvered so that they are well positioned for tactical advantage. But it refers also the ability to know when to accept or decline combat, with a view toward advancing campaign wide goals. Operational Art uses the threat and actuality of battle to win a campaign".

I think MNFI has taken that definition and adjusted it to the current campaign goals to realize strategic objectives and policy goals.

Ultimately, and probably everyone agrees, that the ultimate political end in this case rests firmly on the will of Iraq to integrate and provide reconciliation for its fractured society. We can however help provide Iraq the means to do so by helping the Iraqi government gain security and by providing the conditions that facilitate stability.

Rank Amateur, your questions are worth while, and I'd encourage you to contribute more. It would be nice though to get a sense of who you are in order to promote dialogue and better understand the context of your postings. I hope you continue to read and post, make thoughtful observations that contribute to all of us better understanding the topics we discuss.

Best regards, Rob

RTK
08-17-2007, 04:15 PM
RTK, If you can talk about it? I read about Talafar and after they constructed a berm around the city they set up check points and screened the population as they were coming out to temporary shelter and then US forces entered to do the final clearing. After that the population was allowed to return. I thought that was a fantastic idea, most people think of check points as screening people coming in to an area, which you should do of course but screening people coming out is like working a crime secen where you seal it off and then interview witnesses as they are leaving, more than one person has been caught this way and at the least you can get alot of leads.

Which leads me to this question. Should we have a new doctrinal term called Separating for COIN ops. Seems to me the tactical objective is often not so much clearing and holding as it is separating the insurgents from innocent population. My 2 cents anyway.

Done correctly its almost like a census through the checkpoints.

I'd almost buy "sequester" if the definition was clear enough.

slapout9
08-17-2007, 06:32 PM
RTK,sequester is exactly what I had in mind. Juries and witnesses are sequestered all the time not just for their physical security but to prevent them from hearing adverse information (enemy propaganda) which would definitely be important in COIN ops. Yea, I really like that...when you become a general I guess you can get that taken care of:wry:

Rank amateur
08-17-2007, 06:39 PM
Rank Amateur, your questions are worth while, and I'd encourage you to contribute more. It would be nice though to get a sense of who you are in order to promote dialogue and better understand the context of your postings. I hope you continue to read and post, make thoughtful observations that contribute to all of us better understanding the topics we discuss.

Best regards, Rob

Thanks. Really, I'm just a guy who is interested in the military strategies and tactics. I read Sun Tzu, know The Powell doctrine, learned about about Kursk and Cannae from TV. I know that "Tactics is when you attack from the front, strategy from the sides" is a joke. In case there's any doubt, I'm cheering for the same side as you. I found this forum while surfing the net trying to learn more. Honestly, I just wanted to answer a question. Now, I'm hooked and want to see if I could converse intelligently with the pros. I'm glad you think I should contribute more.

In retrospect, being one of the few to support the Robb point of view, without an introduction, is probably not the best way to fit in, but I'm sure that everyone realizes that just because you adopt the enemy position in a war game doesn't mean you're a bad guy.

My comments are strictly about doctrine. A strong doctrine can withstand a strong attack. I'm not married to any particular doctrine. My career, and my life, don't depend on any particular doctrine being successful. I just find it fascinating.

Rank amateur
08-17-2007, 07:05 PM
RTK, Should we have a new doctrinal term called Separating for COIN ops. Seems to me the tactical objective is often not so much clearing and holding as it is separating the insurgents from innocent population.

This seems to me to be a brilliant suggestion. The asymmetric guys can only operate in certain types of terrain: jungles, mountains, hidden amongst the population or a combination. Separating them from the population would make them easy to defeat. I think, however, that Robb's point is that this isn't as easy to do as it used to be.

I'd split the insurgents into two camps. Al Qeada can be isolated from the Iraqi population. It happened in Ramadi. But I don't think that isolating all insurgents will be easy. In fact, in Ramadi I don't think there was any separation. The entire population just switched sides: insurgents and innocent civilians.

I believe that one of the key assumptions of COIN is that "holding" American troops will be able to observe, communicate, determine who's an insurgent and then isolate the insurgents.

I guess most of the guys who are implementing COIN are too busy to post here, but I don't know if a high degree of isolation is even tactically possible. I don't know if the facilities and procedures are in place to isolate insurgents.

(These are serious questions. I don't know because I've never served. Some of you will know, because you've been there.)

