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Entropy
05-11-2009, 06:15 PM
Interesting development. (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/11/afghanistan.replacement/index.html)

Replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_A._McChrystal).

Reason given was "fresh thinking" and "fresh eyes" on the Afghanistan for a "new approach."

Bob's World
05-11-2009, 06:35 PM
Perhaps the tide is finally turning. SOF surrendered senior leadership in what is largely a SOF operation to a series of highly qualified artillery shooters, tank drivers, and Infantrymen so that we could run up into the mountains and conduct a grand hunting expedition.

Time to drag SOF down out of the mountains and get senior SOF leadership in overall command of these operations to set the larger operational tones for the Campaigns. My first pick would have been a FID and COIN expert like LTG David Fridovich, but a McCrystal is a fine choice as well.

Will be interesting if this shift to "IW" will affect choices for service leadership as well as campaign leadership...The Air Force got its wakeup call when the Fighter Jock community got swept aside in favor of Gen Schwartz (A brilliant, and highly respected GO with solid SOF credentials).

I was briefing ADM Olson a few months ago on a separate topic, and asked him then about getting senior SOF generals into these Theater Command positions. He paused, and said calmly: "Frankly there isn't much appetite for that."

Looks like tastes have changed. That often happens as one grows up...

wm
05-11-2009, 06:46 PM
Looks like a victory for light/SOF over heavy, which may well be the right answer in AF.

A more interesting question to me is whether this speaks to settling the conventional vs. IW "conflict" that some might characterize as the "Nagl-Gentile Debate" in other venues.

MikeF
05-11-2009, 06:52 PM
Can we get the Seals back into the water?

Mike

Bob's World
05-11-2009, 06:52 PM
Anyone who does not think that Secretary Gates is not deadly serious about IW is whistling past the proverbial cemetary.

In a shrinking budget/ POM cycle the services are scrambling to sort out how to hold to what they see as their core capabilities while addressing emerging requriements. Result so far has been thinnly disguised half-measures.

I understand the debate, and can't clearly stake out what right should look like, but regardless of right or wrong, this is going to happen. If the Generals try to slow roll the secretary like the Army staff tried to slowroll Shinseki, they will get run over.

Bob's World
05-11-2009, 06:53 PM
Can we get the Seals back into the water?

Mike

Give them something to shoot and they'll be there in a second!

IntelTrooper
05-11-2009, 07:17 PM
This is very good for Afghanistan. :) I know a lot of people who will be very happy to hear this news.

selil
05-11-2009, 07:45 PM
I keep wondering how a force build up will look, if it will happen, if the mix will be substantially different, and how leadership will effect change in the "Afghanistan is like a poor version of Iraq" narrative being played in the press.

BayonetBrant
05-11-2009, 08:57 PM
FYI - there is the inevitable criticism...

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/dark-side-to-new-us-commander-in-afghanistan/

Entropy
05-11-2009, 10:33 PM
So what on-the-ground changes can we expect to see in Afghanistan? I haven't followed Astan as closely as I used to, but it didn't seem like Gen. McKiernan was doing a terrible job, expecially since there were a lot of assets not under his direct command.

jcustis
05-11-2009, 11:47 PM
I was briefing ADM Olson a few months ago on a separate topic, and asked him then about getting senior SOF generals into these Theater Command positions. He paused, and said calmly: "Frankly there isn't much appetite for that."

When he mentioned appetite, did he mean that not enough guys with the experience would want the job?

Uboat509
05-12-2009, 12:33 AM
I have been doing some reading about Lt. Gen McChrystal. He is JSOC guy. He apparently did the minimum time as a Team Leader in SF before "moving on." Given his background I would not be surprised see a lot of emphasis on a kinetic approach. I would rather see an SF officer rather than a SOF officer moved into that command.

SFC W

RJ
05-12-2009, 02:10 AM
I picked this off the Marine Corps Times today.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. ó Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command is redesignating two of its companies as battalions, officials said in a news release.

During a ceremony Monday at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Companies A and B of the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group will be renamed 3rd and 4th Marine Special Operations battalions. The battalions will become the groupís two primary subordinate commands.

This redesignation is part of the commandís overall plan to standardize its four battalions, the release said.

Could this expansion of two MARSOC Companies to Battalions coming out of units that were designatied Marine Special Operations Advisor Group indicate the Marines are expanding their Advisory Role to do a lot more Training for special operations units in the Afgani Army?

There was a story in the NY Times on May 1 (front page and page A-10) about a Marine E-4 Cpl. and a E-3 Lance Cpl. advising a 30 Man Afgan Arimy platoon.

The firebase they are defending in the middle of a controlled Taliban region in Afganistan has beaten back 70 assualts in the past few months.

An interesting application of Marine frugality? Or an indication they are getting into the Advisory business big time. I found a copy of it in my local library. Tough duty and two gutsy young men.

Bob's World
05-12-2009, 04:00 AM
When he mentioned appetite, did he mean that not enough guys with the experience would want the job?

quite clear the powers that be had not up to that point been willing to recognize the need for SOF leadership for such operations.

Ken White
05-12-2009, 04:37 AM
quite clear the powers that be had not up to that point been willing to recognize the need for SOF leadership for such operations.Based on what you said, ADM Olson could've taken over Afghanistan... :D

I'm with U Boat509. The DA stuff is over emphasized and it's as much about spaces and flags as it about missions and campaign success. Putting a SOF guy in there is no different that putting in a Light Infantry guy -- who would be a better choice than a Heavy Infantry Guy, a Tanker or an Artillerist.

I understand what you mean in the SEAL comment. Both your and their enthusiasm is to be commended (though I know a couple and they aren't that enthusiastic about a mission that is not their bag of worms...) but pinniped out of water and all that... :wry:

wm
05-12-2009, 11:16 AM
The DA stuff is over emphasized and it's as much about spaces and flags as it about missions and campaign success. Putting a SOF guy in there is no different that putting in a Light Infantry guy -- who would be a better choice than a Heavy Infantry Guy, a Tanker or an Artillerist.


I make distinction betweem SOF and SF like UBoat. I don't think a SOF guy is just like a light infantry guy. I'd rather have light infantry work than some direct action covert ops.
I fear the change is reflective of "thinking" like the following by some of the newer senior "leadership" in the national capital region:
"We just need to get UBL and Mullah Omar. Then we can declare victory and bring the troops home. Look how quickly things turned around in IZ after the operation that took out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That's just the ticket for AF too."

Mark O'Neill
05-12-2009, 12:10 PM
quite clear the powers that be had not up to that point been willing to recognize the need for SOF leadership for such operations.

clarify in an objective sense what you mean by 'SOF Leadership'. Compared to what?

