PDA

View Full Version : What are the top 5 things we've learned from OIF



Rob Thornton
11-15-2007, 01:04 AM
Below is the starter for this thread that came out of a response I put forward in the Counter-Insurgency for U.S. Policy Makers (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4321) thread that Steve Metz started:


How will OIF be remembered - from which parts will we draw lessons available? What was John Ford trying to tell us when Jimmy Stewart admits to not having killed Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?

I have some concern that when OIF is reviewed we will pick and choose what we want to learn out of it. If we were doing a review right now what would we lay out as the top 5 or so takeaways and how would that effect change? I'm a bit concerned that as a military we might go for the low hanging fruit instead of really being introspective and looking forward with regards not only to our own war, but the other wars going on around us, and how potential adversaries might be eyeballing us and their neighbors.

Do we simplify things through aggregation of events to get our arms around it -a kind of historical compression - where important bits get crushed in order to make the larger event fit the place we assign it? Do we linearize historical events to a point where they are seen only in relation to previous and subsequent events and as such lose important context, or are discarded as irrelevant? We have to be real careful not to do this.

At certain points in OIF you'll find some serious fights where the nature of war became reasonably unbridled and pure for the combatants, even if outside of that it was more tethered to its political context. This not only happened during the invasion, but in Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad, Mosul and several other places between the invasion and up to 2007. We still consider there is a possibility of large scale fights that might happen as a result of JAM, folks lying low until we start to withdraw BCTs or if events exterior to OIF should occur - we have to in order to lessen the chance of being surprised. We should not write those fights off as anomalies - nor should we cite them as the norm. Maybe its just the way chance and probability are going to play out to scale given the stakes of interested parties. What appears of tactical consequence to us, might be perceived as strategic to somebody else - and their reaction might be as well.

Consider what it takes to deploy and sustain a large military force of air, sea and ground components capable of doing what we did in the initial phase of OIF - too many times I think policy folks (and even ourselves) don't understand or forget the mechanisms involved in that task until we actually have to do it. As such we often lack an appreciation for the overhead required to adjust to the friction of doing these big muscle movements with all the supporting ones that make it possible.

RA ad Ken asked me to consider putting up a thread that would offer an an opportunity to consider what we've learned from OIF thus far. I had to think about that for a moment because it meant pulling a response from one thread and potentially losing the context from which the response was given.

I think that is OK though - and I think we must always ask questions about what we've learned - but I wanted to qualify what responses "might" consist of:

- It could be about the pre-war to contemplating the post war.
- It could be from the tactical to the strategic.
- It could be from the domestic to the international.
- It could be about the enemy or about ourselves.
- It could be about Iraq or about Iraq's neighbors.
- It could be about our strategic culture or our morals and values with regard to how war changes us
- It could be about politics or how we wage war
- It cold be about IO or expectations
- It could be about .....

In sum - the floor is wide open. You don't need to stay on a single topic - cover five different ones if you want - be brief or be explanatory. I think it would be helpful if you can rank order them and tell why - so we all understand why something is important.

For those wondering about the Liberty Valance ref. - John Wayne actually shot Lee Marvin, but after an older Jimmy Stewart tells all at the end, the guy recording the story tears it up - truth would not play out as well as the legend of a shop keeper standing down the town bad guy - we have to try hard and prevent that if we stand a chance of learning the right lessons and preparing for future wars. From the first guys and gals who crossed the berm and went into Iraq (and the pilots who flew those first missions) our folks have overcome fog and friction found within the METT-TC conditions - there are all kinds of lesson we should be considering.

Best Regards, Rob

I'll eventually get around to putting up my 5 - but I want to think about them awhile.

Gian P Gentile
11-15-2007, 02:57 AM
Rob:

I like the thrust of this thread. But i have to ask you for some clarification and not to nit-pic but to know what you are trying to get at with this question.

Do you mean actually what we have "learned," or, what "lessons" we can draw so far from oif? I am not trying to quibble over semantics but when you say what we have "learned" it implies knowing how certain understandings or "lessons" from oif have been incorporated into our organizations. So the notion of "learning" might be a bit hard to know at this point in the war but "lessons" i think we can start to discern.

thanks

gian

Rob Thornton
11-15-2007, 12:48 PM
Do you mean actually what we have "learned," or, what "lessons" we can draw so far from oif? I am not trying to quibble over semantics but when you say what we have "learned" it implies knowing how certain understandings or "lessons" from oif have been incorporated into our organizations. So the notion of "learning" might be a bit hard to know at this point in the war but "lessons" i think we can start to discern.


I should clarify. I don't think we should limit the discussion to those lessons that have been brought into our organizations - here is why.

I've come to believe more in the idea of "lessons available" - and I've kind of blended that into the idea of what lessons we think we've learned. I am concerned that in the future we might draw the wrong things from OIF - either because we wish them to fit the context of the moment, or because they will be divorced from the context of where they occurred. As such, I left the category very broad because we have such a diverse council who offer diverse views and experiences, and can scrutinize and postulate on what lessons are there to be learned, if they are the right lessons, etc.

Last night I wondered if we should also expand the thread and offer the opportunity for council members to debate "lessons" offered up by others - then I figured that it would happen anyway because we are an argumentative bunch (in a good way:))as well as seeking to understand each other's ideas.

The idea has been bothering me since I began reading COBRA II - then went back and looked how OIF has changed over the past years and thought about what our potential enemies are learning about us, and how they are thinking and preparing to defeat us, deny us, thwart us, make it too costly, etc. in order to achieve their own ends - be it regime survival, expansion, creation of a caliphate, the obtainment of nuclear weapons, etc.

How has OIF (and to a lesser degree OEF) changed our thinking and focus in both positive and negative ways about the use of military force to achieve a political end? Steve Metz had mentioned Colin Gray and Martin Van Crevald as having differing thoughts on the future of state on state vs. state on non-state. I think the future of who will wage war and how it will be waged important to consider - and I think we often postulate about the future by drawing on the past - the problem is we compress, linearize, and pick over history.

For me I'm more in line with Gray - in that I think it wise never to say never or you'll find yourself surprised in the worst way in the worst moment with the worst consequences at hand. My belief stems from both the idea that because the enemy is not always going to conform to our own standards of rationality given their perspective and desire of the object in view, and because they are living, thinking, learning and adapting - they will avail themselves of their strengths and our disadvantages; and because given the friction and fog of war - #### happens - that will further compound things - be they mistakes or advantages. When I finally get around to writing down 5 things - at least one of them will deal with the idea of "hybrid wars" that Hoffman, Terry Terriff an others have been thinking of - the idea that a state will be involved in some way and at some point within a war, and because non-states seem to have "state-like" ambitions - that is where I lean toward Gray more then Van Crevald.