Are captured insurgents kept imprisoned, or released by friends? When a US solider suspects that an Iraqi soldier or policeman is working with insurgents, is the Iraqi always arrested. When an Iraqi politician is suspected of working with insurgents is he arrested? If an Iman is suspected of working with insurgents, is he arrested?

Rank amateur
08-17-2007, 07:15 PM
The second part ) may be a bad cause and effect relationship. If the stated goal of AQ was to re-create a caliphate (Google Al Qaeda strategy) then you can equally infer that they would have increased their attack anyway, but on their schedule, and on terrain more accommodating to their goals.

True. I'd say that in Afghanistan clear and hold diminished the enemy's capabilities but didn't eliminate them and didn't lead to a political settlement. Those Al Qaeda guys, however, are nuts. I don't think anyone can have a political settlement with them. I was just trying to show that the tactics don't automatically lead to settlement. There are other factors that can be decisive.


From Rank Amateur:You'll need to qualify this one for me - I think what you may be getting at is the linkage between operational art, strategy and policy. I think we'd all agree here that we need better synchronization.

I just meant that Petraeus isn't married to doctrine. He'll cut a deal with former insurgents, even if all the spin doctors in Washington insist "We don't negotiate with terrorists." In my opinion, that's excellent.


We can however help provide Iraq the means to do so by helping the Iraqi government gain security and by providing the conditions that facilitate stability.

This is an assumption. No one can prove it right or wrong. We can only offer opinions. I understand that people have very strong opinions, because they are risking their lives based on this assumption.

So I offer my opinion with a lot less at stake than many here, but if I were to ask you if a military tactic was going to be successful, you'd probably answer "It depends on a number of factors, including terrain." Assuming that tactics which worked in the dessert will work in a jungle is a mistake. They may or may not work. It depends whether or not the terrain is decisive.

I'd say that Robb's point is that assuming counter insurgency tactics which produced favorable political results in the Philippines will produce favorable political results in Iraq is a mistake because the Iraqi political landscape is different.

Will the political climate be decisive? No one can say for sure, but I can offer lots of evidence that it will be: little movement on the benchmarks, parliament taking August off, sectarian violence, Malaki and Ahmadenijad holding hands etc.

Rob Thornton
08-17-2007, 07:47 PM
RA,
You have quite a few questions:) - Many are addressed in depth in some of the different forums on the site. The reason I bring it up is that the people who start a thread and may be the SME (subject matter expert) on a question, might be monitoring those topics more closely - so you might get an answer faster, or a more complete one.

With regards to this thread, observations that are under the umbrella of the thread starter are probably good to go as long as they are professional (not as in military professional, but in the general sense of the word). I don't think the folks who participate here view any topic as being so absolute we are unwilling to entertain disagreement, but we also expect there to be a certain degree of logic underpinning an argument.

You'd actually be surprised who posts here and how quickly info from the field comes in. I expect we will continue to get better at this.

Its good to have cilvilian interest and participation (IMO). I often grumble that only a small percentage of the nation is at war. For the first time in a long while I'm actually living amongst the average American - I think up until recently I may have forgotten I'm part of America's Army, and that America is very diverse - more so then I probably thought. So having civilian participation on the site may serve to educate the public and provide the context for the general content the media provides. The SWJ Blog and the SWC have gotten a good deal of exposure as of late, there are probably many more watching then I thought.

While you may not have ever served, it does not mean you can't be useful to your country. You may have a very useful background and experience set - I'd encourage you to look around the site and speak from your strong suit so to speak. Speaking from your experience set will provide us a different context, one hopefully that will benefit us all.

Well, back on topic I suppose. Feel free to PM or email me if you have any questions. I've been hanging around here benefitting from the site since August of last year when I was still deployed.:wry:

Rob Thornton
08-17-2007, 08:13 PM
:D I'll try and get to a few of these:D


but if I were to ask you if a military tactic was going to be successful, you'd probably answer "It depends on a number of factors, including terrain." Assuming that tactics which worked in the dessert will work in a jungle is a mistake. They may or may not work. It depends whether or not the terrain is decisive.

I'd say that Robb's point is that assuming counter insurgency tactics which produced favorable political results in the Philippines will produce favorable political results in Iraq is a mistake because the Iraqi political landscape is different.

