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William F. Owen
02-09-2010, 07:15 AM
I started this because I hate to see another useful area of discussion die in the "Journal."
See here. (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/02/coin-metrics-what-not-to-measu/index.php)
Sorry, but Body Counts work. That the it has been done it badly in the past by those cannot use the data usefully, does not mean it does not work.
We have to get over rejecting things just because they fail in the hands of people not skilled in their use.

Should it be THE measure of success? No, of course not, but most armies who defeated irregular forces used body counts. They were used in Kenya, Malaya (see my quote), Dohfar and Cyprus - and also Rhodesia!
Historically best practice body counts were based on recorded kills, verified by physical control and recovery of the body AND Weapons - usually for some form of exploitation.

The point is, you do not pursue a score as in judging success by the number you kill, but that you are sure that you are actually killing the enemy, when and as it is required. - that is why Templer used Body Counts, and British Army operations were predicated on "killing the enemy."

Do something well it works. Do it badly and it fails.

Chris jM
02-09-2010, 08:20 AM
I guess your right, and that a body count could be a useful measure - but only if it is appropriate to assessing the effectiveness of any strategy, not as a strategy (or even a tactic) unto itself.

I also suspect that any reporting of eny killed will be a near impossible task. Unless your taking the ground after a conflict your unlikely to be able to accurately assess the damage you've inflicted - I think you've highlighted the issues yourself on this forum with regards to Brit actions in Helmand to this end. Additionally, even if you do dominate the battlefield post-contact, their can be massive amounts of warped feedback influencing the statistics (who was enemy, who was carrying a weapon, the need to best a sister company, etc etc).

I distrust the western militaries as a whole (yep, massive generalisation alert!) being able to employ a body count statistic as an effective tool in pursuit of strategis assessment. I fear, as I've outlined elsewhere, that many of today's coalition forces are too orientated topwards minimising their own losses and any data proving that they are killing the eny would only serve to spt/ reinforce current tactics that may inflict loss, but don't work towards a sustainable objective . It may be my own bias but I don't trust tools as easily blinding and misleading as statistics without substantial qualification. That, and I'm a former humanities student who generally distrusts the numbers people :cool:

In short Wilf, I agree that there is nothing wrong with the body count as a tool assessing one's strategy in theory, but in practise I oppose it. Knowledge of both FF and enemy forces in any conflict is bound to be imperfect, so we are better off embracing that imperfection than trying to supplant it withthe inevitable, omnipotent excel spreadsheet.

William F. Owen
02-09-2010, 09:51 AM
In short Wilf, I agree that there is nothing wrong with the body count as a tool assessing one's strategy in theory, but in practise I oppose it. Knowledge of both FF and enemy forces in any conflict is bound to be imperfect, so we are better off embracing that imperfection than trying to supplant it withthe inevitable, omnipotent excel spreadsheet.
So basically your point is that poor leadership and stupidity is blocker to doing something useful???

What you miss is that has been used successfully in the past!
Be a Clausewitian I very much subscribe to the "work within the Chaos, not against it school" of warfare. You will rarely have the right information on which to base decisions.

I would also submit it is nothing to do with strategy. It is the realm of tactics. Verifiable body counts are an excellent OA tool, when combined with data sets. The Ricks/Kilcullen "don't count bodies" is simplistic, misleading and wrong.

MikeF
02-09-2010, 12:21 PM
Sorry, but Body Counts work. That the it has been done it badly in the past by those cannot use the data usefully, does not mean it does not work.
We have to get over rejecting things just because they fail in the hands of people not skilled in their use.

Should it be THE measure of success? No, of course not, but most armies who defeated irregular forces used body counts.

The point is, you do not pursue a score as in judging success by the number you kill, but that you are sure that you are actually killing the enemy, when and as it is required. - that is why Templer used Body Counts, and British Army operations were predicated on "killing the enemy."

Do something well it works. Do it badly and it fails.

Breaking the enemy's will to fight is the real objective. Killing the enemy and the proper application of violence is a big part of that. Ultimately, you want to bring the enemy to the negotiating table at a weakened position. However, it's not a panacea. If the negotiations do not lead to peace, then you have failed. The war to end all wars is a good example of how the accumulation of body counts without formal arbitration instead of retribution can lead to more war.

Bob's World
02-09-2010, 12:46 PM
Breaking the enemy's will to fight is the real objective. Killing the enemy and the proper application of violence is a big part of that. Ultimately, you want to bring the enemy to the negotiating table at a weakened position. However, it's not a panacea. If the negotiations do not lead to peace, then you have failed. The war to end all wars is a good example of how the accumulation of body counts without formal arbitration instead of retribution can lead to more war.

If the American Civil War would have been over an issue was that equally difused across the land it would have manifested as an insurgency if at all. In which case Grant's strategy of crushing the will of the enemy populace would have likely failed. As it was a geographic issue, and a separate nation was formed, it worked.

Body counts? Certainly gained a bad rap in Vietnam. I see this as a measure of performance though, not effectiveness. Many factors go into what it takes to break the will of an opponent, so merely counting bodies only tells you that you are killing people.

In COIN operations, where one is trying to regain the support of their populace WHO, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW one kills is probably far more important than how many. Again, I still see it as a measure of performance that will often lead to an assumption that more is better, when if fact, the opposite may be true.

John T. Fishel
02-09-2010, 01:01 PM
about anything ;) he is on to something here. Mike, there are times when you can't bring the enemy to the negotiating table - Hitler and his henchment committed suicide rather than surrender. It was the thierd or fourth echelon that came to the table and certainly did not represent the NAZI regime. I suspect that Bob's World has put the body count issue in the right context - that it can be an useful measure of performance but not of effectiveness/outcome.

Cheers

JohnT

Ken White
02-09-2010, 09:25 PM
And he is in this case. :cool:

The key item from his post is this:
"Historically best practice body counts were based on recorded kills, verified by physical control and recovery of the body AND Weapons - usually for some form of exploitation. (emphasis added / kw)I would add that those figures should not be publicized in any way or released to the media because they will either misunderstand or misuse them -- more likely both -- and that will skew the military application (as it did in Viet Nam after mid 1966).

P.S.

Don't give them to the Departmental bureaucracy or Congress either -- because they will then be 'leaked' and really misconstrued.

P.P.S

John and Bob's world are correct also in that it can be a useful measure of performance but not of effectiveness/outcome.

Rex Brynen
02-09-2010, 09:34 PM
Given their undoubted utility when used right--and their tendency to promote sloppiness, be misused, fixated upon, politically manipulated, or pushed to do things they aren't meant to do/indicate--are we then saying that...

body counts are the MRAPs of metrics?

Ken White
02-09-2010, 10:01 PM
body counts are the MRAPs of metrics?'Twould seem so...:D

Infanteer
02-10-2010, 03:48 PM
John and Bob's world are correct also in that it can be a useful measure of performance but not of effectiveness/outcome.

Probably sums it up best.

"Body Count" is just a macabre name for a BDA - something we try to do all the time as a measure of performance.

And I agree with Wilf that it is tactical. I kill 6 of the 9 guys that tried to ambush me. Good. Useful data for the AAR. Doesn't tell me anything about how I diminished the Taliban insurgency (except on that road junction :D)

Schmedlap
02-10-2010, 06:23 PM
We should use touchdowns as a metric. After all, look how many teams that score touchdowns win championships.

BayonetBrant
02-10-2010, 06:39 PM
Once you start counting something, the reporting of that count becomes a self-licking ice cream cone, and without a clear understanding of why you counted it in the first place (throughout the command) you're counting just because you always counted, and then it becomes some form or mis-construed performance metric or a continual quest to outdo the old record, or some other useless mutated bit of BS.

Counting something in and of itself is not the problem. Misapplication of the count is the problem.

Fuchs
02-10-2010, 07:45 PM
About body counts in general:

There's a tendency to get the numbers wrong even with the greatest efforts to have accurate data.
The Germans had very strict reporting rules, nevertheless they overestimated air/air kills over enemy soil by factor two and the Russian tank production by a factor two as well (counting destroyed tanks as killed despite the fact that the Russians were recovering and repairing them).

This error factor of two almost seems to be a constant of warfare.

Historical occupation wars had their analogies; like reporting killed enemies based on killing suspected enemies. There are psychological issues and organizational defects at work that would be difficult to come by permanently. Maybe you could solve the problems and get accurate data; that doesn't solve the uncertainty about the accuracy, so you would still not know what kind of correction multiplier to apply to your data.


Own WIA/POW/MIA/KIA as well as POW taken are reliable metrics.

