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Thread: Tentative Guidelines for building partner armies post conflict

  1. #21
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    Default Thanks guys

    Since the last time I replied, I've been busy following up some comments from my supervisor and trying to get hold of a number of other experts. So I haven't been following this discussion.

    I very much appreciate your thoughts, and most of them will go into the thesis.
    The point on the consistency of contractors echos something else I've been told by a U.S. army officer with Liberia experience, and later points Dayuhan about Westerners getting manipulated seem to be the same in Africa: Gerard Prunier: 'in thirty-seven years of studying Africa I have seen more Westerners manipulated by Africans than the other way around.' In Security Sector Reform terms a la the OECD, we need to prioritise local ownership. The problem is that Western style army reconstruction simply does not.

    So, interim conclusions:

    Drawing on set of cases including Zimbabwe (1980-), NAmibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, DR Congo, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, and Nepal.
    I can go through the list of key principles/framework in which I will add the ideas here and others I'm seeking from France and Africa.
    But, after that:
    *if Namibia does not have an effective army (data insufficient)
    *then there are no cases in which a Western style / Western standard army has been sustained over the long term without large scale continuing Western financial and human assistance
    *Underscores the reasonably obvious truth: very difficult to build Western standard armies in non Western countries
    *Key difference, thanks to Mark Malan and Herbert Howe's book (Ambiguous Order: Military Forces in African States): There has to be a sense of urgency.
    The only capable army in SSA apart from the South Africans is the Rwanda Patriotic Army, and they were faced with annihilation if they lost. Corroborated by Israeli and possibly apartheid-era South African experience
    *Potential cases that disprove this argument are Namibia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Kenneth Pollack's book proves that Iraq has a history of very poor tactical performance. I have insufficent evidence to say whether the Iraqi Army now has improved it's strategic, operational, and tactical performance.
    *Returning to the main reason for my dissertation: creating security for development to take place? Possible in two circumstances:
    *For foreseeable future, only with incredibly disproportionate Western levels of effort. We should achieve much more, but because these are non-Western political systems, we cannot achieve half as much.
    *Beyond? Only when there is a change in the nature of who the state serves, the wider masses rather than the politico-military elite. And/or when a functioning bureaucratic structure is put in place.

    *What can we do about it now? This is not about armies, it's about the political evolution of the state - statebuilding. One has to improve the nature of the state before we can improve the army.

    My focus is mostly on Africa, and many of these ideas reflect what I understand about African reality. Whether they reflect Iraq or Afghanistan is another matter.

    Thoughts welcome.

  2. #22
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    Default Colin, what is your criteria for non-Western?

    I fully understand that the answer is arbitrary but for sake of argument, the late Samuel Huntington posited the following civilizations:
    Islamic
    Sinic
    India
    African
    Latin American
    Western

    If memory serves, I have probably missed one or misstated but the general idea is there. I tend to think that Huntington was wrong in detail about his cultures/civilizations but his arbitrary list is as good as any. If he is right - or we simply use his list - then none of the cultures except the Western can possibly succeed in taking good advice. If he is wrong and Latin American culture/civilization is simply a Western variant (as I believe) then why have they been so unsuccessful in learning the Western way of war? Or have they?

    Cheers

    JohnT

  3. #23
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Reactions to a few points...

    I'm mostly an Asia guy, so we're coming from all over. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if we're looking for large-scale trends.

    Kenneth Pollack's book proves that Iraq has a history of very poor tactical performance.
    Iraq is not alone in this. I suspect that in many cases the cause of consistent poor performance is the selection of military leaders on the basis of personal loyalty to the national leadership, rather than on the basis of competence. When leaders view their own military force as the primary threat to their position, as is often (and often justifiably) the case, this is a natural evolution. In many cases it works adequately, as long as the military in question is only expected to impose internal security against fragmented opposition. Once that military comes up against a capable foreign antagonist or a competent insurgency, it collapses like a watermelon hit by an SUV.

    It's easy for the Western adviser to look at this type of military and see exactly what needs to be done to make it effective. The national leadership, on the other hand, is likely to be less concerned with effectiveness than with preserving personal loyalty and personal control. The national leadership may see this as a necessity for its own survival, and may actively seek to undermine reforms that could promote effectiveness but reduce personal loyalty. Just an example of how an adviser's perception of need can vary from the host country counterpart's perception.

    Americans in particular often base assessments of efficiency, effectiveness, capability on different criteria than those applied byt local counterparts. All of these are simply measures of the degree to which a system accomplishes its purpose. If we assume that the purpose is "national development" or "national security", a system may seem inefficient. If we understand that the actual purpose of the system is to preserve the wealth and position of the governing elite, everything changes. The point, simply, is that we cannot assume a common purpose... and when divergence of purpose becomes extreme, it may be better just to walk away.

    What can we do about it now? This is not about armies, it's about the political evolution of the state - statebuilding. One has to improve the nature of the state before we can improve the army.
    I've done this rant before, but I think it's relevant.

    We can't build states. Nobody can, because states aren't built, states grow. The difference may be semantic, but it's significant: when we speak of "state-building" we slant ourselves toward an engineering proceess, one that only requires the right plans, tools, and execution. That's not realistic, and I think if we draw our metaphors from agriculture rather than engineering, and think of cultivating rather than building, we emerge with a more accurate perspective on what we're trying to do.

    We also have to accept that the process by which states grow is often very messy. The US fought one of history's bloodiest civil wars and carried out one of history's great genocides on its way to nationhood. The ever so civilized western Europeans... well, we all know what they went through on the way to where they are. Why should we expect today's emrging nations to sort out their external and internal problems in an orderly and peaceful fashion when we couldn't do it ourselves? We may at times be able to mitigate the mess and prevent it from overflowing... but we're deceiving ourselves if we think we can make state-growing anything but an uncertain and sloppy process.

    Rambing off topic, time to stop!

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    JohnT: My criteria for 'non-Western' is non US, Europe to NATO boundary line inc Baltics, White Commonwealth (NZ/Aust/SA/Canada, basically ABCA+), and, without thinking much about it, yes Latin America. Basically on Latin America the Portuguese and Spanish built it their way, industrialised = Western.

    My level of knowledge on Latin America is low, but I would argue the Argentinians in the Falklands proved they knew the Western way of war, just weren't very good at it (...all arguments about Falklands flow.. conscripts vs Brit regulars etc) War of the Pacific was a 'conventional' war, Arg/Chilean standoff is 'conventional' etc. Uruguayans do OK in the DRC with MONUC - better than Ukrainians/Russians in Bosnia!!

    Dayuhan I've just run your lat/long coordinates, and I realise I really need to reread American Caesar again. Then we could have a long discussion about the readiness level of the Phil National Guard and McArthur's decision to prioritise the Guard over the regulars up to 41. But sticking on topic, yes, I'm looking for people from all over and thus am very grateful to get an Asian expert.

    Your 'rant' is bang on topic. It reflects my brief and sketchy research on the origins of professionalism in the US and British Armies... Upton's reforms (thankyou Samuel Huntingdon & Soldier & the State) and the abolition of purchase of commissions in the British Army. Even so, Isby suggests that only the Wehrmacht was really competent in 1939, and we (the World War II Western alliance, headed by US and UK) our armies had to learn from the way the Germans did things. Apparently the British Army officer selection system was copied off the Germans after the end of the Second World War by British psychologists.

    So states have to evolve.. and we can't do it for them. Thus the question is, does it all come down to the slow evolution of indigenous democratisation?
    And what the flying f*** does that mean for our agenda in the worst case, the DR Congo?

  5. #25
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi Colin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    So states have to evolve.. and we can't do it for them. Thus the question is, does it all come down to the slow evolution of indigenous democratisation?
    Why assume that governance structures will flow towards democratization in any form? Democracies have a lot of functional requirements (education, leisure time hence decent economy, fairly open communications) and they are stricter for the modern democracies (universally applicable legal system, large bureaucracy hence an even more productive economy to support it). Democracies also have a fairly lousy track record of lasting in any efficient form, usually devolving into mobocracies (Athens, Syracuse), oligarchies (Rome and, possibly, the US), bureaucratic oligarchies (Byzantium, China, Canada & the EU).

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    And what the flying f*** does that mean for our agenda in the worst case, the DR Congo?
    Don't try to create a "Western state" or a "western" army; build a force that matches the stablest state form achievable, which may be a mutated form of a tribal confederacy, albeit with the mandatory democratic trappings.

    A lot of this goes back to working with, rather than against, the local culture both civil and military.

    Cheers,

    Marc
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  6. #26
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    Default You asked for it

    Colin --
    I wrote a paper here somewhere giving the "Reader's Digest (r)" version of some of the issues you discuss.

    My BOG experience is in Afghanistan and Estonia, although I have done security assistance work elsewhere at the staff level.

    I began my experience with SFA as a non-believer. Formal SA and FID were "good enough". However, as I dug into the issue, I became a rabid convert, zealous to the point of St. Paul.

    A coupla observations.
    1. When you say armies, I believe that you are talking about joint forces in US parlance. Even with this expansion, SFA has to eventually expand to other security forces -- police, constabulary, ICE, etc. This was one of our failings in the past. By focusing on the military, we sometimes created conditions that were not sustainable in a "western" context, e.g. civilian control of the military, military fighting (or deterring wars), police enforcing laws, etc.

    2. I believe that Korea is an example of things working well over time. When the north invaded in 1950, ROKA forces with their American advisors did not perform well. By 1967, the ROKA had defensive responsibility for the entire de-militarized zone with the north, with the exception of a relatively narrow front along MSR 1. Additionally, they were able to send 2 divisions to Vietnam, Tiger and White Horse if memory serves (it often doesn't, so look everything up). Now the US plays no real tactical role there at all.

    3. By focusing on military forces, we sometimes neglected the infrastructure it takes to sustain the effort. Training and equipping tactical units turns into a never-ending process. Somewhere along the line, sustaining organizations and capabilities need to be added to the mix -- manning, training, equipping, maintaining, etc.

    4. By focusing on military forces, we sometimes set up conditions for military dictatorships, some under the guise of pseudo-democracies. This occasionally became an embarassment, especially in Latin America.

    Now, you can expand all of the above, implement vigorously, and still be unsuccessful. Why? I would submit that many of the resulting shortcomings are the product of inadequate advisor development and lack of deep enough engagement with the host nation/organization. There are probably others.

    SFA is a powerful weapon, but it is not fire and forget.

    Bring it on.

  7. #27
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Guidelines in Africa ?

    Hey Colin,
    Thanks for the emails and interesting read !

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    So states have to evolve.. and we can't do it for them. Thus the question is, does it all come down to the slow evolution of indigenous democratisation?
    And what the flying f*** does that mean for our agenda in the worst case, the DR Congo?
    The only thing I can add at this point similar to our correspondence is, Western technology and ideals will never fix the DRC. If the Africans don't do it on their own terms and time, it will never happen.

    IMO, the single most common denominator in all our failures is our lack of understanding...

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hi Colin,
    Don't try to create a "Western state" or a "western" army;...
    A lot of this goes back to working with, rather than against, the local culture both civil and military.
    For more than a decade I watched millions dumped into a bottomless pit and the results were as follows...

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    4. By focusing on military forces, we sometimes set up conditions for military dictatorships, some under the guise of pseudo-democracies. This occasionally became an embarrassment...
    You'd make a good Army NCO

    Regards, Stan
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  8. #28
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hey Stan,

    What can I say? I've been reading Tom Kratman's latest !

    Leaving that aside (totally unpaid advert, but The Lotus Eaters is worth it!), the idea that we can go in and "fix" a culture is just laughable to me. F&#k it up, yeah, but turn it into something like us? NFW. I just wish that some of my PC colleagues would realize that free will (and free choice) means that people can choose to live as they like rather than how some ideologue supposes that they should.

    TTFN

    Marc

    ps. Stan, wish you had been in Ottawa a couple of weeks back, Absolute kick-ass concert; Victoria 1605 Requiem, Allegri's Miserie mei, plus other "stuff". You would have loved it.
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  9. #29
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    And what the flying f*** does that mean for our agenda in the worst case, the DR Congo?
    An obvious starting point would be to ask what exactly is our agenda in the DR Congo, or anywhere else we contemplate involvement. What exactly are we trying to accomplish, and why? Are these goals achievable with the resources we have available for the task?

    Fairly obvious questions, but they need to be asked and realistically answered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    I really need to reread American Caesar again. Then we could have a long discussion about the readiness level of the Phil National Guard and McArthur's decision to prioritise the Guard over the regulars up to 41.
    Well, since tomorrow is the anniversary of the Bataan surrender (national holiday here)... you could argue that MacArthur's involvement with the Philippine Commonwealth was an early example of an American advisory relationship, and thus that it's relevant to the discussion. Beyond that, of course it's a difficult slice of history to examine clearly, especially based on secondary sources... hard to tell where the legend and the ego leave off and the reality begins. There are certainly many criticisms that can be aimed at MacArthur's preparations (I've been known to make them myself), but the underestimation of Japanese capacity was hardly limited to MacArthur, and it's by no means clear that other courses of action would have had materially better results, given the available time and resources.

    Another interesting early attempt at the advisory role would be the relationship between Stilwell and Chiang Kai-Shek... again, one where it is easy to criticize and difficult to convincingly establish that another approach would have done better.

    To relate that tangent to the DR Congo... selecting unachievable goals is an excellent prescription for failure. If we insist on sending someone out to ride a unicycle up Mt Everest we shouldn't expect a triumphant return.

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    Thanks guys.. lots of stuff to chew through.
    MarcT: Great stuff.. fantastic for my conclusions thinking. My prospective external examiner writes on democratisation and security, so these extra perspectives are great.
    Old Eagle - one small point, I understand most of the acronyms and figured out BOG, but not ICE unless we're talking modifications to German F-4s which I believe we are not. What is ICE? No, my thesis specifically focuses on armies as armed state land forces, not joint Air/Land/Navy/Marines/SOF, or other security forces. Could you point me at your paper - it would be really useful. What's the title? I have incorporated the need for institutions etc, maint/logs, it's one of the main points from Zimbabwe from 1980 onwards. I have noticed the tendency of the United States to focus on building up armies and armed forces as opposed to police, health, other government departments etc. Can someone fill me in on why the US focuses on the army and armed forces so much? As a Kiwi yes I'd believe that often the army is the wrong institution to start with.
    Stan - voice with multiple years of rubber-hits-the-road experience in a very bad place welcome. My time in Kinshasa and Kisangani was limited to two weeks. Would like to go back some time. Question, for the East, is French or Swahili better? And where would be best, if Swahili is best, to learn Swahili?
    Dayuhan - as ADP 1 Land Operations puts it, Selection and Maintenance of the Aim. Always important

  11. #31
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    I tend to think that Huntington was wrong in detail about his cultures/civilizations but his arbitrary list is as good as any. If he is right - or we simply use his list - then none of the cultures except the Western can possibly succeed in taking good advice. If he is wrong and Latin American culture/civilization is simply a Western variant (as I believe) then why have they been so unsuccessful in learning the Western way of war? Or have they?
    Well, as you know, I have a pretty low opinion of Huntington's work; too close to that of de Gobineau for my taste. I think that Huntington make a quintessential error in assigning causality via a black box to genetics, rather than looking to the environment as a second primary cause. This leads to his confusion of culture [area], which is a symbolic interface of a group of people with their environment and daily life, with something "absolute" and essentialist; ideal types which may be rank ordered on a singular line of "perfection". Admittedly, Huntington doesn't go quite as far as de Gobineau, but the base flaw is still there.

    When we are talking about a "way of war", we are talking at multiple levels: philosophical, strategic, operational, technological and social to name some of them. The crucial ones, IMHO, are the philosophical, technological and social, with the strategic, operational and tactical flowing from them.

    The philosophical defines the purpose of the game - why do we fight? when do we fight? to what ends do we fight? - and is bound up in a more generalized stance towards "reality". It also tends to place relative moral valuations on both the act of fighting (in any setting) and on those who fight.

    The social level defines the general ways in which a group can fight, and is highly connected with the technological means of both fighting and, more generally, the use of technology within a society. These two, in turn, feed back into the philosophical level and change it over time.

    So, when we speak of a "way of war" what are we actually talking about? It isn't, and really can't be, some "thing" that can be laid out and described in static detail since its components are constantly changing (well, at least for the past 12,000 years or so). What we can see are quasi-stable equilibrium points where we have relatively stable changes in the social, technological and philosophical roots of a "way of war".

    Just to get back to your specific questions / ponders about Latin America, what answers would we get if we dumped Huntington's fatally flawed model and looked at reality instead? Probably the key areas would be the social and technological. Put simply, there is just no way that any of the Latin American states could (or would) become industrialized nations; their environments don't force them to (which, BTW, is what happened in England and the US, albeit for different reasons). Without mass industrialization and the consequent economic surplus to support massive bureaucracies, expensive militaries, large public school systems (for literacy), etc., you can't actually field the type of force that we tend to assume is "Western". Perhaps more importantly, without 100+ years of social organization around that industrial model, you don't have cultural expectations of "rightness" surrounding that way of war (actually, it's an exaptation of social organization between the social and military spheres).

    Anyway, 'nuff of that - I'm going to get some more coffee and try and wake up .

    Cheers,

    Marc
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  12. #32
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    Default Ice

    Colin --

    Immigration & Customs Enforcement -- so non-military, non-beat police security forces.

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    Default various

    Colin - I generally agree with your non-Western class except that I would put Japan into the Western states.
    Dayuhan - Agree that nation building and state building are poor shorthand. What we are really trying[/U] to do is assist a state in achieving some mutually agreed upon goal(s).
    Marct - free will, yes. choice, yes. Best achievable goal, yes (which may be sub-optimal from what we would desire). Democracy: my experience and research indicates that most societies and cultures have institutions that are compatible with political democracy. The trick is to identify them and work with the hosts to strengthen those insititutions in an attempt to move toward democracy over time. Although, over a long period of adaptation the institutions are not likely to look like the Canadian Parliament or the US congress, if successful, they will begin to play similar roles in making decisions and holding leaders accounable to followers. Brazil, a quintessentially Latin American state is, today, an industrial powerhouse.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  14. #34
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    free will, yes. choice, yes. Best achievable goal, yes (which may be sub-optimal from what we would desire).
    Yup - humans is just ornery folks .

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Democracy: my experience and research indicates that most societies and cultures have institutions that are compatible with political democracy. The trick is to identify them and work with the hosts to strengthen those insititutions in an attempt to move toward democracy over time. Although, over a long period of adaptation the institutions are not likely to look like the Canadian Parliament or the US congress, if successful, they will begin to play similar roles in making decisions and holding leaders accounable to followers. Brazil, a quintessentially Latin American state is, today, an industrial powerhouse.
    Some really good points, John. One of the problems I have with a lot of the assumptions about "building a democracy" is that function follows form, so that if "we" impose a social structure on a group "they" will become like "us". Pretty naive stuff, but it is often unchallenged.

    Personally, I think it is much better to look at the desirable set of social relations that we wish to encourage. Do we want leaders held accountable for their actions and, if so, how and by what mechanism(s)? Do we even want "leaders" in the Western sense of the term, i.e. people who hold an office which, by virtue of holding that office, have the social right to act in certain situations? Maybe the culture we are looking at has different criteria for becoming a leader, and different checks on their powers.

    One of the problems I've seen with imposed democracies is that they tend to break the cultural controls on leaders without having the time to bring in the types of cultural controls that we have developed over centuries, and this has some pretty serious implications.

    Let me just play out one example and try and tie it more closely into Colin's project.....

    How would / should we go about advising a military that is based in a culture with a clan based "aristocracy"? Well, leadership is generally determined by blood rather than office, but there are almost always narratives that define what a "good" leader is. Perhaps more importantly, most such societies have three forms of class mobility: one (usually) "religious", and two based on para-kinship systems (marriage into a clan and adoption into a clan).

    These forms of class mobility, in turn, act as controls upon the power of leaders. Often, the "religious" form acts as the conscience of the leader and, in some cases, has the power to destroy their legitimacy. As an example, think about the effects of excommunication in, say, the 12-13th centuries which voided all oaths of fealty.

    The two para-kinship forms function somewhat differently. Adoption allows for people from outside the class who are really good at doing something that is a characteristic of the "leadership class" to be brought into that class. So, for example, if you happen to have someone who was born as a peasant who shows an true talent for leading in a military setting, you can adopt them and retain the characteristic of military leadership for that class. Usually, this is justified as a case of (the) God(s) testing us but, functionally, what it does is to provide a way for talented people to get into the social roles they should be in: a Human Resource Management system that works .

    Marriage into clans may act either as a surrogate for adoption, i.e. by bringing in a talented person, or it can act as a way of establishing linkages between clans, thereby providing kinship based mechanisms for dealing with inter-clan conflict that otherwise might spin out of control.

    Okay, so what type of a military system would this type of social system produce?

    Well, for one thing, "officers" would be drawn almost exclusively from the leadership class, and there would probably be a class-based ceiling on promotion for people outside of that class that could only be circumvented by marriage or adoption. You might see commissions being bought, or the establishment of a tradition of service from the great families. You would probably see a fairly flattened promotion scale as well with a lot of long term NCOs etc. (think "family retainer" style, although that's just one variant).

    The simplest way to modify such a system would be to construct some mechanism that would ritually "count" (in the very broad sense) as a third type of para-kinship connection, probably based around a particular military unit or institution. So, for example, establishing a military academy for promising people primarily from the non-leadership class for those who have been recognized as having leadership talent. A good case in poit is the Brit derived traditions that make a man a "gentleman", which is a social class, by fiat upon commissioning.

    Since these cultures also tend to be historically bound in time (unlike the US and Canada which are more future oriented), you could also see the establishment of a parallel NCO academy with preferred access for the children of current / past NCO's and an emphasis on individual skills development.

    I haven't really talked about the "religious" form of class mobility yet, but that actually does play into it in three ways. First, in this type of a culture, you are going to find a long term relationship between families and units. That could be a regimental system, or it could be broader than that (In Thailand, for example, it is based more around armies than regiments). Regardless of the system, some type of military unit organization becomes a para-kinship system and network in its own right, and that system has obligations to its members that go beyond the purely "military" ones. That needs to be systematized and upheld.

    The second "religious" function lies in having a class that stands outside of the clans / great families which has the power (usually influence, but sometimes outright fiat power), to force them to non-kinetic forms of conflict resolution. In "our" systems, this is the control of the military by the civilian government (Parliament and Congress both have a quasi-religious status; cf Durkheim and Mary Douglas on this). That type of quasi-religious status probably doesn't exist in a clan society where the great families / clans will control both the government and the military, so some other quasi-religious institution is necessary: it might be a Church, it might be the Ancestors, it might be the Ummah, it might be freely available Sorcery. Regardless of its form, however, there has to be something that can act as a check on the leaders of the great families / clans.

    The third "religious" function is what we might call "philosophical" or "ideological", and its effect is to construct, maintain and promulgate an ontology, an epistemology and a metaphysics that supports the clan system (again, this gets back to Durkheim's notion that "religion" is society worshiping an idealized form of itself). This ties in with my earlier point that in order to "tweak" a military organization, one has to construct ritually acceptable substitutes that will "count", e.g. the creation of military academies. I would also suspect that the concept of a "calling" or "vocation" would probably be emphasized.

    So, what would this mean in terms of advising on a re-organization? Well, for one thing, you couldn't use the "cookie-cutter Captain" approach so beloved of the US military; that's based on a bureaucratic office ontology that is totally at odds with the much more individualistic "calling / vocation" ontology. Second, whatever HRM system you put in place would have to be both more individualistic and more unit focused aimed at long ties rather than placements.

    Third, you are likely to see a really heavy class based distinction on service choice. Given current technologies, I would expect that air forces would be the highest status, especially since they are the most costly. There is a danger that the higher status services will suck up too much of whatever limited capital is available, and that has some serious implications for other forces. I can think of several ways around this problem, but I just haven't thought them though enough yet to put them down. Maybe later .

    So, back to "democracy".....

    If we define the ostensive function of a democracy as providing the greatest good for the greatest number regardless of the actual form of governance structures, then this type of advising should help a culture move towards that. Obviously, this is a really general set of comments and any particular situation would have to be shaped to fit the realities on the ground.

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  15. #35
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    Apparently the British Army officer selection system was copied off the Germans after the end of the Second World War by British psychologists.
    I'd take all that with a huge pinch of salt. Based on some years of study I'd attribute German tactical skill to the devolvement of mission success to the lowest possible level (individuals) and giving them very simple conceptual tools with which to work. It really is that simple.

    Training world class infantry (and thus Armies) is easy to do. What stops us doing that is all the stuff folks think is important, rather than what we know is. A lot of what folks things makes good armies and good training is faith-based.

    There is good evidence that Armies built on Individual Responsibility, Merit and Shame and that prize results over process are usually a lot better than those that do not.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default Marc, obviously you

    know about "an officer and a gentleman by Act of Congress." We (the US) borrow a whole lot from the Brits but have modified it in any number of ways. The American military officer corps has always seen itself in larg part as a vocation but that view is complicated by the militia, the Volunteers (1845 - 1900), and the Reserve (and Nasty Guard). What is interesting about the American military in this regard is that there is no way you can tell by looking at a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine (or officer in any of those services) whether one is regular or reserve component.

    What does any of this have to do with what Colin is talking about? Well, culture matters both in terms of what we perceive and what our counterparts perceive. Our SF in el Salvador saw a failure on the part of the ESAF to have an effective first line management which they attributed to a lack of a professional NCO corps. But an NCO corps was seen by the ESAF as a threat tot their officer corps so they resisted that as the solution. BTW, we never solved that problem, although given time, intensity of focus, and consistency of players, we might have come up with an answer as long as it met Salvadoran perceived needs.

    Finally, I like Wilf's notion of merit + with the qualification that it adopting such a system must fit within the frame of reference of the host.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  17. #37
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Agree that nation building and state building are poor shorthand. What we are really trying[/U] to do is assist a state in achieving some mutually agreed upon goal(s).
    True, but our assistance generally takes the form of large quantities of money and material, which is seen as desirable, and advice, which is often seen as not desirable. This creates a powerful incentive to nominally "agree" to goals that a party may have no desire or intention to pursue, assuming they can us the money and the material to their own ends while ignoring the advice.

    We need to be careful about the incentives we set up. If it becomes clear that we are going to shower funds on whoever agrees with our goals, we can expect a whole raft of people announcing solemnly that they share our goals. A bit of cynicism may be called for in assessing such claims.

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    Default What do we mean by advice?

    Dayuhan, I hear what you are saying and all too often you are right. But what I mean by advice - and this is the way I practiced it as a civilian USG type, soldier, and free lance researcher - is that my advice to my counterparts was just my best guess as to what would work to achieve their goals. I never claimed to have a monopoly on truth and I always listened to their views. Sometimes their views would come out on top; sometimes mine; most often some amalgam of both brought out by mutually respectful discussion during which there was quite a bit of disagreement. My experience was that this worked and whenever I saw this approach tried, the outcome tended to be good. What didn't work was a "my way or the highway" approach. that only pissed the counterpart off. The other thing that never worked was not listening to one's counterpart's analysis of a problem and assuming that you (your guys) understood the problem. Mostly, they (and you) didn't. That is often the source of your observation that the counterpart will simply agree with you in public while continuing to do the thing his own way - which rarely advances a solution to the still incorrectly defined problem. One of the reasons for our continuing to make this kind of mistake is the relatively short term assignment policy. A one year tour is simply too short to get a solid grounding in all the situational and personality quirks. Two years would be much better with, generally, return to the same area after going home for "reblueing." Still, as with all such generalizations, this won't work all the time and needs to be modified to fit circumstances.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  19. #39
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Have we missed the known long term relationships?

    Colin,

    I have read through the thread, but have we not missed those countries where post-conflict and post-intervention there has been a long term relationship between the West (generally) and the national military?

    A few examples come to mind: RoK and Taiwan (with the USA); Kenya, Oman and Malaysia (with the UK). Some of these relationships have lasted, others like Taiwan have been ceased.
    davidbfpo

  20. #40
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Marc !

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hey Stan,

    What can I say? I've been reading Tom Kratman's latest !

    ps. Stan, wish you had been in Ottawa a couple of weeks back, Absolute kick-ass concert; Victoria 1605 Requiem, Allegri's Miserie mei, plus other "stuff". You would have loved it.
    I hate you - As I pine away with a balmy 5 degrees of Estonian Spring listening to renditions of the Grateful Dead on the radio Sounds like something I would have indeed enjoyed ! Seems Tom Kratman (and Odom) has disappeared and no doubt on another journey.

    Hey Colin,

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
    Stan - voice with multiple years of rubber-hits-the-road experience in a very bad place welcome. My time in Kinshasa and Kisangani was limited to two weeks. Would like to go back some time. Question, for the East, is French or Swahili better? And where would be best, if Swahili is best, to learn Swahili?
    As you already have French under your belt (and would have to be retaught Belgian French to comprehend the Zairois (and truly infuriate the real French) ), I would recommend Lingala over Swahili regardless of the region. Even in Rwanda I got by with Lingala. I learned Lingala mostly by default working with the military in Gbadolite and Kinshasa, but it came in handy all over. You may have also noticed that even with Lingala or Swahili, they still use much of the French language merely to borrow words especially during bartering. I know some humanitarian deminers that found they were lost with just French and began learning Lingala too.

    BTW, a General in DIA call Zaire "one of the most inhospitable places on earth". I often referred to the country in message traffic as it was always known --- The Heart of Darkness.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I have read through the thread, but have we not missed those countries where post-conflict and post-intervention there has been a long term relationship between the West (generally) and the national military?
    David's got a good point. We have some post-intervention success stories that rarely make the press. Makes me wonder what recipe we used then, that obviously aren't working now.
    Last edited by Stan; 04-10-2010 at 04:48 PM.
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