Best regards, Rob

goesh
11-15-2007, 01:47 PM
1.) Significant and vocal elements on the home front will never support any war under any circumstances, hence an increase in PR energy and expenditures by the military aimed at the home front is not justified.
2.) Concerns over immediate financial expenditures trump any and all strategic considerations and drive all time tables. The need for quality war products that saves lives and expedites mission completion mandates radical restructuring in logistical management/allocation.
3.) ROE can only be defined by the culture and terrain encountered
4.) All civilians and non-indigenous contractors must answer to a higher military authority, except the Diplomatic Corps, during combat and pacification operations.
5.) All combat personnel and those slotted for in-country supportive roles must undergo extensive, intensive cross cultural training and those failing must be kept stateside or discharged.

Tom Odom
11-15-2007, 02:24 PM
Rob,

As a historian and a lessons learned type I would echo Gian Gentile's concerns and go a bit further. We have opportunities now to look at insights but I seriously doubt that "we" have "learned" anything. I say that because no one on SWJ can really define who "we" is at this stage; that definition is citical to what is even considered worthy of learning. As examples, I would several key senior leaders who judging from their books or their pronouncements never learned a damn thing: Tenet, Wolfowitz, and Bremer are examples. Finally I would say that as you consider what insights are worthy you must always keep in mind that OIF is not over; the fat lady is still chowing down and has no intention to sing in the near future.

With those cautions in mind, I would offer a few:

Quantity has a certain quality all its own when it comes to post-war stability.

Intelligence is often a question of user intelligence

Speed in shifting forces means you uncover stabilized areas faster

The host people chose their insurgents

Cultural ignorance is stupidity


Best

tom

Stu-6
11-15-2007, 05:41 PM
1. Ends and means should be clearly laid out at the start. Bumper sticker slogans like we fight for freedom are a poor substitute for real stagey.

2.War can be started unilaterally but it can only be ended multilaterally. It aint over till both sides say it’s over.

3.Low tech stealth (i.e. car bombs, pretending to be innocent civilians, etc) can defeat high-tech weapons.

4.Don’t assume they want the same thing as you.

5. Your enemies are under no obligation to fight your kind of war.

I stress "should" because we should have learned some of these from Vietnam (or other places). I think this is what Col. David Hackworth was thinking of when he use to talk about CRS disease (Can't Remember ####)

RTK
11-15-2007, 06:05 PM
no one on SWJ can really define who "we" is at this stage;

Concur,

Perhaps you breakdown "we" further into subcategories. Though this is not an all-encompassing list (I came up with this after five minutes of scribbling and mind dumping onto a piece of paper) I think each of the following groups has learned something different:

- Military (Tactical level)
- Maneuver, Fires and Effects
- CSS
- Intelligence
- Civil Affairs
- Psychological Operations
- SOF
- Medical
- Aviation (fixed and rotary)
- Military (Operational level)
- Maneuver, Fires and Effects
- CSS
- Intelligence
- Civil Affairs
- Psychological Operations
- SOF
- Medical
- Aviation (fixed and rotary)
- Military (Strategic level)
- Maneuver, Fires and Effects
- CSS
- Intelligence
- Civil Affairs
- Psychological Operations
- SOF
- Medical
- Aviation (fixed and rotary)
- Political Appointees
- Political Electees
- Department of Defense
- Department of State
- Law Enforcement
- PRTs
- MiTTs/SPiTTs/BiTTs
- Logisticians
- Merchant Marine Transport
- Strategic Air Transport
- Procurment
- Acquisition
- FAO specialties
- Research Development
- Doctrine Development
- Linguists
- Academics
- Anthropologists
- Historians
- Economists
- Citizens

Steve Blair
11-15-2007, 08:37 PM
I would also hazard a guess that the learning has occurred relatively quickly at some levels and not at all in others. The higher one goes, the less that really seems to be "learned," and also the further one gets into areas that do not have vested interests in the outcome in Iraq the less that is learned or retained.

I guess that's where it ends up for me: how much of what we gather will actually be retained? We learned a great deal in Vietnam (the hard way), and much of it was dumped as soon as the shooting stopped (if not before). I agree with Tom in that the singing hasn't even started yet (in fact the ol' cow ain't even warming up yet). Goesh has a nice summary of many good points, and I could add more. But I still worry about how much of it will be retained.

kehenry1
11-15-2007, 09:35 PM
From my perspective, looking over the battles in most third world nations, either the ones that we've been involved in to the ones that we just watched unfold, ethnic or sectarian tension or conflict seems inevitable. From the first Gulf War, where it was the Shia that rose up against Saddam, to the Balkans, to Rwanda, Somalia, etc, etc, etc, particularly wherever political repression and economic depression exist.

We seemed to be blissfully unaware of or simply ignored the possibility or probability. Maybe it is "hindsight", but we should have anticipated both the Shia death squads and the Sunni insurgents. When one ethnicity or sect has been oppressed by the other, they are going to want "justice" or "revenge". If that isn't forth coming immediately by either the invading force or by the constituted "representative government", one side will take matters into their own hands and it likely will not be as controlled or limited as a government might be and the needs to reduce the possibility of all out civil war.

In some regards, though I understood the need for the Iraq government (now Shia dominated) to appear "just" as a new kind of government, different from the old, and our own desire to collect intelligence, it might have been more prudent to move along trials of the top offenders and get that out of the way.

At the time, we were operating under the assumption that the appearance of "justice" would stem the tide of the insurgency. In all honesty, it didn't. Instead, the length of the trials allowed such malcontents to use it as an excuse to take revenge and fueled the Sunni insurgency. Accepting, of course, that part of the problem was the Al Qaida presence and attacks being loosely associated with some Sunni local insurgents.

Still, "justice" should have been done much sooner. This was not post WWII Germany where the population had been bombarded into glazed eyed acceptance of the end and could not mobilize to protest the long trials or the occupation.

Had the Iraqis moved forward quickly with trials, even under a very imperfect system and with summary decisions of guilt (as if there was going to be any other...another complaint heard among Iraqis) and execution, the Shia may even have been mollified enough to allow the system to work, even a little more slowly on the rest. It might also had the Shia less concerned about high ranking Ba'athists coming back and allowed the rest of the reconciliation problem to move forward.

As they say in the west, "No justice, no peace."

Accepting that third world nations are likely to have such tensions or conflict, we should be much more cognizant of the layers of society and prepared to deal with them. Somehow, the idea that Iraqis were "educated" and had lived together for years without conflict, made us forget that the Ba'athist organization was largely Sunni and had oppressed the Shia violently, thus the probability of conflict.

Further, that, most of the Sunni not being unutterable destroyed or decimated in battle, meant that they were less likely to see themselves as "totally defeated" and thus ready to accept the new paradigm of a Shia dominated government. It's the sociological idea that the abuser actually fears the return abuse that they may receive when they no longer have power.