Bill Moore
02-10-2010, 11:13 PM
Posted by Bayonet Brant
Once you start counting something, the reporting of that count becomes a self-licking ice cream cone, and without a clear understanding of why you counted it in the first place (throughout the command) you're counting just because you always counted, and then it becomes some form or mis-construed performance metric or a continual quest to outdo the old record, or some other useless mutated bit of BS.

I'm skeptical of the value of doing this, and believe it will lead to inappropriate behavior. You mentioned the body counts in Malaya and Cyprus, but was the so what of them? How did they contribute to a victory? Maybe it was just something the commander wanted so he could send apparently good news back to his political leadership? Of course anytime a western force engages irregulars in a developing nation the body count ratio is in our favor, but we don't always win.

Count the bodies, we're going to do it anyway, but the numbers are just data, and they can and should be interpreted in different ways. If the enemy body count continues to raise you may interpret it as the enemy is more effective at mobilizing the populace to fight us, or on the other hand the remaining leadership is less effective, and there are numerous of other interpretations that may or may not be relevant, so the question comes back to why is it a useful metric for anything other than to support information operations (they killed a 100 of us, but we killed a thousand of them; therefore, we're winning). Wrong headed thinking IMO, but you have to feed the American and British audience something to keep their support.

In WWII did we keep body counts or estimates of KIA? Kind hard to do a body count after you carpet bomb a few cities that are in enemy territory unless they're kind enough to publish the numbers. Better indicators of success may have been the use of child soldiers, during the end of WWII the Germans were throwing younger teenagers into the fight, which probably indicated that less men of fighting age were available, presumably due to casualties.

While the data could be useful, I strongly believe it will be misinterpreted and may drive some commanders to conduct kinetic operations when they're not appropriate to ensure their stats look as good at the commanders in the other AOs, even though he doesn't have significant numbers in his battlespace. We all seen what happens then, everyone is a bad guy after they're dead.

I support the argument that the metric isn't overly useful and potentially very harmful due to Western Officers being competitive. Nothing wrong with competition, but this competition could actually result in a loss.

Rex Brynen
02-10-2010, 11:42 PM
Count the bodies, we're going to do it anyway, but the numbers are just data, and they can and should be interpreted in different ways. If the enemy body count continues to raise you may interpret it as the enemy is more effective at mobilizing the populace to fight us, or on the other hand the remaining leadership is less effective, and there are numerous of other interpretations that may or may not be relevant, so the question comes back to why is it a useful metric for anything other than to support information operations (they killed a 100 of us, but we killed a thousand of them; therefore, we're winning).

This is true, however, of almost all data in intelligence assessment--the data rarely has a single unambiguous interpretation. Assessing the validity and reliability of indicators, contextualizing them, and making collective sense of them (and their broader significance) is what analysts ought to be doing for a living.

As a general rule, I would rather have more information than less, even if the information might be inflated or indicative of multiple possible trends.

Bob's World
02-10-2010, 11:53 PM
This is true, however, of almost all data in intelligence assessment--the data rarely has a single unambiguous interpretation. Assessing the validity and reliability of indicators, contextualizing them, and making collective sense of them (and their broader significance) is what analysts ought to be doing for a living.

As a general rule, I would rather have more information than less, even if the information might be inflated or indicative of multiple possible trends.

and are typically oblivious to how collecting and counting it might be affecting the very operations they are working to support.

Or just as often, will fight tooth and nail to keep a data source on line when the ops guys want to go turn it off for the negative effects its day to day operational presence has on the mission as a whole.

BL, I would discount the intel community's perspective on this by the "factor of 2 described by Fuchs," I would proably do the same for commanders at any level higher than that which the casualites were actually produced at, say company level.

Ken White
02-11-2010, 02:21 AM
However, knowing that you killed 'X' AND got his weapon AND will or even may be able to exploit that is not pointless.

The key is to know your enemy and really understand who you're fighting. Bill Moore makes the valid point that our overly competitive system encourages misuse of such data (and I repeat that public release exacerbates that factor) but that same system with it's forced short rotations (and repetitive deployments deliberately tasked to different AOs) does not allow Commanders or units to get to know their enemy. A body count is then sort of pointless.

However, as Wilf said when he started this thread:
"Historically best practice body counts were based on recorded kills, verified by physical control and recovery of the body AND Weapons - usually for some form of exploitation."(emphasis added /kw)However, Wilf cited that usage in some Commonwealth campaigns where a three year tour (or longer, particularly in Rhodesia) was the norm. We don't do that (unfortunately) so many do not see the value for us. It was not and is not pointless.

If you know your AO and your enemy. If you do not, then it probably is pointless...

As for Bob's World's comment on the Intel community and their shortfalls, I've seen that. He's right. I've also seen commanders that would not tolerate that attitude as they wanted to do what was right as opposed to doing what they thought their Boss might want...:wry:

He also says:
I would discount the intel community's perspective on this by the "factor of 2 described by Fuchs," I would proably do the same for commanders at any level higher than that which the casualites were actually produced at, say company level.Hmm. That sounds like an indictment of a lot of Field Grade and Flag Officers...:wry:

Bob's World
02-11-2010, 03:16 AM
If you brief senior leaders on certain stats every day, those stats take on an importance for the sake of the stat itself.

So effects are more important. Also way more difficult. I've worked with guys who have developed and sold effects measureing and reporting systems that would crush the biggest computers IBM every built, I know they certainly crushed the staffs they were foisted upon; and in my opinion the results were virtually worthless. This actually drove me to the quote below, as I told my fellow officer that he was 'A master of complexity - able to devine insanely complex solutions to complex problems.' I told him "don't complify - simplicate!"

Body counts are easy. We killed 5 of them, and suffered one WIA in the process. Easy. Sounds like we're winning. I recall as kid in kindergarden watching the news about Vietnam, and they would post the daily box score. US 30, NVA 240. etc. It was like following sports. Except, of course, that it isn't sports, and the score in of itself doesn't mean anything. More "how do you feel" about the score over time...measure that, if you can.

Ken White
02-11-2010, 04:26 AM
...I told him "don't complify - simplicate!"

Body counts are easy. We killed 5 of them, and suffered one WIA in the process. Easy. Sounds like we're winning.You want to simplicate to the point of irrelevance... :D

You left out "...physical control and recovery of the body AND Weapons - usually for some form of exploitation." I would totally agree that what you posted was foolish -- I do not agree that if you add the important bit about their weapons (give that some thought...) and the potential for exploitation.
I recall as kid in kindergarden watching the news about Vietnam, and they would post the daily box score. US 30, NVA 240. etc. It was like following sports. Except, of course, that it isn't sports, and the score in of itself doesn't mean anything.While you were in kindergarten I was adding to that box score in a unit that would not allow a KIA to be counted unless there was a weapon to go with it and that diligently tried to exploit each case and successfully did so on a number of occasions. So I know there is value if done properly as opposed to basing my opinion on dimly recalled TV Follies (That's what the MACV Press Briefings were called, with good reason).

The fact that a bunch of staff Colonels prostituted a process originated by the SecDef over the objections of many in-country makes your opening comment above even more poignant (in the painful and pertinent sense of the word):
If you brief senior leaders on certain stats every day, those stats take on an importance for the sake of the stat itself.As I said, those are your contemporaries and their Bosses you're impugning, not mine. :wry:

That said, I do agree that can occur but that is misuse of the information and it amounts to doing what I specifically said should not be done -- and which you apparently ignored as you often do while searching for a riposte. I'll just repeat some of that for you:

""I would add that those figures should not be publicized in any way or released to the media because they will either misunderstand or misuse them -- more likely both -- and that will skew the military application (as it did in Viet Nam after mid 1966).(ADDED:A briefing is publicizing)
. . .
P.P.S

John and Bob's World are correct also in that it can be a useful measure of performance but not of effectiveness/outcome.[/B]""
More "how do you feel" about the score over time...measure that, if you can.Apparently you changed your mind about the use as a measure of performance:
I see this as a measure of performance though, not effectiveness. Many factors go into what it takes to break the will of an opponent, so merely counting bodies only tells you that you are killing people.Totally agree now as I did when you first wrote it.

I'm not a Sports fan so don't do scores and didn't get to watch Viet Nam on TV though I'm glad you did, you must've been a precocious little Kindergartener. However, I can measure an inability to determine the difference between appropriate and inappropriate uses of information and the appreciation of that difference... ;)

Bob's World
02-11-2010, 05:05 AM
This problem is a big part of my current job. Not so much to devise effective metrics, but to try to ensure that we are emphasizing the right bits of information, drawing the right conclusions, (and questioning the rightness of those), etc.

