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Thread: Tentative Guidelines for building partner armies post conflict

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    Default Tentative Guidelines for building partner armies post conflict

    Hi all,
    I've been working away on the PhD thesis and have developed a number of guidelines for creating or recreating indigenous armies in a post conflict, post intervention environment.
    I'm not sure whether I've missed something obvious or whether I've got something wrong, so thoughts from older heads with more wisdom would be much appreciated.
    Does this list sound right -
    Preparatory considerations
    The first area is preparatory considerations before the process gets underway.
    *The first is the state of peace and war in the country, which will have a dominant effect on the environment in which reconstruction takes place.
    *army reconstruction not just into a broader SSR programme, but within civil institutional redevelopment of a wider nature still.
    *Third, national security and defence planning needs to be incorporated into wider national development documents.
    *Fourth, the OECD guidelines on SSR and repeated experience indicates the need for an overall army strategic and budgeting plan. The South African example of making the responsibilities of the government to the armed forces clearly understood, including making available sufficient resources, is a good one to follow.

    Army reconstruction process
    *First, Southern African experience shows the need to set realistic, rather than unobtainable, transition goals within the armed forces.
    *Second, if foreign models must be utilised, they should not conflict. Zimbabwe shows the difficulty of applying differing systems (British and North Korean) in the same army.
    *Third. retraining the entire new force may not be necessary; officers and NCOs only may be sufficient.
    *Fourth, the army itself when being reconstructed should be designed to be all-inclusive, to avoid factional dissatisfaction. As shown by the crisis in East Timor, internal tensions need to be carefully managed until they can be resolved.
    *Fifth, the creation of a reserve force should be carefully considered. Such a force might employ those people who would benefit from having an occupation to avoid them causing trouble, but are unsuitable for the regular army.
    *Sixth, after individual and unit training, major exercises need to be scheduled to maintain skills and keep soldiers busy.
    *Seventh, logistics, administration and maintenance need particular attention. This applies doubly when a force is being transformed from a guerrilla into an institutionalised army.
    *Eighth, automatic transferral of sophisticated bureaucratic procedures and computer/information systems should be resisted. Cf. 10 Division British advisors '..it is better that they be allowed to adopt the elements of our systems that suit their needs,' SWJ article on problems in Iraqi Army intelligence, and my personal experience in East Timor
    *Given the need for large numbers of advisors in teams like ETTs and MiTTs, consideration needs to be given to ways to improve the prestige of advisor assignments.
    *Care should be taken to restrain pressure for higher quantities of new army personnel over higher quality personnel.
    *U.S. private contractors such as DynCorp, PAE and new Protection Strategies Inc. seem to be best suited to U.S. ‘train and equip’ type reconstruction efforts. Eg MPRI in Nigeria, yet, DynCorp in Liberia handled a complex programme well.
    *U.S. legal restrictions which prohibit U.S. funds from being spent on non-U.S. equipment can hamper acquisition of cheaper, less sophisticated equipment. It also requires a potentially long supply line back to the United States.

    Comments and violent disagreement very welcome.

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    Default Much of what you say is good common sense

    Hi Colin--

    Only a couple of bones to pick with you. First, it does not appear that you give enough attention to what mission(s) you are giving to the security forces in the context of the threat(s) they face. Panama and Haiti chose to have only police forces after inteventions. In Panama's case, however, the threat is larger than a police force alone can handle so there are some interesting adjustments that have been and are still being made ad hoc. So, a threat analysis coupled with a mission analysis is a critical early step.
    Second, what is the military tradition of the country? If there is an indigenous military tradition, how does one best exploit it to meet the threat and achieve the objective? If there is no real threat, is not having a military a viable option given the indigenous military tradition? El Salvador is a good example of such a case. While there is no longer a real military threat, not having a military would violate Salvadoran tradition and national pride, etc. So, how do they make best use of that tradition without their military becoming a threat itself?
    Third, I would take minor issue on the use of technology - especially computers. Again Salvador provides a useful example. One of the major problems through the whole war was that the ESAF had no personnel record management system. This had all sorts of major negative consequences. Toward the end, we put an advisor with the C1 (Pers & Admin) of the joint staff and developed a personnel records sytem. This became essential to the ESAF reserve system that grew out of the aftermath of the war and critical to the reserve call up during the Hurricane Mitch disaster.
    Finally, I would take major issue on philosophical grounds with you on the use of PMCs. IMO there is far too much policy involved in developing a security force to entrust it to a private entity no matter how patriotic are its principals and staff. Organizing, training, equipping, and sustaining a security force is inherently a governmental activity and needs to be undertaken by the host and supporting governments. While there is a role for contractors, it is, IMO, small and entirely one of supporting the govts involved. It is, for example, fine for a contractor to provide the mess hall; it is not fine for the contractor to train the police or military. It is fine for the contractor to set up and maintain a computer system; it is not fine for the contractor to tell the govt what it should use the system for or to maintain its military/police personnel records.