We should be looking for the divides and not pretend they don't exist. We should prepare for that divide and the desire for revenge.

That is a good reason to have anthropologists and other cultural experts on board before we decide to go. And, we should be more willing to listen to them. Does it stop war? No. But it may keep a four year insurgency from occurring.

Tom Odom
11-15-2007, 09:45 PM
We seemed to be blissfully unaware of or simply ignored the possibility or probability. Maybe it is "hindsight", but we should have anticipated both the Shia death squads and the Sunni insurgents. When one ethnicity or sect has been oppressed by the other, they are going to want "justice" or "revenge". If that isn't forth coming immediately by either the invading force or by the constituted "representative government", one side will take matters into their own hands and it likely will not be as controlled or limited as a government might be and the needs to reduce the possibility of all out civil war.

Kat,

We were aware in 91 what was likely to happen in Iraq should we go north. I sat on the NIEs that examined the issues. That awareness was very much alive in 2002-2003; it was ignored because it was inconvenient to an established agenda.

In Rwanda in 1994, the probability of genocide was ignored and downplayed, magain because it did not fit with established agendas. From 1994 thru 1996, we were again ignored when we warned that a larger, more dealy conflict was imminent, one that began in 1997.

I don't disagree with any of your thoughts concerning anticipating such conflicts; I did that for a living, None of that, however, alters the reality that the decision makers must be willing to listen. If they don't, then the best analysis in the world is simply fuel for historical study when it comes to light.

Best

Tom

Watcher In The Middle
11-16-2007, 05:37 AM
01 Snipers. Use, availability, training, support, and that fact that for what appears to be the first time in a very long time, we didn't have to go back & re-learn all our previously hard won knowledge. It seems like in virtually every previous conflict, we basically relegated our sniper community to a back room, and forgot virtually everything we had learned. Did not appear to happen this time around.

02 Widespread high speed Internet access. This has changed so many different aspects, and we still don't have our minds fully around all of the consequences. Everybody thinks of the AQI videos, but there's also the Mike Yons of the world, the milblogs, moveon.org, support organizations like Soldiers Angels and anysoldier.com, not to mention the impacts on the effects on MSM. Biggest Impact goes to SWJ, IMO. /shameless pandering:wry:

03 Personal digital electronics. Back in GWI, some, but very limited. Nowdays, stuff is everywhere, and in every variety (cell phones, digital cameras, .MP3 players, iPods, DVD's and players, portable USB hard drives loaded with both music and movies, notebooks & tablets, etc., etc.). Appears to have a real impact on stress reduction, and behavior problems.

04 Logistics. To me, this is one of the more interesting areas. Many non-military (civilian) logistics entities are always watching and studying how the US military runs their logistics, particularly in and out of hostile environments. There's a whole lot of respect out there for US military logistics operations.

05 US Military Adaptability. This is actually pretty impressive, particularly as relating to operations in/around hostile environments. From an outsider vantage point, seeing the military strongly pursuing areas like HTTs and other similar things, and then attempting to rapidly integrate these wholesale changes into front line combat units in a hostile environment is very impressive. There are any number of very large multinational corporate entities which can only wish they were as adaptable as the US military has shown itself to be.

Anyway, these are just some of the items noted from an outsider "looking in" viewpoint.

One other point I might make is that many of you who are inside might in fact be "too close" to fully appreciate exactly how impressive some of these accomplishments appear from the outside.

kehenry1
11-16-2007, 05:46 AM
02 Widespread high speed Internet access. This has changed so many different aspects, and we still don't have our minds fully around all of the consequences. Everybody thinks of the AQI videos, but there's also the Mike Yons of the world, the milblogs, moveon.org, support organizations like Soldiers Angels and anysoldier.com, not to mention the impacts on the effects on MSM. Biggest Impact goes to SWJ, IMO. /shameless pandering

03 Personal digital electronics. Back in GWI, some, but very limited. Nowdays, stuff is everywhere, and in every variety (cell phones, digital cameras, .MP3 players, iPods, DVD's and players, portable USB hard drives loaded with both music and movies, notebooks & tablets, etc., etc.). Appears to have a real impact on stress reduction, and behavior problems.

I would say not to forget that we were able to put video recorders, mp3 voice recorders, lap tops and cell phones into the hands of informants who were able to tape or otherwise provide information on the networks. Most reliable assets.

Ender
11-16-2007, 06:11 AM
to multi-culturalization:
1. Speak their language and understand their lingo, whoever they may be. Both literally and metaphorically which ties into...
2. Ethnocentrism kills. Try to make anyone else look like us in our minds and we only waste time and lives, but if we just try to see the world from their eyes everything will click.
to us:
3. We are still our own worst enemy. No one hits us as hard as we do.
4. We need to go back to basics, they are. Strategy has been left unchanged throughout the centuries but if stone age tech can still effect us we should go back to history and study the tactics of the ancients. I feel union between old and new perspectives will provide a proper foundation for future war fighting.
to the enemy:
5. They are playing for keeps, they want us dead and they are not going to stop unless someone forces them.

RTK
11-16-2007, 12:16 PM
1. Iraqis want the same thing we want; safety and security for their families.
2. Fundamentals are fundamentals are fundamentals. Whether its a tank on tank battle or a counterinsurgency, basic fundamentals of maneuver, fundamentals of offensive operations, fundamentals of defensive operations, fundamentals of security, and fundamentals of reconnaissance apply, it's just their application that changes.
3. IF you try to learn the language and culture and make a concerted effort to communicate, no matter how bad you are, you'll make more money with the populace than if you play the "ugly American."
4. You must live amongst the populace to influence the populace.
5. Nothing you do is stealthy in a counterinsurgency. Someone is always watching you.

Rob Thornton
11-16-2007, 03:09 PM
Some great thoughts in the previous posts - I'll try not to duplicate. Some of these would seem to be things we could have remembered from previous wars - as Ken might proffer - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

1) The nature of a war can change before the first shot is fired, and the longer the war goes, the more likely change will occur. The leadership who can anticipate that change and adapt faster will retain the initiative. This is along the lines of seeing things as they are vs. how we'd prefer them to be.

2) Technology, while it can be a fantastic enabler, is not as substitute for leadership, judgment and reason. War is a social occurrence involving people trying to kill each other - there are dangers in an over reliance on technology on all levels.

3) War will consume resources far beyond those anticipated - the consequences it creates have impacts that go far into the future and create 2nd and 3rd order effects that often rival the original rational for going to war. As such trying to put a dollar amount up front can lead you to a false sense of security in the decision to go to war.