One unit will go out on a CRP, engage in a daylong TIC, reduce several IEDs, and get confirmed BDA on half a dozen Insurgents (with their weapons) from attack helo's brought in to support them.

Another will swoop into a compound in the middle of the night a discover and destroy a cache of dope or amonium nitrate; or snatch a person or two of interest and swoop back out.

Another will conduct a Medical event at a district center, treat hundreds of locals and engage in meaningful conversations with important local leaders and return to base without firing a shot.

Who was most productive today? Who was most effective today? What do we do more of? What do we do less of? How do I convince conventional commanders to allocate critcal enablers to one form of engagement over another?

I have a counterpart who reads the "scorecard" to the commander every morning. No one ever asks what it means. I try to identify and highlight important nuances that come from all of these various types of engagement; and sometimes I get a "WTF?" look in return. Sometimes you pimp the actions that are easily understood in order to get the enablers to go out and do what might not be quite so obvious.

How does that go, "you sell the sizzle, not the steak?" That's fine. But never forget you will quickly starve eating nothing but sizzle. But boy, to people love sizzle.

Ken White
02-11-2010, 05:36 AM
Who was most productive today? Who was most effective today? What do we do more of? What do we do less of? How do I convince conventional commanders to allocate critcal enablers to one form of engagement over another?I'm pretty sure that varies a great deal depending on whether the location and overall relevance of those IEDS was critical, nice or unimportant and if the weapons of those' insurgents' were obtained and how well their deaths can be exploited; whether the cache was significant and/or the snatch was worthwhile (and the snatchees can be exploited); and whether the meeting and MedCap were in a critical or humdrum area.

IOW, the factors of METT-TC apply as they pretty much do in all wars. Importance and productivity vary from day to day and each type operation can range from unnecessary to deadly to so-so to good work to super important. That's war for you... :wry:

Frustrating, isn't it? :o
I have a counterpart who reads the "scorecard" to the commander every morning. No one ever asks what it means.That could mean they're all self explanatory or self evident -- or that those items are irrelevant. Either way, sounds awfully bureaucratic to me. What do you report on those days when there is nothing to report?
How does that go, "you sell the sizzle, not the steak?" That's fine. But never forget you will quickly starve eating nothing but sizzle. But boy, to people love sizzle.I'm not sure if that's a metaphor that insinuates that overrated DA is more glamorous than is the FID/SFA business which is really far more important but it seems like it might be. If it is, I agree.

Illegitimi non carborundum. Keep on pushing. ;)

Bill Moore
02-11-2010, 11:56 AM
You win when you win, not when you have the highest score (or right metrics)

We're attempting to incorporate industrial age methodologies (business management) by measuring performance and effects using some sort of pseudo-scientific methodology, which as Bob correctly points out simply crushes the staff and prevents them from doing effective work. This whole MOP/MOE nonsense that one of the worst SECDEF's in history forced down the military's throat just won't die.

What stats do we need to measure to see if we're in black vice being in the red when we're at war? Can we really measure a man's will to resist? I think they enemy is at a 6 today, yesterday they were at a 7. Tomorrow they may be at an 8 so we'll need to do something different. We also seem to forget that most effects are accumulate over time and are not readily measurable. We need more analysis, more ground truth about what makes people tick, more leadership instead of management, and less focus on diverting staffs to chase useless metrics.

Ken White
02-11-2010, 03:59 PM
As applied to warfighting, they do have a valid place in log, engineering and fire support functions but 'metrics' have no place in the conduct of combat operations. You obviously also missed the fact that I said above that the KIAs, weapons and hopeful and possible exploitation have some merit but should not be publicized in any way or be a briefing item. Those facts can, if you know your enemy (and we generally do not because we don't stay long enough to learn him) be beneficial and useful.

You and a few others are objecting on the basis that they ARE or will become a briefing item. Possibly, even probably true -- but that's a flaw on the part of the senior person who directs that, not of the process itself. Misuse of intelligence is all too frequent is not restricted to bad guy KIA data...

You say:
"We need more analysis, more ground truth about what makes people tick, more leadership instead of management, and less focus on diverting staffs to chase useless metrics."I totally agree. Get commanders to stop asking for and staff officers to stop providing such fluff.

You also forgot I'm firmly convinced Staffs are way to large and that is responsible for the proliferation of useless 'data' and 'metrics.' There are better ways to build a mobilization base...

Don't call information useless just because you haven't used it or seen it used profitably. ;)

Entropy
02-11-2010, 05:22 PM
Who was most productive today? Who was most effective today? What do we do more of? What do we do less of? How do I convince conventional commanders to allocate critcal enablers to one form of engagement over another?

Well, that is the crux, and it seems to me one can't determine anything from simply counting actions or metrics. The effect of those actions is what matters and too often we don't really understand those effects until much later, if at all. One also has to consider synergies and discordance between discrete events or actions.

That is something intel should be much more focused on instead of current intel, which receives far too many resources. There's also a big collection problem in that we often don't have access to sources that can answer the important questions which usually have a "why" in them.

Personally, I don't see any easy solutions. We are too risk-averse to do proper humint, we are not properly training our intel people to the tasks required to support this war, and Commanders are too often making the problem worse by settling for substandard intel.

Seahorse
02-11-2010, 08:57 PM
Thanks to Wilf for initiating this thread and to the many contributions which are richly exploring the issues related to metrics. I wish to contribute to this exchange with my own observations and experiences.

My experience began with the development of EBO concepts and theory and the ability to apply measures to assess the desired effects with JFCOM in 2002. I have since had the dubious benefit of actually applying the theory of MOP/MOE development, collection, assessment, analysis and reporting at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of the ISAF mission with separate deployments to both Kabul and Kandahar as an operational analyst.

Notwithstanding the vigorous debates surrounding EBO itself, the continued and insatiable demand for measures has frustrated me considerably. I echo many of the identifed problems several posts have described. Unlike many of my contemporaries (scientists) I feel there are serious limitations to the collection, analysis and reporting of measures. It is my position that reliance on the measurable has led to a situtaion I describe as the real EBO effects blurred operations. This blurring is based on several factors such as:

i) Reliance on MOPs versus MOEs - MOPs are necessary to evaluate if we are doing things right. Numbers killed in an AO can be used to evaluate insurgent activity. However numbers of KIA, development projects or numbers of Shura meetings are meaningless when divorced from the requirement for patrols, development or local interaction. MOEs are intended to evaluate if we are doing the right things - such as the earlier post regarding the value and priority associated with combat patrols, intelligence driven operations, or medical and humanitarian assistance. True MOEs could be used to support transitioning ink spot strategies from clear, hold and build dominant operations in an AO for example. Unlike MOPs (which are straightforward and easier and faster to measure), the selection and development of MOEs is not easy and their evaluation lags the operational tempo.

ii) measuring the measurable versus the important - too often there is far too much reliance on what we can measure and then associating that measure with the progress of an operation. Number of schools built may make one feel good, but what has it to do with education requirements/need? Are the schools located where they are needed, are they built to specified standards, are they protected from Taliban vandalism, are they staffed with qualified teachers, do they have secured funding for operations, do they have teaching materials, are the local children attending the school etc? I have seen Unicef tents that were more effective schools than were dedicated buildings. Measuring 'things' also results in what I call an effects explosion. This refers to the ever increasing numbers of metrics that are foisted on deployed personnel to collect and report irrelevent data (ISAF progressed from 25 to 100 to over 700 monthly measures over a one year period for example). Couple this with the problems in collection and reporting this information across the provinces results in inconsistencies, ommissions, real and unintentional errors, inflationary or creative reporting, etc.

iii) reporting measures and producing slides or excel tables instead of analysing their significance and providing advice or recommendations. Often analysts divorced from the actual operations are given the responsibility to assess and report on the data. The results are mostly divorced from the operations and are virtually useless in terms of influencing the operations themselves, they are predominantly used to report to higher headquarters and later repackaged and distilled to form IO materials that are used to show progress of the mission to national audiences and media.

iv) metrics obsession - certain metrics (KIAs, TICs and other SIGACTs for example) become THE metric for reporting and this detracts from the purpose of collecting the metric in the first place which should be determining effectiveness and supporting HQ decision analysis requirements. Too often I witnessed senior staff that were more concerned with the numbers than they were with the associated trend and analysis. We need to emphasize the relationship between metrics and operations. The counter narcotics reliance on # of acres of poppy eradicated is a useless and overly relied on metric when one considers that despite the ever increasing (presumably good) statistic, poppy cultivation has exploded in terms of its proliferation both within problem provinces and to a large number of previopusly poppy free provinces. Where is the analysis of the eradication program in relation to the growth of the problem. Secondly, is there a secondary relationship between eradication and insecurity which may be counter to the dominant mission in Afghanistan?

v) distillation of metrics - Too often I witness the development of metrics that are so distilled (down to the tactical level) that they are relatively meaningless to the original purpose. This distillation is the result of combinations of the above problems. Any one measure can be rationalized to be important to a particular purpose in and of itself, however in the roll up of the comprehensive assessment the relative weighting of the metric becomes too prominent and can dominate the reported results. I believe certain metrics are key and quite dominant (numbers of IEDs could be one example) on their own, however the overall assessments need to account for more than the constituent elements. I assert that qualitative measures are more important to MOEs, which should form the basis of higher level assessments.
Quantitative assessments which dominate metric measures can inform qualititative assessments however the subjectivity of these qualitative measures detracts from their adoption and use. I would assert that an informed and effective force understands qualitatively their AO. This understanding fails to be conveyed within our dominant quantitative metric measurement systems.