    So much for my opinions.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default Thanks for your thoughts John

    John,
    Thanks for your input. Of course, as the British would put it 'selection and maintenance of the aim' should be right up front. I should have seen that, despite all the reading of the OECD Security Sector Reform handbook I've been doing.
    A modern bureaucratised army does definitely need a personnel system. But when, for example in Afghanistan, half the officers are illiterate, not even to mention computer-illiterate, does this need to be computerised? As New Zealanders, we ran our bit of the First and Second World Wars, along with everybody else, on physical files, and secretaries. What do you think about not loading indigenous armies initially upfront with computerised bureaucratic systems - they could always be introduced later on.
    Thanks for your thoughts about PMCs. I tend to agree, and so says one important interlocutor who was personally involved in Liberia with DynCorp. For the moment, barring any other evidence, I think I will write that U.S. PMCs should be limited to training and equipping forces - thus DynCorp's and PAE's role in Liberia was an inappropriate extension of PMCs' role.

    Cheers
    Colin

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    Default 'C' codes for joint staffs?

    One other minor question. I'm intrigued at the Salvadorian use of 'C' for a joint staff post. Was there a reason why 'J' was not used?
    Thanks again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    *Fifth, the creation of a reserve force should be carefully considered. Such a force might employ those people who would benefit from having an occupation to avoid them causing trouble, but are unsuitable for the regular army.
    Also, a reserve force may be wholly adequate, depending upon the security situation. Consider the American experience with Minutemen and not having a standing Army.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    *Sixth, after individual and unit training, major exercises need to be scheduled to maintain skills and keep soldiers busy.
    Soldiers know when they are being given busy work and it is a morale killer. If there is a concern about idle Soldiers, then I think the leadership should begin by asking, "what is it we're afraid the men are going to do if they are too idle?" Then choose an appropriate course of action from there. I suspect there will be many alternatives less costly or complicated than major training exercises. Exercises are also not necessarily something that keeps the Soldiers occupied as one would expect (and I'm only speaking from the experience of seeing some jaw-dropping idiocy occur during US Army training exercises).

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    *Care should be taken to restrain pressure for higher quantities of new army personnel over higher quality personnel.
    If you are just standing up an Army, I would think you could tend toward quantity in the short term, just to ensure enough young, able-bodied men have employment. Once the situation stabilizes, then you can focus more on quality.

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    Default Thanks

    Thanks for your thoughts Schmedlap. I've revised the exercises section already. Appropriately sized exercises rather than major exercises, though, I believe you have to at least work the command staff to make the formations operation in the right manner in the field. Maybe CPXs instead of with troops.
    Case in point is the new Armed Forces of Liberia 23rd Infantry Brigade (named for the 23rd president of Liberia). As far as I can tell, the AFL has never operated a brigade headquarters in the field, though the Nimba campaign of early 1990 may be an exception. They need to get some practice.

    Very good point about reserve forces only. This was backed by British advisors in E Timor who wondered about only having militias post-2001 rather than a standing army. But only Switzerland seems to do it nowadays. Nevertheless, I will add it in as well.

    Thanks again for your thoughts. Hope all is well downrange.

    Regards

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    Just one small comment (secondary to time constraints):

    Private contractors such as DynCorp need to ensure a consistency of quality and experience (both in terms of the general tasks at hand and also in terms of theater contextual specificity) of their trainers. The commentary on the performance of DynCorp trainers made by Seth Jones (2008) are more likely than not generally applicable for both military force, paramilitary and police training.