4) The exact quality of a professional military at the onset of war is deceptive to people who have had no hand in its construction. Recruiting, training, sustaining and retaining the type of professionals present in the U.S. military in 2001 requires a great deal of resources (time, money and leadership) - it is not a simple task to replace or increase the quality while trying to sustain or increase quantity. If security matters and the use of military force is likely to be required, then pay the price for retaining a large professional force, so that when the course of the war out runs the projections,or when military options are needed elsewhere - you'll still have options.

5) This has something to do with #4 - but given the climate - perhaps its worth giving its own bullet. Contracting does not automatically equate to commitment or competence on the scale required to attain the war's objectives. When war becomes a business venture, or seeks efficiencies over effectiveness it jeopardizes the legitimacy we seek in our national culture. Again - it means that a larger professional military force with leaders who have increasingly valuable attributes and skills will need to be retained - but in the long run we stand a better chance of attaining a political outcome we can live with.

Best Regards, Rob

wm
11-16-2007, 09:48 PM
My five:

1. On supplying war: Just in time inventory management does not work when you have no prior data on consumption of the “sinews” of war.

2. On paying for war: When there are limited sources of production and
competing demands for the products produced , do not expect the military to get a “sweet” pricing deal.

3. On waging war: Technology alone is not going to win too many battles.

4. On informed decisions: Just because decision makers have been given all the best information available to make good decisions, one cannot be sure that the decision makers will a.) use it and b.) not make a bad decision anyway.

5. On full spectrum operations: The day of the linear battlefield is dead.

Penta
11-18-2007, 06:16 PM
And now my bits, from an outsider's POV (well, mostly; my dad retired 4-5 yrs ago (in Jan 04, then left consulting in Jun 04) after 33 yrs as a DAC - an Engineer and Project Leader w/ US Army CECOM):

1. The US military's logistics system is among the world's best, no question. However, it seems a common yet unspoken issue that we have singularly failed to invest in strategic lift - be that airlift or sealift.

2. The populace may not like to hear that war will leave people dead, will cost money, and will take sacrifices from domestic programs - but we need to bite the bullet and tell them that, anyway. Goesh, I think, emblemizes a viewpoint that, well...scares me. "The civilians will never agree with us, so screw them." No, actually. Perhaps not any time soon, but in most circumstances, you can convince the American people to support military actions. But you need to be honest with them and play it straight. It may not be easy to skip the "fight for freedom" or "make the world safe for democracy" soundbites, but nobody believes those. The American people are not morons, and *can* digest mildly complex strategic rationales like "knocking out the government of Saddam Hussein will remove a symbol of 'anti-Western resistance'" or so forth. It was kind of insulting to hear Bush and the Admin speak of WMDs and democracy - no, morons, sorry. I can tell that's not why you're doing this, because if it was WMDs, you wouldn't wait. And democracy is so freaking overused as an answer it's obviously a lie. Would a more complex rationale be less amenable to soundbites, and maybe less of a feel-good? Yeah. But it'd be better for the country if we were to up our debate by a good bit.

3. The acquisition system is broken. It's a pathetic joke by this point, and needs severe reform from the root levels. We have got to find a way to untangle ourselves from the massive prime contractors we're dealing with. The services need in-house acquisition and contract management ability to a much greater extent - honestly, we should probably plan on needing to have engineering and design capabilities the equal of contractors, so that we can perform oversight. Relatedly: The thought comes to mind, in regards to supply shortages: We have the Defense Production Act. Why not use it, to force the manufacturers to work 24/7/366, for eample?

4. Languages. The old thing where a kid can go into the military at age 18 and come out at 21-22, maybe have gone overseas, and still speak only English fluently...Must die a rapid death. Whether it means issuing every new enlistee and ROTC cadet a copy of Rosetta Stone or expanding on-base language training (or, my preference, putting our tech-obsession towards improving language training by a massive extent) or whatever: Every soldier, by end of their first tour of duty, should be conversationally fluent in at least one language besides English - Fluent being defined as "No, I don't need a translator to talk to a native speaker of said language".

5. On contractors: If OIF has not made us allergic of contractors on the battlefield, we're hopeless. I must admit a liking of the British system, where all contractor personnel in the war zone are actually members of the reserves, under military orders and subject to military discipline while they're on contract. At the very least, every contractor that supports deployed forces, or is otherwise acting for the USG within an area where deployed forces are operating, should be under the UCMJ and under military command.

SteveMetz
11-18-2007, 06:52 PM
Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

RTK
11-18-2007, 07:20 PM
Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

"Fool!" cried the hunchback. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.'"

SteveMetz
11-18-2007, 07:25 PM
"Fool!" cried the hunchback. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well known is this: 'Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.'"

I'm not sure which is worse--that you're quoting the Princess Bride or that I recognize that you're quoting the Princess Bride.

SWJED
11-18-2007, 07:59 PM
1. There is no such thing as a “slam dunk”, regardless. Even if issued from the 7th floor in a building located off a certain exit off the George Washington Parkway.

2. When the Commander-in-Chief challenges terrorists and insurgents to “bring it on” – duck. Even "dead-enders" have a certain sense of pride.

3. Mission accomplished has no direct relationship to war accomplished, excepting the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions.

4. Regime change is not an end-state.

5. In a formation, and as part of a unit conducting COIN, look to your right and then to your left. One of you ‘gets it’, one of you is trying to ‘get it’ and the other has a tool box filled with hammers. Be wary of the later – he will get you and your guys killed and be subject to a 60’ Minutes exposť – with pictures and / or video on FaceBook or YouTube.

6. The ‘Peter Principle’ is accelerated – where military commanders and civilian leaders are promoted to his or her level of incompetence more rapidly than during peacetime. When things go south they bow out or are forced on (not fired), go to the private sector and awarded the Medal of Freedom.

7. Lessons learned are more often than not lessons chronicled and will appear once again several years down the road as yet another ‘new insight’.

8. Strategic thought should not be attempted by tactical generals or political ideologues.

9. Campaign planning should not be attempted by tactical generals.

10. It ain’t over till it’s over.

11. Always heed the words of General Anthony Zinni, General David Petraeus and General James Mattis.

12. Read what the generals mentioned at # 11 read.

13. Part-timers are just that, God bless them. Move all critical skill sets / capabilities into the active component.

14. There is no such thing as an expeditionary interagency capability. You have to build it, they may come, or not.

15. Don't believe those who say they support the troops but don't support the mission. They haven't been there and haven't done it. Extreme paint-ball does not count. More often than not they are condescending SOBs and wouldn’t give you the time of day ‘on the street’.

wm
11-18-2007, 10:16 PM
I'm not sure which is worse--that you're quoting the Princess Bride or that I recognize that you're quoting the Princess Bride.
I think we have a lot of leaders who took lessons at the same schools as Vizzini (the bald Sicilian) and Prince Humperdinck.


[Vizzini has just cut the rope The Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up]
Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means


I further think The Princess Bride ought to be mandatory viewing in every senior service academy, along with Dr. Strangelove and Forrest Gump or Being There.