Notwithstanding your claim for Fridovich (which I concur with), what is it that you think SOF leaders will bring that big Army guys (such as Petraeus, Odierno recently,and further back Kitson) cannot? One of the best COIN thinkers I have ever met was a SANDF/ SADF Brig Gen who was a 'conventional' para.

If we go by the recent record of SF in Iraq, at least whilst I was there, I am even less sure why we would think that SF leadership is necessarily a 'COIN winner'. An overwhelming focus on DA, with a trg focus on indigenous units that will execute further DA, does not equate to COIN 'best practice' - it is, at best, only an element of it. Fridovich (and Krawchuk) pointed this out in an article about OEF-P in JQF in '06. Your doctrine (FM 3-24) confirms this view.

If the SF are the solution, why is it that one of primary LOO - develop indigenous capacity, has, for the most part been filled by a 'heinz variety' of elements from across the US services, rather than SF elm? (For god's sake, in Basra during Charge of the Knights I met a Navy O6 nuclear dude on a MiTT task ...). Why is the JCISFA at Leavenworth largely a big army org?

Please don't take this the wrong way - I am not at all critical of the SF or its efforts, I am just trying to understand why your posts suggest that the recent appointment reflects a 'SF' thinking triumph rather than , perhaps, the appointment of a good GO who has the confidence of the Secretary and others.

Cheers

Mark

wm
05-12-2009, 01:02 PM
An interesting read is the assignment histories/resumes of Petraeus, McChrystal, and Rodriguez. A lot of overlap/working with/for relationships among the three. For example: USMA Classmates, 3-75 Ranger Co Cdrs at same time; XVIII Corps G3 and XVIII Corps Chief of Staff (CoS); Acting CG 82d and ADC(O) 82d; back to back XVIII Corps CoS. While this may indicate that the "triumvirate" can get along, I worry about "group think."

Pragmatic Thinker
05-12-2009, 01:52 PM
I picked this off the Marine Corps Times today.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. ó Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command is redesignating two of its companies as battalions, officials said in a news release.

During a ceremony Monday at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Companies A and B of the Marine Special Operations Advisor Group will be renamed 3rd and 4th Marine Special Operations battalions. The battalions will become the groupís two primary subordinate commands.

This redesignation is part of the commandís overall plan to standardize its four battalions, the release said.

Could this expansion of two MARSOC Companies to Battalions coming out of units that were designatied Marine Special Operations Advisor Group indicate the Marines are expanding their Advisory Role to do a lot more Training for special operations units in the Afgani Army?

There was a story in the NY Times on May 1 (front page and page A-10) about a Marine E-4 Cpl. and a E-3 Lance Cpl. advising a 30 Man Afgan Arimy platoon.

The firebase they are defending in the middle of a controlled Taliban region in Afganistan has beaten back 70 assualts in the past few months.

An interesting application of Marine frugality? Or an indication they are getting into the Advisory business big time. I found a copy of it in my local library. Tough duty and two gutsy young men.

Perhaps this has more to do with the Marines desire to form a SOTF like organization more in line with the SF battalions? Anyone know what the Marines are planning along those lines? I heard rumor MARSOC wanted to form a SOTF in RC South for OEF but there was push back from the Army regarding endurance. Seems the Marines could only do two turns (rotations) for a SOTF and then would need to step down to recover and refit based on USMC deployment regulations? I don't have all the facts but recall hearing this back in March while in theater.

PT SENDS

Pragmatic Thinker
05-12-2009, 02:08 PM
An interesting read is the assignment histories/resumes of Petraeus, McChrystal, and Rodriguez. A lot of overlap/working with/for relationships among the three. For example: USMA Classmates, 3-75 Ranger Co Cdrs at same time; XVIII Corps G3 and XVIII Corps Chief of Staff (CoS); Acting CG 82d and ADC(O) 82d; back to back XVIII Corps CoS. While this may indicate that the "triumvirate" can get along, I worry about "group think."

There seems to be a lot talk reference COIN/IW but my experiences tell me that McChrystal and Rodriguez are more counter-terrorist (CT) direct action focused vice "winning hearts and minds" and other COIN talents. I am not criticizing either of them because they are both brillant leaders but not sure COIN is going to fit into the plan short term. Perhaps we are going to see a summer of tough actions against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. My fear is we lag so far behind the TB/AQ in IO that we are one or two bad CNN, Al Jazeera, and other media outlet cover stories from Karazai demanding a halt to offensive actions inside "his country". Currently, Karazai might just get re-elected but his political popularity seems to come more from his anti-US rhetoric than actual leadership. I am not confident this administration will stand the test of another Mogadishu-like incident inside or outside Pakistan. Also I am waiting to see what President Obama will do in the face of tough media criticism as bodies of women and children continue to stack-up on the evening news this summer. The TB/AQ get it and they will continue to use women and children as martyrdom shields and IO tools for their campaign. We continue to lag 48 hours behind the bad guys IO strategy and 24 hours behind Karazai to the point we look reactionary... The next few months will be interesting indeed...

PT SENDS

Pragmatic Thinker
05-12-2009, 02:25 PM
"We just need to get UBL and Mullah Omar. Then we can declare victory and bring the troops home. Look how quickly things turned around in IZ after the operation that took out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. That's just the ticket for AF too."

I know some will see this as simple sarcasm or pessism but there is some truth to this statement. Political expediency is often the remedy for untenable military problems like defeating the Taliban. I tend to see McChrystal's appointment in lines with this strategy of 'man hunting' and 'capture/kill' operations along with a new long-term personnel approach as outlined recently by ADM Mullen. The idea is you assign personnel to the OEF problem and they never leave. For example, an intelligence analyst is assigned to USFOR-A does a 12 month rotation and then returns to CONUS only to stay engaged on the OEF problem while back home and to eventually rotate back into OEF to bring that resident knowledge to bear... A great idea and novel concept but one that fails outside of organizations like SF Groups and SMU's... Not sure how you take a concept like that and incorporate it across four services who have long looked down at "home steading"....it just seems like a huge organizational paradigm shift that would take years vice months to accomplish.

Short term I think we will see a big push to "capture/kill" UBL, Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and other key enemy leaders while at the same time try to incorporate this long term theater specific unit focus in the conventional military... Personally, the capture/kill campaign will go off but I don't see the budget, leadership, agility, and acceptance from the conventional military services to sustain a specific unit which simply rotates in/out of theater looking at a specific problem for a sustained period of time. Yes, it works for SOF forces (both COIN and CT varities) but I don't see the USMC, USA, USAF, and USN signing up it...

PT SENDS

davidbfpo
05-12-2009, 02:47 PM
(taken from) Short term I think we will see a big push to "capture/kill" UBL, Zawahiri, Mullah Omar, and other key enemy leaders...

Well that should be easy. Steady now. Open sources have long indicated that Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are happily living in Quetta - with no apparent problems with their Pakistani hosts. I somehow think the 'will' to reach out and capture / kill is missing, let alone the reaction locally or in Pakistan.

davidbfpo

MattC86
05-12-2009, 02:54 PM
I will phrase as a question, because the open source info is minimal and many here especially will know things that I do not.