    References:

    Jones, S. (2008) Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. RAND Counterinsurgency Study: Volume 4. Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation.
    Vae Victus

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    Default "C" stands for "conjunto" -

    Joint, in Spanish. I think you are right about using the old M1A1 paper files with literate secretaries. My point was simply not to reject computerization (or other technology) out of hand. The problem, most often, runs the other way - technology is the solution so we have to have the very latest, forgetting, of course, how long we did without it and how well. As the "unsung hero donkey" thread keeps pointing out, there are many very useful adaptations of old "technology." Last, while I would rather do without PMCs for most things, it can't happen overnight. We need their capabilities and will continue to need them for a while even if we decide that certain functions need to be returned to the govt.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Second, what is the military tradition of the country? If there is an indigenous military tradition, how does one best exploit it to meet the threat and achieve the objective?
    This point underscores a problem that we all too often dodge around: in many cases the "indigenous military tradition" in the environments where we're trying to build military/police forces is that the guy with the gun gets to do whatever he wants and the whole point of a military/police position is the ability to use it for personal/family/clan/faction advantage - up to and including taking over the country. Trying to counter that sort of tradition is a major challenge. Of course people will sit through our lectures about civilian supremacy, human rights, and military/civil relations, and of course they will nod their heads and recite the mantras at every full stop - if that's a prerequisite for getting the hardware. What they do when they're out on their own is likely to be another story altogether.

    Not saying I have a solution, but the problem deserves more attention.

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    Default Not all bleak

    Dayuhan, you cite one of the problems but it has another side. Most military cultures have common elements and similar aspirations for "professionalism." These can be exploited by the interveining power even when dealing with "warlords." As an example, one could seek to discover Dostum's military ideal and pick charateristics of that individual that Dostum admires with the intention of encouraging him to adopt those characteristics and behaviors. The key is knowing the culture and the guy you are advising and getting him to make your ideas his own with him getting ALL the credit.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Dayuhan, you cite one of the problems but it has another side. Most military cultures have common elements and similar aspirations for "professionalism." These can be exploited by the interveining power even when dealing with "warlords."
    Possibly I am overly cynical, but I can't help feeling that when abstract aspirations of professionalism come up against material self-interest something's gonna be set aside, and it ain't gonna be self-interest. We also have to consider the almost unlimited human capacity to reconcile the irreconcilable in our own perceptions. I've had abundant opportunity to observe a military force where sale of weaponry, protection of criminal enterprises, profitable side-deals with corrupt politicians, gratuitous human rights abuse and much more are commonplace. Many members of that military would react with absolute righteous fury to any suggestion that they were anything other than a professional force. I've never been quite sure how they work that out in their own minds, but they seem able to do it.

    Complicating the matter is that in many of the environments in which we try to develop forces, primary loyalties are to family/clan first, tribe/ethnic group second, religious identity third... and the abstraction of "nation" somewhere way down the hierarchy. Even when individuals would like to embrace the sort of conduct that Americans see as "professional", family pressure and the expectation of favoritism may be impossible to overcome. Complicating the situation even more is that in many cultures the root perception of what a military or police force (or for that matter a government) is and does is... shall we say slightly different from ours. Or possibly more than slightly.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    As an example, one could seek to discover Dostum's military ideal and pick charateristics of that individual that Dostum admires with the intention of encouraging him to adopt those characteristics and behaviors. The key is knowing the culture and the guy you are advising and getting him to make your ideas his own with him getting ALL the credit.
    I always worry when I hear Americans talking as if we are the ones shaping and manipulating. The people we're dealing with ain't silly putty, they have their own agendas and they actively pursue them. Americans, alas, have a well-earned reputation for being very easy to manipulate, and much of the time when we think we are the ones doing the shaping we are actually being worked. While we sit around talking about knowing the culture and getting them to make our ideas their own, they are sitting around their own campfire reminding each other to tell the rich Americans whatever they want to hear, parrot their own words back at them, make them think we're adopting their ideas, show 'em just enough leg to keep the goodies flowing, and take 'em for every damn thing they've got while doing exactly what we want to do.

    We don't play this game very well, and we get worked a lot.