So that's another lesson learned--many senior leaders do not seem to have a real clue.

jcustis
11-19-2007, 12:31 AM
I think Dave summed up all the ones I was thinking, and a lot more. A few to add though are these:

-Sometimes it's okay to bring in an outsider to offer some commonsense insight into what is being done wrong and what could be done better (Kilcullen).

-An "oh ####" (Haditha) will negate just about every attaboy if it's bad enough.

-Layering warriors with all the pillows of force protection ignores the basic premise that sometimes we have to assume some occupational hazards to accomplish the mission (the IED fight). Doing so may actually hurt the troops.

SteveMetz
11-19-2007, 12:44 AM
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/img/pubs/PUB752.jpg (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB752.pdf)

Norfolk
11-19-2007, 01:35 AM
I think that there a little more than just 5 or even 5+ lessons learned or offered in your modest tome Steve.:D

120mm
11-19-2007, 04:06 PM
1. Don't play soccer with PKT mines.
2. Put on your Pro Mask BEFORE running an M256 kit.
3. If you find a bunch of soda cans painted light yellow or light green, do NOT attempt to juggle them (WTF is BLU-97B soda, anyway???).
4. If that newly dug earth in front of your hooch has a bit too much "give" to it, or smells bad, it's best to call graves registration right away, versus later.
5. You shouldn't shoot at cylinders giving off red "smoke" during the heat of the day.

There. That's my list.

Honorable mention: If you're going to help you buddy up into the back of a 5 ton, don't use your loaded, off-safe M16, and don't extend it muzzle first, with your finger on the trigger.

Reid Bessenger
11-19-2007, 05:12 PM
Tough to encapsulate so complex a set of issues and observations in a list like this, but for me they include:

1. Conflict is a human phenomena that takes place in a global environment. The global environment provides advantage to those best able to quickly and consistently communicate their desires, intentions and thoughts to a variety of audiences. Read "internet," "television" etc, and leaders who maintain a responsive, cogent presence.

2. The subordination of national interest to partisan political interest, while a deplorable state of affairs, needs to be taken into consideration by those seeking to fulfill responsibilities to national constituents rather than interest groups (I include all political parties in this category of interest groups). The fix here needs to address general popular apathy.

3. Hubris cannot be tolerated. I know strong leaders who listen. If a person in a position of authority has always been the smartest person in rooms they occupied, they will do wrong.

4. Priority must be given in all organizations associated with a whole-government approach to conflict to maintaining members within each who are relatively unconstrained in their application of thought to the conflict's environment, and within it the ends, ways and means that are pursued.

5. The "short-term/simple" addicition impedes our pursuit of interests. "STS" inculcates a comfortable ignorance of second and third order effects and complexity in general, and relies on the fallacious, alchemical assumption that nonlinear complexity can be unilaterally reduced to a linear proposition.

SteveMetz
11-19-2007, 06:01 PM
1. Don't play soccer with PKT mines.
2. Put on your Pro Mask BEFORE running an M256 kit.
3. If you find a bunch of soda cans painted light yellow or light green, do NOT attempt to juggle them (WTF is BLU-97B soda, anyway???).
4. If that newly dug earth in front of your hooch has a bit too much "give" to it, or smells bad, it's best to call graves registration right away, versus later.
5. You shouldn't shoot at cylinders giving off red "smoke" during the heat of the day.

There. That's my list.

Honorable mention: If you're going to help you buddy up into the back of a 5 ton, don't use your loaded, off-safe M16, and don't extend it muzzle first, with your finger on the trigger.

6. It takes a lot of kerosene to make MRE poop burn.

http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i162/ssif21/CampBucca424.jpg

goesh
11-19-2007, 06:58 PM
Steve, is this going to be the cover pic for the next book - A Line of Smoke in the Air: Conventional Applications in Iraq......?

SteveMetz
11-19-2007, 07:44 PM
Steve, is this going to be the cover pic for the next book - A Line of Smoke in the Air: Conventional Applications in Iraq......?

There is an associated story that I suspect will become part of Army War College lore.

The latrines at Camp Bucca in the spring of 2003 were just sort of semi enclosed plywood boxes on top of 55 gallon drums. Now, I happen to have a very low gag tolerance. So there I was in the plywood box, 100 degree heat, clouds of flies, perched over top of about 54 gallons of crap. I got a horrible gagging fit to the point I couldn't even pop smoke and withdraw. I was on the verge of barfing. In the next "stall" was Ed Filiberti, my colleague and friend who was, at the time, a light infantry colonel (now retired). My gagging made him convulse with laughter to the point that he too nearly feel into the poop cauldron.

The way I figure it, I was THAT close to a Purple Heart.

Rank amateur
11-19-2007, 07:49 PM
I think the most important one for you guys is: People don't like to surrender. You need to kill them all, give them somewhere to retreat to, negotiate with them or recruit them to your side. (The first can be a war crime. The last three aren't much fun and involve skills that aren't widely taught in boot camp.)

I'll disagree with two above.

1. Assuming you know what people want can get you killed. Even if you're right, assuming that they want it from you can get you killed.

2. Beware of people who advocate war but claim they can "best serve their county outside of the military."

I think most of the lessons need to be learned by the politicians, but a couple more that might be relevant.


There is almost always a low tech way to defeat a hi tech weapon.
People can be killed, wounded and forced to retreat, but they can't be "shocked and awed."
War may be politics by other means but spinning battlefield facts for political reasons gets people killed.
In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.


I don't think you can expect the public to become military experts, but they do need to know the difference between conventional and asymmetric battles, that asymmetric battles are long and costly, and they need to be able to recognize politicians who don't know the difference.

Most important of all, generals need to learn how to deal with politicians who don't have a clue about military matters.

Finally, let's hope that Al Qaeda never learns that blowing up your strongest supporters eventually creates recruiting problems.

Ron Humphrey
11-19-2007, 08:17 PM
[QUOTE=Penta;31945]

4. Languages. The old thing where a kid can go into the military at age 18 and come out at 21-22, maybe have gone overseas, and still speak only English fluently...Must die a rapid death. Whether it means issuing every new enlistee and ROTC cadet a copy of Rosetta Stone or expanding on-base language training (or, my preference, putting our tech-obsession towards improving language training by a massive extent) or whatever: Every soldier, by end of their first tour of duty, should be conversationally fluent in at least one language besides English - Fluent being defined as "No, I don't need a translator to talk to a native speaker of said language".

Reference the necessity for all soldiers to become fluent ,although well intentioned it will never happen. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried but having worked with many who were ultra skilled at some things but, linguistically challenged non-the less I would agree that all should be required to at least learn sufficiently about the cultures within which they find themselves.

