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Thread: Fire with Fire

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    Exclamation Fire with Fire

    Summary: Our organization and doctrine plays into the enemy's hands. We can counter this by creating a force patterned after classical eastern forces, while still retaining many of our greatest advantages.

    ***First of all, let me give a general disclaimer: while in the infantry, I am still only a newly minted 2LT with no prior service, waiting to go to Ranger School. I make no claims to being anything close to an expert. Now that that's out of the way...

    It seems to me that, despite the fact that we routinely come out on top of direct engagements, we're playing into the enemy's game so far as kinetic operations are concerned. Simply put, the experienced insurgent's strategy and tactics put him at an inherent advantage to our classically western forces.

    The Afghan's follow the general eastern model that's been around for thousands of years. This assumes you're outnumbered, you strike where it's advantageous, operate mostly at the small level, etc. Their TTP's and "unit" organization are geared towards the small unit fight, especially in regards towards the ambush and the defense. Their "unit" organization and training (almost all command power with TL/SL equivalents, doesn't train rigid battle drills, but most successful TTP's), etc. allow them to adapt the fastest when adaptation is key. In a straight fight, they have an immense advantage in maneuverability due to a lighter load.

    Our doctrine creates a large, concentrated force (especially with vehicles) that's easy to spot and hit (though admittedly very difficult to destroy), his heavily dependent on supporting fires and thus severely handicapped in fulfilling the light infantryman's job of closing with destroying the enemy. This creates several problems:

    *We spend a massive amount of money to achieve relatively little effect, thus giving an already reluctant nation further incentive to back out
    *We are more likely to cause civilian casualties
    *It is much harder for us to fully pursue/destroy the enemy and hold the rugged terrain in which he operates.

    The solution I propose is to create an eastern style kinetic force. Note that this is not SF. It is a bridge, of sorts. The ultimate goal would be a brigade size element that is capable of successfully conducting sustained ground combat operations in the squad/fire team level. While they could indeed engage in local training operations or SF/Ranger style raids, their primary task would be to act as hunter/killers in order to successfully clear and hold terrain.

    How To Raise the Force

    1) Appoint an officer with a minimum rank of COL as CO. Should have a track record of thinking outside the box and good coordinator/trainer IE he knows how to teach. Primary task is to get necessary support from chain of command.

    2) Recruit enough seasoned NCO's and field grade officers to make a platoon or at least a section. Guys from NTC/JRTC would be very useful here since they are already trained to act as the insurgents.

    3) Using studies of current and past insurgent TTP's, wargame and refine the force at home, then deploy it for 4-9months to get the kinks out.

    4) Return home. The previous members of the platoon now become trainers. Recruit lower level enlisted (PFC-Sergeant) who have either qualified Ranger or have had some combat experience. The rational for not going only for more experienced men is twofold. First, it would be too great a draw on other units. Second, these men are basically going into a new MOS, like 11B to 11C or 11X. They've proven themselves enough to be relied on, but they still need to be sponges to adapt rapidly. People might argue that they're not mature enough, but the insurgents regularly use very young men with basically no combat experience and turn them into experts. Granted, their life expectancy is horrid and they've most likely grown up in harsh 3rd world conditions. This is countered by the recruit's prior training/experience and by the superior training he will receive through the returned senior NCO's and officers. Recruiting should not be difficult. Just say: it's hard, no one's done it before, and you get to wear civies+grow out your hair in the field SF style. Sold, hook, line and sinker.

    Tactics

    *Basically the same as the insurgents, except they're not going to be terrorizing or really interacting with the populace any more than a normal infantry platoon. That would require more maturity and experience than we can give and is already being filled by other organizations.
    *Conducts continuous, small unit actions and patrols in an AO where they can become very familiar with the terrain.
    *Is entirely on foot. Avoids the roads and towns.
    *Heavy emphasis on marksmanship
    *Civilian clothes and haircuts to help blend in from a distance.

    Potential Problems & Solutions

    *Supply: traditionally such forces have relied upon the populace. This will be solved through the use of caches, distributed from a central FOB or aerially dropped.

    *Not Enough Firepower: I disagree. This force will be trained and mobile in feigned and tactical retreat to not be overwhelmed. Also, the insurgents manage to hold their own against us. Why cannot we do better with our training and technology?

    *Maturity of Soldiers: Again, I believe that, if the insurgents can do it, so can we. Initially, success will totally hinge upon careful selection. However, as the training process improves and the unit gains more experience, the implementation should become no more difficult than Ranger Bat or SF.

    Well, that's a rough summary of the ideas I've got bouncing around. Anyone got anything to add, critiques, etc. I'd love to hear some thoughts on how this could be done better or why it can't be done at all.