But is there not any concern about McChrystal's time with Task Force 6-26 and the purported detainee abuse issues at Camp Nama? Nor the "computer malfunction" that destroyed their detainee data?

SWJ and its "rogue cousins" spend a lot of time talking about perception vs. reality, public diplomacy, and the like. If McChrystal has some ties to this sordid history, is that not a detriment to us?

I feel like we have enough problems with the rumor mill in that part of the world without feeding it by appointing as commander of U.S. forces a man who has some questions to answer about his past.

Just a few thoughts I wouldn't mind seeing bandied about.

David, hope all is well. Long time no contact, my bad.

Regards,

Matt

Pragmatic Thinker
05-12-2009, 03:02 PM
Well that should be easy. Steady now. Open sources have long indicated that Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are happily living in Quetta - with no apparent problems with their Pakistani hosts. I somehow think the 'will' to reach out and capture / kill is missing, let alone the reaction locally or in Pakistan.

davidbfpo

Not to belabor a point that has been discussed ad nauseum but Pakistan remains part of our problem in the area... Not sure we will ever get a good grip on that portion of the equation, plus you're spot on with Mullah and his cronies living happily inside Quetta. At least the Soviets bombed Miram Shah and Quetta to deny some sanctuary to their adversaries. Anyway an interesting turn of events to say the least as we enter the summer months in the AF-PK region.

PT SENDS

Pragmatic Thinker
05-12-2009, 03:07 PM
I will phrase as a question, because the open source info is minimal and many here especially will know things that I do not.

But is there not any concern about McChrystal's time with Task Force 6-26 and the purported detainee abuse issues at Camp Nama? Nor the "computer malfunction" that destroyed their detainee data?

SWJ and its "rogue cousins" spend a lot of time talking about perception vs. reality, public diplomacy, and the like. If McChrystal has some ties to this sordid history, is that not a detriment to us?

I feel like we have enough problems with the rumor mill in that part of the world without feeding it by appointing as commander of U.S. forces a man who has some questions to answer about his past.

Just a few thoughts I wouldn't mind seeing bandied about.

David, hope all is well. Long time no contact, my bad.

Regards,

Matt


My grandfather always warned me to never stick my hand into a rabbit hole for fear a snake might have taken up residence inside and eaten the rabbits. However, you bring up an interesting point that many people are discussing at the water cooler throughout the DoD...time will tell and there is plenty of discussion already among the more liberal blogosphere sites one even going so far as calling McChrystal the "torture czar".

PT SENDS

MattC86
05-12-2009, 03:11 PM
Just to mix some metaphors, that's why I sent the canary in first :D

I recognize it's a difficult question and that's why I tried to present it in a much saner way than the partisan blogosphere.

I think it's one that has to be asked and answered, however.

M

Eden
05-12-2009, 03:17 PM
Will McC also replace McK as ISAF commander?

Ken White
05-12-2009, 04:42 PM
But is there not any concern about McChrystal's time ...(Not from me...)
... is that not a detriment to us?(Not an ounce more so than all the Iraqi and Afghan deaths that McKiernan presided over.)
...appointing as commander of U.S. forces a man who has some questions to answer about his past.

age of 40 who does NOT have questions that can be asked about their past...

Very serious comment. War isn't nice and I provide four quotes that many will see as pointless aphorisms. Aphorisms they may be but they are far from pointless. Numerous Scholars, Politicians and ordinary people would really like to believe these statements aren't true. They are.
"Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.

If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking.

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.

War is at its best barbarism."

William T. Sherman

McCrystal did what he had to do as he saw it at the time. No one can ask for more than that -- you can expect more but you're unlikely to get it.

That said, I'm still not convinced he's the best guy for the job but that's on practical warfighting grounds, not on moral grounds. There is no morality in war, it is all immoral, every particle of it. Attempts to be excessively moral in combat kill more people than speed and force will. All wars are immoral but some are necessary. Once you commit, to be nice is to create more problems than you solve. A lot of US problems in war stem from those who dispute or ignore the comments quoted above.

The necessity of these two wars arose from the moral failure of four successive US Presidents to take necessary action to defend US interests. Where is the criticism of those four?

Helogrunt
05-12-2009, 05:19 PM
A lot of great points on SOF vs Conventional thinking. Also, some great background on LGEN McCrystal. However, we (US decision makers) may have missed asking the pertinent questions; What is victory in Afghanistan and how do we accomplish this victory? If it is "to kill AQ and Taliban leadership", then LGEN McCrystal is the man for the job. Having worked in direct support of him in Iraq, he understands how to hunt and capture/kill. The cost of the "to kill" strategy is we will never declare victory. We will only create advancement opportunities for the continually disenfranchised. Capture/killing AQI and insurgent leadership in Iraq was a very small, although vital, piece to stabilizing that country. I spent every morning for a year listening to Gen Petreaus giving his guidance and intent; most of which did not focus on the kinetic operation. Does the US have LOO's other than "capture/kill"? Is it possible to effectively execute those LOOs given the disparate and often chaotic command structure that is Afghanistan? Does LGEN McCrystal have the skills required to see beyond the kinetic, forge command partnerships, force mission focus, and facilitate the development of Afghan forces (civil and military) that support rule of law and allow hope to grow within the citizenry? David Killcullen was interviewed by George Packer of The New Yorker[I] in Nov 08, and Bill Rogio of [I]The Long War Journal 5 May 09 are just two of several folks who identify key issues well beyond the kinetic fight. Semper Fidelis

wm
05-12-2009, 05:54 PM
A lot of great points on SOF vs Conventional thinking. Also, some great background on LGEN McCrystal. However, we (US decision makers) may have missed asking the pertinent questions; What is victory in Afghanistan and how do we accomplish this victory? If it is "to kill AQ and Taliban leadership", then LGEN McCrystal is the man for the job. Having worked in direct support of him in Iraq, he understands how to hunt and capture/kill. The cost of the "to kill" strategy is we will never declare victory. We will only create advancement opportunities for the continually disenfranchised. Capture/killing AQI and insurgent leadership in Iraq was a very small, although vital, piece to stabilizing that country. I spent every morning for a year listening to Gen Petreaus giving his guidance and intent; most of which did not focus on the kinetic operation. Does the US have LOO's other than "capture/kill"? Is it possible to effectively execute those LOOs given the disparate and often chaotic command structure that is Afghanistan? Does LGEN McCrystal have the skills required to see beyond the kinetic, forge command partnerships, force mission focus, and facilitate the development of Afghan forces (civil and military) that support rule of law and allow hope to grow within the citizenry? David Killcullen was interviewed by George Packer of The New Yorker[I] in Nov 08, and Bill Rogio of [I]The Long War Journal 5 May 09 are just two of several folks who identify key issues well beyond the kinetic fight. Semper Fidelis

Good points made above in a more pointed way than my earlier sarcasm.
One could hope that the kinetic piece will be backed up by the clear and hold, WHAM techniques. That would fuse the best of the methods espoused by the current CENTCOM CG while in IZ and his new subordinate/near peer while in IZ as well (I used near peer as I'm not sure of the rank protocols for the ISAF Commander nor am I sure that McC gets to wear that hat too). But, then, hope is not a method, is it?