On to the points:

1- Collaboration equals a higher degree of flexibility and ingenuity

2- Lessons being learned cross referenced with lessons learned equals
a better criteria for training and adaptation

3- Soldiers still have to be led
a) They can be led to lead
b) They can be taught to follow
c) Commanders have to be able to tell which are which

4- Strategic Intent must be implemented in some form or another from the smallest unit to the largest ( Global exposure = Strategic Everybody)

5- If it can be built, created, designed; it can and will be re-engineered, broken or destroyed

6- The populace has everything to gain from freedom,
Thus the enemies have nothing to lose in their fight against it/Us

Ski
11-19-2007, 09:37 PM
My simplistic take on Lessons Learned:

1. The "Total Force" concept integrating the AC and RC working pretty well considering the stress put on the force by...

2. Poor planning in the beginning takes a long time to overcome, if it is even able to be overcome.

3. It is exceptionally difficult to recruit and retain qualified personnel into a volunteer Army during a politically questionable war.

4. Modern warfare is going to be extraordinally expensive for Western armies in the future if ground forces have to be used for any length of time. We are going to be paying for this one, and so will our grandchildren.

5. Transformation is better done in peacetime, where it actually might have a chance to be tested and evaluated before being performed on the two way rifle range.

Rob Thornton
11-19-2007, 10:30 PM
Ski-

Thanks for bringing these up. Might be worth discussing a couple of the points you made:


Poor planning in the beginning takes a long time to overcome, if it is even able to be overcome.

I think there has to be a qualifier in there. What I mean is that even if the plan is resource poor or is committed to without flexibility of change initially, the limiting factor is in the leadership to recognize the deficiencies in the plan, and call for the changes in time to make a difference. I think it would be fair however to say that assumptions or beliefs can take a while to overcome - and that at the strategic levels personalities and politics influence that time line.

While Clausewitz's piece about the critical importance of understanding the nature of the war you are embarking on (so you can take inventory and figure out what you will need to win it - be it capabilities, numbers or domestic will), it does not mean that you cant recover from not doing so initially - just as long as you figure it out fast enough to change before the other guy shuts you down. The better the leadership, the sooner we'll figure it out.


Transformation is better done in peacetime, where it actually might have a chance to be tested and evaluated before being performed on the two way rifle range.

I'm not sure about that one either. You might not get to pick and choose when you change. Arguably the "Transformation" window was thought to be open at the time it was initiated - then it was argued (and maybe correctly) that the war(s) provided an opportunity to transform as the need was clearly visible. Now what could be argued - is what our priorities were for transformation - be they people, minds, culture, hardware, etc. Overall - I'd say we've done OK - its been hard, but modularity has provided some real flexibility - FCS is starting to kick out some spin outs, and our doctrine has had some real changes. I guess what I mean is that war in itself has proven transformational - maybe just different from that originally envisioned back in 2000. I'd say we are still transforming.

Great thought provoking points - and worthy of discussion.

Best, Rob

Uboat509
11-20-2007, 12:38 AM
I'm just a lowley SFC. I ain't got me much o' that book larnin' but I have a few things that I learned during my tour.

1. Speaking the language is nice and all but nothing can substitute for having a really good local national terp. It is nice to talk about everybody learning to speak the language but that is neither practical nor possible. Sure everybody can learn a few key phrases and some can learn to speak it well enough to have simple conversations but that's about it unless you want to send everybody to DLI for 18 months to learn Arabic and even then you will still need terps to help you with cultural issues.

2. John Q. Public has ADD. Keeping him focused on anything has become more and more difficult as the years go by. Combine that with the fact that most Americans have neither served nor know someone well who has served and you get a public who has neither the knowledge nor attention span to understand what is going on over there. Now add to that all the "experts," cherry picked facts and good old fashioned bull#### thrown in by partisans on both sides of the issue and John never really had a chance. I don't think John is a moron (although the excruciating popularity of America's Top Model and other shows of that ilk certainly give me pause) but he really just does not have the tools to understand all the issues at stake. There was a poll recently (I can't find it now) that showed that a significant number of Americans actually believe that the US Government had advanced knowledge of 9/11 but did nothing to stop it, either because of massive incompetance or because POTUS wanted it to happen or whatever other load of conspiracy theory they happen to believe. Now, having said all that, the powers that be have done a monumentally poor job of explaining things to John and that has allowed the partisans bury John under a giant pile of crap.

3. One of the key things to remember about dealing with a foreign culture is that it is foreign. When I hear a LTC stating that he just can't understand why the locals will turn out en-mass for a tribal militia headed by their own tribe but won't come out to join the IP (which happened to be dominated by another tribe) it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. RTK points out that Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families but there is a whole tribal angle to everything that is entirely alien to most Americans. Some commanders try to incorporate that into their operations with varying degrees of success, some just ignore it and some think that they can undo 4000 years of tribalism in a few short years.

4. The US military is notoriously poor at thinking all the way through a problem. Case in point, a few years ago one of our guys was killed while wearing Paraclete armor. A piece of shrapnel penetrated the side and entered his heart. The backlash was immediate, Paraclete armor had not been evaluated by NATIC and it was therefore banned until it could be evaluated. It seems like common sense, after all it may have contributed to the death of an American soldier. The problem is that the Paraclete he was wearing was an armor carrier. The actual armor inside was the stuff he had taken out of his issue armor. Nevertheless we were stuck with the ban and we were even disallowed from ordering Paraclete pouches on our DSORs. Another case is Underarmor shirts. There is a possibility that shirt will melt to the skin in a flash fire ergo it is banned, problem solved right? Well, no. First of all, it doesnít take into account the reason that people wear them in the first place. It is probably pretty easy to get stats on how many people have been affected by the flash burns but how many studies are there about positive effects of Underarmor and equivalent clothing? Does it cut down on heat casualties? What about things like prickly heat? Does it make Joe pay a little more attention because he isnít sucking quite so badly? How often do these flash burns happen? Iím guessing that happens less than heat injuries. It probably makes sense to ban these types of clothing in aircraft or armored vehicles but what about the rest of us? And while we are on the subject, this whole issue has focused on the Heat Gear Underarmor but personally I have not been issued any cold weather gear that wasnít synthetic in many a year.

5. Practicality often trumps morality. This is not a popular concept but that is the fact of things. The dissolution of the Iraqi army is a prime example. An argument can be, and has been, made that the army was one of the primary instruments of Saddamís reign and that the moral thing to do was to disband it. Most of us here also agree that it was a really dumb thing to do. We are beginning to realize that in order to get things done in Iraq we are going to have deal with elements that we had considered terrorists. Certainly that is not going to be considered the high moral road but it is becoming increasingly clear that that is what is necessary for us to achieve an acceptable outcome in Iraq. Iíll be honest, the moral arguments against torture have much less effect on me than the practical.


