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jonSlack
08-09-2007, 04:04 AM
Culture battle: Selective use of history should not be used to justify the status quo (http://afji.com/2007/08/2765978) by COL. Henry J. Foresman JR. in Armed Forces Journal.


Video teleconferences, meetings and PowerPoint presentations are how decisions are made in the Pentagon. No decision is made without countless hours spent making slides by "action officers" and countless revisions by those above them. No decision is made until all the general officers are on board. No decision is made without total agreement. Staffing actions are routinely sent back to the drawing board because some general has a better idea, further slowing a process that already moves at a snail's pace. The system is not designed for quick decisions, as all decisions must work their way through a vast bureaucracy before the ultimate decision can be made. Decisions are made in a system designed for an Army at peace, not an Army at war.

As I have mentioned, transformation is more than organizational change it is a change to how we think of war. The greatest threats to transformation are those who would turn back the hands of time to an earlier day when the Army would concentrate on fighting major combat operations or grand wars and ignore the rest.

Wars of the 21st century will not be state-on-state but rather will involve states taking on organizations and groups that share a common ideology, culture and outlook and to whom the state, and state boundaries, mean nothing. They will wage their wars, holy or otherwise, wherever they must so that they can achieve their goal, whether it be greater Islam or otherwise. They do not wear the uniforms of a state, nor do they fight in the same manner as conventional armies. The wars of the 21st century will not be fought on the open plains of Europe or in vast sands of Middle East. They will be fought in the urban sprawl of our increasingly urban planet. They will be battles for the hearts and minds of a local populace where the U.S. and the Army will be seen as the invader and occupier and not as the liberator.

Tom Odom
08-09-2007, 12:47 PM
I recently reviewed a briefing prepared by the Center of Military History, which set forth a case for preserving the status quo of current Army organizations. What struck me was the selective use of history to argue the case for preserving the current organizational hierarchy in the Army that is, divisions, corps and armies. The claim behind the argument is these are the traditional organizations of the Army. To a point, they are correct; these are the organizations that the current Army is comfortable with, but they are organizations that evolved during a much different time: World War I. These organizations represent the high-water mark of the Army and its operations in World War II in the European theater. Divisions, corps and armies are organizations for fighting grand wars on the scale of World War II. Preserving these organizations reflects the myopic nature of how the Army views its history.

From the same excellent article. Note of course that transformation --originally billed as eliminating much of the divisional and corps structure in favor of modular brigades--has morphed into a preserve the division and corps structures through creeping additions. How much of that has to do with culture and how much is proponent rice bowl thinking coupled to keeping GO slots is hard to say. Of course, that too is a cultural issue.

Thanks, Jon!

Tom

marct
08-09-2007, 01:30 PM
I hink there are some very insightful comments in this piece.


The 21st-century battlefield may look more like the American frontier and have more in common with the tribal wars of the Middle Ages, but fought with the most lethal and modern weapons at the disposal of our adversaries. The war will come to our homeland again.

I agree more with the second than the first analogy. The warfare along the American frontier was always controlled, to some degree, by a belief in manifest destiny and, at its root, an expanding population and land grab. While the technological differences and style of warfare may be similar, I don't see, for example, the US colonizing Somalia. This renders many of the geopolitical strategies used on the American frontier null and void - e.g. creation of forts or mining / agricultural settlements as the basis for future towns and the destruction of the environment that supported First nations economies and livelihood (i.e. slaughtering the buffalo herds, etc.).

I'm really not sure what he means by "tribal wars of the Middle Ages" either. Which ones? If we are looking at Europe as the model, then most of them operated within the same overarching weltanshauung - i.e. dominated by the Roman Catholic church. The few that weren't were examples of the Church supporting crusades of one form or another (e.g. the Thuringian crusade of the 10th century, the Albigensian Crusade, the civil war in Denmark which converted it to a Christian kingdom).

If we leave these particular overtly religious examples aside, then most of the rest were dynastic wars with an implicit religious assumption (i.e. who is the true God appointed ruler) and, again, we have the imperative to grab chunks of land and population. The only other form that we really have running around is the constant fueding / warfare that never really resolves itself (think about the Scots border raids or Ireland ca 9th-16th centuries).


As an Army, we must be expeditionary and capable of quickly responding to the changing needs of our nation. To fight the wars of the 21st century, we require the support of the people of our nation. Since the end of World War II, American political leaders have determined that they do not need declarations of war before sending our armed forces into harm's way. There was a time when I believed a declaration of war was a nicety that had more in common with the 18th century, when our Constitution was written, than the 21st century. As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of our founding leaders who insisted that the Congress would have the power to declare war. The act of the president asking Congress to declare war, and then Congress declaring war, serves to bind the people of the nation behind the actions being undertaken by the armed forces. Without a declaration of war, without the support of the people, without involving the whole fabric of society in the undertaking of war, prolonged military operations in support of our national interest are bound to fail.

I think the key fault in this statement, at least from my perspective, is that phrase "national interest". For the past 100+ years, most warfare has been based on conflict between coalitions not individual nation states. This may be in the form of overt conflict such as WW I and WW II,or covert conflict (i.e. which coalition supports which side in a civil war or a single state vs. state conflict).

How these coalitions are constructed, i.e. their organizational form, has become increasingly important. For example, the old Soviet "alliance" was a pretty straight forward dominance model - Russia speaks and the Warsaw pact does. In this case, there was a clear dominance of one "national interest". This is not the model that operates in the current Western alliances, either the implicit Anglo Culture alliance (the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) or of NATO. In these alliances, the justifications for war are based on either ideology or group security (yes, I know that economics plays a major role - it just doesn't "sell" at the symbolic level). While there are hegemons ("superpowers" if you prefer the less overtly Marxist term :D) who dominate these alliances (first Britain then the US), these hegemons have rarely had a complete dominance of the other nations in the alliance and, as such, individual "national interests, while important, have not dominated the alliance. BTW,think back to Macciavelli and the differences between a "first amongst equals" power structure and a "god king" power structure.

The US may well have decided to move towards assumption of unilateral declarations of war in the "national interest", but where does that leave the other nations in their alliances? Furthermore, I would point out that such a move also inherently breaks the implied social contract of the alliance structure (a key point for Canadians in the debate over the war in Iraq - it's why we, as a country, aren't there despite what many of us as individuals may wish).

All of this is why I say that the phrase "national interest" is problematic. Now for some more details....

First, what is the US national interest? This is not clearly spelled out in operational, as opposed to rhetorical, terms. Many nations, including Canada, are, IMO, quite correct in being leery of such rhetorical terms since we have been on the receiving end of too many bad deals (for a current example, think about the soft wood lumber fiasco / trade war that has been dragging on for over a decade).

Second, what actions by the US do we (i.e. everyone else in the world) see as proof that the US actually has an ideological position other than economic opportunism? For example, the claim of possession of WMDs was used as a causus belli for invading Iraq, but the demonstrated proof of the possession of WMDs in the case of North Korea is seen by many as the US backing off and trying to buy them off. Where is the consistency of logic in this and, perhaps more importantly, what does it say about the reputation of the US for being true to its word? If Canada were invaded, would the US only come to our aid if the invader was a non-nuclear power?

My point behind raising this is not to insult anyone but, rather, to point out a glaring flaw that I see in the article that the author notes at one level of organization but not at the higher level of international relations (actually of alliances).

Marc

Steve Blair
08-09-2007, 01:48 PM
I took his reference to the American frontier from a more operational standpoint (in terms of small outposts of troops scattered here and there in attempts to intercept the enemy or raid out into their territory) than I did in geopolitical terms. Of course, the Frontier Army's one of my pet rocks, so that was just the jump my mind made.

I tend to (perhaps wrongly) tune out some of the "national interest" white noise in articles like this, because I tend to take their meaning to be (in short) "don't commit troops without public backing and clear goals." In other words, I don't think anyone really knows at the operational level what "national interest" is; it's become something of a political handball or cop-out over the years. A hazy mirage people can conjure up to justify something, or to complain that proper homage wasn't paid to the mirage when things go wrong.

Just my pre-coffee $.02. It was an interesting article, though. Personally, I'd like to see a return to a regimental system....:)

marct
08-09-2007, 02:00 PM
Hi Steve,


I took his reference to the American frontier from a more operational standpoint (in terms of small outposts of troops scattered here and there in attempts to intercept the enemy or raid out into their territory) than I did in geopolitical terms.

I am about 99% sure he meant it that way as well ;). I do think, however, that the geo-politics becomes crucial when we have such different situations. At the level of immediate operations the analogy is good, but the long term resolution is, however, wildly different.


I tend to (perhaps wrongly) tune out some of the "national interest" white noise in articles like this, because I tend to take their meaning to be (in short) "don't commit troops without public backing and clear goals." In other words, I don't think anyone really knows at the operational level what "national interest" is; it's become something of a political handball or cop-out over the years. A hazy mirage people can conjure up to justify something, or to complain that proper homage wasn't paid to the mirage when things go wrong.

That's a good point, and I suspect that many Americans do the same sort of tuning out - actually, I suspect there is an unconscious substitution of individual ideals of the "national interest" in place of a stated national interest. When there is a clear statement, and OIF is a good example of one - the "democracy rhetoric", it catches with people as a worthy goal.


Just my pre-coffee $.02. It was an interesting article, though. Personally, I'd like to see a return to a regimental system....:)

I think that would be great - then again, we have one :D.

Marc

John T. Fishel
08-09-2007, 06:16 PM
Hi Marc--

It was Lord Palmerston as PM or Foreign Secretary (I forget which - believe he served in both offices) to whom is attributed, "England has no permanent enemies or friends (or is it the reverse?), she only has permanent interests."

A perusal of the US National Security Strategies since 1987 (when they were mandated by Congress to be published) and even earlier in NSC 68 identifies a series of vital national interests of the US. As Palmerston said of the UK, these seem to be quite permanent and, however difficult it is to sort them out of the mush of spin and propaganda, important.

Cheers

JohnT

wm
08-10-2007, 12:35 PM
Foresman's articles has much to recommend it. However, I suspect that its pleas will fall on many deaf ears for a number of reasons. The following quotation, for example, only gets to part of the story.

The Air-Land Battle in its day served another important purpose. It was a cathartic document that allowed the Army to rid itself of the demons of Vietnam, to rid the Army of all mention of counterinsurgency operations, to focus on major combat operations and to ignore the rest.
While I acknowledge the cathartic value of Air-Land Battle doctrine, we should not forget that it also allowed the Army to justify a lot of very big spending initiatives--things like the Abrams and the Bradley and a huge investment in attack aircraft for dep strikes against the enemy's follow-on echelons. Performing effective transformation includes the need to heed Eisenhower's admonition about the military-industrial complex.


If we truly want to succeed in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we must embrace a future that is a radical break with our past. Merely changing our organizational structure is not sufficient. We must be willing to break with our past as we execute in the present and prepare for the future.

This break will require that the military move away from the "metrics" based world that was forced upon it by folks like Robert MacNamara. Success in a low level conflict is defined much more qualitatively than quantitively. Our future success will also require that the country review its grand strategy for defense. I know that many members of this group have little use for Edward Luttwak. However, I think that a perusal of his Grand Stategy of the Roman Empire might be in order. Our current defense strategy to keep the barbarians at bay by fighting them well forward of the homeland smacks of the Roman limes defensive concept. This strategy didn't work over the long haul then. By the end of the 5th Century AD, Roman had been sacked several times. I do not believe it will work any better today. And my reasons for saying so are identified in the following quotation from Foresman.

Paradigm is an overused word in the military. It is one of those terms that are trotted out whenever one wishes to convince a skeptical audience that an idea is not just the repackaging of an old one. The Army truly needs a change in thinking. Wars of the future are going to be more like the campaigns on the 19th-century American frontier and less like World War II. The Army is going to have to adapt to a new world order in which our enemies will choose not to fight us conventionally but in a manner of their choosing. In the past, our doctrine stressed getting inside the decision cycle of the enemy. Now, the enemy knows it can get inside our decision cycle. It can strike when and where it pleases and knows that our response will be predictable. Although our actions may be justifiable, words will not compensate for the images speeding through the virtually connected world.
The 3rd Century barbarians showed enough agility and acumen to figure out the Roman strategy defensive and get around it. As Foresman notes, our current foes have the same, or better, abilities in this regard. (MarcT, I think the tribal wars Foresman refers to in a later restatement of the idea quoted below, are those of the early Middle Ages --e.g., Ostrogoth vs. Visigoth, Vandals vs. Gepids, etc, etc, etc.)

While this next quotation is true, I think there is another danger.

As I have mentioned, transformation is more than organizational change it is a change to how we think of war. The greatest threats to transformation are those who would turn back the hands of time to an earlier day when the Army would concentrate on fighting major combat operations or grand wars and ignore the rest.
This other danger is that we do not look too far back in time. I suspect that the real lessons we need to learn are those of the world when there was, by and large, only one major power dominating the world stage. That would be the Roman Empire in the first few centuries AD and perhaps the British Empire in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Nat Wilcox
08-10-2007, 01:00 PM
While I acknowledge the cathartic value of Air-Land Battle doctrine, we should not forget that it also allowed the Army to justify a lot of very big spending initiatives--things like the Abrams and the Bradley and a huge investment in attack aircraft for dep strikes against the enemy's follow-on echelons. Performing effective transformation includes the need to heed Eisenhower's admonition about the military-industrial complex.

wm, would you mind elaborating a bit on what you have in mind here? Political economy is one of my areas of expertise so I might have something helpful to add here--once I understand clearly your intended point! :wry:

Tom Odom
08-10-2007, 01:07 PM
While I acknowledge the cathartic value of Air-Land Battle doctrine, we should not forget that it also allowed the Army to justify a lot of very big spending initiatives--things like the Abrams and the Bradley and a huge investment in attack aircraft for dep strikes against the enemy's follow-on echelons. Performing effective transformation includes the need to heed Eisenhower's admonition about the military-industrial complex.

I agree with most of what you say with a caveat in the above. The author saw Airland Battle as a cathartic to rid the Army of the stigma of Vietnam. You seem to say that Airland battle was all about justifying the Big 5 as they were called: Abrams tank, Bradley, Apache, MLRS, and Sgt York DIVAADS (which failed miserably).

My caution in both your's and the author's use of history in this case is that neither of you considered the threat at the time. The USSR and Warsaw Pact were still very formidable. Secondly Airland Battle was more a rejection of Active Defense than it was either a rejection of VN (which is really what Depuy intended when Active Defense turned 100-5's focus on the European theater) or a promotion for the Big 5 (4 of which have done very well).

BG(ret) Huba Wass de Czege was lead author on the 1986 version of 100-5; his blog on here (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/05/of-intellectual-and-moral-fail/) relates somewhat to the discussion. See also his essay on doctrine.Lessons From the Past: Making the Army's Doctrine "Right Enough" Today (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/wassdeczegelessons.pdf) I like that essay because he quotes Certain Victory (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/content.asp#cert) in its discussion of doctrine with:


History all too often reinforces the familiar maxim that armies tend to fight the next war as they did the last. However, the Gulf War proved to be a dramatic exception. AirLand Battle, the warfighting doctrine applied by the American Army in Desert Storm, not only survived the initial clash of arms but, in fact, continues as a viable foundation for the development of future warfighting doctrine. The durability of the AirLand Battle concept is owed to three factors. First, unlike past instructions for the conduct of war, the 1986 version of AirLand Battle was a vision of what was possible rather than an owners manual for the equipment and force structures available at the time. In fact, if the 1986 edition of FM 100-5 possessed a fault, it was that some concepts were so far ahead of capabilities that many balked at their full implementation with the tools then at hand. Second, the conditions of combat and the dynamics of Desert Storm battlefields proved to be modeled with remarkable fidelity to FM 100-5. Third, and perhaps most notable, is that AirLand Battle represented a way of thinking about war and a mental conditioning rather than a rigid set of rules and lists to be done in lock-step fashion. Its four tenets, initiative, agility, depth and synchronization, are timeless, immutable precepts for present and future wars.

I believe that COL Foresman was absolutley correct in what he wrote concerning the drift of AirLand battle thought toward science (process as in MDMP) at the cost of art (thinking).


One of the pat phrases of Air-Land Battle was the imperative of agility, initiative, depth and synchronization. They were given equal weight, but over time, the ability to change (agility) and the ability to think outside the box (initiative) were increasingly de-emphasized, and the art of war took a back seat to the science of war. An outcome of the Air-Land Battle was the development of the military decision-making process (MDMP). Originally developed to provide a means for a commander and staff officers to organize their thoughts in conducting their analysis, it has become the be all and end all for thinking in the military. Rather than serving as an aid to analysis, analysis has become paralyzed by adherence to the MDMP.


Finally there is an excellent analysis of the 1976 edition of 100-5 is at Leavenworth Paper #16 (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Herbert/Herbert.asp)

Best

Tom

Mark O'Neill
08-10-2007, 01:58 PM
Hi WM,

I do not share you enthusiasm for endorsement of the good Colonel's surety of future vision regarding future conflicts.