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    Default Sad but very, very true...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    ...Americans, alas, have a well-earned reputation for being very easy to manipulate, and much of the time when we think we are the ones doing the shaping we are actually being worked...whatever they want to hear, parrot their own words back at them, make them think we're adopting their ideas, show 'em just enough leg to keep the goodies flowing, and take 'em for every damn thing they've got while doing exactly what we want to do.

    We don't play this game very well, and we get worked a lot.
    Amen. In WW II we got worked some but also did some decent (or indecently successful, viewpoint dependent) working. However, I cannot think of an international affair since with a major US commitment where we did not get taken to a considerable extent that generally made our effort far less valuable than it could or should have been. Not one.

    Every nation, every nationality with whom I've worked has produced people who noted our propensity to get suckered. Every one.

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    Default Dayuhan and Ken

    Some Americans play the game very well; most don't. Neither do most Brits, Canadians, Frenchmen, Russians, Japanese, Chinese... But some of them do play it well. Two classic Ameican and Brit examples are Edward G. Lansdale and T. E. Lawrence.

    Nor do I think that host nations are eminently maleable - we manipulate and so do they. Sociologists dub this a "social exchange mechanism." But my point, probably poorly developed, was that when working with a HN military (or civil govt) it is essential to help them achieve what they want - if what they want can advance our goals. If not, then we should not assist, in general (although I can think of circumstances where it might be in our interest to do so). Of course, if what they want actually runs counter to our goals then that is another story and there probably isn't any room to bargain.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Some Americans play the game very well; most don't. Neither do most Brits, Canadians, Frenchmen, Russians, Japanese, Chinese... But some of them do play it well. Two classic Ameican and Brit examples are Edward G. Lansdale and T. E. Lawrence.
    Wilf, who knows the story better than I, would say the Lawrence legend is much inflated, and from a Philippine perspective I'd have to say the same of Lansdale.

    To get back to the OP, though, the points I'm trying to make re the problem of building armies would run something like this...

    1. The nuts and bolts of building military skills and military systems is only half the battle, and probably the easier half. Assuring that these skills and systems will be applied to national objectives, rather than personal or extranational objectives, is far more difficult, especially where there is a long tradition of using military and police positions for personal or ther non-national (clan, tribe, faction, whatever) gain.

    2. From the level of design and planning down to the level of the actual advisor there must be constant awareness that many, in some cases most, of the individuals we deal with will have agendas and objectives other than those they reveal to us. The national leadership will attempt to pack the leadership with loyalists who will try to keep them in power. Warlords and tribal leaders will try to maneuver their own people into key positions. Even among the ranks there will be many who joined with the assumption and expectation of using their position for personal gain.

    3. People will attempt to manipulate us. When the people we deal with learn our jargon and tell us exactly what we want to hear, that doesn't mean they get it. It means we're being worked. The guy who challenges you, questions your doctrine and ideas, and has a tendency to do things his own way is probably a lot more honest - and probably a better candidate for cooperation - than the guy who parrots our own words back at us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Some Americans play the game very well; most don't. Neither do most Brits, Canadians, Frenchmen, Russians, Japanese, Chinese... But some of them do play it well. Two classic Ameican and Brit examples are Edward G. Lansdale and T. E. Lawrence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Wilf, who knows the story better than I, would say the Lawrence legend is much inflated, and from a Philippine perspective I'd have to say the same of Lansdale.
    "Played the game well" and "inflated legend" are not mutually exclusive.

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    Default Dayuhan

    Must agree with Schmedlap about Lawrence. I would go further regarding Lansdale. Although I never met him, I do know people who did and found him impressive on a personal level. His book, In the Midst of Wars rings true to me regarding his experiences advising both Magsaysay and Diem. I say "rings true" from the perspective of one who has spent much of my career both as a soldier and a civilian in advising roles in Latin America. This is not to say that Lansdale was always successful at a strategic, operational, or tactical level. he had his failures as we all have. Success as an advisor, I would define, as being able to achieve a rapport with one's counterpart and mor often than not come to agreement on courses of action that advance both your causes.