SFC W

wm
11-20-2007, 12:40 AM
5. Transformation is better done in peacetime, where it actually might have a chance to be tested and evaluated before being performed on the two way rifle range.

I suspect that transformation to some degree or another has occurred during most wars. I know it happened on both sides during both World Wars. We did it during Viet Nam to a degree as well. I suspect that Rob is quite right when he said that war is transformational by its very nature (I am re-phrasing what I took to be the intent of
war in itself has proven transformational.

Rob, please correct me if I misunderstood your meaning there.

Rob Thornton
11-20-2007, 12:42 AM
I'm just a lowley SFC. I ain't got me much o' that book larnin' but I have a few things that I learned during my tour.

I've learned have come from SNCOs who only spoke slow so I could keep up:D they are the backbone of the military.

Best, Rob

Rank amateur
11-20-2007, 12:52 AM
RTK points out that Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families but there is a whole tribal angle to everything that is entirely alien to most Americans.

Saying "Iraqis want what we want," is like saying "Democrats and Republicans want the same thing: a better America." Technically it's correct, but it hides more than it reveals.

RTK
11-20-2007, 12:56 AM
Saying "Iraqis want what we want," is like saying "Democrats and Republicans want the same thing: a better America." Technically it's correct, but it hides more than it reveals.

Quoting out of context, aren't we?

Go back and read the rest of the quote.

Rob Thornton
11-20-2007, 02:21 AM
Hey Wayne,


I suspect that transformation to some degree or another has occurred during most wars. I know it happened on both sides during both World Wars. We did it during Viet Nam to a degree as well. I suspect that Rob is quite right when he said that war is transformational by its very nature (I am re-phrasing what I took to be the intent of
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rob Thornton
war in itself has proven transformational.
Rob, please correct me if I misunderstood your meaning there.

Yea - the whole idea of change, how it happens and what it means is something that really interests me and I spend allot of time thinking about it. Sometimes change seems to happen and we don't even know it, other times we force it, but don't consider all the other things it changes which might have been put into place for good reason. Need to sleep on that one.

Best, Rob

Rank amateur
11-20-2007, 02:50 AM
Quoting out of context, aren't we?

Go back and read the rest of the quote.

OK. I'll restate my point.


Saying "Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families" is like saying "Democrats and Republicans want the same thing: a better America." Technically it's correct, but it hides more than it reveals. For example, saying "Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families" it implies that because we feel safe in an area that hasn't been ethical cleansed, Iraqis will too.

It also implies that we'd never go to war unless our families and homes were threatened.

RTK
11-20-2007, 03:09 AM
OK. I'll restate my point.


Saying "Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families" is like saying "Democrats and Republicans want the same thing: a better America." Technically it's correct, but it hides more than it reveals. For example, saying "Iraqis want what we want, safety and security for their families" it implies that because we feel safe in an area that hasn't been ethical cleansed, Iraqis will too.

It also implies that we'd never go to war unless our families and homes were threatened.


If you took it that way, you read too far into what I was saying.

I meant it in a Maslowian self-actualization way.

See the picture.

Ski
11-20-2007, 11:59 AM
Rob

I think you hit on something subconsciously that needs to be discussed in greater depth.

Transformation began, in the Army, in 1999 when Shinseki was CSA. He pitched the Stryker BCT as being the beginning of "transformation" and warned us all that "if you don't like the way we're headed, you'll like being irrelevant even less." That's the start of the problem - there has been a ridiculous mantra chanted within the Beltway since that time that everyone needs to be "relevant."

Since 99, Transformation has really been equipment centric (FCS/ABCS) and force structure centric (Modularity). At least the codified version of Transformation - which is really the crux of the problem with Transformation as dictated from the bully pulpit of the 5 sided funny farm. Real transformation occurs as a grassroots movement from the lowest levels. Everyone has seen how training, operations and tactics have evolved and been modified because of OIF and OEF. That has occured because of how the war has evolved, and the codified transformation has been left in the dust.

Units aren't deploying off their MTOE's for the most part - they are deploying off DMD's and MEEL's. That's the first sign of the disconnect between the codified version of Transformation and the real transformation. The Army that has been built on paper looks nothing like the Army that is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a real problem because a ridiculous amount of money has been thrown at both the codified version of transformation, and at the new armies that have been created out of necessity due to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I submit that no other country could perform this feat - and we really can't either, because we're borrowing money at a pace that will take generations to pay off.

So I submit that the codified version of Transformation has been a complete failure, at least in the short term. In addition, it has not transformed what really needs to be reformed (a much better term) - the personnel and acquisition systems. The personnel system is completely shattered in terms of officers. The thread on Officer Retention is proof positive of that. The acquistion system cannot produce anything quickly (don't mention the Strykers - they were supposed to be an off the shelf acquistion...and the NBC Recon and MGS variants took 8 years+ to get into service) and much of what it produces is a direct result of the codified transformation (more digital C2, more radios, etc...)

The point to all of this is that real transformation takes place when there is real intellectual freedom, the necessity to adapt and change, and when it is driven from the bottom up. Codified transformation has done little to nothing - except cost a lot of money that the country doesn't have or is unwilling to spend in the form of higher taxes - and one has to believie that we could have fought these wars with the force structure and equipment of 1998 without any real difference in the results we've seen to date in OIF and OEF. Real transformation (nee reform) means correcting known problems (personnel and acquistion systems) instead of some half baked RMA where some delusional 06 or higher believes that the fog of war can actually be disappated with a strong gust of technology.

In terms of the lack of planning in the beginning - quite frankly, if one is a war planner, one better have iron clad assumptions, and being willing to resign if political considerations are placed over military necessities if they cannot be resolved under the veils of secrecy. Clausewitz also stated that the military commander needed to inform the political authorities about the likeliness of those political considerations being acheived (or not). There has been plenty of discussion about what we really known about Iraq in 2002 - and let's face facts, we concentrated a great of time, effort, intelligence and resources to Iraq between 1990-2003, and I think Steve Metz stated in a thread that the potential fragmentation of the Iraqi state well known and wargamed to death in this time period, but simply ignored. The deaths of almost 4000 Americans and the wounds suffered by over 30,000 of our fellow servicemen (not to mention Coalition or Iraqi figures) are the direct results of poor assumptions, political considerations placed over geo-political, religious and ethnic realities, and military necessity. This still becomes a major lesson learned from OIF in my opinion - initial planning has to reflect political, religious, military, cultural and ethnic realities of any potential conflict, especially one against a weak nation-state. Failure to have the foresight and imagination required to develop these plans results in what we've seen over the last 5 years in Iraq. Yes, the enemy has a vote. And that's to be respected, and I vaguely remember something called a threat matrix from way back in the day. I wonder what the threat matrix for Iraq looked like in December 2002...and what it morphed into by 2004...