MattC86
05-12-2009, 06:09 PM
but it seems like we're always talking on different wavelengths. I'm always left going "that's not what I meant!!!" after your responses; but mean what you say and say what you mean, as it goes. I will try to respond.

No defense of McKiernan from me, but are you saying that McChrystal wouldn't take any more flak from the ME or Central Asia for having been in charge of some disputed detainee conduct than any other American general just for being a professional military officer and thus having "done a little killing of bad guys myself," (as I heard Nagl say once)? I take it this is what you mean when referring to Iraqis - McKiernan as Land Forces Component Commander for Franks in OIF I?

And I'm not asking for a record vetted by Mr. Clean. We've had arguments before on the blog comments and here about morality in war. I still say your position can be extrapolated to pure murder of innocent civilians in the name of "shortening the war," but I know we disagree and I will defer to your experience (not intended as 'oldness') and shut up.

I was deferring as well from commenting on the SOF/SF vs GP issue because persons with greater knowledge and experience than myself appeared to have the market cornered. I was curious as to whether anybody here, rather than the loons out in the partisan blogosphere, had picked up on this element of McChrystal's resume and was concerned.

You clearly are not; fair enough.

Finally, re: four presidents, I wrote one thesis this semester. No need write another one here and waste everyone's time. One person and issue is enough for me. ;)

Regards,

Matt


Not an ounce more so than all the Iraqi and Afghan deaths that McKiernan presided over

age of 40 who does NOT have questions that can be asked about their past...

Very serious comment. War isn't nice and I provide four quotes that many will see as pointless aphorisms. Aphorisms they may be but they are far from pointless. Numerous Scholars, Politicians and ordinary people would really like to believe these statements aren't true. They are.

McCrystal did what he had to do as he saw it at the time. No one can ask for more than that -- you can expect more but you're unlikely to get it.

That said, I'm still not convinced he's the best guy for the job but that's on practical warfighting grounds, not on moral grounds. There is no morality in war, it is all immoral, every particle of it. Attempts to be excessively moral in combat kill more people than speed and force will. All wars are immoral but some are necessary. Once you commit, to be nice is to create more problems than you solve. A lot of US problems in war stem from those who dispute or ignore the comments quoted above.

The necessity of these two wars arose from the moral failure of four successive US Presidents to take necessary action to defend US interests. Where is the criticism of those four?

IntelTrooper
05-12-2009, 06:16 PM
If it is "to kill AQ and Taliban leadership", then LGEN McCrystal is the man for the job. Having worked in direct support of him in Iraq, he understands how to hunt and capture/kill. The cost of the "to kill" strategy is we will never declare victory. Does the US have LOO's other than "capture/kill"? Is it possible to effectively execute those LOOs given the disparate and often chaotic command structure that is Afghanistan?

Very good points. Based on my observations, Afghanistan needs someone who will authorize security forces to be aggressive in order to make up for all the territory that has been lost to the TB due to excessive hand-wringing and tip-toeing around hard issues. Granted, success requires a kind of quantum state where security forces are doing their job and construction efforts are taking the lead in interacting with the populace, but so far there has been a severe imbalance with far too little follow-up and oversight of construction efforts. You can't just throw money at a project in hostile territory and expect the right things to be done (which has been the approach so far).

Ken White
05-12-2009, 08:02 PM
but it seems like we're always talking on different wavelengths.and that should be okay. I can accept and respect your opinions even if I do not agree with them.
No defense of McKiernan from me...As an aside, I'll defend McKiernan. He's one of the good ones -- wrong man for the job in Afghanistan but that's not his fault, that's due to the systemic flaw that says anyone of similar background can do any job at their rank level. That has never been true. McKiernan deserved better and his de facto relief is domestically politically motivated and was poorly handled IMO.
...but are you saying that McChrystal wouldn't take any more flak from the ME or Central Asia for having been in charge of some disputed detainee conduct than any other American general just for being a professional military officer and thus having "done a little killing of bad guys myself," (as I heard Nagl say once)? I take it this is what you mean when referring to Iraqis - McKiernan as Land Forces Component Commander for Franks in OIF I?Yes. It'll be seized upon by the chattering classes (here and there) and possibly by the opposition as an info ploy but for most in the ME, one American General is too many and which one is broadly irrelevant.
I still say your position can be extrapolated to pure murder of innocent civilians in the name of "shortening the war"Many will agree with you, some will agree with me. I'll certainly agree you can look at it that way but my point has always been that trying to fight wars 'nicely' inevitably makes them last longer and thus results in more casualties for everyone including civilians. Thus, I'd ask who is being immoral...
I was curious as to whether anybody here, rather than the loons out in the partisan blogosphere, had picked up on this element of McChrystal's resume and was concerned.I think most picked up on it and I'm sure some are concerned. I am concerned -- but, not as I said over that aspect.

Ken White
05-12-2009, 08:14 PM
Very good points... You can't just throw money at a project in hostile territory and expect the right things to be done (which has been the approach so far).you, wm and helogrunt.

McCrystal is a sharp guy but so was McKiernan. Both IMO are not ideal for the jop; the former has a heavy DA background and while some of that is needed I believe we're close to overdoing it, or more accurately not doing it right because we have people who should not be doing it involved and do not have some who should be involved...

McKiernan is a Mech guy, COIN just wasn't his strong point and, seems to me, he was too nice a guy. Should've cracked a couple of heads and did not.

More important than Afghanistan is the fact the Robert Gates has probably put his mark on the US Army for the next decade. I suspect that, more than 'winning' * in Afghanistan was his intent. Casey to be replaced by Petreaus to be replaced by McKiernan with Odierno and Rodriguez as wild cards... Fun time in River City.

* I will forego my usual rant about the fact that one cannot win a COIN fight or FID effort. :cool:

jmm99
05-12-2009, 09:01 PM
OK, no win in COIN (usual case: HN has a domestic violent non-state actor problem with possible transnational input(s)) or in FID (another nation assists HN in first situation). Think I got that - and generally agree as to the "acceptable outcome" philosophy.

But helogrunt raised another context:


If it is "to kill AQ and Taliban leadership", then LGEN McCrystal is the man for the job. Having worked in direct support of him in Iraq, he understands how to hunt and capture/kill. The cost of the "to kill" strategy is we will never declare victory.