These are a few of my observations. I continue to work in this field and am attempting to develop proposals for how to more effectively implement measures in support of decision making and influenceing operations.

V/R

David

William F. Owen
02-12-2010, 05:14 PM
Just to clarify:

1.) I am not suggesting a body count as being indicative of anything other than measuring what tactical actions are reaping benefit.

2.) It must be done well, and be evidence based. - BTW, I mean kill and Capture.

3.) Killing is what armies do. You have to be able to work out if what you are doing is working and as destroying the enemy is central to all forms of warfare, being able to measure your effectiveness, can only be a good thing.

Firn
02-12-2010, 08:07 PM
Thanks to Wilf for initiating this thread and to the many contributions which are richly exploring the issues related to metrics. I wish to contribute to this exchange with my own observations and experiences.

My experience began with the development of EBO concepts and theory and the ability to apply measures to assess the desired effects with JFCOM in 2002. I have since had the dubious benefit of actually applying the theory of MOP/MOE development, collection, assessment, analysis and reporting at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of the ISAF mission with separate deployments to both Kabul and Kandahar as an operational analyst.

Notwithstanding the vigorous debates surrounding EBO itself, the continued and insatiable demand for measures has frustrated me considerably. I echo many of the identifed problems several posts have described. Unlike many of my contemporaries (scientists) I feel there are serious limitations to the collection, analysis and reporting of measures. It is my position that reliance on the measurable has led to a situtaion I describe as the real EBO effects blurred operations. This blurring is based on several factors such as:

i) Reliance on MOPs versus MOEs - MOPs are necessary to evaluate if we are doing things right. Numbers killed in an AO can be used to evaluate insurgent activity. However numbers of KIA, development projects or numbers of Shura meetings are meaningless when divorced from the requirement for patrols, development or local interaction. MOEs are intended to evaluate if we are doing the right things - such as the earlier post regarding the value and priority associated with combat patrols, intelligence driven operations, or medical and humanitarian assistance. True MOEs could be used to support transitioning ink spot strategies from clear, hold and build dominant operations in an AO for example. Unlike MOPs (which are straightforward and easier and faster to measure), the selection and development of MOEs is not easy and their evaluation lags the operational tempo.

ii) measuring the measurable versus the important - too often there is far too much reliance on what we can measure and then associating that measure with the progress of an operation. Number of schools built may make one feel good, but what has it to do with education requirements/need? Are the schools located where they are needed, are they built to specified standards, are they protected from Taliban vandalism, are they staffed with qualified teachers, do they have secured funding for operations, do they have teaching materials, are the local children attending the school etc? I have seen Unicef tents that were more effective schools than were dedicated buildings. Measuring 'things' also results in what I call an effects explosion. This refers to the ever increasing numbers of metrics that are foisted on deployed personnel to collect and report irrelevent data (ISAF progressed from 25 to 100 to over 700 monthly measures over a one year period for example). Couple this with the problems in collection and reporting this information across the provinces results in inconsistencies, ommissions, real and unintentional errors, inflationary or creative reporting, etc.

iii) reporting measures and producing slides or excel tables instead of analysing their significance and providing advice or recommendations. Often analysts divorced from the actual operations are given the responsibility to assess and report on the data. The results are mostly divorced from the operations and are virtually useless in terms of influencing the operations themselves, they are predominantly used to report to higher headquarters and later repackaged and distilled to form IO materials that are used to show progress of the mission to national audiences and media.

iv) metrics obsession - certain metrics (KIAs, TICs and other SIGACTs for example) become THE metric for reporting and this detracts from the purpose of collecting the metric in the first place which should be determining effectiveness and supporting HQ decision analysis requirements. Too often I witnessed senior staff that were more concerned with the numbers than they were with the associated trend and analysis. We need to emphasize the relationship between metrics and operations. The counter narcotics reliance on # of acres of poppy eradicated is a useless and overly relied on metric when one considers that despite the ever increasing (presumably good) statistic, poppy cultivation has exploded in terms of its proliferation both within problem provinces and to a large number of previopusly poppy free provinces. Where is the analysis of the eradication program in relation to the growth of the problem. Secondly, is there a secondary relationship between eradication and insecurity which may be counter to the dominant mission in Afghanistan?

v) distillation of metrics - Too often I witness the development of metrics that are so distilled (down to the tactical level) that they are relatively meaningless to the original purpose. This distillation is the result of combinations of the above problems. Any one measure can be rationalized to be important to a particular purpose in and of itself, however in the roll up of the comprehensive assessment the relative weighting of the metric becomes too prominent and can dominate the reported results. I believe certain metrics are key and quite dominant (numbers of IEDs could be one example) on their own, however the overall assessments need to account for more than the constituent elements. I assert that qualitative measures are more important to MOEs, which should form the basis of higher level assessments.

Quantitative assessments which dominate metric measures can inform qualititative assessments however the subjectivity of these qualitative measures detracts from their adoption and use. I would assert that an informed and effective force understands qualitatively their AO. This understanding fails to be conveyed within our dominant quantitative metric measurement systems.

These are a few of my observations. I continue to work in this field and am attempting to develop proposals for how to more effectively implement measures in support of decision making and influenceing operations.

V/R

David

I think this is a very thoughtful post. Many of those problems appear also in similar forms in large organizations of businesses, which interact with an arguably less complex environment. Although I'm sure that you already gave the corresponding fields more than a look, a further immersion and competent assistance might prove helpful.

However I also believe that the causes of many of those problems have very deep roots and that some may be very difficult to tackle if not by the highest levels of command. A reason for this huge urge to collect and measure even trivial, flawed, isolated things is caused in my humble opinion by the huge political pressure and the resulting dire need for many military and political agents and organizations to "show" results.

To "prove" that you and your guys are doing a lot and trying really hard you have to fill out all the forms, feeding the ever hungry paper and number eating crunchers which have to feed their data-hungry superiors. As intelligent human beings know that their performance is often determined by checking this and that "box" they are greatly tempted to do so. As a result many so valuable but not easily distillable elements get disregarded from the ground up.


Firn

davidbfpo
02-22-2010, 11:38 AM
From the BBC:
Viewpoint: Measuring success in Afghanistan

As the biggest anti-Taliban offensive in Afghanistan since 2001 continues in southern Helmand province, the challenge of how to hold on to and rebuild areas previously held by insurgents remains. Fotini Christia, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has recently spent time in Afghanistan researching conflict and development, sets out the latest ideas on how to measure the success of such operations.

Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8524137.stm

A new name to me, so here is her official bio:http://web.mit.edu/SSP/people/christia/faculty_christia.html

Xivvx
02-23-2010, 11:10 AM
That we need to ask the famous question when presented with metrics.."So what?" What does this metric mean to us, How does it give us insight into what we're doing and if we're doing the right things?

Fergieis
02-25-2010, 03:43 AM
Arguments for both sides have a point.

A body count (in the sense of Killed, Captured, Defeated, or otherwise removed from the enemy strength) is the only real quantifiable measure of success.

The problem is that it must be put into context, and only related to the total combat power available to the enemy. (similar to Seahorse (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/member.php?u=3695)above on the relation to poppy destroyed to overall trend in cultivation)

The calculus of progress then becomes attempting to calculate the number of insurgents taken out over time compared to the change in total number available over the same time. Sometimes taking bad guys out violently adds more strength (propaganda driving recuiting) . Sometimes it drives recuits away.
That "derivative" then describes the velocity of the enemy's combat power at any given time (increasing or decreasing) which can tell us if we are "winning" or "losing".