Its a fairly good observation for a rank amateur:wry:. However, I don't think anyone is importing tactics or strategy on a 1:1 basis. They might be looking for historical similiarities that can be used to provide general direction, but I'd say that most of us realize there are no cookie cutter solutions where people are concerned. However, there are some things social organizations have in common, and those things can be used for a point of departure. Someone once said there are no original good ideas. I'd even argue that while something looks nothing alike on the surface, there are often more things in common then you might think at first glance. Keep in mind that the analogy to historical examples is often used as a vehicle to discuss something by giving it relevance, context and placing it in time.



Will the political climate be decisive? No one can say for sure, but I can offer lots of evidence that it will be: little movement on the benchmarks, parliament taking August off, sectarian violence, Malaki and Ahmadenijad holding hands etc.

Without a doubt true political reconcilliation and integration among any diverse and fractured society that has been brutalized the way Iraq has is going to proceed slowly. When you consider the depth of fears and hatreds generated by years of brutality, deprivation and war, you can understand why it will take a long time. Knowing quite a few Iraqis, I know the wisest of them also believe it will take time. Our own American culture is one of progression towards the desired object. We see life differently then a good chunk of the rest of the world based on desire to see things in terms of problems with solutions vs. some things just being a condition that will have to change slowly. Even our interpretation of Malaki and Ahmadenijad holding hands is more simple then the Iraqis see it. They have the problem of the historical, economic, political and religious ties to a "stonger" neighbor that they are going to have to continue to deal and live with long after we are gone - which could be reasonably short if policy changes. We have a mixed history on that subject.

We have long term vital interests in the region that go beyond just our own resource consumption, but extend to the long term global economy and a host of other security interests we must consider. Many have argued for a quick solution, but solutions of that type rarely address the long term problems, their causes and often create as many problems (some worse) then they might solve ratehr then achieving the long term solutions we need.


A strong doctrine can withstand a strong attack. I'm not married to any particular doctrine. My career, and my life, don't depend on any particular doctrine being successful.

I'll agree with that. However, doctrine in this case is descriptive, not prescriptive. For other services this is not the case, but for the Army its a trueism whether we confess to it or not


Are captured insurgents kept imprisoned, or released by friends? When a US solider suspects that an Iraqi soldier or policeman is working with insurgents, is the Iraqi always arrested. When an Iraqi politician is suspected of working with insurgents is he arrested? If an Iman is suspected of working with insurgents, is he arrested?

No, not always, sometimes, yes, maybe.:D Consider our own wonderful criminal justice system and you instantly see the scope of the problem. One thing I learned by working with Iraqi forces was to consider our own system in all of its pros and cons. A war that is waged in and amongst people is the most complicated. Lots more grey then black and white. I can tell you there are no absolute rules in regards to the questions you ask.

Hope that helps, Regards, Rob

RTK
08-17-2007, 08:35 PM
RTK,sequester is exactly what I had in mind. Juries and witnesses are sequestered all the time not just for their physical security but to prevent them from hearing adverse information (enemy propaganda) which would definitely be important in COIN ops. Yea, I really like that...when you become a general I guess you can get that taken care of:wry:


I guess, after thinking it over more, sequester in that sense is the tactical task of Isolate. As I said earlier, I don't know if that's physically feasible given the nature of technology without the infringement upon the civil rights of the populace over a long period of time. It could be done, but I think you'd do more to disenfranchise the unintended affected populace.

slapout9
08-17-2007, 11:41 PM
RTK, It does come close to isolate except isolate sounds like prison while sequester is meant to be protection but you still have all the fringe benefits of home plus room service. It does violate your rights which is why it is only allowed in special situations. You bring up a the key point I think which is time, people don't mind being in a "golden cage" for awhile but there is a limit to what they will accept before you start to irritate them. And there is the culture thing again, I have no idea how this would be taken in other parts of the world.

Also if it was conveyed to them at the start that it was only meant to be temporary and they would all go home as soon as it was safe it might take some of the edge off of it.
You might even set up a competing safe city and have it a voluntary program. Try and woo them away from the insurgents. Again just thinking out loud.

RTK
08-18-2007, 12:29 AM
This seems to me to be a brilliant suggestion. The asymmetric guys can only operate in certain types of terrain: jungles, mountains, hidden amongst the population or a combination. Separating them from the population would make them easy to defeat. I think, however, that Robb's point is that this isn't as easy to do as it used to be.