Assuming the target list is finite, and if all on list are killed, captured or converted (Turki's turkey), then there is victory as to that list.

Yup, new leaders will pop up, etc. - and then you have to decide whether to play whack a mole with them. Maybe there would insufficient reason to go after them - as opposed to the guys who murdered 1000s of us.

Schmedlap
05-12-2009, 09:11 PM
I don't understand why a General with a SOF background is any better or worse, simply by virtue of his background, than an Infantry/Armor/Artillery/etc General. Isn't a General Officer supposed to be a "generalist" and lead in a fashion that transcends whatever specialty that he had when he entered the Army?

Ken White
05-12-2009, 11:07 PM
JMM: Unless you're going to play Genghis Khan, in any COIN situation, you either kill them all -- thus win a 'victory,' I guess -- or, if you aren't going to kill them all for whatever reason, you're going to come to a point of mutual agreement -- thus less than a 'victory.' You cannot win a COIN campaign, you can only achieve an acceptable outcome. Hopefully...

In the words of helogrunt, killing AQ and the Taliban leadeship will not accomplish the goal which is, as I understand it, to deny in some way future use of Afghanistan for the training or launching of terrorists. Even if you could do that -- which I doubt, the smart ones will just go to ground and wait until you leave -- you still wouldn't achieve a victory. They've got a personnel replacement system as good or better than ours. Probably better. So many are... :rolleyes:

Schmedlap: Yeah, that's the theory but in practice, all those Generalists reveal their backgrounds. Heavy guys like mass, Artillery guys like precision and rapid response (accuracy comes in a distant third), Aviators like checklists, the Light guys tend to be dazzled by their own tactical prowess, SF guys will drink a lot of Chai, SOF-DA guys will kill you if you offer them tea and so on. There was also a major difference in approach and tolerance for error between Officers with the same generic background but assigned to what used to be Functional Areas 41 and 53 back in pre-historic times...

Problem is aside from the genes, we're all products of our environment and old habits die hard. Take Sanchez (please...). He was a tanker, an unusually cautious one with (bad IMO) experience in Bosnia -- this is the guy after all that took a week to get a bridge across a River; that appeared in Bosnia where the 82d had SSGs out playing Mayor and immediately upon arrival announced everyone would pull out of the villages and fortify in base camps (sound familiar...) and every patrol would have a Field Grade Officer accompany it. Sheer idiocy. If there was anyone who should not have been in charge in Baghdad, he was the poster boy.

Having been in Airborne units with Mech experienced Cdrs and in Mech units with Light or Airborne experienced Cdrs, they are definitely different skill sets. In all cases, the folks cited performed adequately but only one crossover performed well IMO. On a far lower but pertinent level, do9ing away with the 11M MOS was not smart.

The Generalist myth is caused by the harsh fact that our thoughtful Congress has decreed that we must be fair in promotions and assignments. Which means the Army has no choice but to assume that all folks of equal rank are equally qualified. They aren't and even if they were, personality and experience differences would still mean uneven performance. What that also means is that the Army is forced to place square pegs in round holes -- and as I've said before, you can do that -- but the peg is too small to fill the hole. :wry:

Rob Thornton
05-13-2009, 01:03 AM
All I know about McKiernan is anecdotal, but none of it would indicate he is not a sharp leader - I would add he would seem to have spoken the truth on many occasions as to the conditions in Afghanistan and operational requirements to address those conditions. On other threads we've commented on the lack of clear ends est. in Afghanistan, but I can't help but wonder how much of what is possible there is as much a question of having the right capabilities available in the right quantities as it is having a vision to employ them.

How much of what was able to be accomplished in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 would have been possible without the amount of resources General Petraeus had to work with? What are the types of capabilities that McKiernan had to employ, and how much can those capabilities be adapted to meet the true operational needs?

Was the USG able to generate the right capabilities in the right amount for McKiernan? Will we be able to for McCrystal? If we are able - will we choose to? I don't see this as McKiernan's failure alone by any stretch, we don't need to look far for decent evidence that his options were few. It may a wonder the situation is not worse than it is.

I think it will take more than a change in commanders to achieve our objectives (what ever they are, or may become). It will take some national will, and it will take the USG providing its commander with the right capabilities and capacities based on the conditions and the objectives. Anything less and we'll be leaving it up to pluck and fortune. I hope this is not an issue lost in the QDR, at least as far as relates to those capabilities we believe will be required to support the operational commanders who employ forces to achieve an objective.

I don't know what sort of man General McKiernan is, if he will write a book like Sanchez, or just sort of fade away, but I suspect he has a side to tell. What I hope he will do is provide some thoughtful analysis on the war we can learn from. I suspect there is plenty of blame to go around, but we always seem to come up short on lessons which make us better - they get lost amongst the more controversial bits.

Mark O - your point was well taken about the composition of JCISFA - currently in our band of merry men (and a few women) we have an almost equal number of Marines to Army, two Navy and two Air Force, We have one SF SNCO (our only NCO) and one long tabbed 06 who wears multiple hats. I would say the composition probably accurately reflects the organizations and people we interact with, and the ratio of those in need and those supplying the resources. As busy as we are, I need look no further than Neil Smith's office (which has both the COIN center, and Army proponency for Stability Ops and Army SFA) to appreciate the relative larger numbers we have.

Best Regards, Rob

Surferbeetle
05-13-2009, 01:52 AM
Yeah, that's the theory but in practice, all those Generalists reveal their backgrounds. Heavy guys like mass, Artillery guys like precision and rapid response (accuracy comes in a distant third), Aviators like checklists, the Light guys tend to be dazzled by their own tactical prowess, SF guys will drink a lot of Chai, SOF-DA guys will kill you if you offer them tea and so on. There was also a major difference in approach and tolerance for error between Officers with the same generic background but assigned to what used to be Functional Areas 41 and 53 back in pre-historic times...

Hmmm....so perhaps there is something to modeling human behavior after all? ;)

Best,

Steve

John T. Fishel
05-13-2009, 01:53 AM
Ken, although we can't know for sure how well or badly done that relief was, we do have a few indicators. First, Sec Gates went to Afghanistan and personally delivered the bad news, very unlike the relief of GEN Fred Woerner in Panama in the summer of 1989. Second, Gates went out of his way to praise McKiernan for his service in public. Third, he took personal responsibility for it in public. So, all in all, it seems that it was as well done as it could have been in those circumstances.

From everything I've read,McKiernan simply was not the right guy to command in Afghanistan. That brings us to McChrystal. According to the reports I've read, he has a good relationship with Petraeus and is supportive of Petraeus' strategy. He is also part of the USMA class of 76 mafia that has done really well in the small wars world - includes David Rodriguez (to be #2), David Barno former commander there and now civilian head of the DOD NESA center, Rich Downie former commandant of WHINSEC and now civilian Director of the DOD Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and intellectual mentor of John Nagl, and cAC Commander, Bill Caldwell.