The problem comes from the lack of fidelity or accuracy in information. How many recruits does accidently bombing a house with 10 enemy and 2 civilians bring to an insurgency? How many insurgent recruits are driven away when a new infrastructure project opens? These can really only be hinted at through indirect means to a low degree of accuracy.

Understanding the changes in enemy strength through reports like a 'body count' is crucial. But, it must be compared to the overall change in available forces.
Without fidelity of information on both figures, we resort to 'atmospherics' to try an qualitatively intuit what cannot be quantitatively derived.

When some theorists say 'ignore' a body count, I would suggest that they really mean "we just can't get those numbers, so use these other tools as a substitute for your lack of omniscience"

Anyone ever try and compare reports in CIDNE to whats opensource? or to other reports in theater? You'll know what I'm talking about...

OfTheTroops
02-25-2010, 04:49 AM
Forgive me for rushing to the end but I wanted to quickly mumble under my breath:

Measuring effectiveness = The Absence of combatants/ criminals/

Measuring performance in conflict Body Counts equals Arrest rates

for 30 crimes reported we caught 10 guys
for 30 enagements we killed 10 guys

So the measurement problems are veryvery similar to the http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm

how many crimes/combatants were not reported/engaged?

Now i will go back to educate myself with the prior posts.

Schmedlap
02-25-2010, 04:52 AM
I think I nailed it in my earlier post...


We should use touchdowns as a metric. After all, look how many teams that score touchdowns win championships.

slapout9
02-25-2010, 04:59 AM
To me it's how many Surrender. How many surrendered in Gulf War 1 vs. How many were killed. When they start to surrender in mass I think you can say the Will to fight has truly been broken.

Which is why St. Carl said the goal is to disarm them. When people no longer have the Means to fight the Will to stop fighting usually follows.

Ron Humphrey
02-25-2010, 05:15 AM
To me it's how many Surrender. How many surrendered in Gulf War 1 vs. How many were killed. When they start to surrender in mass I think you can say the Will to fight has truly been broken.

Which is why St. Carl said the goal is to disarm them. When people no longer have the Means to fight the Will to stop fighting usually follows.

Just always have to remember that there are various actions/reactions which in the end bring about that disarmament or better yet looks at means in its entire context.

You may very well bring this about through physical action eliminating the armed. Could also get there by taking away the arms, or even finding ways to suppress the effectiveness of said arms. Last but not necessarily least the armed might decide it is no longer in their interest to be armed or come to feel the need for them is gone.

All the above could lead to the end state pointed out by Old CvC. The means can be just as much need/want/desire as it is actual capability to act. And as those on this board have often stated before each approach has its time place and utility.

OfTheTroops
02-25-2010, 05:43 AM
You win when you win, not when you have the highest score (or right metrics)

We're attempting to incorporate industrial age methodologies (business management) by measuring performance and effects using some sort of pseudo-scientific methodology, which as Bob correctly points out simply crushes the staff and prevents them from doing effective work. This whole MOP/MOE nonsense that one of the worst SECDEF's in history forced down the military's throat just won't die.

What stats do we need to measure to see if we're in black vice being in the red when we're at war? Can we really measure a man's will to resist? I think they enemy is at a 6 today, yesterday they were at a 7. Tomorrow they may be at an 8 so we'll need to do something different. We also seem to forget that most effects are accumulate over time and are not readily measurable. We need more analysis, more ground truth about what makes people tick, more leadership instead of management, and less focus on diverting staffs to chase useless metrics.

Funny.
If only we could do an Organizational Development survey to determine the attitudes or perhaps a sensing session.
Taliban Tommy given your recent experience do you feel you strongly disagree-strongly agree with the following statements.


Managers do things right; Leaders do the right things. (Bennis & Nanus in Bolman & Deal 2008 p 343)

Ken White
02-25-2010, 05:44 AM
Or join the 'winning' side (one of which in an insurgency there is not likely to be; the best you can usually get is an acceptable outcome for both sides. That's great fun... :rolleyes:).

Numbers of any events concerning humans are fungible and volatile. That volatility typically occurs in quite random patterns and with great speed in wartime. The fungibility drives the scorekeepers bonkers.

The numbers -- and they include KIA, WIA, Prisoners/detainees, schools built, dams built, Soccer balls handed out, MedCaps conducted, etc. etc. won't really tell you much unless you get really accurate numbers and watch them for a long period of time to ascertain trends. Not really results, just trends. How many schools were built (=n) versus how many were willingly converted to other functions (=n-w) and how many were destroyed by own fires (=n-do) or by the Insurgents (=n-dI) or just fell apart due to shoddy design or construction (=n-sd or n-sC)?

In the US, a week is a long period of time; in Canada a month is -- in Iraq a couple of years might be, in Afghanistan a decade is (maybe...). China counts in centuries...

Accuracy in a combat zone is if not impossible (for which I'd vote, not least because many of your number counters / takers checkers will cheat prodigiously...) certainly frustratingly difficult.

Touchdowns are good, though... :D

Unless they're 'own goals.' :o

Ken White
02-25-2010, 05:47 AM
Which is why St. Carl said the goal is to disarm them. When people no longer have the Means to fight the Will to stop fighting usually follows.That's why the Second Amendment bothers so many folks...:D

Also why we American are so combative... ;) :cool:

William F. Owen
02-25-2010, 06:13 AM
All the above could lead to the end state pointed out by Old CvC. The means can be just as much need/want/desire as it is actual capability to act. And as those on this board have often stated before each approach has its time place and utility.

...and thus the primary aim of the military in COIN is to act against the armed opponent. Other instruments of power act against or in support of other aims.

Fuchs
02-25-2010, 09:49 AM
To me it's how many Surrender. How many surrendered in Gulf War 1 vs. How many were killed. When they start to surrender in mass I think you can say the Will to fight has truly been broken.

Which is why St. Carl said the goal is to disarm them. When people no longer have the Means to fight the Will to stop fighting usually follows.



Frederick the Great defeated the Saxons quickly in one of his wars, then proceeding to fight the Austrians. He absorbed many Saxon soldiers and officers into his own army, but soon learned that they deserted en masse.
Many Saxons later joined the Austrian army to continue the fight.

That's quite confusing; the will was only broken temporarily by disarming, but on the other hand there's the pro CvC argument that they only rejoined the fight once they were armed again.

It's doubtful whether they would have abstained from joining the Austrians if they had not got their muskets back, though. The new armament was likely more a means to defend themselves in the process of switching sides (defence against Frederick's light cavalry which also served as MP).

Fergieis
02-25-2010, 01:48 PM
To me it's how many Surrender.

Ultimately, does it matter whether they surrender, die, are captured, or just go home? Whether its from engagement (political or kinetic), reconciliation, out right bribe (CLCs or MAAWS), information operations, etc.. what we are ultimately looking for in the "effects" is a change in combat power.


Do we utimately care how that guy leaves the enemy's force pool, only that he does?

I'm thinking in terms of trying to approximate or derive an enemy "Perstat"- trying to count heads and approximate combat power (including of course analysis for loss of key leadership and enablers- the difference between personnel strength and combat power).

Starting strength - losses + gains = new strength

Schmedlap
02-25-2010, 05:25 PM
Here are some more suggestions for metrics...

- Number of destroyed buildings; this correlates well with victory in Germany in WWII

- Number of resettlement camps built - didn't that work in the Philippines or Malaysia?

- Number of US forces on the ground- after all, a surge of forces in Iraq was followed by an abrupt change in the situation.

So long as we ignore the unique challenges of the specific mission, dreaming up easy answers is effortless. I still say my touchdown metric is the best, however.

Red Leg
02-25-2010, 06:24 PM
Answering "why that guy left" allows us to exploit success. One of the dangers of EBO, is that Commanders get hung up on "the end justifies the means" without determining which mean (MOP) caused the end (MOE). IMO, the reliance on "measurables", enabled by the ability to generate and transmit massive amounts of data, has ground both planners and the executers to a halt. I returned from my second tour in Iraq a few months ago. Both as a commander and an operations officer, I was required to measure and submit over 200 metrics each month. There was no way, practically or tactically, to do this with accuracy, but not answering the mail was not an option. So you estimate, guesstimate, and sometimes just guess what the numbers are. The smart commander, and his supporting staff, asks not "what do you know?", but "what do I need to know?" It is not about information; it is about important information. That data that leads to a decision point. Donít ask "how many insurgents quit last month?"; ask "why did insurgents quit last month?"

Fergieis
02-25-2010, 06:25 PM
So long as we ignore the unique challenges of the specific mission, dreaming up easy answers is effortless. I still say my touchdown metric is the best, however.

Why stop with football?

CENTCOM is 4 under par... but ISAF just shot a boogey...

The war on terror is in the second inning...

I can just imaging Gen. McChrystal running wildly the room, stripping his shirt off while his staff cheers "GOAL!!!!"

William F. Owen
02-25-2010, 06:54 PM
Answering "why that guy left" allows us to exploit success.
Excellent point. Hadn't thought of that! Why is more important that how? Like it!

slapout9
02-25-2010, 09:56 PM
Do we utimately care how that guy leaves the enemy's force pool, only that he does?



Yes, I believe it does because the Military Aim is to disarm him in order to get to the Final Political Aim of making peace:)........the original purpose of War in the first place. If you don't make peace than as St. Carl said War may just erupt again.

slapout9
02-25-2010, 09:59 PM
You may very well bring this about through physical action eliminating the armed. Could also get there by taking away the arms, or even finding ways to suppress the effectiveness of said arms. Last but not necessarily least the armed might decide it is no longer in their interest to be armed or come to feel the need for them is gone.



Exactly!!! it should all lead to Peace!!!

Fergieis
02-26-2010, 04:00 AM
Yes, I believe it does because the Military Aim is to disarm him in order to get to the Final Political Aim of making peace:)........the original purpose of War in the first place. If you don't make peace than as St. Carl said War may just erupt again.

I don't disagree on the goal of seeking peace, but rather that the military aim is to disarm.

Is the state of peace simply the absence of conflict? Or does peace come when the involved parties submit to the will of the victor?

I would say the latter, as it prevents a powderkeg of a population that has the will to fight but no longer the means. The man without a gun who still wants to fight will peaceably submit while looking for another weapon. The converse, an armed man who means no more harm, is a non-issue.

I would even go further and say that a man who is disarmed, but not *defeated*, still has not been taken out of the opposing force's available strength. He can still support the conflict without arms, or await a new weapon. While disarming efforts can prevent access of those who wish to fight the means to do so, it will not solve the root problem(s).

It is only through the imposition of one's will on another, with recognition of and submission to the victor, that you get peace rather than mere absence of conflict. It sounds worse (as in: might makes right) than it is. You can convince intellectually or emotively through words rather than high explosives, try to change to conditions that make a man want to fight, try to provide other avenues for political enfranchisement, provide jobs that co-op the mercenary attitudes of citizens looking for money, etc...

Ultimately though, you have to remove the man's will to fight.

Otherwise, as von Clauswitz notes, you'll be back at war- which kind of voids the assertion you were ever at peace.


I do really agree with the point by Redleg that:

Answering "why that guy left" allows us to exploit success.

But considering we can't effectively count them in the first place, I doubt we can make a quantitative assessment of impact, much less be able to sort out which program impacted an identified change. Errors of false precision are the most common logical fallacy I encounter.

My opposition to all the 'metrics' is not theoretical, but practical. Practical objections that probably would not hold on a conventional battlefield, due to a higher likely fidelity of information; though the other points still hold. Surrender-defeat-destruction, all remove enemy combat power. Tracking how to most effectively remove combat power, when feasible, is just common sense. The rest of the time you're just spinning your wheels.

slapout9
02-26-2010, 04:24 AM
The man without a gun who still wants to fight will peaceably submit while looking for another weapon.



And why would this man still want to fight? Because the the will you imposed is such a bad peace he would rather risk death then submit. That is why I think it is better to disarm and then reach a peace that both sides can live with instead one trying to impose their will..... which will sooner or later just lead to another war.

OfTheTroops
02-26-2010, 05:20 AM
or he is wee lil william wallace chunking rocks at sheeps heads because Real Scotsmen, Afghani's, Alabamians are warriors to the core of their culture.
People in general are interested in self preservation and promotion so "peace" is attained when it is in their interest specifically security of person and property.

Schmedlap
02-27-2010, 01:09 AM
My favorite example of metrics. If we can just address the pirates, then we'll know we're winning...

http://www.venganza.org/images/store/pirategraph_hiqual2.jpg

Metrics = easy answers

OfTheTroops
02-27-2010, 05:37 AM
Waterworld is a much better movie now that i have your chart Scmed...nah its still crap.

I still maintain that some people just like to fight. What say you gungrabbers?

Maybe a directing the will to fight would be easier than destroying/incapacitating the will to fight?

Fergieis
03-01-2010, 01:50 PM
http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/dimensional_analysis.png
http://xkcd.com/687/

Same point as the Pirates picture.

Correlation doesn't imply a cause-effect relationship (though often it does point you in the right direction)

Sylvan
03-28-2010, 06:27 PM
As a metric, it is of questionable value. However, it is important to instill the concept of BDA and verification. As a commander in Zabul, I half-jokingly would say, "Its not a TIC if you ain't got the body." You lay scunion on an AO, you better be willing to hump up that hill and verify what you did. A number of wins to this approach.
1. An aggressive, manuevering force will quickly break and scatter the enemy. If you are passive, the TB is more aggressive and capable. Simply put, closing in is safer.
2. If you own the ground and the bodies, you control the IO (or STRATCOM) high ground as well. Can't claim its a farmer when you got the pics to prove it isn't.
3. If you #### up, you can mitigate. TB initiated an ambush on my forces with a 10 year old goat herder in between. WE shot the boy. We humped the 600M up hill to close with the enemy and found the boy who took 2 7.62 (one to the head). We medevac'd and treated the boy and held a Shura 2 days later explaining our actions, apologizing and showing the elders how the TB were responsible. As a TB rep was at the Shura, it was pretty funny watching him lose his cool. The boy lost an eye but otherwise recovered. The boy's father was actually very grateful that instead of leaving him to die and driving away, we "fought like pashtoons" on foot. What could have been an IO disastor became an IO victory.
4. Pashtoon society respects bravery. While we know the scariest part of AFG is driving around waiting for IEDs, they see this as cowardice. Fighting on foot is what they respect and, for the babas, differentiates us from the Soviets, which is critical.
5. Body snatching while macabre, hurts TB recuiting. After we claim a body, we give it to the ANP. The local TB family has to go and grovel for their son's body which is humiliating for an elder. Instead of dying a great martyr and being buried by the TB at the site of the great battle, they are buried days later, after the family made cash payments to the Police and not on the battlefield. Knowing that if they die, instead of being a hero, they embarass their family has great effect on TB. Not to mention the fact that americans in body armor (with ANP) are going to climb up hills and kill you is scary. Combine that with Apaches and ISR and its down right terrifying to be a TB.
6. Body in hand allows you to BAT/HIIDE and verify who you killed. Also get their cell phones/ICOMs which can be exploited. You can verify their logistics status by seeing how well the bodies were supplied.
7. Free motorcylces!

YMMV.

Seabee
03-29-2010, 11:17 AM
This may be oversimplified, so I apologize in advance...

Is a "body count" not effective in some areas, and bad in others?

If I was fighting a German panzer division, the more kills the better.

if I was fighting a population that hold grudges over generations and generations... I would be weary of killing more than I would need to. If i was to kill an uncle, and have 5 Nephews stand up to avenge him, I would need to start killing at a rate that exceeds the possible pop ups...

Anyone remember "space invaders"? You shoot the little widgets as fast as you can... but at some stage there are just too many, they are too fast... and getting more and more....

Like I said, over simplified, but I am a simple mind... :-)

Bob's World
03-29-2010, 12:15 PM
A basic rule of thumb is that when you are fighting your own populace (COIN); or assisting another country fight their own populace (FID); you really need to keep the killing to a minimum and focus on addressing the issues of poor governance that set that segment of the populace onto a separate course.

If you are fighting another state, even if the state used to be part of your state (as in the American Civil war), then it is game on and you are competing for state survival. In states with empowered populaces you have to be pretty hard on them to ensure that the entire populace, not just the military, understands that it has been defeated.

In COIN you are not fighting for state survivial, it is often really just an "illegal violent election" in a country that denies effective, legal processes to at least the insurgent segment, if not the entire populace. In COIN you are typically fighting to preserve a particular team or type of governance; but the state continues on as a sovereign under new management if the insurgent prevails. You will all still need to get along, win or lose, to be an effective state.

This is why I think it is more helpful to think of insurgency as a "civil emergency" rather than as "war," and military intervention as "Military Support to Civil Authorities" rather than as "warfare" to help set the proper mindset for the military. Call it a war and they will fight it like a war.