    Regarding your points 1 -3: I agree. I would only add that my experience with number 3 is that we all have our agendas and my goals were to advance those of my counterpart that advanced my own/my country's.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    I've no doubt that Lansdale was very charismatic, and Magsaysay was of course eminently malleable. The defeat of the Hukbalahap, though, was I think less a consequence of Lansdale's ability to manipulate Magsaysay than of the inherent weakness of the Hukbalahap: unsophisticated, unskilled, internally divided, poorly led, geographically restricted, devoid of foreign support. The legacy left to the Philippine military was far from positive, and similar tactics applied in more challenging environments proved less than successful.

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    Default I was afraid that was where you were heading

    Dayuhan, IMO the issue is not whether or why the outcome of the conflict was successful but whether a solid advisor relationship can contribute to a successful outcome. From my reading of Magsaysay, I would not use the word maleable to describe him - nor does Lansdale paint such a picture. But clearly, Diem with whom Lansdale also worked was not a maleable character yet Lansdale was able to build a successful advisor relationship with him. Note that the long term outcome of Diem's tenure was not a success but that was due to factors well beyond Lansdale's control.

    But, again, I don't want to make this thread a defense of Lansdale. Rather, I would make it a defense of the way he did the advising business (according to his writing and that of others who knew him and worked for him - Rufus Phillips in particular). The essence of what Lansdale says is that the advisor needs to treat the people he is advising with respect. Building a relationship is a two way street - as I've suggested in other posts. Furthermore, advising is like leadership, an art. Indeed, it is a special kind of leadership where the leader/advisor has no power, only the ability to convince his partner that what he believes is the right thing to do is right for the partner because it is in his interest. (See Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power). While the US military insists that leadership can be taught, what can be taught are leadership techniques. Likewise, advising techniques (writ very large) can be taught but putting it together on the ground is always an art - and arts are based on natural talent which can't be taught. Talent can be developed but if you don't have it, you can't learn it. So, it is with advising. I taught in the old FAO course and I well recall a number of students who really had no talent for relating to foreign cultures. Most, found out quickly enough and moved on to other kinds of military careers but with an "appreciation" of the difficulty of dealing with a foreign culture (and advising counterparts). At least one went on to a successful career in the FAO field but one in which he was able to avoid any real interaction with counterparts. In his penultimate assignment, his lack of empathy for foreign cultures caught up with him and made him much less successful than he could/should have been in dealing with his American colleagues in an organization populated by FAOs.

    Backto the source of all this: I hope that these discussions are helpful to Colin in addressing the problem he originally posed.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Ok, point taken... though it would be interesting at some point and in some more relevant place to compare the perceptions of the Lansdale-Magsaysay relationship that endure in the US to those that endure in the Philippines. Also worth noting that arguably Magsaysay and Lansdale were effectively worked by the feudal landowners of central Luzon, who created the entire mess in the first place. They emerged with exactly what they wanted: no more Huks and nothing beyond cosmetic reform. Of course they also ended up with another insurgency and a rather more durable one... but that too is another subject!

    How do we define an "effective adviser relationship" if not by its outcome?

    Many of those we advise are stuck between a rock and a hard place: they talk to us and we have a set of expectations and recommendations, then they talk to their own people, who may have a rather different set of expectations and recommendations. If we think our influence is greater, we're generally fooling ourselves.

    The point, of course - again trying to return to something that might be vaguely useful to the OP - is that our tendency to focus on the mechanics of skills, systems, and material is often based on an assumption that we're all basically pulling in the same direction and accepting the same general idea of what needs to be done and how. That assumption is not necessarily valid, and we have to maintain continuous awareness of the other agendas that are in play.

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    Default We are in agreement...

    I would respond to your super question that the advisor relationship is only a part of the story. The underlying issue is whether we (and they) have a strategy that effectively addresses the threat. If so, what part does the advising relationship play in it? Advising is never an end in itself. It is a way (in the ends, ways, means paradigm - a method for achieving the ends). the advisor is a means, a resource and an expensive one at that. Moreover, he can, as I said above, not be made but his talent can be developed. So, we measure advising effectiveness, IMO, by asking first if advising is an appropriate way. Then, we ask if it is having the effect on HN performance that we want it to have. Then, we go from there, modify....

    So, I would treat your question in terms of the analysis of the strategic problem and the development of a strategy. You, of course, can see that my view is that advising is one of the most useful tools in our kit bag but a difficult one for senior leaders (civilian as well as military) to use effectively. The Lansdale story in Vietnam is a cautionary tale in this regard.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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