Not entirely sure what this all means but it feels better to me than what we had going before.;)

Cheers

JohnT

jmm99
05-13-2009, 02:43 AM
I do better in I Law and associated areas.

OK, I'll try again - with a diagram - and the question (which I didn't really ask in the prior post) is: does this make sense ?

What I'm suggesting is that DA is a very different thing from COIN-FID (no Genghis Khan suggested there; FM 3-24 and Niel's courses, etc.). In fact, DA may be contra-indicated in a COIN-FID situation; or maybe not.

In the case of DA, there are two preliminary issues: (1) defining the targets, in accord with US domestic law (including I Law accepted by the US) in such a way as to allow them to be hit by DA; and (2) gaining access rights in others' sovereign territories (or establishing a clear "white-space" doctrine) to allow DA to be executed. And other issues to derive ROEs.

We then move away from my little world to the world of intelligence and martial artistry to identify and destroy the targets. That seems to be a world in which McCrystal has walked well (even if with some controversy - it's a dirty world), based on other posts.

Basic question is whether I am nuts - as to this suggestion. :D

Ken White
05-13-2009, 04:44 AM
Hmmm....so perhaps there is something to modeling human behavior after all? ;)

Best,

SteveMy 'evidence' is anecdotal, no data points, ergo it isn't modeling it's heresy. Oops, er, uh -- it's hearsay... ;)

Ken White
05-13-2009, 05:12 AM
Ken, although we can't know for sure how well or badly done that relief was, we do have a few indicators... So, all in all, it seems that it was as well done as it could have been in those circumstances.It could've been done with, as Gavin said, more class.

Gates went all the way over there to tell him face to face and good for Gates for doing so. My personal belief is that it was not done with more discretion -- or class -- so that the new President gets props for being decisive and forceful. If that's correct it's shoddy; even if not the relief could've been done with a bit of finesses; McKiernan I think deserved better. Any US ARmy General who has the testicular fortitude to approve Armored Brigade Thunder Runs through Baghdad is okay in my book.

No, we don't know and in any event, it's done.

I will point out though, that Woerner's case and this one are a couple of many that answer the question about why Generals stick together and don't criticize each other in public...

I agree McKiernan probably wasn't the right guy for the job; didn't think he should've gotten it in the first place. First he's a heavy guy; second he's probably too nice. My perception is that Afghanistan is run sort of loosely -- which is fine if you have a well trained and educated Army -- we don't. Mc Crystal may be better, he's sharp, no question and he's one senior SOF guy who's not opposed to the GPF on principle. We'll see.

Think it'll be Petreaus replaces Casey, McCrystal replaces first Olson and then Petreaus... ;)

Ah, yes, the class of '76. Now what was it about them. Oh, no -- that was '77... :D

You left out Odierno, '76 -- and Petreaus, '74. ;)

Barno, McCrystal and Rodriguez are all Ranger Regiment Mafiosos. :eek:

Ken White
05-13-2009, 05:26 AM
about what you might be asking...:wry:


What I'm suggesting is that DA is a very different thing from COIN-FID (no Genghis Khan suggested there; FM 3-24 and Niel's courses, etc.). In fact, DA may be contra-indicated in a COIN-FID situation; or maybe not.Yes.

Use of DA in going after High Value Targets may or may not be a viable option in COIN / FID. Personally, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, I thought it worthwhile -- but I also think we're close to overdoing it based on what I read in the funnypaper. That's just my take...
...And other issues to derive ROEs.All true but even there ROEs rule (with the normal self defense latitude, enhanced).
That seems to be a world in which McCrystal has walked well (even if with some controversy - it's a dirty world), based on other posts.True but he's also worked well with the GPF and has insisted that SOF elements coordinate with said GPF.
Basic question is whether I am nuts - as to this suggestion. :DThis is where I get lost -- not sure precisely what you're suggesting.

If it's "victory as to that list," well, yeah, I suppose so -- but I'm dubious that would accomplish much of anything in Afghanistan or the world. IOW, what would be the point?

Schmedlap
05-13-2009, 11:24 AM
Schmedlap: Yeah, that's the theory but in practice, all those Generalists reveal their backgrounds. Heavy guys like mass, Artillery guys like precision and rapid response (accuracy comes in a distant third), Aviators like checklists, the Light guys tend to be dazzled by their own tactical prowess, SF guys will drink a lot of Chai, SOF-DA guys will kill you if you offer them tea and so on...

I understand that concern, but I don't think it takes a lifetime of working with SOF to understand how to effectively employ it. The criticisms that you mentioned regarding Sanchez and the observations that Max Boot makes about McKiernan here (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-boot13-2009may13,0,1278653.story) have little, if anything, to do with the former specialty of the officers, but more to do with the type of leadership that was rewarded in our peacetime Army of the 1990s and got those guys promoted. That's not branch-specific. That is just the result of an era of foolishness in our Army that allowed transactional leaders to succeed beyond their abilities.

If there is anything special about SOF in that regard, it is simply that, as somewhat of a red-headed stepchild during that time period, SOF was not infected with the same institutional irrationality that so pervaded the rest of the force. I am willing to concede that it is less likely for a SOF General Officer to be some linear-thinking manager (I know a few SF field grades and SGM/CSMs who would laugh me out of the room I were to say that out loud - and they would name names - but I think it is generally true). But as for a SOF background giving someone some special skill in commanding a multinational force at the 4-star level - I just don't see it. A good leader will be effective in any setting within the bounds of his profession - and not all good leaders opted for the SFAS try-outs. Many stayed in their branch (Petraeus, Odierno, etc).

If McCrystal's background is so influential, then I hope that it doesn't carry over too much. I see in the Boot article (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/spent%20an%20unusually%20long%20time%20%282003-2008%29%20heading%20the%20Joint%20Special%20Operat ions%20Command,%20which%20is%20responsible%20for%2 0%22black%22%20counter-terrorism%20operations%20using%20elite%20units) mentioned above that he "spent an unusually long time (2003-2008) heading the Joint Special Operations Command, which is responsible for 'black' counter-terrorism operations using elite units." Let's hope he doesn't leverage them too much in Afghanistan. I laughed when I read your tongue-in-cheek comment that "SOF-DA guys will kill you if you offer them tea," because it was one of those "it's funny because it's true" statements. Many a mess has had to be "mitigated" due to SOF-DA killing people for less provocative reasons.

Just to be clear - I've got no issue with any of these personnel changes. I just don't like reasoning for why it makes sense. It's a great talking point for the masses (we're putting a SOF General in charge to clean up this mess!), but it just seems like too simplistic of an explanation for us.

