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03-15-2006, 09:34 PM
Recognizing and Understanding Revolutionary Change in Warfare: The Sovereignty of Context (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=640) - Dr. Colin Gray. US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph, February 2006.

The author provides a critical audit of the great RMA debate and of some actual RMA behavior and warns against a transformation that is highly potent only in a narrow range of strategic cases. He warns that the military effectiveness of a process of revolutionary change in a "way of war" can only be judged by the test of battle, and possibly not even then, if the terms of combat are very heavily weighted in favor of the United States. On balance, the concept of revolutionary change is found to be quite useful, provided it is employed and applied with some reservations and in a manner that allows for flexibility and adaptability. The contexts of warfare, especially the political, determine how effective a transforming military establishment will be.

Strategic Theory for the 21st Century: The Little Book on Big Strategy (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=641) - Dr. Harry Yarger. US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph, February 2006.

The word “strategy” pervades American conversation and our news media and is most often used as a general term for a plan, a concept, a course of action, or a “vision” of the direction in which to proceed at the personal, organizational, and governmental—local, state, or federal—levels. Such casual use of the term to describe nothing more than “what we would like to do next” is inappropriate and belies the complexity of true strategy and strategic thinking. This “little book” talks about big strategy, strategy at the highest levels of the nation-state. It is applicable to grand strategy, national security strategy, national military strategy, and regional or theater strategy. The monograph does not propose a strategy for the United States; rather, it provides a framework for considering strategy at any of the levels mentioned above. It is an examination of theory, exploring those aspects of strategy that appear to have universal application. The theory also may have application to the strategy of nonstate actors, institutions, and businesses, but the explicit purpose and perspective offered herein focus on the nation-state.

How the Forward Operating Base is Changing the Life of Combat Soldiers (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=645) - Dr. Leonard Wong and Colonel Stephen Gerras (USA). US Army Strategic Studies Institute monograph, March 2006.

The situation in post-war Iraq is producing combat veterans accustomed to a perspective of combat that differs greatly from past wars. The Forward Operating Base (FOB) has become the mainstay of the U.S. presence in Iraq. The authors explore the facets of fighting from the FOB. Their research shows that the FOB gives soldiers the unprecedented advantage of gaining a respite from constant danger, minimizing the wearing effects of hunger and fatigue, and reducing the isolation of combat. As a result, many of the factors of psychological stress typically present in combat are greatly reduced. They also point out, however, that technology on the FOB allows soldiers to communicate frequently with home, shifting the family from an abstract to concrete concept in the minds of deployed soldiers. As a result, the competition between the family and Army for soldier time, commitment, loyalty, and energy is renewed.

Tom Odom
03-22-2006, 05:47 PM
I would have to say I was disappointed in the FOB study. It has a very narrow focus: logistical and soldier service utility of an FOB in the current fight. It also suffers from a limited definition in what the authors consider FOBs--again using almost an exclusively logistical utility approach. By using that approach, the study ignores the historical background to FOBs. There are many historical examples of FOBs: the Cavalry posts in the frontier West were "FOBs"; the Chindits in WWII used jungle-based FOBs as a sort of infantry/raiding "deep attack" against the Japanese; Tobruk and Malta both turned into FOBs (one ground, one air and naval) for the Brits; Dien Bien Phu was a stirling example of how not to use an FOB; Khe Sanh showed that it was possible with heavy fire support; SF base camps and Fire Bases in Viet Nam were common; and I helped establish an FOB in Goma. And I would also say that this SSI study completely ignores the strategic and operational considerations of mounting a COIN effort from FOBs that by their very nature limit contact with the population in favor of force protection, logistical convenience, and troop support.