Hope this adds a little clarity to my simple points.

SteveMetz
11-20-2007, 12:14 PM
Transformation began, in the Army, in 1999 when Shinseki was CSA.

I think it's more accurate to say that Sullivan began Army transformation with the Louisiana Maneuvers and Army After Next Project. He just didn't use the word "transformation." See this (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a759320993~db=all~jumptype=rss). If anyone is interested in it, PM me and I'll send the PDF.

120mm
11-20-2007, 02:20 PM
Ski, I'm teaching a history course on transformation to ILE students on 2 December. Can I use that?

Ski
11-20-2007, 02:40 PM
PM sent 120mm!

SteveMetz
11-20-2007, 02:48 PM
...that I now have working drafts of two of the four chapters of my book that will deal with the Bush administration. The first covers September 11 and the beginning of the "war on terror"; the second the decision to intervene in Iraq and the conventional campaign. (The next two will cover the insurgency and the adjustment of the trajectory of defense transformation resulting from it).

I've attached the first. The second is too long to upload. Would be happy to email it. Be forewarned though--they are big.

I welcome comments on them as well.

Tom Odom
11-20-2007, 02:59 PM
I think it's more accurate to say that Sullivan began Army transformation with the Louisiana Maneuvers and Army After Next Project. He just didn't use the word "transformation." See this (http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a759320993~db=all~jumptype=rss). If anyone is interested in it, PM me and I'll send the PDF.

True but we really have never stopped transforming; it has always been a question of degree--how large a transformation was underway?--and intent--where we doing it intentionally or were events forcing us to transform?

Too often we have been event driven and that typically occurs in war. Sometimes we have been too theory driven and that regard I point to the original Lousiana Maneuvers and the theory (doctrine) behind Tank Destroyer development and fielding. Another of course was the modern heavy bomber (B17 and B24) which according to theory did not need fighter escort.



From Ski: Since 99, Transformation has really been equipment centric (FCS/ABCS) and force structure centric (Modularity). At least the codified version of Transformation - which is really the crux of the problem with Transformation as dictated from the bully pulpit of the 5 sided funny farm.

Yes in that it focused on FCS and ABCS as needed tools. No in that it (transformation as promulgated by Sir Donald) was/is driven by this idea that network-centric warfare could in its use of knowledge mangement substitute "electrons" for combat power. I make the distinction because I see it as critical; I fear we are back in the days of testing tank destroyers.

Best

Tom

Rob Thornton
11-20-2007, 07:07 PM
Hey Ski - your original points may have only come out in bullets - but I think your points have allot of depth. I wanted to highlight a couple of paragraphs from your follow on to discuss civil military relations.


In terms of the lack of planning in the beginning - quite frankly, if one is a war planner, one better have iron clad assumptions, and being willing to resign if political considerations are placed over military necessities if they cannot be resolved under the veils of secrecy. Clausewitz also stated that the military commander needed to inform the political authorities about the I likeliness of those political considerations being achieved (or not).


Failure to have the foresight and imagination required to develop these plans results in what we've seen over the last 5 years in Iraq. Yes, the enemy has a vote. And that's to be respected, and I vaguely remember something called a threat matrix from way back in the day. I wonder what the threat matrix for Iraq looked like in December 2002...and what it morphed into by 2004...

I think at the tactical level your assumptions will be stronger - at the operational level less so - and at the strategic level even less because of the role policy plays - so I don't know that there are any iron clad assumptions at the level where policy and strategy mix - every time we make one at one level - the inflexibility of policy at a higher level may ignore it - I think it depends on the existing civil military relationship. What happens if the General resigns? and then the next guy, and the next guy? What if he speaks his mind, but is then fired or marginalized and a less capable guy comes in - one who is more malleable to the civilian leadership and will never tell the emperor he has no clothes? Its not an easy question looking backwards - let alone trying to gauge how things will look in the future.

We have a planning system within the military at both the Army and Joint levels that lays out facts and assumptions, decisions and risks all with in a context that we understand (although it too can be ignored), but that system does not account for foreign policy decisions that are made in a vacuum - and which don't consider the potential long term domestic impacts at home - let alone those of the country or region we're trying to influence - consider our mixed bag policies toward Iran right now - and trying to sort out how that effects the rest of the region and beyond. You can lay out the facts and assumptions, but ultimately policy has to be able or willing to listen - so there is a policy ceiling I guess. Since politicians make policy - my guess is if there is a showdown in our system - policy will trump and as Sec Rumsfeld infamously once said - we'll go to war with the one we have (although I'm not sure he saw the irony in the statement).

Certainly there were planners who saw the OIF numbers and recognized the consequences and risk involved and said "Holy-bat-guano - we're going to screw the pooch on the back end of this thing" - but it didn't matter - somebody in the food chain eventually told them to shut up and color. It was not until the political conditions changed enough to where military leadership was able to make a case of the obvious - and ask for and get the resources it needed to implement the ideas it wanted to. I'd be willing to bet somewhere in the future - we'll look back at OIF and forget how we got it wrong - we'll have to go learn it all over again -we'll just get it wrong again for whatever reasons, and we won't know it until it looks different - it doesn't mean there won't be successes in between, or that we won't succeed in the long run - just that we'll miss the right of it in the beginning.

Ref the hardware, and organizational changes - I think those were needed - but for some reason we often think new stuff and rearranging furniture is the story - its got to be about people first. The tendency to put the stuff first probably has something to do with trying to apply business models to war by policy makers, and a fascination with technology over people - I guess its just easier to wrap arms around MTBF type stats, then putting faith into leadership if your trying to sell political risk.

Best, Rob

carl
11-21-2007, 05:41 PM
These points are more in the nature of things to be kept in mind and they are aimed more at the American citizenry.

1. You are going to war against human beings. They can be and probably
will be just as brave, determined, intelligent, imaginative, ruthless and
skilled as you are. The rectitude of their cause, or lack thereof isn't
going to change this.

2. You have to try-hard. Effort is how you overcome those things
the foe brings to the fight. We all have to take part in the
effort, not just hand it off the the military sub-division and say "come
back when you've won and don't do anything that will look 'bad in the
newspapers and upset civilians at their breakfast'".

3. War will exact a price and their is no way of avoiding payment. The
price will be treasure, death, time and effort. You reduce the death with
treasure, time and effort; but you will never eliminate it. If you don't
pay enough of these things you will pay by being defeated.

goesh
11-21-2007, 06:45 PM
we are unable to bring our spiritual conceptions to bear in a fight in any formal, organized manner
we have trouble distinguishing religious and combat leaders
we cannot appreciate the impact on indigenous relationships female soldiers have when in a 3rd world Muslim environment their duties are perceived as a man's duty
we aren't utilizing armor/light armor as a tool to build relationships/PR props/elements of cultural interaction