Sylvan
03-29-2010, 10:13 PM
This may be oversimplified, so I apologize in advance...

Is a "body count" not effective in some areas, and bad in others?

If I was fighting a German panzer division, the more kills the better.

if I was fighting a population that hold grudges over generations and generations... I would be weary of killing more than I would need to. If i was to kill an uncle, and have 5 Nephews stand up to avenge him, I would need to start killing at a rate that exceeds the possible pop ups...

Anyone remember "space invaders"? You shoot the little widgets as fast as you can... but at some stage there are just too many, they are too fast... and getting more and more....

Like I said, over simplified, but I am a simple mind... :-)
Metrics are hard to come by in COIN.
A better metric in fighting a german panzer division is how many guidons you captured as that indicates units taken out of action. An insurgancy doesn't have units in the traditional sense. You can have fuzzy metrics such as atmospherics, but hyper Type-As don't do fuzzy. Dead bad guys is about the only true quantifiable that you can use that is of any (albiet very limited) value. Its hard to get away from. Even the messiah (peace be upon him) has found his administration crowing about how he has killed more bad guys then Bush has.
You really want to go down that road?
BTW, killing bad guys is an integral, important part of COIN, but basing success or failure on the numbers is stupid.

JMA
03-30-2010, 12:12 AM
I started this because I hate to see another useful area of discussion die in the "Journal."
See here. (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/02/coin-metrics-what-not-to-measu/index.php)
Sorry, but Body Counts work. That the it has been done it badly in the past by those cannot use the data usefully, does not mean it does not work.
We have to get over rejecting things just because they fail in the hands of people not skilled in their use.

Should it be THE measure of success? No, of course not, but most armies who defeated irregular forces used body counts. They were used in Kenya, Malaya (see my quote), Dohfar and Cyprus - and also Rhodesia!
Historically best practice body counts were based on recorded kills, verified by physical control and recovery of the body AND Weapons - usually for some form of exploitation.

The point is, you do not pursue a score as in judging success by the number you kill, but that you are sure that you are actually killing the enemy, when and as it is required. - that is why Templer used Body Counts, and British Army operations were predicated on "killing the enemy."

Do something well it works. Do it badly and it fails.

In Rhodesia the RLI Fire Forces could not kill them fast enough, the cannon-fodder kept on coming. It was nice to know we were getting around 100 kills every six weeks (near then end) but what was the point if that made hardly a dent in their numbers.

I do however like these kind of stats. In nine years in Malaya the Brit SAS kill 108 CTs out of an estimated 800 contacted in 280 contacts giving a kill rate of 13.5%. And a rate of a contact where kills were achieved at less than 38%.

From these stats the Brits would have (I'm sure... I hope) tried to figure out how to one, achieve kills in every contact, and two, to increase the kill rate per contact. On the other hand the CTs were probably figuring out the
opposite.

Through Fire Force in Rhodesia one of the RLI Commandos (with the Air effort obviously) accounted for 1,680 kills out of an estimated 2,000 contacted in a nine month period. This was an unprecedented kill rate of 84% while the average Rhodesian security force kill rate in contacts was 18.5%

Surely the aim is to not let the enemy become battle hardened and combat experienced? The best tactics therefore must be those that achieve the highest kill rate, yes?

Now what these tactics would be in each different theater I don't know but rather than just a raw body count the kill rate is even more important in my opinion.

(Detailed stats out of Rhodesia are difficult if not impossible to get.)

William F. Owen
03-30-2010, 08:31 AM
In Rhodesia the RLI Fire Forces could not kill them fast enough, the cannon-fodder kept on coming. It was nice to know we were getting around 100 kills every six weeks (near then end) but what was the point if that made hardly a dent in their numbers.
Externals and internal kills had a significant effect on the Terrs. There only option was for a Libyan/Sino backed invasion, probably some time in 1982. That was why Lancaster House got up and running. The Rhodesians in some way still represent the COIN gold standard. Kill the enemy. All else is rubbish.

I do however like these kind of stats. In nine years in Malaya the Brit SAS kill 108 CTs out of an estimated 800 contacted in 280 contacts giving a kill rate of 13.5%. And a rate of a contact where kills were achieved at less than 38%.

From these stats the Brits would have (I'm sure... I hope) tried to figure out how to one, achieve kills in every contact, and two, to increase the kill rate per contact. On the other hand the CTs were probably figuring out the
opposite. See the bottom of all my posts.


Surely the aim is to not let the enemy become battle hardened and combat experienced? The best tactics therefore must be those that achieve the highest kill rate, yes? You are correct, but the US and UK Army do not want to focus on killing the enemy. Currently we are badly loosing our way.

davidbfpo
03-30-2010, 10:09 AM
The latest posts by JMA & Wilf on kill ratios in ambushes and "sweeps" refer to the military search for simply being better. I am sure this issue has appeared on SWC before, although not so directly IMHO.

I am sure that some scientific research and output was present in Rhodesia and other earlier conflicts, notably WW2, on improving the kill (accuracy) ratio. There is one current thread that comes to mind: Increasing Small Arms lethality in Afg http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9942

Fuchs
03-30-2010, 11:40 PM
You are correct, but the US and UK Army do not want to focus on killing the enemy. Currently we are badly loosing our way.

Greater efforts for more kills would probably not yield much more kills anyway in the medium term. The TB would necessarily react with less exposure, using their elusiveness.

The greatest advantage of going for more kills on the defence would probably be that there would be less TB attacks (because attacks would become more risky).

Going for more kills on the offense doesn't promise a similar effect. The TB would probably improve their opsec and hide better, but their vulnerability to their foe's offensive actions couldn't be reduced by less offensive actions on their own, so there would be no motivation to change the latter.

Defensive and counter-offensive (counterattacks by convoy escorts and such) lethality should probably be improved.

A general increase in conflict intensity could not be sustained, though. The attempt to do it might turn out to be a double-edged sword.


Always keep in mind that the world is full of counter-forces.



edit: I write with ISAF in mind. ISAF's mission is to keep guarding until Afghan national forces take over. I've yet to see "victory against insurgents" in any of its mission statements or in relevant UN resolutions. I don't think that exterminating an insurgency is necessary or even advisable in such a context. Keeping the insurgency low and the ground fertile for a Kabul government takeover should be the mission. For example, I don't consider the Basra story/mission a disaster. It turned out well and the death & destruction up to that point wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Just guard a little longer and let them hurry up with their forces buildup and stabilisation of the state.

JMA
04-04-2010, 07:29 PM
The latest posts by JMA & Wilf on kill ratios in ambushes and "sweeps" refer to the military search for simply being better. I am sure this issue has appeared on SWC before, although not so directly IMHO.

I am sure that some scientific research and output was present in Rhodesia and other earlier conflicts, notably WW2, on improving the kill (accuracy) ratio. There is one current thread that comes to mind: Increasing Small Arms lethality in Afg http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9942

It maybe needs clarification that it is not an issue of seeking out the enemy and having more contacts but rather making each contact more telling in terms of the ratio of kills to the number of enemy contacted.

In Rhodesia the average kill rate among the security forces was 18.5% as compared to the fire force kill rate of 80-odd-% (this compared to the Brit SAS kill rate in Malaya of 13%)

I don't know what the kill rate in Afghanistan is but probably under 15%.

So the answer is not (IMHO) to seek out more 15% kill rate contacts with the TB but rather to figure out how to up the kill rate by a factor of at least 5.

I suggest that to achieve this the military returns to the Principles of War and instead of just paying lip service to them... applies them in a war situation!

JMA
04-04-2010, 07:36 PM
I said: "Surely the aim is to not let the enemy become battle hardened and combat experienced? The best tactics therefore must be those that achieve the highest kill rate, yes?"


You are correct, but the US and UK Army do not want to focus on killing the enemy. Currently we are badly loosing our way.

I nearly missed this one.

May I ask why you say this? Where is the focus then?

Rex Brynen
04-04-2010, 07:38 PM
It maybe needs clarification that it is not an issue of seeking out the enemy and having more contacts but rather making each contact more telling in terms of the ratio of kills to the number of enemy contacted.

In Rhodesia the average kill rate among the security forces was 18.5% as compared to the fire force kill rate of 80-odd-% (this compared to the Brit SAS kill rate in Malaya of 13%)

On the other hand Rhodesia also illustrates what critics of body-count metrics in COIN argue, namely that killing may not be a very effective measure of progress towards victory. In the end, the insurgency in Rhodesia was successful--perhaps not on the battlefield, but rather in the political and diplomatic arena where it really counted.