Spartan6
05-13-2009, 02:23 PM
"But as for a SOF background giving someone some special skill in commanding a multinational force at the 4-star level - I just don't see it. A good leader will be effective in any setting within the bounds of his profession - and not all good leaders opted for the SFAS try-outs. Many stayed in their branch (Petraeus, Odierno, etc)."

Brother I couldn't have said it better myself. As much as I love my SF brothers, I don't think they have the market cornered on leadership. When you're talking about a 4-star running operations in Afghanistan, he better not be thinking like a tanker, grunt, or snake eater. He has to put ALL the pieces together, including diplomacy to be effective. It takes a very special leader to do this. The great ones are rare and in my opinion are not concentrated in any one branch.

Having said that, I do think he'll do a great job, but time will tell.

Ken White
05-13-2009, 03:20 PM
I understand that concern, but I don't think it takes a lifetime of working with SOF to understand how to effectively employ it...but more to do with the type of leadership that was rewarded in our peacetime Army of the 1990s and got those guys promoted. That's not branch-specific. That is just the result of an era of foolishness in our Army that allowed transactional leaders to succeed beyond their abilities.There's merit in that but I noticed the same thing back in the 50s and 60s before we got all PC and well educated, thus it's not a new, post Viet Nam phenomenon. So I think there's a bit of both...

Talking to my son last night and he made a point that I had totally missed lo these many years. The Germans used the Generalist model and we adapted ours (as so many other things, some good, some not so good) from them. There is a difference. Their General Staff Officers allow their system to be far more effective than do our oversized, over-ranked and branch centric Staffs. That's an area that needs some thought and probably action.
If there is anything special about SOF in that regard, it is simply that, as somewhat of a red-headed stepchild during that time period, SOF was not infected with the same institutional irrationality that so pervaded the rest of the force...Agree totally.
But as for a SOF background giving someone some special skill in commanding a multinational force at the 4-star level - I just don't see it. A good leader will be effective in any setting within the bounds of his profession - and not all good leaders opted for the SFAS try-outs. Many stayed in their branch (Petraeus, Odierno, etc).Also agree with that -- and I don't think I said anything to imply that was not the case. My comments addressed proclivities developed over the years and were generalizations. I've met exceptions to everything I cited -- but I also observed the things I cited so we have not a model or an inscribed truth but some general tendencies, no more.
Let's hope he doesn't leverage them too much in Afghanistan. I laughed when I read your tongue-in-cheek comment that "SOF-DA guys will kill you if you offer them tea," because it was one of those "it's funny because it's true" statements. Many a mess has had to be "mitigated" due to SOF-DA killing people for less provocative reasons.It wasn't tongue in cheek; been there, know the genre. Again, I agree on your end point -- I've said here several times that we are overdoing the DA bit...:(
Just to be clear - I've got no issue with any of these personnel changes. I just don't like reasoning for why it makes sense. It's a great talking point for the masses (we're putting a SOF General in charge to clean up this mess!), but it just seems like too simplistic of an explanation for us.I agree on the no issue but as I've said, the McKiernan relief was done poorly, he deserved better. McChrystal will probably do okay, he's a smart guy and he and Rodriguez both have a good rep with the Troops but I expressed concern with the DA background of both and I did not and do not say that a SOF guy was / is needed or better. My choice would've been a Light Infantry guy -- but there aren't many of those around now who are not tainted with Ranger service. Kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out is not a good way to go...

So what is our disagreement? :wry:

John T. Fishel
05-13-2009, 03:22 PM
Ken, I didn't look up Odierno.:cool:

Really, though, how much difference does background and training make? Although John Abizaid was a ME FAO Dave Petraeus had a better feel for the Iraqis than Abizaid. In eth absence of actually knowing the person we fall back on what we do know which is the background and experience that we know has some effect on shaping the person. How the new team will actually work in the environment of the Afghanistan war remains to be seen. But as I said in the previous post, this feels better.

Cheers

JohnT

Ken White
05-13-2009, 03:23 PM
When you're talking about a 4-star running operations in Afghanistan, he better not be thinking like a tanker, grunt, or snake eater. He has to put ALL the pieces together, including diplomacy to be effective. It takes a very special leader to do this. The great ones are rare and in my opinion are not concentrated in any one branch.Bertrand Russell pointed out that 20% of the people do 80% of the world's work -- that applies to Generals as well as Privates.

Two out of ten that really have their acts together seems about right to me...:D

Ken White
05-13-2009, 03:29 PM
Really, though, how much difference does background and training make?In my observation it depends, some folks can put aside their past better than others, some can acquire new skills faster than others and, of course, specific situations can have an impact. Basically, the short answer to your question is 'probably some, probably not totally.' See my Post above on 20%. :D
How the new team will actually work in the environment of the Afghanistan war remains to be seen. But as I said in the previous post, this feels better.Agreed. The key will be the amount of DA emphasis, I think. We'll see.

jcustis
05-13-2009, 03:43 PM
What does DA mean to you guys in the Afghanistan context?

I get the piece about targeting HVIs, but beyond that, how pervasive could DA possibly be?

Pragmatic Thinker
05-13-2009, 03:51 PM
Bertrand Russell pointed out that 20% of the people do 80% of the world's work -- that applies to Generals as well as Privates.

Two out of ten that really have their acts together seems about right to me...:D

Having worked for LTG McChrystal two things he has going for him that will be crucial in Afghanistan. 1) He truly gets small unit tactics (company and below), and he has a knack for team development. In his former capacity within JSOC he gets much credit for bringing interagency to the forefront of military doctrine today although he his somewhat humble and would probably give his staff more credit than himself. 2) He is all about "flattening" organizations with regards to C4I. He would often say "Centralized command with decentralized control", so I think you will see a paradigm shift in letting BCT/RCT and Bn commanders make strategic and operational decisions at their level vice waiting to push CONOPs up and down the reporting chain.... Again, I don't know LTG McChrystal is the purist in a COIN sense (SF versus Ranger arguments) but he will bring a new approach to the way the war is fought. I look forward to it...

PT SENDS

Ken White
05-13-2009, 04:19 PM
Having worked for LTG McChrystal two things he has going for him that will be crucial in Afghanistan. 1) ... 2)...I think you're correct on all points. I do know he pushed folks to work well with the GPF troops in the AO and that he used GPF elements widely and wisely.

Even better, he would have done more had the CentCom staff not flummoxed the troop allocation process as they're prone to do...:mad:

Ken White
05-13-2009, 04:35 PM
What does DA mean to you guys in the Afghanistan context?

I get the piece about targeting HVIs, but beyond that, how pervasive could DA possibly be?what little I do know from all I've heard and read, most of the DA there is HVI. The issues that I think arise are some small ones and these three biggies:

How sure are we that X is in fact (a) HVI; (b) actually located at the strike point?

Allied to that is how many bystanders are likley to get zapped -- and is that cost worth the price of that HVI?