If he (or any anyone else here) is that good at being certain about predicting future events, I wish that he would tell us who will win the next Kentucky Derby - that way we can all put a bet on, and help Dave out with the site sponsorship!

I believe that Colin S. Gray is correct in his new book Fighting Maxims with maxim # 38 : " The future is not foreseeable: Nothing dates so rapidly as today's tomorrow".

An aside - during my service in Africa I met a few Sangomas ('Witch Doctors') - none of these 'magic men' felt as certain about predicting the future as many of the earnest military sages that occasionally predict on these pages and in the spread of literature that most of us here read.
I guess that the locals did not regard these guys as 'wise men' for no reason...


Regarding another aspect discussed by Tom,

I have always thought that the MDMP was the military equivalent of the old adage that " enough monkeys with typewriters, given enough time, will eventually write Shakespeare".

I think the MDMP is almost the ultimate expression of the military training ideal - that even the lowest common denominator can be trained to do just about anything.

My time as a 'tactics instructor' (not sure that is a good label) proved to me that you cannot teach tactical smarts. People either get it or are ultimately just adequate (but in any new or unfamiliar scenario that requires original thought, as opposed to rote responses, they are catastrophes waiting to happen).

I have seen plenty of clowns who can recite verbatim every step and process of the MDMP - and use it in 'school', but could not find their a#$e in the dark, let alone resolve the dynamics of movement, friction, fires and terrain out on the ground - let alone what the enemy might be doing.

The MDMP satisfies the military's love of process , and in the absence of a real enemy 'vote' to sort out who is a fool or a failure in peacetime, provides yet another perfectly pointless measure with which we can we can sort out degrees of excellence for OER and other reporting and assessment.

Tom Odom
08-10-2007, 03:38 PM
My time as a 'tactics instructor' (not sure that is a good label) proved to me that you cannot teach tactical smarts. People either get it or are ultimately just adequate (but in any new or unfamiliar scenario that requires original thought, as opposed to rote responses, they are catastrophes waiting to happen).

My corollary is that you cannot train experience, you can only train from experience, which is why if we evenr get our force structure lined out again, I hope we will change the model that holds small units are junior leader missions .

As for the MDMP, as a guide OK. As the "yellow brick road" to success it has always struck me funny that in coming up with the MDMP in the quest to defeat the Soviets we adapted their rigid planning model.

Best

Tom

marct
08-10-2007, 03:38 PM
Hi WM,


This break will require that the military move away from the "metrics" based world that was forced upon it by folks like Robert MacNamara. Success in a low level conflict is defined much more qualitatively than quantitively. Our future success will also require that the country review its grand strategy for defense. I know that many members of this group have little use for Edward Luttwak. However, I think that a perusal of his Grand Stategy of the Roman Empire might be in order. Our current defense strategy to keep the barbarians at bay by fighting them well forward of the homeland smacks of the Roman limes defensive concept. This strategy didn't work over the long haul then. By the end of the 5th Century AD, Roman had been sacked several times. I do not believe it will work any better today. And my reasons for saying so are identified in the following quotation from Foresman.

I must admit that I always liked that book. I'm not sure if you can say that the strategy didn't work therefore Rome got sacked, though. There were too many other factors, such as the fact that Rome never really had a succession law that actually worked, that led to the fall of the Western Empire. The use of limitanes was, really, a way to try and deal with the succession problem by eliminating many of the Legions. When this was tied into the foederatii idea (something to keep in mind given current immigration policies), it proved disastrous.


The 3rd Century barbarians showed enough agility and acumen to figure out the Roman strategy defensive and get around it. As Foresman notes, our current foes have the same, or better, abilities in this regard. (MarcT, I think the tribal wars Foresman refers to in a later restatement of the idea quoted below, are those of the early Middle Ages --e.g., Ostrogoth vs. Visigoth, Vandals vs. Gepids, etc, etc, etc.)

The 5th and 6th century wars? Hmm, possible - I just wish that he had identified which ones he was actually talking about, since it does make a difference. If those were the ones he was referring to, then the analogy doesn't really seem to work as well.


This other danger is that we do not look too far back in time. I suspect that the real lessons we need to learn are those of the world when there was, by and large, only one major power dominating the world stage. That would be the Roman Empire in the first few centuries AD and perhaps the British Empire in the latter half of the 19th Century.

I would certainly agree with Britain and the 19th century, but Rome was not the sole superpower at any time (Persia anyone?) and the West is not surrounded by barbarian kingdoms. I'm also not sure that looking for a single dominating superpower is the best model (see my earlier comments about alliances). I think a better model would be much older, circa 1850bce in the five great kingdoms period or the Warring States period in China.

Let me toss out, for discussion and possible shredding :D, a few observations. First, the US and its allies can, in general, schmuck any other coalition in a direct, heads on, "traditional" combat scenario. By analogy, this is similar to a fighter who can beat anyone using the Marquis of Queensbury's rules. So, having strolled down to the docks, this fighter "knows" that they can beat anyone as long as they play by the rules. So, why would anyone do that?

Taking this up to the current situation. China cannot win an all out "total war" against he US and its allies, therefore it won't fight one. The first thing it will do is attack, indirectly, the US's major strength, which happens to be economics not combat (look at WW II - the US had pretty mediocre equipment, but it had a lot of it). So, in this "hypothetical" scenario, China will encourage the shift of manufacturing away from the US and, increasingly, make the US consumers dependent upon China for their standard of living. The next step will be to create a fifth column within the US that takes advantage of the factionalization of American politics, and create major/support major lobby organizations to encourage elected officials to disregard this economic penetration. Finally, China thinks in decades and centuries, not 2 - 4 year terms, so they can afford a policy of gradually wearing away US resolve to hold certain positions. If the US threatens to "fight fair", China could, without firing a shot, induce another major depression in the entire Western world simply by dumping its US currency reserves (currently several trillion dollars) and jacking up the export duties on its manufactured goods.

This, for China, is "conventional" direct warfare (read Sun Tsu). In effect, China "gets" DIME because it has been their model of conflict for over 2500 years.

The point behind that little excursion is simple. It's not enough to maintain a strong "conventional" force or to develop a really good COIN force - these have to be integrated in such a manner that it covers and contests the DIME model of China and other models implicit in other power blocks.

Marc

tequila
08-10-2007, 04:12 PM
Let me toss out, for discussion and possible shredding :D, a few observations. First, the US and its allies can, in general, schmuck any other coalition in a direct, heads on, "traditional" combat scenario. By analogy, this is similar to a fighter who can beat anyone using the Marquis of Queensbury's rules. So, having strolled down to the docks, this fighter "knows" that they can beat anyone as long as they play by the rules. So, why would anyone do that?

Taking this up to the current situation. China cannot win an all out "total war" against he US and its allies, therefore it won't fight one. The first thing it will do is attack, indirectly, the US's major strength, which happens to be economics not combat (look at WW II - the US had pretty mediocre equipment, but it had a lot of it). So, in this "hypothetical" scenario, China will encourage the shift of manufacturing away from the US and, increasingly, make the US consumers dependent upon China for their standard of living. The next step will be to create a fifth column within the US that takes advantage of the factionalization of American politics, and create major/support major lobby organizations to encourage elected officials to disregard this economic penetration. Finally, China thinks in decades and centuries, not 2 - 4 year terms, so they can afford a policy of gradually wearing away US resolve to hold certain positions. If the US threatens to "fight fair", China could, without firing a shot, induce another major depression in the entire Western world simply by dumping its US currency reserves (currently several trillion dollars) and jacking up the export duties on its manufactured goods.

This, for China, is "conventional" direct warfare (read Sun Tsu). In effect, China "gets" DIME because it has been their model of conflict for over 2500 years.

The point behind that little excursion is simple. It's not enough to maintain a strong "conventional" force or to develop a really good COIN force - these have to be integrated in such a manner that it covers and contests the DIME model of China and other models implicit in other power blocks.



Allow me to begin the shredding.

Your post appears to presume that the Chinese leadership (1) possesses nearly-omniscient foresight in economic matters (2) a long-range plan to destroy American power by displacing manufacturing out of the United States and simultaneously collecting vast sums of American dollars (3) the power and ability to do so these things over an extended period of time.

I've encountered this sort of thinking in many a forum, usually featuring paranoid nativism as the primary means of discourse, but found that it has strongest traction among people who are utterly ignorant of Chinese history, especially of the 20th century variety, don't speak, read, or know any Chinese and have had little contact with any PRC government personnel, not to mention conventional macroeconomics. For those who do know any of the latter, the idea that Beijing could possibly do any of the above three generally calls up hysterics.

They ain't that smart, and even if they were they ain't nowhere near that organized.

Frankly, Marc, you can do better than that.

marct
08-10-2007, 04:47 PM
Hi Tequila,


Allow me to begin the shredding.

LOLOL.


Your post appears to presume that the Chinese leadership (1) possesses nearly-omniscient foresight in economic matters (2) a long-range plan to destroy American power by displacing manufacturing out of the United States and simultaneously collecting vast sums of American dollars (3) the power and ability to do so these things over an extended period of time.

Actually, none of these are necessary conditions for that scenario to work. Let me go through your points and show why.

1. possesses nearly-omniscient foresight in economic matters. This is unnecessary since the readily observable trend of US manufacturing and consuming interests has been quite available, and talked about in both the academic and popular press, for the past 25 years or so. The effects, in both economic and social terms, of shifting production outside of CONUS were apparent to anyone looking at the automotive industry by 1972 - think Flint Michigan.

As far as China's "awareness" or "foresight" is concerned, China still uses a rather outdated, almost paleo-Marxist, model of social development theory based on LH Morgan, JJ Bachoven and Marx in Sociology, Anthropology and Political Economy (I ave a number of friends who were trained in China). The one thing that that model does, however, stress is a production based model.

2. a long-range plan to destroy American power by displacing manufacturing out of the United States and simultaneously collecting vast sums of American dollars. They don't need a model or plan to do this, it was already being done by the Western feeding frenzy to get access to the Chinese markets. As far as the displacement of American manufacturing is concerned, this has been going on for decades. All the Chinese have to do is to recognize the trend and take advantage of the opportunity. Given that the US's trade deficit with China last year was 232.5 Billion U$ (http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/08/10/ap4007555.html), I would point out the China doesn't "need"a long-range plan to collect vast sums of money.

Once again, there is no requirement for the Chinese government to actual plot or plan, only to recognize advantages and opportunities when they arise.

3. the power and ability to do so these things over an extended period of time. All China has to do is to a) recognize trends and b) take advantage of them, which is something that is, IMO, quite likely. Furthermore, it doesn't have to be the Chinese government that "orchestrates" any of this. The concept of "mutual arising" may well be at play here with the government playing of the economic success of the southern areas, especially Shanghai.


They ain't that smart, and even if they were they ain't nowhere near that organized.

They don't have to be :D. Frankly, when you look at what is going on in China itself, including the cultural stress and strain between the north and the south, economic dislocations, etc., China is actually quite fragile (somewhat analogous to the US in the 1850's). This certainly hasn't stopped the government from playing off on the opportunities they have handed to them on a silver platter.

Let me ask you a question: what do you think the effects would be in the US of a trade war with China?

Marc

Dominique R. Poirier
08-10-2007, 05:01 PM
Marc,
I would like to express my opinion about what you said on the United States and on the notion of national interest since I have had the sentiment that things dont seem to be as clear as you expect about this question. I let you know my point is sustained by numerous readings, and long reflections and observations since I have been as curious and thoughtful as you are about it.

This belief in manifest destiny you thus named exists as long as the United States does as it is and as it has always been. Since the United States is a country physically represented on a map as a land, and is perceived as such by other countries, then geopolitical considerations inescapably take place.
From then on the United Sates has a need for a national interest, as any other country does, but whose scope in that exceptional case encompasses both territory inside the limits of her borders and political stability and geopolitical balance exterior to it. The Monroe Doctrine and, eventually, the Wilson and Truman Doctrine (or this of Keenan) describes what the U.S. national interest outside these borders is.

Unfortunately, events involving directly or not the United States in one way or another may sometimes confuse all those who either do not fully grasp the implications of the aforesaid, or refuse to do so in the endeavor to challenge this belief in manifest destiny; for the sake of vested interests or owing to different beliefs in most instances, not to say all.

Those who are honest and objective cannot but acknowledge that the physical expression of the U.S. national interest overseas did and does serve the common good of the humanity, overall and decades before WWI, since despotism, ignorance, poverty, and denial of liberty and individual freedom never fail to install or/and persist everywhere the United States has been unable to forestall or to counter it.

The United States cannot do better than what she did until then because, otherwise, she would have to directly and physically rule overseas by force in order to succeed in this endeavor. In other words, she would have to choose to be an imperialist country, as she is often mistakenly accused to be; but she prefers not to because, as a nation, she sincerely and deeply believe in the right to self-determination, liberty, and justice.

As Henry Kissinger once wrote, geopolitical realities overwhelm fashionable reveries about universalities. To which I will add that human nature is the main responsible of this and that nothing can be done to change it.

I acknowledge that I made it short this time but should the need arose I shall willingly elaborate, of course.

Nat Wilcox
08-10-2007, 06:18 PM
Marc,

the hypothetical or real war with China you are describing is, to me, not much of a military matter. It is a matter of smart economic and social policy here that recognizes the inevitable consequences and opportunities of globalization. I don't think we should worry much about an enormous trade deficit with China or any other one country. Trade, being mutually beneficial theft, is a two-edged sword. They get a lot out of it too.

I have a huge trade deficit with the local grocery stores: They don't buy and read nearly enough of my papers. But I don't lose much sleep about that. We should worry about having a negative national savings rate across long periods of time...just as I should worry about a negative personal savings rate over long periods of time. But I do not care about running a truly massive and frightening trade deficit with Kroger, provided I am running surpluses elsewhere to cover it.

True, China could cause short-run pain here by cutting us off, but they would hurt too and there are a lot of other countries who would be only too happy to pick up the production slack. And then where would China be: "OH we promise never to do it again, please come back and buy our products...puh-leeeeeze?" Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Trade wars, as countries have discovered, are very expensive, and cause people to diversify away from the aggressor, to the ultimate long-run detriment of the aggressor.

We should worry about income distribution and inequality of opportunity, things that are worsened by the loss of the jobs of yesteryear's economy, whatever they may be. But the gains we get from trade generally are enough to compensate for those losses. We need to be more serious about that compensation, and also get on with the business of distributing education (and re-education) widely.

True riches simply cannot be piled up by producing the goods of yesteryear, which have become so commodified that almost anyone can produce them, so that they essentially trade in competitive markets: There's no interesting rent to be earned there. Let the Chinese earn those relatively uninteresting and trivial rents and sell us the goods back at bargain basement prices. Relative to their incomes, those trivial rents look big and give them these big growth rates. Yes, $10 is 100% of $10. But it is only 1% of $1000. We cannot get their growth rate from producing those goods and earning those rents.

Real rents, massive surplus value, comes from innovation and creative destruction: We want to be the masters of that economic universe, and then distribute the gains sensibly. We do that by making our people highly educated, easily re-educated, easily mobile with highly portable health insurance and retirement and hence very dynamic employment markets, and so forth. Charity really begins at home here. These things are way cheaper, better and smarter long-run solutions to a "threat" like China than anything else I can think of that we might do.

marct
08-10-2007, 07:53 PM
Hi Nat,


the hypothetical or real war with China you are describing is, to me, not much of a military matter. It is a matter of smart economic and social policy here that recognizes the inevitable consequences and opportunities of globalization.

Well, I honestly don't think they would ever really push it to open economic warfare :wry:. I was using that example because I think it highlights a) a really good illustration of a potential and b) what could be done by integrating DIME at the national level. Not that I seriously think China does this, but their pattern of territorial aggression for the past 60 years or so has been interesting.


I don't think we should worry much about an enormous trade deficit with China or any other one country. Trade, being mutually beneficial theft, is a two-edged sword. They get a lot out of it too.

Quite true, but they certainly don't have to rely on the US. Actually, I will be intrigued to find out (I haven't really looked yet) what the EU and Russian reactions have been to the tainted products coming out of China.


We should worry about having a negative national savings rate across long periods of time...just as I should worry about a negative personal savings rate over long periods of time. But I do not care about running a truly massive and frightening trade deficit with Kroger, provided I am running surpluses elsewhere to cover it.

Do I detect a hint of Keynes there :D? Yeah, I agree that there are some really serious problems with savings rates. To which I would also add problems with mortgages and credit institutions (some of the interest ates are insane!). One of the things that has been increasingly worrying me is the speed of capital flow - not so much in markets per se, but in relation to individuals.


True, China could cause short-run pain here by cutting us off, but they would hurt too and there are a lot of other countries who would be only too happy to pick up the production slack. And then where would China be: "OH we promise never to do it again, please come back and buy our products...puh-leeeeeze?" Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Trade wars, as countries have discovered, are very expensive, and cause people to diversify away from the aggressor, to the ultimate long-run detriment of the aggressor.

China has been diversifying her markets for quite a while now. The deal struck between Shanghai Telephone and Telegraph and Alcatel is a good example of that, since they now have access to the highly lucrative EU telecom market. And while you are right that it would be "short term pain", do you really think that many US politicians would be willing to take that chance? Especially when "short term" would translate into 2-5 years, plus a real disruption of the superstore chains which rely heavily on Chinese goods - WalMart being the exemplar here.

I honestly don't know how well such a strategy would work, but I would put it to you, at least as a working hypothesis, that China may well see the threat of such action as a political lever to achieve certain goals that they would otherwise have to use military force for. I suspect that they would look at the cost, both monetary and political, of the Iraq war; couple that with the potential short term costs of a trade war (actually, a currency dump would serve even better), and figure that they can probably wring a few more concessions about, maybe, Taiwan from the US.


We should worry about income distribution and inequality of opportunity, things that are worsened by the loss of the jobs of yesteryear's economy, whatever they may be. But the gains we get from trade generally are enough to compensate for those losses. We need to be more serious about that compensation, and also get on with the business of distributing education (and re-education) widely.

Okay, let's look at this. BTW, I do happen to agree with you, but I'm playing Devil's Advocate here.

How would you go about changing income distribution? (supposedly) free market capitalism hasn't worked - look at the Lorenz curves for the US over the past 60 years. The other major social form of income redistribution, aka social programs and the creation of a Welfare State, have proved to be an unmitigated disaster in most countries (including Canada!). In order to run these programs, you need to have a massive bureaucracy that, in the final analysis, is just a sink on capital. Just ask Dominique about how it operates in France.

How would you go about equalizing opportunity? Actually, let's start even further back and ask "how do you define equality of opportunity?". Is "equality of opportunity" defined as "everyone should have a chance to..." or is it defined as "everybody will...".? I suspect you define it as the former (I know I do) but, I would put it to you, that once you attempt to institutionalize it you end up with the latter since bureaucracies requires concrete standards. Furthermore, I would also suggest that, taken to its extreme, "equality of opportunity" will, inevitably, transform into equality of results where the metrics of the results start to loose their meanings.

To use a really facile example of this, many years ago Canada recognized that a large part of "opportunity" was dependent upon higher educational achievement. As a result, the provinces (who control education) started very heavy subsidization of higher education (at one point about 80% of the cost of university tuition, half from the provinces and half from the federal government via transfer payments). Now this meant that a lot of people who wouldn't have been able to afford it now could. Sound good? Well, in the 1980's the federal government started pulling back o their transfer payments for education to the provinces. In turn, the provinces had to absorb more and more of the cost and where unable to which led to a massive rise in tuition costs. At the same time, the "value" of a BA was dropping on the market as more and more people got them. So we are now in a position where annual tuition is about $6,000 (which you can get loans for and many students owe 40-60k by the end of it) for four years in order to get a degree that is the equivalent, in job opportunity terms, of a high school diploma from 30 years ago. A final point on this system: there is massive pressure on instructors and teachers at all levels to pass students. Furthermore, this has been accomplished by "standardizing" parts of the education system to the point where it resembles the madrassas in Pakistan (get my daughter talking on the subject of high school sometime :D). By attempting to create "equal opportunity", the governments actually did create it by producing it as the lowest common denominator.

Part II ....

marct
08-10-2007, 07:54 PM
True riches simply cannot be piled up by producing the goods of yesteryear, which have become so commodified that almost anyone can produce them, so that they essentially trade in competitive markets: There's no interesting rent to be earned there. Let the Chinese earn those relatively uninteresting and trivial rents and sell us the goods back at bargain basement prices. Relative to their incomes, those trivial rents look big and give them these big growth rates. Yes, $10 is 100% of $10. But it is only 1% of $1000. We cannot get their growth rate from producing those goods and earning those rents.

On the whole, I agree but with some limitations. Let me use my favorite example of a "product of yesteryear": Beer. Now, you are right that we can't get good rents on beer (which is all we ever do with it anyway), but that certainly hasn't reduced the demand for it. Now, I could pile up a pretty decent stash, not "true riches" but I'm not greedy, on making and selling beer. Why should I import Tsing Tao, which is a really crappy beer, when I can either make it myself or buy from a local micro-brewery?

The point I'm trying to make with hat rather silly example is that nations that allow themselves to become too dependent on foreign supply of "low tech" items loose the local ability to produce them. In some cases, e.g. buggy whips, that doesn't really matter, but in others, e.g. electronic components, food, oil, etc., it does.


Real rents, massive surplus value, comes from innovation and creative destruction: We want to be the masters of that economic universe, and then distribute the gains sensibly. We do that by making our people highly educated, easily re-educated, easily mobile with highly portable health insurance and retirement and hence very dynamic employment markets, and so forth. Charity really begins at home here. These things are way cheaper, better and smarter long-run solutions to a "threat" like China than anything else I can think of that we might do.

I've got no problems with a national economic program that has its eyes on the sky. At the same time, if it doesn't have its boots on the ground, all it is is a big honking target. Tell me how you can make a populace "highly educated, easily re-educated, easily mobile with highly portable health insurance and retirement" when your entire economy is based on consumption of constantly replaceable goods, many of which are produced outside your country?

Look, part of the problem with all of this is, as you noted, in the distribution end. Right now, we have the technology to allow individuals to produce the equivalent of what factories produced a hundred years ago. And yet, our entire economic thinking and most of the cultural assumptions are predicated on the assumption of the scarcity of goods. Time after time in the 20th and 21st centuries we have seen government programs designed to increase the scarcity of goods in an effort to counter the trends in productive technologies. The most egregious examples are in farm produce (the various "marketing" boards in Canada and the direct subsidies for not growing certain crops in the US). Until we can come up with symbols systems (cultural, economic and monetary) that are not based on false scarcities, we are going to be stuck with this false model. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the only "real" (as opposed to engineered) scarcity is in creativity loosely construed. If you really want to see a populace that is "highly educated, easily re-educated, easily mobile with highly portable health insurance and retirement" you will have to figure out how to shift the symbol systems to be based on the real scarcity.

My, I think you hit one of my soap boxes :eek:!

Marc

ps. Nat, let's try and get together for several low tech products (aka beers) and really chat about this. I think we have moved the discussion totally away from its original intent.

tequila
08-10-2007, 08:09 PM
Marct - Thank you for that much more nuanced response. I was afraid that we had a member of the Bill Gertz Brigade aboard.

There will be no "trade war" with China. What we are looking at is just more rumbling in a very uncomfortable two-way snakefest that has been ongoing for almost a decade now. RGE's Brad Setser has a good roundup here (http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/setser/209711/).

In the long run, both China and the U.S. would be better served by China untethering the RMB from the dollar and allowing a controlled appreciation.

marct
08-10-2007, 09:05 PM
Hi Tequila,


Marct - Thank you for that much more nuanced response. I was afraid that we had a member of the Bill Gertz Brigade aboard.

Wel, I will admit to having a passing fondness for Lou Dobbs, but that's as far as it goes :D. Anyway, I thought it would be better for discussion purposes if I put it out in that rather crude, and somewhat paranoic, format.


There will be no "trade war" with China. What we are looking at is just more rumbling in a very uncomfortable two-way snakefest that has been ongoing for almost a decade now. RGE's Brad Setser has a good roundup here (http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/setser/209711/).

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. On the whole, I have a pure gut feeling that we are going to see more and more "pseudo-trade wars" showing up over the next century. Please, don't ask me where that feeling is coming from - it's only 5 pm and I haven't had anywhere near enugh beer yet to try and dig that up ;).


In the long run, both China and the U.S. would be better served by China untethering the RMB from the dollar and allowing a controlled appreciation.

Agreed, although I am still convinced that that won't have too much effect until we shift the basis of "money" (see my two-part post to Nat). Certainly in the short term (okay, from my rather jaundiced Anthro perspective that means from now for the next 25 years or so) such an uncoupling would be very useful. China also has some severe gender imbalance problems and, coupled with their one-child policy, that is going to lead to some interesting migration patterns.

Marc

Nat Wilcox
08-10-2007, 09:14 PM
Nat, let's try and get together for several low tech products (aka beers) and really chat about this. I think we have moved the discussion totally away from its original intent.

Agreed, though I don't know when I'll next be roughly in your neck of the woods. Linda seems sour about going home to Montreal these days... But I know it will happen soon.

In the meantime, I will soon have a grand opening of a brand new thread devoted to the national security argument for trade protection, where we can dissect it in messy detail, hopefully with lots of funny examples and gross exaggerations. :D

marct
08-10-2007, 11:19 PM
Hi Nat,


Agreed, though I don't know when I'll next be roughly in your neck of the woods. Linda seems sour about going home to Montreal these days... But I know it will happen soon.

Okay, let me know when you do get there - I can always arrange to pop down for the day. Or, you could mosey on over to Ottawa :D.


In the meantime, I will soon have a grand opening of a brand new thread devoted to the national security argument for trade protection, where we can dissect it in messy detail, hopefully with lots of funny examples and gross exaggerations. :D

Sounds great - I'll save up misleading and highly exaggerated examples for it.

Marc

wm
08-11-2007, 01:25 AM
I think the economics discussion has hijeacked this thread ong enough and has adequately reponded to MarcT's allusion to the Chinese economic nuclear option.

I wan t to respond to other points raised and remind all that this thread started with discussing an article that claims we are misusing history to make doctrine and policy decisions.

Two respondents wanted more clarification on my point about AirLand Battle (ALB) being used to justify the Big 5 weapons systems. I was pointing out that had two effects, one cathartic and one expensive. I submit the need for catharsis has passed. However, I am concerned that we now have some much invested (both in the services and in the defense contracting world) in big weapons systems that it becomes hard to jump off the "big war" horse that was allowed to grow during the Reagan years. The Army "needs" to have a big war mindset in order to be a winner in the budget turf battles. Troops on the ground are a very cheap investment compared to a littoral combat ship, an F-22 or F-35, and even an MRAP vehicle. In a world where the size of your budget dictates where you stand in the power pecking order (which I submit is the world of the US Federal Government), bigger is always better. Small wars tend to come with small price tages (at least in terms of investment portfolios/procurement and RDTE and dollars). The Navy figured out a while ago that you need a big fleet in order to be able to justify a big O&M budget. Similarly, the Army "needs" big wars in order to justify big budgets. I accept Tom's point about the need for the Big 5 in the world of the Soviet Threat. (Well, maybe the Big 4--DIVAD was little more than a bailout of Ford Aerospace, which speaks to my point about being wary of the military industrial complex.) We probably still need some big ticket systems, if for no other reason than as a conventional war deterrrent. This last brings me to MarcT's "refutation" regarding Rome's status.
At least until the time of the Emperor Julian, the Persians were only a regional power. They were deterred from doing more than fooling around on the Roman Empire's eastern border because of the capabilities and reputation of the Roman Legion. Usually Rome lost battles to Persia when it tried to expand further east, using poor generals (like Crassus). Once the Seljuk Turks arrived, things started to change. But by then, Rome was fragmented, just as deserving of the title "the sick man of Europe" as the Ottoman Empire a millenium later and its former military might held no deterent power.
Regarding MDMP: MDMP provides, to folks who need it, an organizational construct to conduct effective and focussed critical thinking. When done right, MDMA helps folks to stay on task and not get too distracted or mired in minutiae. Unfortunately the process sometimes becomes more important than the desired end state. In this regard using it is like applying tactics (or almost anything else that requires some creativity); some folks just don't really get the hang of it and confuse following a process correctly with success.

wm
08-11-2007, 01:43 AM
I think the economics discussion has hijacked this thread long enough and has adequately reponded to MarcT's allusion to the Chinese economic nuclear option.

I want to respond to other points raised and remind all that this thread started with discussing an article that claims we are misusing history to make doctrine and policy decisions.
Two respondents (Tom and Nat) wanted more clarification on my point about AirLand Battle (ALB) being used to justify the Big 5 weapons systems. I was pointing out that ALB had two effects, one cathartic and one expensive. I submit the need for catharsis has passed. However, I am concerned that we now have so much invested (both in the services and in the defense contracting world) in big weapons systems that it becomes hard to jump off the "big war" horse that we remounted during the Reagan years. The Army now "needs" to have a big war mindset in order to be a winner in the budget turf battles. Troops on the ground are a very cheap investment compared to a littoral combat ship, an F-22 or F-35, and even an MRAP vehicle. In a world where the size of your budget dictates where you stand in the power pecking order (which I submit is the world of the US Federal Government), bigger is always better. Small wars tend to come with small price tages (at least in terms of investment portfolios/procurement and RDTE dollars). The Navy figured out quite a while ago that you need a big fleet in order to be able to justify a big O&M budget. Similarly, the Army "needs" big wars in order to justify big budgets.
I accept Tom's point about the need for the Big 5 in the world of the Soviet Threat. (Well, maybe the Big 4 :D--DIVAD was little more than a bailout of Ford Aerospace, which speaks to my point about being wary of the military industrial complex.) We probably still need some big ticket systems, if for no other reason than as a conventional war deterrrent. This last brings me to MarcT's "refutation" regarding Rome's status.
At least until the time of the Emperor Julian, the Persians were only a regional power. They were deterred from doing more than fooling around on the Roman Empire's eastern border because of the capabilities and reputation of the Roman Legions. Usually Rome lost battles to Persia when it tried to expand further east, using poor generals (like Crassus). Once the Seljuk Turks arrived, things started to change. But by then, Rome was fragmented, just as deserving of the title "the sick man of Europe" as the Ottoman Empire a millenium later, and its former military might held no deterent power.
Regarding MDMP: MDMP provides, to folks who need it, an organizational construct to conduct effective and focussed critical thinking. When done right, MDMA helps folks to stay on task and not get too distracted or mired in minutiae. Unfortunately the process sometimes becomes more important than the desired end state. In this regard, using it is like applying tactics (or almost anything else that requires some creativity); some folks just don't really get the hang of it and confuse following a process correctly with success. So I agree with Mark O. And Mark, I do not see Col Foresman as prescient. Instead, I agree with his view that we are misusing history. More specifically, we are using too shallow a view of history.
On this last point, I submit that much of the 1976 FM 100-5 fell afoul of the same flaw--it was a kneejerk response to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The 1986 version of 100-5 cleaned up a lot of the short-sighted inclusions. I view the two documents as a set wiith the 1986 version serving as an important revision that corrected misperceptions by too many in the field regarding what was really important in the 1976 version.
I've rambled on too long with this riposte.

Ken White
08-11-2007, 04:56 AM
...
I want to respond to other points raised and remind all that this thread started with discussing an article that claims we are misusing history to make doctrine and policy decisions.
Two respondents (Tom and Nat) wanted more clarification on my point about AirLand Battle (ALB) being used to justify the Big 5 weapons systems. I was pointing out that ALB had two effects, one cathartic and one expensive. I submit the need for catharsis has passed. However, I am concerned that we now have so much invested (both in the services and in the defense contracting world) in big weapons systems that it becomes hard to jump off the "big war" horse that we remounted during the Reagan years...

All true but you omit the overarching role of Congress in this sad state of affairs. They don't like to pay for training or too much OM, no impact on the State or District. Big ticket hardware items OTOH bring money nation wide when all the subcontractors get rolled in. The Army is guilty but so are the other service and DoD but the most guilty of all are the Congroids who love that system...

If you meant the purging of 'Viet Nam' thinking from the Army was the catharsis, I'd suggest it was really not needed and in fact did not stand us in good stead.


...This last brings me to MarcT's "refutation" regarding Rome's status.
At least until the time of the Emperor Julian, the Persians were only a regional power.

Uh, I'm not sure Cyrus, Darius and ol' Xerxes would agree with you and the Egyptians, Babylonians and most of Greeks in what is now Turkey probably wouldn't. The Punjabis and Afghans might not agree either...


On this last point, I submit that much of the 1976 FM 100-5 fell afoul of the same flaw--it was a kneejerk response to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The 1986 version of 100-5 cleaned up a lot of the short-sighted inclusions. I view the two documents as a set wiith the 1986 version serving as an important revision that corrected misperceptions by too many in the field regarding what was really important in the 1976 version.
. . .

We can agree on that... :wry:

wm
08-11-2007, 02:27 PM
All true but you omit the overarching role of Congress in this sad state of affairs. They don't like to pay for training or too much OM, no impact on the State or District. Big ticket hardware items OTOH bring money nation wide when all the subcontractors get rolled in. The Army is guilty but so are the other service and DoD but the most guilty of all are the Congroids who love that system...
I thought it was axiomatic, "intuitively obvious to the casual observer," that getting Federal funds flowing to the constituents of our elected representatives, especially to those who make big campaign contributions, was the underlying source of enpowerment to the various parts of the Executive Branch (like the various Military Services). BTW, one-year O&M money doesn't keep one in the eyes of constituents as long as necessary if one happens to be serving a 2 or 6 year term. Ever wonder why ship procurement funding is 5-year money while other procurement appropriations are only for 3 years? (Answering this question might have a lot of explanatory power for the question raised on another thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=3640)on the proliferation of Navy Department personnel as COCOM and higher leaders.)

If you meant the purging of 'Viet Nam' thinking from the Army was the catharsis, I'd suggest it was really not needed and in fact did not stand us in good stead.
If by Viet Nam thinking you mean TTP for fighting low intensity and counterinsurgency conflicts, I agree with you. The thinking I meant had to do with how the Army viewed itself and how it thought the rest of America viewed it--as second class citizens, not really good for much. ALB was one of several things that ernabled the Army to give itself a new sense of purpose and raise its opinion of itself after it had become hollow during the years of the Ford and Carter presidencies. This in turn was a means that enabled General Sullivan to push his "no more Task Force Smith" campaign to keep the Army from getting hollowed out again during the "peace dividend" downsizing years.


Uh, I'm not sure Cyrus, Darius and ol' Xerxes would agree with you and the Egyptians, Babylonians and most of Greeks in what is now Turkey probably wouldn't. The Punjabis and Afghans might not agree either...
I had in mind the Parthians and, to some extent, the Sassanid Persians. The Achaemenid Persians, like Cyrus II, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes as well as the Seleucid Empire successors to Alexander functioned well before Rome was at the zenith of its power. Same is true for the Egyptians--the last Pharoah was supplanted about the time of Julius Caesar, whose realm was analogous to the America of Teddy Roosevelt, I think.

Nat Wilcox
08-11-2007, 02:53 PM
I don't know whether anything is ever obvious about the behavior of the Federal government... One of my political science buddies used to pull a pack of cigarettes from his pocket as an illustration of the sometimes fractured and incoherent nature of public policy in democracies, in an introductory class on same, saying to students "For example, the Federal government has both 'grow it' and 'don't smoke it' policies for this."

Having said that I think y'all rightly point out that, however military spending was historically parceled out, that creates a constituency against change in the manner of that spending. But I think that is defeatable in the medium to long term; it is simply a matter of slowly building an alternative coalition.

I am not so sure of the argument from bigness. It may be a far more economically wasteful act to chop up the pork (profits and jobs) flowing from the production of five big systems into 435 shares, than it would be to chop up the pork flowing from fifty smaller systems into 435 shares. Here, by waste, I mean the economist's notion of "lost surplus" or "deadweight cost"...if you like, "potential pork" that simply goes up in smoke, that is goodies that no interested party gets to pocket. Other things equal, the political economy of democracies does indeed like to parcel out more as opposed to less pork. So if pork goes up in smoke, that's a bad thing from the viewpoint of Bismarckian sausage-making (less sausage to go around). If there were an alternative way of spending the same amount of taxes and spreading more sausage around, leaving other things equal, then in general a democratic legislature would prefer that.

My hunch is that bigness vs. smallness (of individual weapons systems and/or spending categories) is probably a red herring, political-economy-wise. Total levels of spending, and historical patterns of spending, though, are real considerations here, I think.

marct
08-11-2007, 03:30 PM
Hi WM,




Uh, I'm not sure Cyrus, Darius and ol' Xerxes would agree with you and the Egyptians, Babylonians and most of Greeks in what is now Turkey probably wouldn't. The Punjabis and Afghans might not agree either...
I had in mind the Parthians and, to some extent, the Sassanid Persians. The Achaemenid Persians, like Cyrus II, Cambyses, Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes as well as the Seleucid Empire successors to Alexander functioned well before Rome was at the zenith of its power. Same is true for the Egyptians--the last Pharoah was supplanted about the time of Julius Caesar, whose realm was analogous to the America of Teddy Roosevelt, I think.

I think that getting the exact time period is probably crucial. The Achaemenids were definitely in the superpower category, while the Partians were, at best, a regional power. I would put the Sassanids as a superpower as well, certainly by 610 (see map below).

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/Sassanid-empire-610CE.png

As for Rome, well, it's an interesting problem. Very powerful state, but hellaciously poorly organized in goverance, especially in the succession issue. Civil wars in 67-68 (the Year of the Four Emperors), 225-304 (he Barracks Emperors Period) and pretty much in the crapper by 412. A resurgence under Justinian (mainly Belasarius' reconquests), and then falling apart again by 610 in the East.

Personally, I think Byzantium is a better model for the current situation and, if you want an analog of the ALB, look to Basil II's heavy Cataphractoi. The themata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thema) organization of the Byzantine empire is a closer analog of the current US systems - provincial semi-professionals, national army, and PMCs all wrapped up in a highly bureaucratic state organization.

Marc

Ken White
08-11-2007, 03:58 PM
axioms... :)

My point was that your comment alluded only to the DoD reactions (wrong though they be). While "...getting Federal funds flowing to the constituents of our elected representatives, especially to those who make big campaign contributions, was the underlying source of enpowerment to the various parts of the Executive Branch (like the various Military Services)" may be intuitively obvious to the casual observer, the fact that Congress drives that and effectively forces DoD and others to play their game needs to be trumpeted loudly at every opportunity else the corrupt, flawed and inefficient system will not change...

No, I don't wonder why ship procurement is five year money and aircraft procurement is three year money and most other procurement is one or two year money. I know why -- and that, too, needs to be stopped. Those turkeys use the Constitution when it suits, regularly defeat efforts to put the Federal government under GAAP and use the convoluted budget process to buy votes while totally obscuring the tricks they play on the electorate.

Agree on the TTP and also on the self image bit. Pity that Gordy's campaign wasn't more effective. That it was not is partly the Army's fault but more the fault of Congress and the way they do business. Lot of SASC and HASC staffers have pet rocks...

Diffrentiated Persians versus undiffrentiated Persians...


...Same is true for the Egyptians--the last Pharoah was supplanted about the time of Julius Caesar, whose realm was analogous to the America of Teddy Roosevelt, I think."

We can disagree on that.


"...My hunch is that bigness vs. smallness (of individual weapons systems and/or spending categories) is probably a red herring, political-economy-wise. Total levels of spending, and historical patterns of spending, though, are real considerations here, I think."

You are correct in the political economy sense but very wrong in the political and practical senses. It isn't a red herring, it drives the train and it is wasteful, inefficient, ineffective all too often, unresponsive to true military needs. Far more importantly, it is a very significant contributor to that total level of spending..

Nat Wilcox
08-11-2007, 05:34 PM
You are correct in the political economy sense but very wrong in the political and practical senses. It isn't a red herring, it drives the train and it is wasteful, inefficient, ineffective all too often, unresponsive to true military needs. Far more importantly, it is a very significant contributor to that total level of spending..

Ken, I think it would be a real shame for ideas like yours, and those of others, to not happen due to undue pessimism about the political economy of the thing, so I'm going to stay with this a bit more.

It is true that as a historical matter total defense spending and very big and expensive systems have gone up together, that historically those two things have been correlated. But that correlation isn't inevitable. Part of creative engineering is imagining one's way around what seem to be inevitable correlations, say as between the weight of an engine and the torque it generates. To the extent a clever engineer can figure out how to relax such a correlation, say by the use of innovative materials, she can engineer an improvement in zero to sixty.

Replacing five big packages costing 50 Bil apiece by fifty small packages costing 5 Bil apiece is quite possibly such engineering from the viewpoint of political-economic selling. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it is actually easier to sell the fifty small than the five big packages...not only from a strict political economy perspective, but also from a psychological one.

Salesmen well understand the principle of dividing a large cost package into its components and selling them one at a time...the cost of each part being smaller, it is easier to sell it. This is a frequent tactic when you buy a new pair of glasses or a car...it is to get you to accept a sequence of small additional costs. The same principle has been studied in the realms of the psychology of political persuasion and escalation of commitment.

I submit that, if anything, the intuition that it is politically easier to get to total budget X by means of 5 large steps of size X/5, versus 50 smaller steps of X/50, is probably backwards, given almost everything I know about political economics and the psychology of selling. If y'all would rather have the fifty small packages rather than the five large ones, and fifty small ones will generate the same or even more total pork for legislators to deliver back home at equal total defense spending, the thing seems doable to me. All that is needed here is to imagine the 50 smaller packages...and this is what you do so well, and I enjoy learning so much from you.

Ken White
08-11-2007, 07:54 PM
Ken, I think it would be a real shame for ideas like yours, and those of others, to not happen due to undue pessimism about the political economy of the thing, so I'm going to stay with this a bit more.

It is true that as a historical matter total defense spending and very big and expensive systems have gone up together, that historically those two things have been correlated. But that correlation isn't inevitable. Part of creative engineering is imagining one's way around what seem to be inevitable correlations, say as between the weight of an engine and the torque it generates. To the extent a clever engineer can figure out how to relax such a correlation, say by the use of innovative materials, she can engineer an improvement in zero to sixty.

Replacing five big packages costing 50 Bil apiece by fifty small packages costing 5 Bil apiece is quite possibly such engineering from the viewpoint of political-economic selling. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it is actually easier to sell the fifty small than the five big packages...not only from a strict political economy perspective, but also from a psychological one.

Salesmen well understand the principle of dividing a large cost package into its components and selling them one at a time...the cost of each part being smaller, it is easier to sell it. This is a frequent tactic when you buy a new pair of glasses or a car...it is to get you to accept a sequence of small additional costs. The same principle has been studied in the realms of the psychology of political persuasion and escalation of commitment.

I submit that, if anything, the intuition that it is politically easier to get to total budget X by means of 5 large steps of size X/5, versus 50 smaller steps of X/50, is probably backwards, given almost everything I know about political economics and the psychology of selling. If y'all would rather have the fifty small packages rather than the five large ones, and fifty small ones will generate the same or even more total pork for legislators to deliver back home at equal total defense spending, the thing seems doable to me. All that is needed here is to imagine the 50 smaller packages...and this is what you do so well, and I enjoy learning so much from you.

or you should, anyway, that I completely agree with you -- in theory. I have made precisely the same argument to a good many senior people over the last forty years (well, the first thirty of that forty). They all agreed -- but when they got in a position to affect some of those changes, they were overcome by alligators and nothing changed.

While I am in concert with you on the need and possibility, I'm all too aware of the rather more twisted realities.

My suspicion -- nah, my very firm belief -- is that a large part of the problem is the bureaucracy and, in this case, specifically the DoD and the service bean counters. They, too have a vested interest in keeping the system opaque and convoluted; it enhances their power, enlarges their empires and they stoutly resist any attempts toward openness, sensible procurement law or, more importantly, accountability. They are masters at diffusing responsibility. You haven't lived until you've been an attendee several years of large command Program and Budget Advisory Committee meetings and watched the almost criminal ability to cast things so that a committee decision is made confirming what the J8 guys want and thus no responsibility accrues to the Eight. No one is accountable, the Committee said...

Agree that a clever engineer can do what you suggest. In fact, I've seen a number of folks do just such engineering jobs, even done it myself and I'm not that clever. Some slip through particularly if you have a slow resource guy -- and a lot of them are but the smart ones will catch you -- most fall prey to business as usual. In the eyes of the budgeteers and the procurement community, the system ain't broke and they durn sure do not want it fixed. Thus, I think the issue is not ability to do what you suggest but a concerted effort on the part of some to insure that does not happen.

The congressional staffers were mentioned ecause they are a big part of the problem in that regard and they have clout in DC that far exceeds their capability... :(

And as I said, a lot of those folks have pet rocks -- or axes to grind. They also do not want that to happen; they like their power as well.

Pure politics also enters the fray. In 1964, we troop tested the AR15 (M16 to be), recommended keeping the M14 for worldwide service and buying a few AR15s for special purpose units. DA agreed. DoD said no. The fact that the then M14 contract holder, TRW, had contributed to Nixon's 1960 campaign and Colt had contributed to Kennedy's I'm certain had no bearing on Robert Strange McNamaras decision...

Fast forward to 1977. The Army was testing two tanks and two helicopters. The fact that Bell and GM were doing well at the time meant their slightly better products were sidelined to buy a Chrysler tank and a Sikorsky helicopter because the latter two companies were in the doldrums. The purchased products are good enough; the ones rejected were just slightly better. Politics, not economics rule.

Go to the MRAP procurement; look at what was bought and where the plants are.

Another significant factor -- that is also, in its own way, political -- is the friction and trading between communities in the Army. The Bradley M3 was a quid pro quo from the Armor School for Infantry School support of the M1 buy -- a deal that also chopped the M8 MPG that the Airborne Division could've used though that vehicle itself was a political compromise and the Armor School did not want it.

Shy Meyer tried to fight the system, so did Sullivan, Shinseki and Schoomaker. The system just waits them out and then settles back down.

Wheels inside of wheels. Add to that the inter service trade offs.

What you suggest is totally possible, I'd applaud it. Been banging that drum since the late 60s. Have met a lot of fairly senior people who agree and also beat the drum. Yet...:o

I think petty politics, vote buying (to include Committee vote buying by the Services, an important factor -- without it, there'd be no Nuke carriers or V22 Ospreys), bureaucratic empire building, turf protection and risk aversion are far, far more powerful forces than they should be. Sad state of affairs.

We just have to keep pinging 'em and get the right guy in the right place... ;)

wm
08-11-2007, 11:21 PM
Ken's PBAC and cut drill horror stories are right on the money. I also alluded to the DIVAD "bailout."

On other threads, the issue of simple, single purpose systems versus complex ,multi-mission systems has been discussed--airframes and, more recently my personal favorite shell game,the FCS system of systems. We had a similar debate about the F5 vs the F15 I believe (maybe it was the F16). The arguement was --buy a lot of cheap F5s because the bad guys had us beat in the numbers game or buy a lot of capability that would let us have a higher hit probability and therefore attrit the bad guys with fewer friendly casualties. A similar argument was used to show why we would win WWIII in Germany despite the massive disproportion between US/NATO and Soviet/WP armor. Funny thing about the quality vs quantity argument. If you have enough quantity, no qualitiative edge will matter --witness what is happening now in SWA--Build an IED with enough 155 rounds in a hole and they can blow up any M1. You probably never saw the study that showed we would loss our qualitiative advantage with first round hit probability at longer ranges well before the bad guys lost their quantiative advantage.

Another thing about a few big and expensive systems versus a lot of smaller and cheaper ones--It is much harder to do a cut drill on a big system. You can make the case that all the parts are required and you need every system in order to meet your minimum capability, achieve lower cost productiuon, etc, etc. When you buy a lot of smaller, cheaper systems, it is much easier to scale back the total program without killing it. And no one wants a program killed. Since a big system progeram can't get cut very easily, its owners get to keep the big budget clout I mentioned in an earlier post. The guy with the small ticket items gets scaled back instead, (we'll maKe it up to you in the next POM cycle, promise ;).)

Getting caught in the meshes of political economy produces some very non-intuitive outcomes. I remember helping on a study about electric pricing for low income families. The issue was whether to offer them a lower price and subsidize the electric companies for the difference from actual costs or to make them pay full price and then send them a rebate (which would pay them the same amount they "lost" by not getting the price break up front). Seems like a wash doen't it? Au contraire! The decison was to give them the price break. The reasoning: this gave them more continuous disposable income that they would spend elsewhere, thereby bringing in more sales taxes. By the by, it also sold as the legislators "helping out those less fortunate citizens" story. Of course the subsidy to the utilities was not mentioned in public. We wouldn't want to have any negative press about "corporate welfare," now would we?

Ken White
08-12-2007, 01:22 AM
We went to dinner with some old friends; he's also retired. We were talking about the soon to be shoot off between the HK 416, the SCAR, possibly some others and the M4. We both opined that the Army did not want to be 'embarrassed' by the M4 losing and would probably try to spin the results in front of Coburn who fought to get that shoot off. That caused me to recall then VCSA Riscassi testifying that "...the Dragon is the best man portable antitank weapon in the world" just before the Army junked it after a few video clips of wild rounds appeared (and Risacassi went off to be CG EUSA); that caused my friend to recall the CG AMC, one Louis Wagner, testifying that DIVAD was the answer to all prayers -- just before it zapped the vent fan in the latrine in front of network cameras...

We are not filled with hope over the upcoming rifle shoot off; the Army will do backflips to avoid any embarrassment and protect itself and justify its decisions (no matter how bad). Regrettably, most of those backflips tend to fall apart in mid air and the fallout almost invariably is more embarrassing than the disclosure or a factual accounting would be. I have not given up hope they will stop trying to tap dance on the head of a pin and substitute for a really neat PP a simple piece of acetate, a grease pencil and some brutal honesty -- but I continue to get closer to that loss of hope almost daily.

The overwhelming sentiment I hear from most of my fellow retards ranging in rank from 1SG to COL is "what the h31! is happening up there" in reference to the five sided funny farm. None of us has any sweat with the troops; they're doing absolutely great and the kids are better than we were and we know it -- and are glad of it. Not apparently true -- the doing great part -- for some of the the senior folks...

I hear what you're saying about quantity having a quality of its own but I'll respectfully disagree. Serving at the height of the so-called Cold War, I was never one ounce concerned with fighting the USSR. I got my first taste of quality versus quantity in Korea in November of 1950 and I''ll take quality every time. That was initially as a tanker, BTW. Costly hardware at the time.

I later saw a bunch of studies all the way up to and including named classifications for Echelons Above Reality (to include DYBR Clearance required) the vast majority of which offered as recommendations the solution desired by the originator of the study. None of them ever convinced me to get upset about quantity; that just means more targets... :D

The key, as you say, is if you have enough quantity and right now the only folks that can outdo us on that are the Chinese and the Indians. The Indian Army, like all Brit legacy forces is good -- but I'm not worried about either of them. Future coalitions ar possible from other corners but adequate warning time will be available. Admittedly, I'm not serving now but one son is -- and he's not remotely worried about them or the near future either.

You, BTW, are speaking like a true Boyd devotee -- as you may discern, I'm not one... :wry:

I'm not a detractor, just not a great believer. I agree with much he says and admit to not being an Air warrior but suggest that a great deal of his theory does not translate well into ground warfare. He probably did a great service in enunciating the OODA loop -- but intuitive fighters had been doing that for thousands of years.

Nor will I be able to wake you for the next POM cycle. I'm lazy and tend to sleep through them. I always went into those PBAC things with my devious flank attacks laid beforehand, slept through them and left with most of what I needed. :)

The key, BTW to the SWA problem is simply more light infantry on foot. They negate IEDs and such. Unfortunately, the 30 year focus on the wrong threat to justify big hardware caused a continuing cut in said PBI and we are where we are. The new Brigades, BTW, are a step in the right direction but the design is flawed; they need three Infantry Bns and the Cav Sqn; two is not enough. Four rifle companies per Bn would be beneficial as well. Part of the problem there -- and Congressional aides and the GAO will not only tell you this, they'll beat you over the head with it -- is that the most cost ineffective thing in the world is a rifle company in peacetime. That you need them, usually quickly, in wartime and adequate training today is costly and time consuming is immaterial.

Your third paragraph is correct, of course and my only point on that item has been that Congress sticks its nose way, way too far into that bucket; DoD and the Services (and their RM folks in particular) share blame with the Congress, no question but that conglomeration is slightly more at fault simply because they are the only ones that can change the process and fix the sorry mess.

I think that proves that seven wrongs don't make a right... :wry:

Again, we're in broad agreement on what's need in those POM cycles, I just think it's far more difficult to get this ponderous elephant of a bureaucracy to shift its direction to get there. It is not impossible to shift the effort, it will just be immensely difficult.

Before you attack, you gotta pick the correct target (s)...

.

Culpeper
08-12-2007, 04:15 AM
Just my pre-coffee $.02. It was an interesting article, though. Personally, I'd like to see a return to a regimental system....:)

Could you or anyone else expand on a "regimental system"? Thanks.

jcustis
08-13-2007, 01:03 AM
I'll jump on that and say what SB was probably referring to is the Brit tradition of families serving in the same Regiment through multiple generations, as well as the career progression where a guy might leave the Regiment for a tour elsewhere, but would always return home to the same Regiment.

I wish we could achieve something like that too.

wm
08-13-2007, 11:03 AM
I hear what you're saying about quantity having a quality of its own but I'll respectfully disagree. Serving at the height of the so-called Cold War, I was never one ounce concerned with fighting the USSR. I got my first taste of quality versus quantity in Korea in November of 1950 and I''ll take quality every time. That was initially as a tanker, BTW. Costly hardware at the time.
I concur here as long as the quality isn't gold-plated too.


The key, as you say, is if you have enough quantity and right now the only folks that can outdo us on that are the Chinese and the Indians. The Indian Army, like all Brit legacy forces is good -- but I'm not worried about either of them. Future coalitions ar possible from other corners but adequate warning time will be available. Admittedly, I'm not serving now but one son is -- and he's not remotely worried about them or the near future either.
Again I agree. What I don't understand is, that given the nature of the threat out there for the foreseeable future, why we are throwing huge sums at Joint Strike Fighters, Littoral Combat Ships and FCS family of vehicles


You, BTW, are speaking like a true Boyd devotee -- as you may discern, I'm not one... :wry:I'm not a detractor, just not a great believer. I agree with much he says and admit to not being an Air warrior but suggest that a great deal of his theory does not translate well into ground warfare. He probably did a great service in enunciating the OODA loop -- but intuitive fighters had been doing that for thousands of years.

I didn't come here to be insulted.:D As you note, OODA has some merit in certain forms of high intensity engagements. It is not a panacea though.


The key, BTW to the SWA problem is simply more light infantry on foot. They negate IEDs and such. Unfortunately, the 30 year focus on the wrong threat to justify big hardware caused a continuing cut in said PBI and we are where we are. The new Brigades, BTW, are a step in the right direction but the design is flawed; they need three Infantry Bns and the Cav Sqn; two is not enough. Four rifle companies per Bn would be beneficial as well. Part of the problem there -- and Congressional aides and the GAO will not only tell you this, they'll beat you over the head with it -- is that the most cost ineffective thing in the world is a rifle company in peacetime. That you need them, usually quickly, in wartime and adequate training today is costly and time consuming is immaterial.
You have a major piece of the puzzle. We also need to do a much better job at the whole info war piece. By that I mean we need to stop being "spin doctors" and start being purveyors of the truth, in a way that makes sense to the civilians who are getting caught between our troops and the bad guys hiding behind those civilians.


Before you attack, you gotta pick the correct target (s)... .
I couldn't agree more, which is why I suggest we need more than just light infantry in theater. I believe the target you had in mind is more bureaucratic, on this side of the Atlantic, and clustered in offices around Capitol Hill or near Arlington Cemetary. That target is a self-licking ice cream cone and I'm not sure how to engage it. Turning up the heat hasn't worked in the past.

Steve Blair
08-13-2007, 01:37 PM
I'll jump on that and say what SB was probably referring to is the Brit tradition of families serving in the same Regiment through multiple generations, as well as the career progression where a guy might leave the Regiment for a tour elsewhere, but would always return home to the same Regiment.

I wish we could achieve something like that too.

I was also referring to the Old Army system where the regiment was the largest organized unit maintained in peacetime. Officers tended to stay within their own regiments for some years, and each developed its own personality and methods for preserving doctrine and tradition.

Like all systems, this did have some problems, but I feel that in most practical cases the good outweighed the bad. Battalions were ad hoc field organizations, as were squadrons, and not part of the regular organization.

I don't think we'll see something like this again, which is to my mind a real loss. Those old regiments had esprit de corps that you don't find today in many units.

wm
08-13-2007, 04:39 PM
I don't think we'll see something like this again, which is to my mind a real loss. Those old regiments had esprit de corps that you don't find today in many units.

Sometimes that "esprit" was really little more than a form of group think. In the case of British regiments, this could equate to centuries of tradition unhampered by progress. Look at some of the debacles of the British Wars of Empire, up to and including WWI, for instances. More near and dear examples would be the British advance and retreat from the American colonial towns of Lexington and Concord or Braddock's defeat during the expedition to reduce Fort Duquesne (Braddock was a longtime member of the Coldstream Guards).

Steve Blair
08-13-2007, 05:05 PM
Sometimes that "esprit" was really little more than a form of group think. In the case of British regiments, this could equate to centuries of tradition unhampered by progress. Look at some of the debacles of the British Wars of Empire, up to and including WWI, for instances. More near and dear examples would be the British advance and retreat from the American colonial towns of Lexington and Concord or Braddock's defeat during the expedition to reduce Fort Duquesne (Braddock was a longtime member of the Coldstream Guards).

Perhaps, but we see the same thing now on a larger scale. There were other contributing factors to the British problems (to include their officer accession system...purchase, anyone?). I'm not saying the regimental system is perfect (because there is no such thing as a 'perfect' system), but I do think it would be better than what we have now.

wm
08-13-2007, 05:35 PM
Perhaps, but we see the same thing now on a larger scale. There were other contributing factors to the British problems (to include their officer accession system...purchase, anyone?). I'm not saying the regimental system is perfect (because there is no such thing as a 'perfect' system), but I do think it would be better than what we have now.

Properly controlled and administered, it probably has value--post-Cardwell reforms versions anyway. But I do not think that we want to try to develop it along the lines of geographic recruitment and home base staging areas used by the Brits (and French for that matter). BTW, I thought we went through this whole exercise back in the late 80s-early 90s--I seem to remember wearing regimental crests on the right pocket or some other location depending on which variant of shirt/sweater/jacket/blouse you chose to wear, honorary colonels, and all that other mumbo-jumbo. I guess it was an idea whose time had not yet come, eh? :wry:
Maybe we just didn't have catchy enough names, like John Wayne's Own Rifles (sort of like the Queen's Own Hussars) and such. :D

Steve Blair
08-13-2007, 05:51 PM
Properly controlled and administered, it probably has value--post-Cardwell reforms versions anyway. But I do not think that we want to try to develop it along the lines of geographic recruitment and home base staging areas used by the Brits (and French for that matter). BTW, I thought we went through this whole exercise back in the late 80s-early 90s--I seem to remember wearing regimental crests on the right pocket or some other location depending on which variant of shirt/sweater/jacket/blouse you chose to wear, honorary colonels, and all that other mumbo-jumbo. I guess it was an idea whose time had not yet come, eh? :wry:
Maybe we just didn't have catchy enough names, like John Wayne's Own Rifles (sort of like the Queen's Own Hussars) and such. :D

The US Army never used home basing as a concept for its regiments. It was kicked around a few times in the 1880s or so but never took root. The Army has tried reviving regimental traditions from time to time, an effort that has been somewhat successful in cavalry units (partly because of their organization and partly from the cav mystique) and less so in other units. I'd hazard a guess that part of the reason for that is the reflagging and such that usually accompanies such "efforts," making them counter-productive. Our rotation/personnel 'development' programs (even in peacetime) also don't lend themselves to stable units.

Ken White
08-13-2007, 07:20 PM
I concur here as long as the quality isn't gold-plated too.

True. One of the better Generals I knew had a big sign on his desk that said "Best is the enemy of good enough." System didn't like that philosophy so he departed with only two stars...



Again I agree. What I don't understand is, that given the nature of the threat out there for the foreseeable future, why we are throwing huge sums at Joint Strike Fighters, Littoral Combat Ships and FCS family of vehicles.

Rock and a hard place. We have to be a full spectrum force. I truly do not know anyone at all knowledgeable who questions that. That means having a ready source of JSFs, LCS and such. Production of prototypes does not offer an adequate test and ability to correct flaws for operational hardware, thus a production run is needed. The more you make, the cheaper they get -- and stuff is so expensive today that any economies are seized, even red and fishy ones...

Besides, both those two do in fact bring potentially useful for the next 20 years or so capabilities to the table. JSF in particular has some great capabilities.

That also is the kind of quality that keeps the rest of the world honest. That quality -- and the obvious quality of the troops today (plus the huge number we alone in the woorld have with combat experience, something many forget) help in forcing others to contemplate the kinds of threat we will face for the next decade or so rather than something far more dangerous and messy.


I didn't come here to be insulted.:D As you note, OODA has some merit in certain forms of high intensity engagements. It is not a panacea though.

Sorry 'bout that. :o


You have a major piece of the puzzle. We also need to do a much better job at the whole info war piece. By that I mean we need to stop being "spin doctors" and start being purveyors of the truth, in a way that makes sense to the civilians who are getting caught between our troops and the bad guys hiding behind those civilians.

Totally agree. All bureaucracies go into the spin and self defense mode when they screw up or get attacked; the Armed Forces generally do it relatively ineptly. I will defend them to a very slight extent by pointing out that the lesser lights in Congress (the 481...) do have a tendency to showboat, ask inane questions (inanity topped only by the main stream media) and bloviate for hours about things not germane; that tends to make the services reply in kind. Not defending it but there's a lot of egg out there.


I couldn't agree more, which is why I suggest we need more than just light infantry in theater. I believe the target you had in mind is more bureaucratic, on this side of the Atlantic, and clustered in offices around Capitol Hill or near Arlington Cemetary. That target is a self-licking ice cream cone and I'm not sure how to engage it. Turning up the heat hasn't worked in the past.

Not if your light infantry is properly equipped and well trained -- and we're getting there. There'll always be a need for other arms and services but we could significantly cut the number required with better training and the right gear.

Gotta point the heat at the right place. Congress; the rest of the system can self correct if that major impediment is repaired. Vote out all incumbents repeatedly and they'll get the message. Only one I ever voted in for reelection was Sam Nunn when I lived in Georgia -- and I now regret that. Vote 'em all out!

Ken White
08-13-2007, 07:45 PM
Properly controlled and administered, it probably has value--post-Cardwell reforms versions anyway. But I do not think that we want to try to develop it along the lines of geographic recruitment and home base staging areas used by the Brits (and French for that matter). BTW, I thought we went through this whole exercise back in the late 80s-early 90s--I seem to remember wearing regimental crests on the right pocket or some other location depending on which variant of shirt/sweater/jacket/blouse you chose to wear, honorary colonels, and all that other mumbo-jumbo. I guess it was an idea whose time had not yet come, eh? :wry:
Maybe we just didn't have catchy enough names, like John Wayne's Own Rifles (sort of like the Queen's Own Hussars) and such. :D

Seems to me that proper control and administration may be part of the problem. British Army traditions post Cardwell did an amazing amount of good -- all destroyed by "good personnel management practices." The 'human resources' fetish is just dangerous. The British Army today is having many of the same problems we are having due to that fallacy. Sad. In both cases.

We did try that starting in the early 80s -- that was one of Shy Meyer's many good contributions to the Army. Unfortunately, his attempts to cut MilPerCen in half -- it would not have been needed if we had truly implemented his plan -- were stopped dead by all those civilians living in northern Virginia flooding the Capitol and he was told to back off. MilPerCen survived, grew and is now the US Army Human Resources Command. May God have mercy on the Army. The 41s will not, those guys eat their young.

A properly set up regimental system will be self tending and will not need control or administration to speak of. Meyer's plan was good, the bureaucracy just waited him out.

The names aren't necessary. The closest you can get to a regimental system today is the 82d Abn Div. Folks leave there and go on short tours or long ones (mostly to the two other Airborne units) and return to Bragg. When they get back, they fight to go back to the same Brigade. Unit loyalty is strong; maybe not Brit post-Cardwell strong but close to it. Try to put a 504 guy in the 325 and he'll rebel -- and vice versa.

There is the disadvantage you cite of group think -- that is also a plus. Group think has saved the day in ground combat on many an occasion. Ask the Marines. There is also a significant advantage. Those Officers and NCOs returning to the same units keep other Officers and NCOs honest. In a typical Army unit, if you have a dirt bag for a peer, you'd like to get him boarded out of the Army -- but he's leaving in six months, it's too hard to do, so you don't bother. Or you're leaving and you don't bother. In a unit with personnel continuity, one will not tolerate the slackers.

Which reminds me -- to all you future Chiefs of Staff out there; AR 600-200 says any NCO that gets selected by the centralized board will be promoted unless his Commander writes a letter to have him removed for cause. Commanders do not have time to write letters about marginal people so slackers get promoted just by sticking around. When you get to E Ring, change that to read the person will NOT be promoted unless the Commander writes a letter.

Steve Blair
09-19-2007, 01:16 AM
For anyone interested in this thread, I'd also recommend reading the COL Foresman article also in AFJ on Culture Battles (http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/08/2765978)- a good piece on our Military Culture - I'd hate to see it overlooked.
Best Regards, Rob

Agree 100%, Rob. Foresman is spot on when it comes to the nature of the medium-term conflicts we'll be facing, and has some very thoughtful observations about how to prepare for them. It's similar to the discussion I've seen (mostly through student papers) regarding the proper role of cavalry in a future force structure. There is thought going on outside the Iraq framework...and that's good. But we also need to keep in mind the tools and techniques needed to fight in an environment like Iraq...or Afghanistan...or Somalia. Different conflicts with different objectives and a structure that will see the military in a secondary (but necessary) role. Indian Wars or Banana Wars, anyone?

Steve Blair
09-19-2007, 01:40 PM
We are not fighting grand wars but, rather, are waging small campaigns from squad to brigade level hourly, daily, monthly, until the counterinsurgency is defeated or neutralized.

This, to me, is one of the most interesting lines in the article. Forseman manages to capture the history of most of the Army's combat operations in a single sentence. Aside from the big wars (Civil War, the World Wars) this has been the Army's main combat experience. Yet it's also the one the Army has historically tried to run from or discard doctrine for.

tequila
09-19-2007, 02:16 PM
This, to me, is one of the most interesting lines in the article. Forseman manages to capture the history of most of the Army's combat operations in a single sentence. Aside from the big wars (Civil War, the World Wars) this has been the Army's main combat experience. Yet it's also the one the Army has historically tried to run from or discard doctrine for.

I'd argue for two main reasons. Historically the Army's status while fighting those small wars has not been a high one. Those wars (Banana Wars, Plains Indians Wars, Philippine insurrection) were generally not looked on as major national priorities and the Army was treated as such. Only when the nation felt a genuine threat (WWI, WWII, Civil War, Cold War) did the armed forces rise in both social and economic status. Upon achieving institutional prominence, normal institutional and bureaucratic preservation factors kick in. Few bureaucracies are are willingly downsized.

Also, those wars arguably did not constitute major investments of national interest. The nation would not have suffered unduly if the Banana Wars had never been fought or won, or if Dewey had handed Aguinaldo independence in 1899. Arguably the Army is not like any other government service - it is the government's ultimate insurance policy, and as such should prepare first and foremost for the ultimate emergency - a war for national survival, which will always be a big, conventional war and not a tiny foreign insurgency.

Steve Blair
09-19-2007, 02:36 PM
Actually the status of the Army itself rose very little during the Civil War. That of Volunteer units did, but even during the war there was a distinction made between the two.

And my point was not to discard preparations for major wars. I'm not sure why people always seem to assume that it's an "either-or" proposition. My point is that the Army has often failed to preserve the lessons of its more frequent combat arenas in preference for other conflicts.

Tom Odom
09-19-2007, 02:39 PM
I'd argue for two main reasons. Historically the Army's status while fighting those small wars has not been a high one. Those wars (Banana Wars, Plains Indians Wars, Philippine insurrection) were generally not looked on as major national priorities and the Army was treated as such. Only when the nation felt a genuine threat (WWI, WWII, Civil War, Cold War) did the armed forces rise in both social and economic status. Upon achieving institutional prominence, normal institutional and bureaucratic preservation factors kick in. Few bureaucracies are are willingly downsized.

Also, those wars arguably did not constitute major investments of national interest. The nation would not have suffered unduly if the Banana Wars had never been fought or won, or if Dewey had handed Aguinaldo independence in 1899. Arguably the Army is not like any other government service - it is the government's ultimate insurance policy, and as such should prepare first and foremost for the ultimate emergency - a war for national survival, which will always be a big, conventional war and not a tiny foreign insurgency.

What struck me about this article and this line in particular is that I have heard it before. As a CGSC student (and former CSI-CGSC instructor) in 1988, I was fresh back from Lebanon and Egypt as a UN observer who had just lost 2 close friends. I signed up to do a second masters using Shaba II as a thesis and one of my thesis readers was Dr. Gerald Linderman--the guest historian at CSI that school year. I had already written LP 14 on the 64 Congo Crisis and Jerry Linderman had been a young foreign service officer in the Embassy in Leopoldville during that time. But as the guest historian, Jerry gave a guest lecture one evening on the future of the US Army and he used the pax-Americana metaphor to describe the probable role of the US armed forces in the conflicts to come. Then as now, there were those in the audience who not only did not get the message, they actively disputed its meaning.

Foreman's article is head and shoulders above Gentile's.

Thanks for the tip, Rob!

Dave and Bill--we need Foreman on SWJ!

Tom

wm
09-19-2007, 03:22 PM
Arguably the Army is not like any other government service - it is the government's ultimate insurance policy, and as such should prepare first and foremost for the ultimate emergency - a war for national survival, which will always be a big, conventional war and not a tiny foreign insurgency.

This is a dynamite observation IMO. We Americans have a knack for insuring against the worst case. It is captured in the public values of our legal system where we would prefer to let a thousand guilty people go free than let one innocent be punished wrongly. We seem to need to have the "big gesture"
Here's another example.
Notice the push to put cardiac defibrillators all over the place? I have no idea what the statistical probability of a person suffering a heart attack on an airplane is, but I doubt that it justifies the cost of putting defib units on every commercial pax jet in the US.

Please do not construe this post as my support of the "grand gesture" as a policy.

Ski
09-19-2007, 05:48 PM
I was involved in this process with the ARNG, and from what I was told by some of the floks at CMH, the AC had massive greybeard pressure to keep the lineage as static as possible.

I'd add that funding lines played a large role in how this developed. If OPTEMPO funds were sent to the BCT Commander directly instead of flowing through the MACOM-CORPS-DIV levels, it would have nutured some of the CG's power and control of the BCT's.



From the same excellent article. Note of course that transformation --originally billed as eliminating much of the divisional and corps structure in favor of modular brigades--has morphed into a preserve the division and corps structures through creeping additions. How much of that has to do with culture and how much is proponent rice bowl thinking coupled to keeping GO slots is hard to say. Of course, that too is a cultural issue.

Thanks, Jon!

Tom

Granite_State
09-20-2007, 03:51 AM
I was also referring to the Old Army system where the regiment was the largest organized unit maintained in peacetime. Officers tended to stay within their own regiments for some years, and each developed its own personality and methods for preserving doctrine and tradition.

Like all systems, this did have some problems, but I feel that in most practical cases the good outweighed the bad. Battalions were ad hoc field organizations, as were squadrons, and not part of the regular organization.

I don't think we'll see something like this again, which is to my mind a real loss. Those old regiments had esprit de corps that you don't find today in many units.

I'd definitely agree on the issue of esprit de corps, a few guys I know and/or work with are ex-British Army, and a friend of mine just started at Sandhurst, and it seems like the benefits of the regimental system here are enormous.

But in the bigger picture, there are a lot of negatives too. In the past, the regimental system both retarded uniform training and institutional knowledge (see Britain's small wars from Clive on up), and even impeded modernization (cavalry regimental loyalties and fears often played a bigger role than conservatism in the slow pace of mechanization in the Twenties and Thirties).

That may all be in the past, but there are still some substantial negatives, mainly tied to parochialism, each regiment jealously guarding its perks and slice of the budget, particularly the more influential ones, i.e. Guards, Paras, etc. Lewis Page goes into some detail in his book, http://www.amazon.com/Lions-Donkeys-Dinosaurs-Lewis-Page/dp/0099484420/ref=sr_1_1/002-6528619-4893609?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190260057&sr=8-1 , which I highly recommend. My copy's in storage or I'd find the excerpts.

However, some of these negatives might be negated in a much larger army like America's, I don't know.

Steve Blair
09-20-2007, 01:12 PM
The US regimental system didn't really work along the same lines in terms of budget (although the original 2nd Cavalry was an exception...it was Jefferson Davis' pet regiment when he was Secretary of War) or perks. You did see squabbling from time to time between the combat branches, but most acrimony was reserved for Staff officers.

In the Old Army most resistance to change surfaced with senior branch officers and not within the regiments per se. There was some fussing and resistance about mechanization among cavalry units in the 1920s and 1930s, but part of that had to do with the fear that a new armor branch would cut into their traditional roles (which it of course ended up doing...but then armor became as protective of its roles and uses...).

The biggest issue with the old regimental system in the US had to do with how promotions were handled. At the time it was by regimental seniority first, then by branch. That was later changed, but in the years after the Civil War there was a tremendous amount of rank stagnation.

There are certainly regimental negatives, but I'm not sure they outweigh the positives IF the system is designed correctly.

Ken White
10-06-2007, 04:45 PM
Dave posted this in his "More from the AFJ" entry on the SWJ Blog.

COL Foresman neatly nails several critical items, ending with:


"The Army is transforming. In doing so, it must be willing not only to look to the past to shape how it is organized, but also to be willing to break with the past and forge new paths. This requires not only an adaptive Army but also a military of flexible and intellectually adaptive leaders. Whether transformation succeeds or fails will not be determined by how the Army is organized but, rather, how the leaders employ their forces and whether they are successful. That is the unanswered question whether the Army can make a break with its past and the legacies of World War II to fight the wars of the 21st century."

"Culture battle." (http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/08/2765978)

Norfolk
10-06-2007, 06:11 PM
but as Colonel Foresman says, the entire culture of the Army must be transformed, especially at the General Officer level, and no-one seems to know how to do that in practice, not even Colonel Foresman himself. To be honest though, I doubt that the service culture was even fully adapted to fighting an opponent the likes of the Wehrmacht, although DePuy and Starry and their ilk did a good job (with Abrams' full force behind them until his premature death) of reinvigorating if not quite fully reforming, the Army to face the Soviets. The Army may not be as badly off as it was in the 1970's, but in the 1970's it had some top generals who were going close to all-out to change things, and we don't really have that right now, although if many of the field-grade officers and captains that the Army has right now make it to 3- and 4-star rank over the next 15-20 years, that might change, if they don't leave first.

I am very uncomfortable with Colonel Foresman's apparent dismissal of large-scale conventional wars as something that the Army is likely to face in the foreseeable future; he may well be right, but if one occurrs anyway, an Army seeking to reorient itself towards Stability Support Operations may be caught in a difficult position. But he's still right, that the Army needs to prepare itself for SSO in particular and small wars in general. Probably the best compromise for this would be to have a heavy corps (III Corps) reserved (where possible) dedicated to large-scale, high-intensity land campaigns, and a couple of corps (I and XVIII) dedicated (along with thew Marines) to small wars and especially SSO. But that would only be possible after Iraq is stabilized and more or less able to fend for itself, and that's going to be a very long time.

It seems to me that Foresman's creative thinkers, the peole who can think and learn by themselves, are usually only tolerated and allowed to make big changes when the service culture has dug a hole so deep that even the people at the top can't see out of it anymore (Ridgeway in Korea, Abrams in Vietnam and just afterwards, DePuy in the '70s, Petraeus now). And when the people at the top are finally able to see enough daylight, they tend to replace those many of same creative thinkers with cookie-cutter careerists and afraid-to-rock the boat "can-do" followers. Foresman's right, but there's still no way to really make those changes he identifies as necessary and to make them stick.

Rob Thornton
10-06-2007, 08:41 PM
“The Army, like all military organizations, is defined by its culture, and the culture is defined by the history. Its culture has been defined by its overwhelming success in World War II and shaped by a perceived history of fighting grand wars. Although the culture is consistent with the perceived history, the reality is the Army has been involved in stability and support operations, not grand wars, for almost 80 percent of its existence.”

I liked the introduction – it sets the tone for introspection and puts us on the path to ask “why” we are who we are. Interesting point about the 80/20 ratio – this in itself is a question – if the ratio tells us otherwise – why is the culture the way it is? What is it about that 20% that fixes the culture within it? There is something to perceived consequences being easier to articulate, existential threats and maybe even the time spent training which fills in the cracks surrounding the times we’ve gone to war. There are probably more reasons (some of them external for sure), but if we want to understand why our default position is the 20% we have to consider them all.


“ Our junior leaders must understand We are fighting an enemy who has the advantage of interior and exterior lines — “the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy.” the nation’s goals, the environment in which they operate and how they are linked.
The conflict requires the application of diplomatic (political), military, economic and informational elements of power by leaders at all levels.
Whether we have it right is not immediately apparent; it is determined over time.”

From his list of points I pulled three. The first was one I’d not heard expressed this way -with the linkage to the axiom. This does not only offer an understanding of how the enemy sees his lines of operation, but provides insight on how to deny the enemy that line of operation by establishing our own.

The second reminds me of what DR. Kilcullen said about linking the narrative with our actions – also brought up in the recent piece on Strategic communications. That is – if possible – think before you act, and when possible link the action with the narrative vs. trying to invent a narrative to explain the option.

The third has to with willingness to accept risk, but with the caveat of understanding what is at risk and being able to adjust course to fulfill the objective

-All three very useful points.


“Whether transformation succeeds or fails will not be determined by how the Army is organized but, rather, how the leaders employ their forces and whether they are successful. That is the unanswered question — whether the Army can make a break with its past and the legacies of World War II to fight the wars of the 21st century.”

I don’t know if I agree with breaking from the past in general (and he may not have meant it that way) – there is a great deal to learn from it. I will sign up for understanding the past so when its bias exerts influence on me that steers me off course – I can correct for it. What I want to see are leaders who can make the best possible transition from one type of war to another so that when the nation calls we can answer. I like what the CSA said recently about looking for balance – we’ll achieve that through leaders who can function well wherever they are at, and with the means at hand – we’ll succeed where our enemies fail if we can do that faster and better then they can – that I believe is what wars call for – and it may be even more critical in the future, but perhaps only because the past is more certain.

COL Foresman has again provided us with much to consider as we make difficult choices where often there are no clear winners – but his advice about investing in leadership is without a doubt one which enables us to make the most of our choices no matter if they are particularly right, or particularly wrong – leadership will provide a way forward.

Best regards, Rob

Norfolk
10-08-2007, 08:06 PM
I'd definitely agree on the issue of esprit de corps, a few guys I know and/or work with are ex-British Army, and a friend of mine just started at Sandhurst, and it seems like the benefits of the regimental system here are enormous.

But in the bigger picture, there are a lot of negatives too. In the past, the regimental system both retarded uniform training and institutional knowledge (see Britain's small wars from Clive on up), and even impeded modernization (cavalry regimental loyalties and fears often played a bigger role than conservatism in the slow pace of mechanization in the Twenties and Thirties).

That may all be in the past, but there are still some substantial negatives, mainly tied to parochialism, each regiment jealously guarding its perks and slice of the budget, particularly the more influential ones, i.e. Guards, Paras, etc.

However, some of these negatives might be negated in a much larger army like America's, I don't know.

I'd like to say that the Regimental System, when properly functioning overall, institutionalizes a degree of basic competence, and somethime outright execellence, that most other systems cannot provide under normal conditions. Probably the single most important virtue in practice of the Regimental System is that you don't have to keep re-training everyone at each and every turn in the basics, or keep having to reteach lessons learned; that's all (when the Regiment is functioning properly) more or less automatic. Obviously the troops have continue to hone the basics; but in the Regimental System there is (normally) sufficient stability and continuity of personnel and standards of training that make keeping and honing the basics much easier and more efficient while allowing for a great deal more time and effort to be used in learning about and training for much more advanced tactics and operations. Steve is very correct about the benefits of the Regiment System (when functioning properly).

The US Army wouldn't be particularly inclined (though doctrine in theory allows for this) towards using a regular (ie. Non-Air Assault/Airborne/Ranger) infantry battalion in an air assault raid on an enemy HQ or airfield, but a Commonwealth Army would. Similarly, US Marines are tasked with most of the amphibious mission (Rangers have a slice of the pie too) in the US Armed Forces; but a Commonwealth Army considers amphibious assaults a normal part of the infantry battalion role. A great deal of this is making a virtue of necessity, as the money and manpower just isn't there to maintain an entire Marine Corps or a large Airborne Force (and Commonwealth Airborne Forces and Marines tend to be commando-trained, not regular infantry who happen to be on jump-status or trained in amphib ops). But the Regimental System produces efficiencies that may allow for a much more expansive range of training and taskings for what would otherwise be a rather more pedestrian infantry battalion in an Army without such a Regimental System.

Also, an ordinary rifleman in a Commonwealth Army receives 6 month's recruit and basic infantry training (with no specialization in machine-gunning, recce, assault pioneer, anti-armour, etc. - that's for later - , just rifleman training) and to a generally higher standard than most other armies, where the battalions are expected to train the troops up to snuff, taking away valuable time for other training. The Regimental System goes a long way to avoiding this last situation. And again, it (normally) provides a continuity and stability of personnel and training standards that most other systems can't surpass, although a few can match. When you join a Regiment, you are a part of it for the rest of your carrer, and will spend most or even all of your career within that Regiment. This results in a cumulative degree of professional excellence and experience that is very difficult to acquire by most other means.

But, as Granite State and others pointed out, there are, amongst others, two potentially serious problems that they have already identified with the Regimental System. The first is "Group Think". Now, as pointed out by others, this actually has benefits too, providing both a sense of tradition and example and a force of will in the face of adversity that stands in good stead at critical moments on the battlefield. But there is also the problems that when the system isn't functioning properly, "Group Think" especially resulting in nepotism and the like, can result in tactical ossification and downright moral corruption and break-down of morale and discipline. There are such things as bad regiments, and when that happens, it often takes a wholesale housecleaning by outsiders to retrieve the situtation.

The Second, and perhaps most common problem with the Regimental System is Tribalism, which not only makes it difficult to work with other Regiments, Corps, and Arms at times, also resulting in tactical ossification, but in some real unpleasantness between Regiments. For those who have never been part of a Regiment, it may be difficult to grasp the sometimes gut-level, even visceral at times, psychlogical and emotional impact that being part of a Regiment has. The Regiment is your world; the Army is a "foreign" body with which your Regiment in effect has a contract with.

Promotions in the Regiment are made by the Regimental Senate, not the Army. Each Regiment has not only its own history and traditions, but its own institutions, museums (even Battalions of a Regiment may have their own museums), libraries, messes, clubs, barracks, associations, etc., that are all directly owned (except for barracks, the Army owns these) and supported personally and financially by the members of the Regiment (and to which each member must contribute). No outsider is permitted into these places without being accompanied and signed in by a member of the Regiment. Each Regiment is kept separated from the others by a respectable and safe distance. Real unpleasantness may occur when these rules are not consciously followed.

But the best system is not the Regimental System. For all its superiority over most other systems, the WWII German Divisional System is by far the best. Generally similar to the British Regimental System, including an emphasis on local recruiting, the Divisional System (in turned prodeuced by the Wehrkreise System) is the best, and while it produced no less strong regiments than the British system, the focus of tribal identity was the Combined-Arms Division, not the single-arm Regiment. Couple this with the superb training, discipline, leadership, and Auftragstaktik with the Geenral staff System (another thread in itself), and you have the finest "System" in the world. The performance of the Deutchesheer in WWII I think bears this argument out rather well. This is the system every Army should use.

The Regimental System is not exactly a stranger to the selective use/abuse of history for noble, and less-than noble purposes, especially when used to justify or excuse tactical ossification.

A perspective from inside a Regiment.

Ken White
10-08-2007, 09:38 PM
system -- and to the German system; I think the biggest advantage of the former is, as Norlfolks says:

"...When you join a Regiment, you are a part of it for the rest of your carrer, and will spend most or even all of your career within that Regiment. This results in a cumulative degree of professional excellence and experience that is very difficult to acquire by most other means."

The advantage that accrues is an intangible -- if one is going to stay in a unit, one wants to be with competent people who can be tolerated. In most of the US Army for many years since WW II, people tended to move every two to three years. Thus if there was a slacker, it was too easy to say "He'll (or I'll) be gone in seven months, he's not worth getting into a hassle over." The transfers don't happen as often but that is still the overarching mentality. How much those transfers lend to professional competenece and development and how much they serve to justify a large personnel bureaucracy is in the view of the beholder and grist for another thread.

An exception to this has been the 82d Airborne which, in this sense functions like a large Regiment. Men go to the Division and spend years there; they may rotate out to Alaska or Korea or even Europe but they tend to go back to the Division and will generally fight to go back to their last unit. Thus, the NCOs there are long serving and prone to come down on the marginally competent and run them off.

Thus, the advantage is, I think, the continuity and not the structure.

A downside of the system is that local recruitment. The biggest problem is that if a unit has a bad day and receives massive casualties, it can devastate a small town back home.

Then there is the tribal issue. I've heard Patricias say bad things about the RCR :) and heard the Black Watch say unbelievable things about the rest of the British Army. The opinion of the 3 RAR about the rest of the Strine Army is also not good. In fairness, with no local recruitment at all, the opinion of the Fifth Marines about the 1st and 7th did not bear repeating once upon a time and the guys from the 504PIR will tell you about the shortcomings of the 325 and 505. Tribalism is an acquired trait in that respect but it has been my observation in the larger Army that such tribalism and unit loyalty is less intense, mostly due to the large number of units with whom one has served in several Divisions because of an individual assignment policy.

I suggest the greatest advantage the Commonwealth Armies have is in this:

"Also, an ordinary rifleman in a Commonwealth Army receives 6 month's recruit and basic infantry training (with no specialization in machine-gunning, recce, assault pioneer, anti-armour, etc. - that's for later - , just rifleman training) and to a generally higher standard than most other armies, where the battalions are expected to train the troops up to snuff, taking away valuable time for other training."
and this:

"The US Army wouldn't be particularly inclined (though doctrine in theory allows for this) towards using a regular (ie. Non-Air Assault/Airborne/Ranger) infantry battalion in an air assault raid on an enemy HQ or airfield, but a Commonwealth Army would."
That, fortunately, is changing but is sure isn't changing fast enough. These kids and units are capable of doing much more than we ask them to and, terribly, the biggest impediments all too often are nothing more than 'fear of failure' and lack of imagination. Norfolk is too polite to say so, I'm not -- we have too much money and we tend to overspend on the wrong things and pay inadequate attention to training.

We train better now than we have in my lifetime -- we still do not do it long enough to get an inculcation of the standards and basics embedded in Joe's little psyche. We're still oriented to training WW II draftees -- and Lieutenants. The Marines do it a little better for both Officers and peons but we're shortchanging the troops. Shame on us...

Norfolk
10-08-2007, 11:01 PM
Then there is the tribal issue. I've heard Patricias say bad things about the RCR :)

These kids and units are capable of doing much more than we ask them to and, terribly, the biggest impediments all too often are nothing more than 'fear of failure' and lack of imagination. Norfolk is too polite to say so, I'm not -- we have too much money and we tend to overspend on the wrong things and pay inadequate attention to training.

We train better now than we have in my lifetime -- we still do not do it long enough to get an inculcation of the standards and basics embedded in Joe's little psyche. We're still oriented to training WW II draftees -- and Lieutenants. The Marines do it a little better for both Officers and peons but we're shortchanging the troops. Shame on us...


Well, I guess I just had that coming to me for my rash and unthinking statements vis-a-vis how the Airborne should go to the Air Force and saying the Marines were a part of the Navy (I have since engaged in some clarification of my statements in those matters, but that's another thread)..., and Ken has been so good as to be forgiving of my "youthful indiscretion":o...

But ordinarily such statements would be considered fightin' words, and the flamethrowers would come out and the offenders shown no mercy for their insolence and offence to the Regiment (and after this post, I'm going to work off my frustrations on a few PPCLI's [pronounced "picklies" - and that's the polite version]). But right now, I have to save the flamethrower for those Marines and Paratroopers who took undue offence to my earlier statements:wry:

The truth is that much of USA and USMC doctrine is actually an improvement over Commonwealth Armies' doctrine, even at tactical level. It just gets lost in often inadequate individual training as well as the personnel turbulence of US units (especially the Army). Take, for example the rifle squad or section. US Army has a 9-man squad right now, with a Squad Leader and two 4-man fire teams; USMC has its 13-man squad with its Leader and three 4-man fire teams; most Commonwealth Armies have an 8-man section right now, with two 4-man assault groups/fire teams, but the Section Commander has to pull double-duty as the leader of one of the two assault groups/fire teams, so he's not free to direct covering fire (doctrinally, the Section 2i/c, who also pulls double duty as the leader of the second assault group/fire team, does this, while the Section Commander leads the assault) on the enemy during an attack, or to move about to coordinate the defence.

Furthermore, in the advance-to-contact, the entire Section moves all at once, as one, thus completely exposing itself to enemy observation and fire. In movement-to-contact, both the US Army and the USMC squads provide overwatch with at least one Fire Team and the Squad Leader under cover as the other Fire Team (or Teams) move to cover, thus greatly reducing the risk of crippling losses to the squad. A Commonwealth Section requires the rest of the platoon to provide overwatch (and this may be a single section and the weapons det overwatching the other two). Granted, a Commonwealth Section is easy to control (it's really more or less just a big fire team), and it's quick to respond with all its firepower on contact, all at once, but it's terribly vulnerable in the meantime.

The US troops (particularly the Army, less so the Marines) just aren't given a chance to realize their potential as either individual soldiers or as cohesive units. The US Army infantry especially is not given much of a chance to really show what it is potentially capable of. It would be just as good as the best Commonwealth units, and those US Light Infantry units (as well as other types involved in the same program) that were formed and trained under COHORT twenty or so years ago were on paper almost as well-led and -trained, and probably exceeded in those same areas many, perhaps even most Commonwealth units in practice. On those occasions when it's allowed to get its act together, the US Army can shine with the best of them. Trouble is, the System usually won't let it, but the Army could do it if the System let it, make no mistake. Ken's right that the Army is still stuck in WWII training-wise, and that it programmed to produce mass quantities of mediocrely-trained troosp. It's not right and can and should be changed.

Steve Blair
10-09-2007, 02:06 PM
As I've indicated before (in this thread and others) I remain a big fan of the original U.S. regimental system. It wasn't tied to geographic regions (though that was proposed from time to time) and for the most part it remained free of some of the squabbling and distinctions that Ken mentioned with the British forces (I suspect in part because none of the U.S. regiments had the sort of symbolic duties and/or functions that their British counterparts had...the Old Guard is a very modern invention that had no place in the old system). Most squabbling was reserved for branch conflicts (cavalry versus infantry and so on), but even that was rather reserved.

And Ken and I also agree about the impact of the rotation system on units.

Rifleman
10-10-2007, 04:27 AM
But the best system is not the Regimental System. For all its superiority over most other systems, the WWII German Divisional System is by far the best. Generally similar to the British Regimental System, including an emphasis on local recruiting, the Divisional System (in turned prodeuced by the Wehrkreise System) is the best, and while it produced no less strong regiments than the British system, the focus of tribal identity was the Combined-Arms Division, not the single-arm Regiment. Couple this with the superb training, discipline, leadership, and Auftragstaktik with the Geenral staff System (another thread in itself), and you have the finest "System" in the world. The performance of the Deutchesheer in WWII I think bears this argument out rather well. This is the system every Army should use.


Let's assume that's true. I don't know if it is, or isn't, but if it is.....

Since the division is now acting more like a corps why not go the final step and organize permanently into big separate brigades commanded by a brigadier? The brigadier could have one or two colonels under him in case something smaller was needed for a specific mission. They could command ad hoc combat commands (or something similar to a Marine Corps MEU designed to fit the Army's needs) of one or two battalions for a specific mission.

Tradition and heraldry could still be maintained. You could still have the 82nd Airborne Brigade, etc. In fact, a lot of historic division shoulder patches that haven't been worn since WWII might have to come back for brigade HQs. The National Guard does that now.

You could also divide the U.S. into brigade districts. This would probably meet our needs for "tribalism" and a sense of primary group somewhat better than the British regimental system. A soldier from a particular region could still serve with his region's combined arms brigade even if he did not want a combat arms MOS. Not so for a single branch regiment drawn from a particular region.

And if you don't like those ideas.....we could always call them legions and subdivide them into cohorts! :eek:

Strength and honor! :D

Ken White
10-10-2007, 04:48 AM
Let's assume that's true. I don't know if it is, or isn't, but if it is.....

Since the division is now acting more like a corps why not go the final step and organize permanently into big separate brigades commanded by a brigadier? The brigadier could have one or two colonels under him in case something smaller was needed for a specific mission. They could command ad hoc combat commands (or something similar to a Marine Corps MEU designed to fit the Army's needs) of one or two battalions for a specific mission.
. . .
. . .
And if you don't like those ideas.....we could always call them legions and subdivide them into cohorts! :eek:

Strength and honor! :D

The Pen-tagun will revolve on its axis! You're eliminating Major General spaces. Absolute no-no, that... :D

(Even though you're really right on big brigades, the command structure and the lineage and patch bit. That's been proposed many times and what I said has always defeated it -- that and the WW II mentality. Which is ironic because other than North Africa, we really fought all of WW II as RCTs, the divisions just tried to keep up and for the most part, did the repple depple, beans and bullets bit...)

Norfolk
10-11-2007, 03:49 AM
Let's assume that's true. I don't know if it is, or isn't, but if it is.....

Since the division is now acting more like a corps why not go the final step and organize permanently into big separate brigades commanded by a brigadier? The brigadier could have one or two colonels under him in case something smaller was needed for a specific mission. They could command ad hoc combat commands (or something similar to a Marine Corps MEU designed to fit the Army's needs) of one or two battalions for a specific mission.

Tradition and heraldry could still be maintained. You could still have the 82nd Airborne Brigade, etc. In fact, a lot of historic division shoulder patches that haven't been worn since WWII might have to come back for brigade HQs. The National Guard does that now.

You could also divide the U.S. into brigade districts. This would probably meet our needs for "tribalism" and a sense of primary group somewhat better than the British regimental system. A soldier from a particular region could still serve with his region's combined arms brigade even if he did not want a combat arms MOS. Not so for a single branch regiment drawn from a particular region.

And if you don't like those ideas.....we could always call them legions and subdivide them into cohorts! :eek:

Strength and honor! :D

Rifleman, you have articulated something that I have been thinking about for some time now, which is the idea of returning to the old system of brigading regiments. Now, the exact composition of such brigades would obviously depend upon their role. For example, I'd like to see an Armoured Brigade composed of 2 Regiments of Armoured (mechanized) Infantry and a Regiment each of Armour, Artillery, Engineers, and a Recce Battalion (at least),et al , bumping brigade back up to the level that it had in the US Army prior to McNair's Triangular Division (but not necessarily dispensing with the triangular arrangement, let alone return to the old Square Division, unless that proved to be tactically better). Division in turn would likewise be bumped up back up to the same level as it had pre-c.1940, and Corps in turn would displace Field Army; "Army Group" would simply be what you find in NATO (a multi-national group of army corps). Think about; in the entire US Army, their would be at most 2 corps commander slots, and that's including both Active and Reserve Components.

There's something oddly satisfying just imagining the howls and screams emanating from the galaxy of the stars as 2-,3-, and 4-star types fell from their lofty heights with no inflated formation structures to "justify" their holding of excessive rank. It feels kind of good:cool:...until Ken comes along and administers the usual dose of grim, depressing reality:wry:.

P.S.: While I'm still dreaming, I'd like an Infantry Brigade of 3 Regiments of Infantry (foot), a Regiment of Artillery, and a Battalion each of Armour, APCs, Engineers, Reconnaissance, etc.; basically what the good old-fashioned regular infantry divisions used to be, but much better-led and -trained.

All right, dreaming over.

wm
10-11-2007, 02:24 PM
Rifleman, you have articulated something that I have been thinking about for some time now, which is the idea of returning to the old system of brigading regiments. Now, the exact composition of such brigades would obviously depend upon their role. For example, I'd like to see an Armoured Brigade composed of 2 Regiments of Armoured (mechanized) Infantry and a Regiment each of Armour, Artillery, Engineers, and a Recce Battalion (at least),et al , bumping brigade back up to the level that it had in the US Army prior to McNair's Triangular Division (but not necessarily dispensing with the triangular arrangement, let alone return to the old Square Division, unless that proved to be tactically better). Division in turn would likewise be bumped up back up to the same level as it had pre-c.1940, and Corps in turn would displace Field Army; "Army Group" would simply be what you find in NATO (a multi-national group of army corps). Think about; in the entire US Army, their would be at most 2 corps commander slots, and that's including both Active and Reserve Components.

What you describe was actually very like the concept plan early on in Army transformation discussions. Above the brigade-sized Units of Action (UA) were to to be 2 command and control headquarters levels, or Units of Execution (UE)--some (UEx) would have combined division and corps HQ functions while others (UEy) would be HQs that combined Corps and echelons above corps (EAC) functions. I seem to recall that there was going to be a significant reduction in the number of Army two-, three-, and four-button command slots because of the consolidations into these UEx's and UEy's.

Well, UA's became Brigade Combat Teams of various sorts (heavy, light, sustainment, maneuver enhancement, fires, etc)--ostensibly because UA was a less meaningful term and was hard to understand by the Army in the field. And, rather than getting a decrease in the number of division and higher HQs, another Combatant Command (AFRICOM) has appeared on the scene.

I don't know for sure why the UEx/y construct disappeared (I had moved onto other work by that time), but I suspect that Ken White had his finger pointed in the right direction. The problem of "casing the colors" for such tradition and glory covered units as the "The Big Red One," 'Rock of the Marne," "Old Ironsides, "All-America," and "Screamin' Eagles" may have something to do with it as well. We (the Army at least) seem to have a certain affinity for the hostorical lineage assocciated with some of those names. I haven't figured out why (other than for "emotional" reasons) we still have a division numbered 101, 82, or even 25 in an active force that has had fewer than 20 total divisions for over 20 years now.

Rifleman
10-11-2007, 03:10 PM
I haven't figured out why (other than for "emotional" reasons) we still have a division numbered 101, 82, or even 25 in an active force that has had fewer than 20 total divisions for over 20 years now.

I haven't figured out why (other than some sort of "We can't do it that way because it's never been done that way." attitude) we can't have brigades numbered 101, 82, 25, etc.

If the Army wants to preserve the history of it's fighting divisions, well, anyone for a 9th Brigade Combat Team, "Old Reliables," or a 17th Airborne Brigade, "Golden Talon?" Or does that just make too much sense?

"It's never been done that way," many will say. "That's not how heraldry works," say others.

Well, now, before the regiments were disbanded and that GOOFY! system of having a battalion trace it's lineage to a lettered company of some regiment came into being.....it had never been done that way either. Somebody just decided it was going to be that way.

Tom Odom
10-11-2007, 03:13 PM
Well, now, before the regiments were disbanded and that GOOFY! system of having a battalion trace it's lineage to a lettered company of some regiment came into being.....it had never been done that way either. Somebody just decided it was going to be that way.

Officially this is CMH's role. Unofficially, the elephants active and retired really make the decisions.

Tom

Ken White
10-11-2007, 03:36 PM
Officially this is CMH's role. Unofficially, the elephants active and retired really make the decisions.

Tom

And the latter have more clout than many realize...

Agree with the thread trend above, Bdes with the old Div designations -- and patches.

I've never been a fan of the triangular concept. The Germans developed it to cope with a predominately Reservist Army and we and the Brits adapted it for our WW II mostly conscript Armies. The theory was that the odd number would force flexible thinking.

First flaw in that is most people are smarter than the 'really-smart-people-in-charge' generally think they are. The second is that you cannot force an inflexible person to think flexibly and the third is that lack of combat power at company level creates way too many problems that an excessive number of small battalions won't solve... :rolleyes:

I've long thought that the ideal Armor Battalion would have two Tank and two Armored Rifle Companies plus a Reconnaissance Company / Cav Troop (not platoon) -- with the Infantry mounted in far more heavily armored PCs (NOT IFV. Converted tanks...) would be far more tactically flexible and easier to train.

The usual complaint I hear about that is that the span of control is too great -- my usual response is that we over control everything... :D

wm
10-11-2007, 04:10 PM
The Germans developed it to cope with a predominately Reservist Army and we and the Brits adapted it for our WW II mostly conscript Armies. The theory was that the odd number would force flexible thinking.

First flaw in that is most people are smarter than the 'really-smart-people-in-charge' generally think they are. The second is that you cannot force an inflexible person to think flexibly and the third is that lack of combat power at company level creates way too many problems that an excessive number of small battalions won't solve... :rolleyes:

I've long thought that the ideal Armor Battalion would have two Tank and two Armored Rifle Companies plus a Reconnaissance Company / Cav Troop (not platoon) -- with the Infantry mounted in far more heavily armored PCs (NOT IFV. Converted tanks...) would be far more tactically flexible and easier to train.

The usual complaint I hear about that is that the span of control is too great -- my usual response is that we over control everything... :D

Ken,
I thought the Germans went to a triangular arrangement across the board during the later stages of WWI because casualty rates produced an inability to adequately fill their original square organizations. (I seem to remember the reserve formations were triangular when initially mobilized as well.) I thought a similar kind of reorganization occurred, for similar reasons, with the formation volks grenadier division later in WWII.

Anyway, both triangular and square formations have good reasons for their adoption from a fire and maneuver perspective. Span of control is a red herring. A typical 1980s US Army heavy division commander had at least 3 maneuver brigades, a cav squadron, a brigade-sized Divarty, and a Discom to command, not to mention assorted elements that got passed down DS/GS/attached from Corps. (Yeah, I know he had two 1-star Assistants to help out too). We even bumped up the Engineers to a Bde-sized force as well. I do not recall any of those commanders complaining about having their span of control exceeded.

Norfolk
10-11-2007, 04:19 PM
And the latter have more clout than many realize...

Agree with the thread trend above, Bdes with the old Div designations -- and patches.

I've never been a fan of the triangular concept. The Germans developed it to cope with a predominately Reservist Army and we and the Brits adapted it for our WW II mostly conscript Armies. The theory was that the odd number would force flexible thinking.

First flaw in that is most people are smarter than the 'really-smart-people-in-charge' generally think they are. The second is that you cannot force an inflexible person to think flexibly and the third is that lack of combat power at company level creates way too many problems that an excessive number of small battalions won't solve... :rolleyes:

I've long thought that the ideal Armor Battalion would have two Tank and two Armored Rifle Companies plus a Reconnaissance Company / Cav Troop (not platoon) -- with the Infantry mounted in far more heavily armored PCs (NOT IFV. Converted tanks...) would be far more tactically flexible and easier to train.

The usual complaint I hear about that is that the span of control is too great -- my usual response is that we over control everything... :D

Ken, this sounds a lot like the Commonwealth Combat Team organization. Take an Armoured Regiment with four Tank Squadrons, attach two of them out to a pair of Armoured Infantry Battalions, and pair an Armoured Infantry Company with each of the remaining two Tank Squadrons and the Regimental Recce Troop (platoon) (reinforced by Brigade Recce Squadron [company] if necessary), and whalla!, you can roll over anything in your path up to half your size with hardly breaking stride, and whip anything several times your size on the defence.

We would pair a Tank Squadron and a Rifle company, with the Tank OC commanding the Combat Team in open terrain, the Infantry OC in close terrain. The usual use for these Combat Teams was as Brigade counter-attack or blocking force with two Infantry Battalions up front (of course) in the defence. But in the offense, the Combat Teams would move very fast; if enemy infantry was encountered, the Tank Squadron (at least 2 out of its 4Tank Troops) would provide the base of fire with 1 or 2 tank troops accompanying the rifle company in the assault with APCs providing additional suppression from the flanks; if enemy armour was encountered, the Infantry Company assumed a hasty defence on suitable ground while the Tank Squadron fought a covering force battle and lured the enemy armour into the trap set by the Rifle Company. Once the infantry had worked the enemy over, the tanks counter-attacked.

The Germans taught us this. Kurt Meyer was held in Canada for a few years after WWII, and he starting writing all these letters on tactics and operations to the Army General Staff. Someone at General Simond's office (or the General himself) got interested, and went down to New Brunswick to talk to Meyer. Meyer soon returned to Germany, but the Army spent the next 10 years experimenting with his concepts and rewriting its doctrine. By the 1970's, German Doctrine was set in stone in the CF. Amongst other things, the Germans do not split companies up and cross-attached platoons between them like other Armies often do. They think that it creates confusion and dilutes combat power. They don't even really like cross-attaching between battalions under some circumstances. The Canadian Army is too small too use pure battalions according to the latter, except for the odd infantry battalion, and the Brits liked to have Square Brigades so they could form two Combat Teams in each Infantry Battlion/Armoured Regiment.

Ken - love the Nammer HAPC, best there is, and better than any IFV. And General Simonds, of course, invented the HAPC (the Kangaroo) in Normandy. It can take a long time to learn, or re-learn, the lessons of warfare.

As to CMH and the old general and colonels: in the Commonwealth the old Colonels (of all kinds) often tend to wield a political clout that trumps that of the serving officers of the Regiments.

Ken White
10-11-2007, 05:49 PM
Tanks, Infantry and the recon guys (all ours are too small and IMO, not as well trained as they could be -- that from an old 19D [among other things :D]...). Attachments and OpCons have their uses but the more limited they are, the better. That building block process unquestionably works but units with organic power that train and live together operate far more effectively.

The maintenance and training aspects as objections are vastly overstated and are pretty much parochialism distilled to protect spaces for branches.

Did I ever mention replacing Branch loyalty with unit loyalty... ;)

I'd also add, for big war purposes, an organic FA Battery, realizing todays Batteries have the firepower of WW II Battalions. We can centralize the effects of fires from some distance today.

Rex Brynen
10-11-2007, 05:54 PM
ove the Nammer HAPC, best there is, and better than any IFV.

I'm not so sure--leaving aside having only a .50 on a chassis this heavy, have you seen how small the rear door is for dismounting?

http://www.defense-update.com/images/namer-1.jpg

Its not clear if they've fixed this on the production version (http://www.defense-update.com/products/n/namer_aifv.htm), using the Mk 4 chassis.

OK, off topic *lol* ...and back the the original thread...

Ken White
10-11-2007, 06:36 PM
on it and the tendency of some commanders (vehicle and unit) is to think they have a light tank and misemploy the vehicles. That's why I said APC and not IFV... :)

The IFV was IMO always a very bad idea. Norfolk is correct in that the Ram conversion to the Kangaroo was a great idea.

(Which means y'all could convert your Leopard C1s to APCs... ;) )

Door's big enough; ramps are only handy if you want to haul cargo -- again, tending to set the vehicle up for misuse. The only real advantage is to load casualties (misuse, IMO *) I suspect the Israelis will have tracked and Armored ambulances nearby and as evacuating casualties is not the Infantry Squads job -- nor should it be -- the need for a wide entrance is at least arguable.

* Of course, I'm a Dinosaur, trained by folks who'd been in WW II and who told me that the only thing I was to do to a casualty was take his ammo and chow -- and if the BAR man, also his weapon -- and never the water or field dressing. So I made the folks who worked for me in both Korea and Viet Nam do the same thing. Others mileage today may vary; we are a kinder and gentler world. Which is probably a good thing -- if it stays that way, if not you may want to resurrect the Dinosaurs...

wm
10-11-2007, 06:39 PM
Did I ever mention replacing Branch loyalty with unit loyalty... ;)


Talk abou heresy. Norfolk's need to find a good covered and concealed position after his faux pas about the airborne on the About Airmen thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=3901&page=4) is nowhere near as great as your need will be when the TRADOC branch school leaders and MILPERCEN (oh excuse me, Human Resources Command) assignment folks find out what you want to do to their fiefdoms. :D

Norfolk
10-11-2007, 06:49 PM
I'm not so sure--leaving aside having only a .50 on a chassis this heavy, have you seen how small the rear door is for dismounting?

http://www.defense-update.com/images/namer-1.jpg

Its not clear if they've fixed this on the production version (http://www.defense-update.com/products/n/namer_aifv.htm), using the Mk 4 chassis.

OK, off topic *lol* ...and back the the original thread...

Rex, but the rear doors on a lot of IFVs aren't much better, except for those that have ramps. I rembmer all too well trying to get in and out of the LAV-1 which has two rear doors, and somehow (because of that stupid lip at the bottom) it usually ended up with guys piling up on top of one another as someone invariably tripped. But an increase in protection is utterly necessary, as the infantry need to get as close to the enemy positions as possible - even 200-300m away may too far for infantry squads/sections to go before enemy fire inflicts crippling losses or the infantry simply have to go to gournd, and lose all momentum - disastrous. Whenever and wherever possible, infantry should dismount no more than 100 metres away from the enemy position, and the assault position should not have to be more than 50 m away from the enemy, or the assaulting troops may suffer too many losses even before rolling into the trenches.

This means that APC must have the same protection as MBT (I think Gen. Don Starry wrote quite a bit about this) or they probably won't make it close enough to the enemy defences to get the infantry to their attack positions (both suppression and assault) without exposing themselves to heavy losses. First off, IFVs at typical infantry dismount ranges (up to 300m from enemy position) are vulnerable to both light anti-tank weapons and heavy machine guns. Only recently have some IFVs been armoured against Soviet 14.5mm AP fired by KPV HMG as close as 200m on their sides; closer than that, and the IFV's are toast as enemy dismounted HMGs fire into their sides and rip them and their passengers apart. Needless to say, autocannons on defending IFVs will do the job even better, and even the heaviest IFVs are only protected against 30mm APFSDS along their frontal arcs, and some IFVs now carry 40mm cannons. Only MBT-level protection can handle that.

Also, most infantry light anti-tank weapons are not very effective against MBT-level protected vehicles (a few like RPG-29 are on areas not covered by composite armour), and the heavier stuff has be be several hundred metres behind the front lines to work effectively both in order to arm and to "capture" targets, not to mention have enough distance between themselves and the front line so that the tanks don't get them right away. Tanks lead the APCs/IFVs and are tasked with destroying or suppressing enemy tanks and ATGMs on the way in. These are some of the reasons the Israelis have opted for the Nammer (et al) instead of IFV to replace M-113. Nammer, of course, also carries a full (if small) infantry squad of 9 men and most IFV carry only 6 or 7.

As for the 50-cal (and the 7.62 as well), that's a compromise. The Israelis have correctly identified that the primary point is to get the infantry as close as possible to the enemy position so that they can close with and destroy the enemy, without suffering such losses on the way in that either they can't complete their attack, or even if they do succeed, their losses are such that they can't beat off the inevitable enemy counter-attack. An HMG is a very powerful weapon, and paired with an MMG is very useful in all sorts of conditions. Very smart of the Israelis to have chosen what they did for the Nammer.

The problem with light cannon is space. Ideally every APC or IFV would have an autocannon that would allow them to suppress or destroy ATGM launchers out to at least 4,000m - maybe the 40mm can do that; and be able to take out anything short of an MBT at at least half that range. But an autocannon, the turret basket, its fire-control systems, ammunition bins/stowage, tools, etc., take up a lot of space, and when that means you can't carry a full infantry squad/section anymore, it's just self-defeating. Besides, the larger autocannons don't allow for very much ammo to be carried anyway, undoubtedly effective as they are. You can carry a lot more MG ammo for the same ammount of space and keep fighting.

As it is, the tanks are supposed to be providing the heavy firepower, and the IFVs/APCs the infantry to clean up in their wake. HESH fired by tank (rifled, not smoothbore) guns is vastly more effective than autocannon rounds of any persuasion; even one of the new multi-purpose rounds for smoothbore tank guns are more effective than several rounds of scarce autocannon ammo. If space in the infantry's vehicles are taken up by cannons and their ammo, there's not enough infantry to do the job, even with all the added suppression (Gen. DePuy might have disputed this point, maybe Tom or Fred can weigh-in with a contrary view here).

Ski
10-11-2007, 06:53 PM
Again, the Center of Military History had a COA where the Active Duty Divisions HQ's would have been wearing Corps HQ shoulder patches and the BCT's would have worn Divisional Patches.

I may actually be able to drag some of this material out of mothballs if given the chance. I remember 18 Corps being the 82nd Airborne Division, with the 82nd BCT, 101st BCT, 173rd BCT and 17th BCT underneath them IIRC...

The greybeards were the ones who stopped this. Retired GO's who couldn't bear to see the old 82nd or 101st Airborne Division associations be scuttled...and there was significant pushback from certain AC GO's as well.

It is very cool seeing many of the old ARNG patches back in service.

Tom Odom
10-11-2007, 06:54 PM
Tanks, Infantry and the recon guys (all ours are too small and IMO, not as well trained as they could be -- that from an old 19D [among other things :D]...). Attachments and OpCons have their uses but the more limited they are, the better. That building block process unquestionably works but units with organic power that train and live together operate far more effectively.

The maintenance and training aspects as objections are vastly overstated and are pretty much parochialism distilled to protect spaces for branches.

Did I ever mention replacing Branch loyalty with unit loyalty... ;)

I'd also add, for big war purposes, an organic FA Battery, realizing todays Batteries have the firepower of WW II Battalions. We can centralize the effects of fires from some distance today.

Sounds like an ACR, Ken :D

but we like playing with blocks :wry:

Tom

Ken White
10-11-2007, 06:56 PM
give young officers. When they get to be Chief of Staff, they should:

Change that part of AR 600-200 that says a NCO selected by the central board will be promoted unless his Commander writes a letter to remove him for cause to read "he will be promoted only if his commander writes a letter concurring." The rationale is simply that commanders do not have time to write letters to remove marginal people but they will find time to write letters for their really good people.

Nuke the Hoffman building.

BTW, I understand that HRC, concerned over the possible misapplication of their initials by someone and the potential for the word 'Command' to be seen as not in keeping with the COOP ideal of egalitarianism has considered a name change to 'Human and Unit Resources Liaison' or HURL.:D

Ken White
10-11-2007, 07:11 PM
Sounds like an ACR, Ken :D

but we like playing with blocks :wry:

Tom

Same basic idea, just more combat power. As that ancient oriental philosopher once said, "whatever works..." and yep, we do, even if they don't fit together very well...

Consider the fact that a lot of great combined arms officers got their start as old style Cav Platoon leaders. Scouts, Tanks, Infantry and fire support all in one package designed for independent action. What a novel idea. :wry:

You don't suppose fear of that independent action led to the demise, do you? :D

Norfolk
10-11-2007, 07:12 PM
Talk about...Norfolk's need to find a good covered and concealed position after his faux pas about the airborne on the About Airmen thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=3901&page=4) is nowhere near as great as your need will be when the TRADOC branch school leaders and MILPERCEN (oh excuse me, Human Resources Command) assignment folks find out what you want to do to their fiefdoms. :D

and let the gators get 'em when they come for us - I understand the gators down South are lately acquiring a taste for two-legged delicacies:rolleyes:.

I wish we could convert the old Leopards to HAPCS, but like the US Army, we have to support the folks at General Dynamics to keep jobs (including those of politicians and their staffs) in Ontario and Alabama. That said, the Leopard, while a very nice piece of kit, was a little thin-skinned for my liking. But as long as it was just Armoured Toads who were going to suffer, I'd didn't much mind; after the tanks'd stopped burning, we infantry would have stripped the machine guns and anything else useful or amusing from the wrecks...have I just managed to spur yet another branch community to scream for my blood?:confused:

Ken White
10-11-2007, 07:28 PM
we'll strike. It is better to give PTSD than to receive. :D

The C1 could be up armored, sans the turret, plenty of power -- however, I hear you on the keeping GD and the Carlyle Group from going to the poorhouse... :wry:

Tom Odom
10-11-2007, 07:54 PM
You don't suppose fear of that independent action led to the demise, do you?

Wot? Independence? Can't have that...

Next the lads will be thinking

And that would be dangerous, wot?

Tell them to pull (not squeeze) the trigger every time their left boot hits the ground...

Eyes front...

No thinking...

Tighten up those ranks you slovenly bastards...

Now that is soldiering, Ken!:cool:

Tom

Norfolk
10-12-2007, 04:53 PM
Here's an article from about ten years ago on the matter of independent thought permitted for, and trust placed in, subordinates by their superiors. The main point Col. Oliviero tires to get across here (and as a retired officer), is that our societal culture in general and our service culture in particular are not only averse to said, they are basically incapable of properly understanding and fully adopting and adjusting to the German way of war as they stand, and that this will take long study and a fundamental transformation of both our service and our societal cultures in order to do so.

"Trust, Manoeuvre Warfare, Mission Command, and Canada's Army" by Lt.Col. Chuck Oliviero:

http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/documents/vol_01/iss_1/CAJ_vol1.1_05_e.pdf

It takes a little bit to really get going, but when it does, it's fairly worthwhile.