View Full Version : Staying Power...

05-25-2007, 04:08 PM
New at Slate from Bing West (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/authors/bing-west/bio/), SWJ Blogger and man about town, and Owen West.

The Adviser Model (http://www.slate.com/id/2166854/)
We Have to Stay in Iraq for a Decade. Here's How to Do It.

Now that Democrats have stripped their troop-withdrawal timetable from the war funding bill, it's clear that American forces will remain in Iraq through 2008. It also seems likely that they will stay much, much longer. The leading presidential candidates in both parties recognize the dangers of a rapid pullout, and achieving stability in Iraq is going to take a decade. (In this piece (http://www.slate.com/id/2166853/), Phillip Carter argues that the United States can withdraw quickly, and explains how to do it.)
How can U.S. soldiers stay in Iraq and accomplish what needs to be done? Our best hope is the Adviser Model. With the surge still under way, Gen. David Petraeus obviously cannot discuss a Plan B. But given U.S. public opinion (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702046.html), a Plan B for 2008 and beyond is a certainty. Its central feature is likely to be the buildup of a combat-advisory corps as our combat units are drawn down.

Rob Thornton
05-25-2007, 06:33 PM
The only thing I would add is that if we are going to take the MSCs who are the current resource managers out of the picture, then we have to address the impacts of this. I think they go beyond keeping support folks and contractors there. It goes to their comments about a restructuring of the advisory corps. The authority to resource certain problems in time for to make a difference continues, but by recently changing the CMD relationship of the TTs (they now are "attached" to the MSCs), hopefully there is a quicker flash to bang. Since the TT effort/environment is so diverse, the understanding of any centralized advisory command would probably be confused by the relevancy of a particular request - a staff guy from our military culture sitting at a desk in a far away city may not share the requestor’s sense of urgency or relevancy. In example, what is needed in Mosul may be different from Baghdad for any number of reasons. A staff guy in Mosul who controls the wallet probably has a better sense of things, and at least is more accessible - and so is his CDR.

If you take the MSCs out of it, then you have to find a valid substitute that delivers what is needed without having to spend undue effort justifying it. At the same time - we have to account because as soon as the slightest bad thing happens there may be a reaction all out of proportion.

How do you do that? Great question. Allot of it goes to the authors' comments on risk. There has to be an acceptance that advisors are going to make some mistakes in the process of "building" their start up. People make mistakes, but if its in the context of mission accomplishment - a successful start up, then we should consider the price of doing business. Certainly we've seen resources applied on the big FOBs where we were left kind of scratching our head - the conclusion was - well somebody must've thought it was a good idea at the time, but they probably rotated home and the conditions changed.

An effort made up mostly of advisors can work, but they will have to be given the tools and authority required to do it. It will be cheaper in terms of political will as the perception will be a reduction of commitment, but it will have to balanced with providing the teams with needed resources.

To take it one step further and diverge from premise of the article, I think the TT mission will outlive the OIF and OEF theaters for the same reasons its attractive now. This is good reason to have discussion about what we want to do about structure. Personally I don't think setting up a permanent "corps" of advisors within the services is practical or the best idea. This is probably since I contend this mission will be with us for a long time to come and there are benefits to exposing as many as possible to the chance to be on a TT. It builds skills we are unprepared to build at home with all of its competing events. Besides, we are in a manpower deficit - I'm not here to argue recruiting or retention rates, merely pointing out that we are trying to increase our ground component numbers while also identifying we have some key shortages. Any thing that might draw from MTO&E units or already established requirements has to be weighed against that.

It was a great article, and one we should all get involved in.

05-25-2007, 06:52 PM
Boy do I see big friction...just like fighters vs. bombers vs. nuke missiles, or massive armor vs. airborne vs. SBCT and Transformation, or the Marine Corps versus everyone else.

Try as they may to make it understood that this is going to be a center of gravity for us, those who "get it" are going to be drowned out by the parochial baboons.

This kind of stuff needs an administration push. Stand in the way of making the advisor mission the main effort (even if for the time being), and you're fired or at least put out to pasture early. We don't have time for the drama.

05-25-2007, 11:23 PM
Rob just barely scratches the surface of this problem. I was there when we went from AST to MiTT. As AST's we were not attached to MSC's. We had to get our requests through MNSTC-I and CMATT in Bagdhahd. Iwas relatively close and we still had problems. I saw they ugly side of the nightmare that Rob is beginning to air out.

Rob Thornton
05-26-2007, 01:44 PM
I think your comment gets to a big part of the problem:

This kind of stuff needs an administration push. Stand in the way of making the advisor mission the main effort (even if for the time being), and you're fired or at least put out to pasture early. We don't have time for the drama.

Part of the problem I think is a common understanding of what the "main effort" is. Is securing the population? Is it securing Baghdad? Is it transitioning security to ISF, etc.? I think we've gotten to a point where "securing the population" is out in front of every other priority. A close second, and one we'd like to transition to as the priority as soon as possible, is transitioning that security to the ISF. Main effort would seem to be one of those things which is self-explanatory, but of course its not, and means different things to different folks based on their assessment.

This goal in itself is open to some interpretation ( and perhaps it should be ) as how to do that by MSC CDRs. Certainly the advisory effort is a core component, but it is not the only component or tool available to the CDRs. Some of this is probably "chicken and egg" type stuff - like the quality of the TTs is not the same across the board so CDRs make decisions reflecting that, but if you brought the quality up then you'd have more trust.

My own thoughts are we just can't field enough of these TTs to do what we'd like. I say that because while we helped the IA bring the quality of our/their BN up, I saw the IP stations treading water (and they'd been in the pool awhile) because the TT effort afforded them was minimal in comparison. Its just what was available. Instead of an eleven man TT that lived with them, and was composed of more experienced, mature FGs and senior SNCOs which brought much needed attention to the problems that were keeping them from succeeding, they got their advice from an MP platoon which was both junior in composition, had to advise multiple stations (which split their focus accordingly) and had to fulfill their other roles on the battlefield. I think they did remarkably well given the size of their task - they were always visible on the battlefield - but they were way over tasked for the results we were trying to attain.

I thought about this as we were getting ready to redeploy and were asked by our BDE MiTT chief to make recommendations. My number one recommendation was to inform the TF and BCT CDR that perhaps the incoming TTs should transition from the IA to focus on the IPs. In my view
the IA were mostly in a material need of already defined items and that could be addressed by routine circulation of CF senior leaders to confer with IA BN & BDE CDRs - they could hold their own with minimal effort & I believed had turned the corner. The IP on the other hand were taking it in the shorts from the AIF - I believe the AIF smelled blood and were going after the weak sister with both barrels - and if they succeeded then a major part of the ISF would fall away and the AIF would be able to double up the IA. I think they saw this a strategy of exhaustion in Mosul and by keeping a need for more CF troops in MND -N then it played to their mirroring our efforts in the South of bringing in more CF troops to secure the population.

I think overall our TT effort is both becoming better defined, communicated and effective. It took a few years, but the US military is a bureaucracy so by bureaucratic time we probably did adequate. There is still allot to learn here & I know the HASC collected allot of info on it not more then a month ago. I'm betting their is a plan that accounts for what is believed to be needed for an effort such as author's described - but it too will probably have to be tweaked from the base plan.

Regards, Rob