Do we have people doing HVI strikes that could be more profitably employed in other things or other places?

I think all those are important because I know that pressure to identify HVTs, any HVTs; to DO something; to not scrub a laid on mission, to discount the 'collateral damage' problem and a few other not really war fighting considerations can intrude and skew what happens...

I know that most people most of the time don't fall prey to those traps and are busting their tails to do good and do it right -- and are doing just that.

I also know that some folks will fall into those traps if we aren't careful.

We have a bad tendency, as Armed Forces, to put constraints on processes (four hours to get approval for aircraft as a rule...:mad:) and not on the effects of what we do. :confused:

Pragmatic Thinker
05-13-2009, 05:13 PM
what little I do know from all I've heard and read, most of the DA there is HVI. The issues that I think arise are some small ones and these three biggies:

How sure are we that X is in fact (a) HVI; (b) actually located at the strike point?

Allied to that is how many bystanders are likley to get zapped -- and is that cost worth the price of that HVI?

Do we have people doing HVI strikes that could be more profitably employed in other things or other places?

I think all those are important because I know that pressure to identify HVTs, any HVTs; to DO something; to not scrub a laid on mission, to discount the 'collateral damage' problem and a few other not really war fighting considerations can intrude and skew what happens...

I know that most people most of the time don't fall prey to those traps and are busting their tails to do good and do it right -- and are doing just that.

I also know that some folks will fall into those traps if we aren't careful.

We have a bad tendency, as Armed Forces, to put constraints on processes (four hours to get approval for aircraft as a rule...:mad:) and not on the effects of what we do. :confused:


1) Verfiying the target is important and that is done through various collection means, it is non-negotiable and usually redundancy is required for any kinetic operations
2) Using ISR to establish a 'pattern of life' which will form the basis of the collateral damage assessment is also SOP for kinetic strikes
3) The target is 'vetted' and already identified within the targeting process thus has intelligence to back it up making it a "true" HVI

The kinetic option works but we are behind the proverbial eight ball with our IO strategy. Al Jazeera is on the scene by sun-up filming the "carnage" from yet another infidel attack. Right behind them is Hamid Karazai who will invariably do what he does best -- blame Americans for so-called civilian casualities while relying on us to keep him tucked in safe inside the Presidential Palace in Kabul. Somewhere around Day Two of the post-strike the American forces are finally getting something out the wider global audience. AQ and TB are all too aware of perceptions and how to use the global media as a weapon against us... Again, we are usually on the defensive and that makes us look guilty when in fact we are not... It isn't enough to say AQ/TB uses women and children as shields but we need to show it and say it FIRST... My hope is LTG McChrystal will bring this to bear with his management style of "flattening" and "decentralized control". We need to allow our press on the scene without waiting 48 hrs. to get a CONOP approved by USFOR-A in Kabul for a Marine Battalion to escort a CNN crew to the bomb site. This type of warfare management has to end...

PT SENDS

Pragmatic Thinker
05-13-2009, 05:37 PM
I think you're correct on all points. I do know he pushed folks to work well with the GPF troops in the AO and that he used GPF elements widely and wisely.

Even better, he would have done more had the CentCom staff not flummoxed the troop allocation process as they're prone to do...:mad:

Michael Smith quotes LTG McChrystal in his book "Killer Elite" (pg. 276)...

Although Task Force 145 was under the control of the coalition commander, its operations were largely autonomous and heavily influenced by the JSOC Commander LTGEN Stanley McChrystal. His views were articulated in a memo sent to all JSOC operators at the same time as the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism was published. "This has been, and will be, a long and serious war," McChrystal told them. "Although initial structures and TTP's have evolved tremendously from where they were even two years ago, we are still operating within manning and operating processes that need to be improved to be more effective and professional. We must increasingly be a force of totally focused counterterrorists-that is what we do. This is a complex as developing Long Term Strategic Debriefing Facility that feeds our in-depth understanding of the enemy, and as simple as losing the casual, "I am off at my war adventure," manner of dress and grooming. In every case it will not be about what's easy, or even what we normally associate with conventional military standards. It will not even be about what is effective. It will be about what is the MOST effective way to operate- and we will do everything to increase the effectiveness in small ways. If anyone finds this inconvenient or onerous, there's no place in the force for you. This is about winning-and making as few trips to Arlington Cemetary en route to that objective."

I think this type of thinking and attitude are what SECDEF Gates was referring to when he spoke publically about LTG McChrystal replacing GEN McKiernan. There is no doubt that LTG McChrystal brings great management and leadership skills to the helm of this fight. He is also a huge proponent of SOF-GPF integration and isn't one to engage in who is better but rather how each compliments the other on the battlefield, but it has to start with getting over the egos and attitudes of "us versus them." He has on more than one occassion said that very thing... I think we will see some fresh ideas and some real shifts in doctrine for ALL forces in Afghanistan as he brings his unique leadership and management style to USFOR-A headquarters...

PT SENDS

Ken White
05-13-2009, 11:24 PM
...This type of warfare management has to end...I hear you. I was saying that in 1952. Unfortunately, it just kept getting worse... :(

From your later post:
but it has to start with getting over the egos and attitudes of "us versus them."I didn't start saying that until 1962 when I left the Hill for the 82d at the urging of wife who threatened to leave if I did not depart SF. I departed, so did she anyway. Second best thing that ever happened to me (Her leaving, not me leaving Group).

Oh, that ego and attitude factor -- it also has simply gotten worse. :wry:

I never cease to be amazed that we do as well as we do. That we do so well is living testimony to the under 35s who make it all work in spite of what we older nut not necessarily wiser heads might have done to foul it up (with some rare exceptions. That 20% again... :) ).

Steve the Planner
05-14-2009, 02:11 AM
As a dumbass former tank commander (Anybody remember M60s?), I'll take some offense to that statement, but leave it to history.

The guy running the military side of the surge in the North was MG Hertling (1AD), and a real tanker to boot. I was in 3/64 Armor when he was in 2/64 Armor, so I know he has cherry juice in his veins.

History, I'm sure, will more clearly explain the role of SF in the North, and how it worked hand-in-hand with a tank general's efforts. All of it part of the "Big Game," and, at least one tank general was working just fine with SF.

Reconstruction stuff is nice, but it is that essential level of hard power (caught between the formal army and a sniper?) that has to happen before soft power becomes practical in a conflict zone.

Steve

PS- Yeah, I know. Tanks are dinosaurs NOW. But, back in the day....

Ken White
05-14-2009, 04:22 AM
an M4A3E8 an M26 and an M-46...

Some Tankers are true heirs of John Buford. Some are heirs of McClellan. I've served under both kinds. I suspect the 20% rule applies. :wry:

Tanks aren't going away. I've heard that prediction on and off since the 50s, they're still here -- and still needed. :cool: