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Thread: Courageous Restraint "Hold fire, earn a medal"

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    It is yet another non-problem that appears to be significant but is not...
    I think you nailed it. Reminds me of people claiming that our small unit leaders "don't get COIN" or "need to learn COIN" when, in fact, it was the person making the assertion who just finally came around to understanding what COIN is. Assuming all others were as ignorant as the speaker was prior to this epiphany, he assumes that he is part of some small cadre of truth-bearers holding a secret revelation that others haven't been exposed to when, in fact, the exact opposite has been the case.

    That is a particular problem in this instance. Our senior leaders discuss the "new math" of killing 2 insurgents possibly leading to creation of 10 others. Thanks for the heads up Colonel, but my Squad Leaders were explaining that concept to their Soldiers in 2003. But I guess the only way that our younger leaders will "get it" in the minds of some staff officers is to substitute awards for leadership until we come to the realization that those young Soldiers are "getting it." And then, I suppose, lacking any causal evidence, we will assume that we changed the organizational culture by this formal recognition of restraint rather than relying on the tired old, tried and true concept of hands-on leadership and clear communication of commander's intent.

    Too bad lower enlisted Soldiers can't likewise influence the chain of command by creating awards. I'd like to see the creation of awards for strategic planning, accepting risk, and trusting subordinates.
    Last edited by Schmedlap; 05-23-2010 at 01:22 AM.

  2. #42
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heresy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Too bad lower enlisted Soldiers can't likewise influence the chain of command by creating awards. I'd like to see the creation of awards for strategic planning, accepting risk, and trusting subordinates.
    Good heresy, though...

    Amazing how many have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear...

    We're not really going to improve to any significant degree until those three items are remediated. Hmm. Nope, not a strong enough word -- until they're fixed...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Reminds me of people claiming that our small unit leaders "don't get COIN" or "need to learn COIN" when, in fact, it was the person making the assertion who just finally came around to understanding what COIN is.
    You just described the turn-a-round of leadership for Gen. Odierno and the re-writting of history of Col. Gentile

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The primary point the commander was conveying was that under the new tactical directives we are asking the soldiers to assume much more personal risk in order to preserve and advance the larger strategic goals of the operations; and that leaders needed to do a more effective job of recognizing those who did so.
    Ah, but in order to recognize we have to quantify.

    It's so much easier to write an award for Cpl Jones, who killed XXX number of insurgents, than for Cpl Smith, who held fire because of the danger of killing noncombatants.

    That said, I've seen awards for valor presented in the past for acts that did not involve an enemy body count. One of my Marines received a Navy Comm with V for pulling an Iraqi family out of the line of fire in 2003 (I take no credit for the writeup, he was in another battalion at the time of the action). Like others have said, there is no need to create another medal to recognize these acts, but leaders need to understand, appreciate, and recognize when their Soldiers or Marines go above and beyond the call by showing judgment and restraint.

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default UK Direction

    Just to add fuel to the fire, this is the UK direction. Personally I have only just seen it and IMHO I think it is off the mark - but I cannot quite put my finger on what it is that disagrees with me.

    Population-Centric COIN and protecting the people makes different demands and arguably requires a wider form of courage. Much of this we call ‘Courageous Restraint’ as you know. But we must now recognise this and redefine our interpretation of gallantry accordingly. It is no longer sufficient to accept gallantry in its current sense. A soldier who does not fire and gets killed by a SIED is the equivalent of the soldier who ‘took the hill’ in more contemporary operations.


    I like the idea mooted on this thread for meritorious medals for restraint and good judgement and gallantry for gallantry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    A soldier who does not fire and gets killed by a SIED is the equivalent of the soldier who ‘took the hill’ in more contemporary operations
    Wow - what kind of ridiculous statement is that (and who issued it). The guy who does not fire and gets killed by the SIED is dead - that's about it. I don't think "courageous restraint" is supposed to recognize those unlucky/unskilled individuals who don't recognize combat indicators.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VMI_Marine View Post
    One of my Marines received a Navy Comm with V for pulling an Iraqi family out of the line of fire in 2003 (I take no credit for the writeup, he was in another battalion at the time of the action).
    Courage above that shown by others. I think this one is easy. In the UK he might have got the George Cross.
    ...but leaders need to understand, appreciate, and recognize when their Soldiers or Marines go above and beyond the call by showing judgment and restraint.
    OK, but don't you get paid to exercise restraint and judgement. When is there an option ever not to do it?
    There isn't a minimum standard. You are either doing it or not. Restraint actually means doing nothing, and ROE exist to ensure that violence is used instrumentally and in line with policy.
    Wouldn't you say that "Good judgement" is either there or not?
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Restraint actually means doing nothing, and ROE exist to ensure that violence is used instrumentally and in line with policy.
    Wouldn't you say that "Good judgement" is either there or not?
    I have comments on this issue already, so I hope it's clear that I think such an award is stupid. That said, restraint in the context of this issue is not necessarily "doing nothing." Doing nothing is what you do on a FOB.

    If de-escalation occurs as a measured risk that you choose to take, in order to obtain an outsized reward, in the form of an outcome that can do more to advance the mission, then you are not "doing nothing." I think that is what is trying to be encouraged. Unfortunately, a bunch of senior leaders apparently think that issuing awards is the path to that objective, rather than the tired old method some of us once knew as "leadership."

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    IMHO it would take a brave man to wear such a medal.

    Lets be honest, there is a macho thing that would make someone like that an outcast.

    2 short anecdotes come to mind.

    1) The week before my unit went into iraq in Desrt Storm my platoon did a mock attack on an abandoned Saudi Border post. As we were approaching the door opened and a bootless scarecrow came up with his hands up... never has a platoon locked and loaded so fast... never has an LT run forward and stopped 40 men doing something silly so fast... 5 months of sand made everyone prety eager to get a shot in.... The LT was seen as a Wus.

    2) When an operation in Africa finished so fast almost noone got to fire a shot... the devil makes work for idle hands... all over the town we were in guys were hatching plots on how they could instigate a fight

    3) Once in Sarajevo 2 of our APCs were fired on from an apartment block. The 20mm AA Gunner was told by his sgt to fire at the building... he refused as there were probably/possibly women and kids in it. (I am not even sure the sgt was authorised to give the order). Was only light weapons fire anyway, just bounced off. The gunner became a pariah, not for disobeying orders or anything, simply because he gave up a chance to shoot in a city where everyone was hoping and praying that today would be their day to shoot.

    Yup... with age and hindsight the LT did the right thing (was an iraqi deserter who had spend 3 days walking to get there, the guys looking to start a firefight were wrong, and the gunner did the right thing.....

    back when I was 23 I saw it very different... yup indeed.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seabee View Post
    IMHO it would take a brave man to wear such a medal.

    Lets be honest, there is a macho thing that would make someone like that an outcast......
    So maybe it is more about the actual conversation that about the medal. Lets hope that the conversation educates people enough to avoid this sort of silliness from being as common place in the future as it was in the past. How else so we cut through the macho crap?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    How else so we cut through the macho crap?

    Its difficult.... I can discuss it rationally now.... but make me 19 again, give me a gun, grenades and an attitude... and a section of other young guys all trying to prove they are harder than the next guy..... and its a different ball game.

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    Default Change in Metrics of success

    COIN has changed how we define success on the "battelfield" yet the award system (and by extension the promotion system) has not changed. In Khost Province last year we had a CSM flying out to Sabari District to measure sideburns (!!). This was a "combat tested" CSM.

    On the enlisted level, the NCO ranks still does not get leadership credit for MiTT or ETT (SQD LRD/PLT SGT/1SG).

    Success needs to be rewarded. If not, then COIN knowledge will be lost just like it was lost after Vietnam (late '70s/80/90)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    COIN has changed how we define success on the "battelfield" yet the award system (and by extension the promotion system) has not changed.
    Are you suggesting that it should? If so, why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    In Khost Province last year we had a CSM flying out to Sabari District to measure sideburns (!!). This was a "combat tested" CSM.
    Welcome to the Army.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    Success needs to be rewarded. If not, then COIN knowledge will be lost just like it was lost after Vietnam (late '70s/80/90)
    Is the suggestion here that awards are the only reward? Or the most preferable award? Something else? We generally reward success with evaluations reports, promotions, and desirable duty positions and stations. Even if we get rewards right, knowledge can still be lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Are you suggesting that it should? If so, why?


    Welcome to the Army.


    Is the suggestion here that awards are the only reward? Or the most preferable award? Something else? We generally reward success with evaluations reports, promotions, and desirable duty positions and stations. Even if we get rewards right, knowledge can still be lost.
    If 4-Star Generals and Brigade Col. are asking SGTs and SSGs to wage a redefined type of combat then yes I think they should be rewarded.

    At the same time we were in Khowst Province, two different SF CSMs were in the AO. We did not get a single report of them measuring sideburns. Of course they did Robin Sage and are trained in FID.

    The suggestion here is not that awards are the only reward. I present the opinion that senior leaders are training one way and asking soldiers to perform another way in combat. When those same soldiers do well in combat ("well" defined as successfully operating out of 3-24) we then ask the same soldiers to go back to being an MP or 11B or Gun Bunny.

    As I understand it, the argument is conduct COIN but maintain traditional, "stay in your lane" MOS specific skills. My argument is MOS specific skills are a baseline and "joint" training now starts at the E5 level and not at the 04 level.

    Think combat leadership is being rewarded? Walk around Crystal City and count the lack of combat patches.

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    It's been over a month, so maybe I need to refresh my memory, but I'm not sure I understand what you are arguing. As I understand it, you assert that we're fighting a "redefined type of combat," whatever that is, and this, I guess, justifies some kind of award?

    After that, you completely lost me with the random comments about sideburns, Robin Sage, vague assertion about "senior leaders are training one way and asking soldiers to perform another way," some apparent gulf in skills required by COIN and other ops, and combat patches in Crystal City.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    you assert that we're fighting a "redefined type of combat," whatever that is, and this, I guess, justifies some kind of award?
    Let me use this analogy, while in a combat zone, as an NCO, I tell a PFC that he has to man a Browning .50cal.

    We all know this is not a new weapon system. It has been in the US Army inventory for almost 90yrs. But to the new PFC it is a new weapon.

    If, as an NCO, I toss the FM at the PFC and say "learn it, oh and tell me what you learned" then the PFC deserves a reward.

    There is a major flaw in my argument. With COIN, prior to 3-24 the PFC did not even have an FM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    There is a major flaw in my argument. With COIN, prior to 3-24 the PFC did not even have an FM.
    Check this LINK and this LINK plus this LINK. The latter two are References in FM 3-24 which effectively supersedes the first one...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    Let me use this analogy, while in a combat zone, as an NCO, I tell a PFC that he has to man a Browning .50cal.

    We all know this is not a new weapon system. It has been in the US Army inventory for almost 90yrs. But to the new PFC it is a new weapon.

    If, as an NCO, I toss the FM at the PFC and say "learn it, oh and tell me what you learned" then the PFC deserves a reward.

    There is a major flaw in my argument. With COIN, prior to 3-24 the PFC did not even have an FM.
    Okay, so I guess if someone learns something on their own, then they deserve a reward. I further infer that you believe Soldiers are learning things on their own without significant assistance or training from their superiors. Apparently one of those things is COIN, a collective endeavor performed by units, which I guess we're to believe is spontaneously performed without guidance or direction from leaders, or something. And then, this justifies a reward for restraint, or something?

    Forgive me if I stop responding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Check this LINK and this LINK plus this LINK. The latter two are References in FM 3-24 which effectively supersedes the first one...

    You guys are smart, that is why I and others come here. But how many 11B2P or 3V read FM90-8 in 1998? 1999? Yet, how many of them "fought" on the "Island" of "Cortina"? The FTX's of the '90 never went enough towards the clean up of some missions.

    Going back to my analogy, the PFC went to OSUT and the .50 cal manual existed but the military school did not put it as a priority for training. Does it matter that the manual was available?
    Last edited by Ranger94; 07-19-2010 at 04:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Okay, so I guess if someone learns something on their own, then they deserve a reward. I further infer that you believe Soldiers are learning things on their own without significant assistance or training from their superiors. Apparently one of those things is COIN, a collective endeavor performed by units, which I guess we're to believe is spontaneously performed without guidance or direction from leaders, or something. And then, this justifies a reward for restraint, or something?
    Yep

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Forgive me if I stop responding.
    When doing an AAR check ego at the door. very respectfully, I am pointing out my perspective based on my training and deployments
    Last edited by Ranger94; 07-19-2010 at 05:06 AM.

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