The issue is this: Insrugents have the ability to hide in plain sight as they look and act like the peaceful populace until it's time to act. All insurgencies have four parts; the Cadre, Leadership, Mass Base, and Combatants. Members can ebb and flow between differeing catagories from time to time.It's easy to jump between the mass base and combatants. Blending in above that is more difficult. Though I concur that seperating them from the population does make them easy to defeat, I disagree with Robb (who has no practical experience in this realm) in that it's not as easy to do as it used to be. I don't think it was ever easy. If it was, there wouldn't be a problem still.


I'd split the insurgents into two camps. Al Qeada can be isolated from the Iraqi population. It happened in Ramadi. But I don't think that isolating all insurgents will be easy. In fact, in Ramadi I don't think there was any separation. The entire population just switched sides: insurgents and innocent civilians.

It's not that they switched sides, it's that they naturally transited from active support to passive support to no support. At a point the local leaders of central Al Anbar became sick and tired of being sick and tired.

But here's the issue: Al Qaeda cannot be isolated from the population in the strictest sense of the term. Recall the definition I posted a few days ago.


Isolate – A tactical mission task that requires a unit to seal off—both physically and psychologically—an enemy from his sources of support, deny an enemy freedom of movement, and prevent an enemy unit from having contact with other enemy forces.

Utterly impossible in the settings you describe if you take into consideration the rest of the objectives in the short, medium, and longer term. If building democratic institutions is a short term goal sustained and nested into medium and longer term goals, then it's imperitive to avoid sealing off a populace - both physically and psychologically - for the sake of security for any more than a few weeks at a time.


I believe that one of the key assumptions of COIN is that "holding" American troops will be able to observe, communicate, determine who's an insurgent and then isolate the insurgents.

It's deeper than that. The embedding process of a unit into a village or city is more than just the tangible benefits of "being there." It has a lot to do with the rapport built with the local populace. Relationships breed trust which leads to intelligence resulting in bad guys off the street. Many fail to remember or understand that relationships and trust are not synonymous. We've taken that for granted too many times.

Another analogy is the relationship of a local business to the community. Sure Walmart is going to get customers and pretty good prices, but the Mom and Pop store that knows you when you walk in and already knows what you're going to order before you grab it off the shelf is not going to go out of business. That locally embedded unit is the Mom and Pop store (if they do it right). The more we, as a military, act like Walmart, though we'll get some bad guys, we're not going to get what we're looking for - the loyal and dedicated repeat customers.


I guess most of the guys who are implementing COIN are too busy to post here, but I don't know if a high degree of isolation is even tactically possible. I don't know if the facilities and procedures are in place to isolate insurgents.

It's not that you can't, it's that the second and third order effects of doing so outweigh and overshadow the benefits.


Are captured insurgents kept imprisoned, or released by friends? When a US solider suspects that an Iraqi soldier or policeman is working with insurgents, is the Iraqi always arrested. When an Iraqi politician is suspected of working with insurgents is he arrested? If an Iman is suspected of working with insurgents, is he arrested?

Too many current TTPs could be discussed here. This isn't the right forum. I'll say this though. Even police departments in the United States have dirt bags they let go just to see what other fish they bring in.

carl
08-18-2007, 01:12 AM
RTK and Slapout9:

It sounds as if you are coming close to the Strategic Hamlet Program from VN.

RTK
08-18-2007, 01:25 AM
RTK and Slapout9:

It sounds as if you are coming close to the Strategic Hamlet Program from VN.

Not really. I'm not about displacing civilians if I can help it for the same reasons that SHP failed in the first place. People tend to become more sympathetic to the system that isn't oppressing them as much as the other system.

slapout9
08-18-2007, 01:45 AM
carl, no I don't think the Strategic Hamlet Program was voluntary. My version would be what LawVol calls Bare Base, except I would do Bare City and put the word out that it was safe,clean, good food,warm beer, no head chopping or car bombing. If you wanted stay there you would have to cooperate.


Scratch all that think Salvation Army, I am serious go to one if you ever get the chance and see how it is run. It is a very underestimated organization.

slapout9
08-18-2007, 03:00 PM
Rank Amateur, This article from the 1968 issue of Military Review might interest you. This guy is my ideal of brilliant.

http://calldp.leavenworth.army.mil/eng_mr/txts/VOL48/00000009/art4.pdf#xml=/scripts/cqcgi.exe/@ss_prod.env?CQ_SESSION_KEY=VQWNXWTQTJEQ&CQ_QH=126693&CQDC=9&CQ_PDF_HIGHLIGHT=YES&CQ_CUR_DOCUMENT=1