JMA
04-04-2010, 08:41 PM
On the other hand Rhodesia also illustrates what critics of body-count metrics in COIN argue, namely that killing may not be a very effective measure of progress towards victory. In the end, the insurgency in Rhodesia was successful--perhaps not on the battlefield, but rather in the political and diplomatic arena where it really counted.

Almost.

The armed struggle was resorted to because the doors to a political settlement were closed. Sure the effect of the insurgency was felt in the country but only significantly when taken together with the effect of economic sanctions.

What most certainly helped was the fact that the insurgents / freedom fighters were among the most incompetent the world has seen.

So if operational efficiency and battle success does not matter why are the US and NATO pushing more and more troops into Afghanistan?

The Rhodesia matter was settled when the US decided it needed to be settled and put pressure on South Africa to put pressure on Ian Smith to settle.

Even some Russians got wise after the Afghanistan experience but were trumped by the 'tank' generals with vested interests.

This quote sound familiar?


After the war in Chechnya in 1994-1996, officers from the VDV staff advocated radically new tactics for future engagements, based on the belief that relatively small numbers of highly trained and well-equipped Spetsnaz units would be more effective than badly trained tank/motor-rifle divisions. Our tank generals roundly dismissed these "revolutionary" ideas and Russia marched into Chechnya again in virtually the same formation.
http://www.bu.edu/iscip/vol12/felgenhauer.html

It is very difficult to turn a supertanker around in heavy seas.

William F. Owen
04-05-2010, 01:14 PM
I nearly missed this one.

May I ask why you say this? Where is the focus then?
Pop-centric COIN and "Influence operations," which are the basis of US/UK doctrine DO NOT focus military power on killing/destroying/defeating the enemy. Armed force is best used against armed force.

William F. Owen
04-05-2010, 01:22 PM
On the other hand Rhodesia also illustrates what critics of body-count metrics in COIN argue, namely that killing may not be a very effective measure of progress towards victory. In the end, the insurgency in Rhodesia was successful--perhaps not on the battlefield, but rather in the political and diplomatic arena where it really counted.
True but irrelevant. Rhodesia's' UDI government was never strategically sustainable. That it lasted as long as it did is a testament to a rare level of military skill.
The Insurgency failed as a military instrument, but succeeded thanks to the intervention of the international community. That's all.
All military power can assure is that ARMED FORCE is not the deciding factor. It cannot make up for all instruments of power. However, without it, you have nothing else.

Rex Brynen
04-05-2010, 02:18 PM
True but irrelevant. Rhodesia's' UDI government was never strategically sustainable.

Hardly irrelevant--especially if the illusory prospect of military victories led the white minority government to hold off on a negotiated transition until a time when i) negotiations (Lancaster House) took place in a less auspicious international context than similar negotiations would have been the case in a much earlier period, and ii) there was greater radicalization of the Zimbabwean population, with ZANU and ZAPU in a position to exert greater influence in the 1980 elections than they would have been earlier.

I agree, Wilf, with your broader point about what military operations can, and cannot, achieve. However, counter-insurgency (and indeed war) is replete with cases where the prospects of military successes blinded both political and military leaders to the non-military and second-order costs. Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon is perhaps one of the best examples: it achieved remarkable military success against the PLO, but at the cost of pushing it towards a two-state solution (the opposite of Sharon's intention--he had hoped it would become radicalized and marginalized under Syrian tutelage), spurring the rise of Hizbullah, and ultimately setting the stage for Israel's humiliating (in Arab eyes) withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

William F. Owen
04-05-2010, 02:44 PM
I agree, Wilf, with your broader point about what military operations can, and cannot, achieve. However, counter-insurgency (and indeed war) is replete with cases where the prospects of military successes blinded both political and military leaders to the non-military and second-order costs. Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon is perhaps one of the best examples: it achieved remarkable military success against the PLO, but at the cost of pushing it towards a two-state solution (the opposite of Sharon's intention--he had hoped it would become radicalized and marginalized under Syrian tutelage), spurring the rise of Hizbullah, and ultimately setting the stage for Israel's humiliating (in Arab eyes) withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.
Not telling you are wrong. Military force is for destroying or defeating military force. It is one instrument of power. My sole thesis is that Military force is limited to be being employed against military force. Many have lost sight of this.

As concerns 82, yes, but who knew that going in? Strategic history cannot play "what if." You can only ask "why did X do Y, based on A or B?"

JMA
04-05-2010, 04:09 PM
True but irrelevant. Rhodesia's' UDI government was never strategically sustainable. That it lasted as long as it did is a testament to a rare level of military skill.
The Insurgency failed as a military instrument, but succeeded thanks to the intervention of the international community. That's all.
All military power can assure is that ARMED FORCE is not the deciding factor. It cannot make up for all instruments of power. However, without it, you have nothing else.

William, we were indeed lucky we probably faced the most incompetent enemy possible except for possibly for PLAN (SWAPOs military wing). We could have done a whole lot better. I could have done a whole lot better. I guess despite all the good things so many people did as long as there was a bolt hole for whites to move South the shrinking population and the sanctions were crushing. Our collective mindset was not that we were on the edge of a precipice we were still doing so well militarily and SFAs (security force auxiliaries) were starting to make a difference in the rural areas.

It took too long for the politicians to understand that we had 80% of our forces being black and they were incredibly loyal to an alternative process than that being demanded by Zanu and Zapu.

Here is an interesting view from Nick Downie a independent TV cameraman who had a Brit SAS background for your interest.

http://www.rhodesianforces.org/RhodesiaStudyinmilitaryincompetence.htm

We had a saying about the gooks and that was "he who fights and runs away gets to run another day" (I guess it was an understanding that once a man has fled in the face of the enemy it is not likely that he will ever be able to stand his ground).

JMA
06-26-2010, 07:57 PM
I am often appalled at the sheer chutzpah of ISAF spokesmen in what they say and horrified by the failure of the media to challenge these outrageous statements.

Here's one example:


"Recording an ongoing body count is hardly going to endear us to the people of Afghanistan," says British Royal Navy Capt. Mark Durkin, spokesman for the 42-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, or ISAF.

Did anyone ask the simple question... why?

Then this one:


Body counts were "kind of a politically sensitive issue," says former Lt. Col. David Accetta, director of the 82nd Airborne Division's media operation at Bagram Airfield in 2007. Death tallies aren't "any kind of measurement or metric of success," says Mr. Accetta, who has since retired from the military.

...aren't any kind of measurement? You must be kidding. Is there no limit to the stupid things people will say in blind support of a stupid policy?

I often wonder why soldiers so often allow themselves to fall into the trap of lying to the very people who pay them? Why would the truth be so unpalatable that officers will find justification in telling a barefaced lie or simply refusing to tell the truth?

Can we as soldiers really expect the respect of the public (which we so earnestly crave and desire) when we lie to them about such a relatively simple mater?

William F. Owen
06-27-2010, 05:06 AM
Did anyone ask the simple question... why?
How up to speed are you on the confluence of Pashutn/Afghan and Muslim culture?

...aren't any kind of measurement? You must be kidding. Is there no limit to the stupid things people will say in blind support of a stupid policy?
Well if you want to play in this jungle, then get used to very smart men saying very dumb things. It's the norm, not the exception.

a.) Soldiers do not make policy. They set it forth, and in doing that sometimes alters it - It's CvC. It is relevant.
b.) Does recording the enemy known to have been killed, and recovering their weapons have intelligence value? Yes it does - IMO.
.... but the efficacy of that has to be set within a wider picture.

I actually started this thread to submit the thesis that body counts have value. As I said before, that value has to be set in context.
Merely publishing "we got 3 today and 9 yesterday" or tallying the number of enemy KIA on a Website is utterly useless.

Fuchs
06-27-2010, 08:54 AM
Historically kill counts in tank and fighter combat have been off by roughly factor 2 even with strict, conservative counting regulations.

There's enough consistency in how far they're off, though. This means that kill counts are useful for comparison between tactics (or hardware) to get information about their relative quality.
It can also help to understand where's the most activity.

JMA
07-01-2010, 02:11 PM
Historically kill counts in tank and fighter combat have been off by roughly factor 2 even with strict, conservative counting regulations.

There's enough consistency in how far they're off, though. This means that kill counts are useful for comparison between tactics (or hardware) to get information about their relative quality.
It can also help to understand where's the most activity.

Yes I agree in the main.

I guess it comes down to if you are killing your enemy big then your'e normally OK with body counts but when you taking more casualties than kills then expect an aggressive argument against. Human nature.