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    It sounds like you are advocating a form of distributed or de-centralized squad and platoon ops, except that you want to raise another unit to do it instead of training and using existing assets.

    Maybe that's a good idea and may be it isn't. But it seems like both the SOF and conventional infantry communities will be screaming about using manpower that they need.

    I'm going out on a limb here but.....if this idea has merit maybe it should be a PMC operating with more oversight from the military or intelligence community than companies like Blackwater have had up until now?
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    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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    It seems to me that, despite the fact that we routinely come out on top of direct engagements, we're playing into the enemy's game so far as kinetic operations are concerned. Simply put, the experienced insurgent's strategy and tactics put him at an inherent advantage to our classically western forces.
    Absolutely correct.

    Our doctrine creates a large, concentrated force (especially with vehicles) that's easy to spot and hit (though admittedly very difficult to destroy), his heavily dependent on supporting fires and thus severely handicapped in fulfilling the light infantryman's job of closing with destroying the enemy. This creates several problems:

    *We spend a massive amount of money to achieve relatively little effect, thus giving an already reluctant nation further incentive to back out
    *We are more likely to cause civilian casualties
    *It is much harder for us to fully pursue/destroy the enemy and hold the rugged terrain in which he operates.

    The solution I propose is to create an eastern style kinetic force.
    Also correct. However, I would submit that we CAN'T create an "eastern" style force due to the simple fact that we are not eastern. Militaries reflect the culture from which they arise. Our military reflects our culture, theirs reflects theirs. We can learn their lesson, but we can't be them.


    Two things about your proposed force. One good thing, one bad thing.

    The good thing: It's a fantastic idea. We need a force like that.

    The bad thing: You're almost 235 years too late. You have heard of the Marine Corps, right? That's exactly how we're supposed to be operating, and have operated in the past. Lately, we've just forgotten it.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Here comes the rain...

    I'm the Official Rainer Upon Parades...

    However, good news -- the forecast is for only light and scattered showers. As Xenophon said, you have a great idea. Not only the Marines but the Army used to operate in that mode. We all forgot how in the relentless pursuit of safety and mediocrity...

    I see some problems with your good idea. Cued to "How to raise the force:"

    (1) Get a LTC. COLs are the guardians of the Institution that is the Army. Most -- not all -- are able to think outside the box but know better than to do it out loud. LTCs will throw over the traces now and then.

    (2) Good on the size but don't get OCs (they may act as insurgents but it's scripted...). Get people from the 10th, 82d and 101st -- they're used to operating on foot. Why Field Grades? Makes no sense. I understand the Cadre aspect but many -- not all -- Field Grades will believe your effort is beneath their dignity. Cap your NCOs at SFC / PSG. There are MSGs and above that can and would do that but HRC will not let you pick and choose, they will force you to take what the pipeline offers, period. With SFCs and below, you've got a larger population and more flexibility. HRC might be told by someone at Vice Chief level or higher to especially man your unit on a trail basis but when that Godfather leaves, you'll be forced to revert to the pipeline for fills. I've seen almost a dozen 'special' fill units over the years -- only two or three have lasted more than two fill cycles (and they are constantly under threat). Makes HRC's job harder...

    (3) Good idea.

    (4) Why Rangers? Ranger school graduates prove they can tough out things and survive mind games, be good M240 gunners and not a lot more. Combat experience is good -- provided it's mostly Infantry experience (that foot mobile thing again...). You're right on the age aspect. You want motivated folks regardless of 'qualifications.' Those are often a promise that goes unfulfilled. Motivated people OTOH will keep going. You can train most anyone who's motivated -- sometimes it is impossible to motivate the most highly trained or qualified individuals...

    Your Tactics are okay. Careful with the civilian clothes bit, you might have a PR problem there and it's not really necessary. Caches will work. Firepower is adequate. Maturity is vastly overrated as a direct combat attribute. For SF and some jobs / units it has merit, for what you propose, combat go-getters, not so much. The immortality of 19-20 year olds is a better combat multiplier than the maturity of old married guys who want to go home to Momma.

    What you have suggested is what ALL the maneuver battalions should be doing.

    They are precluded from doing that due to excessive concern for casualties (all types, both sides), inadequate number of Troops for the area to be covered (hence the excessive use of vehicles in a typical US Army effort to substitute 'technology' for training and manpower), Marginally trained elements that knowledgeable commanders are afraid to trust out on their own. Plus a lot of other little things along that line. Most have some validity but are overdone due to excessive caution. Essentially, the ability to train and do what you suggest and I have written here and to do those things reasonably well exists in every BCT in the Army -- so the capability is there. The will to do it is an entirely different issue.

    That's the sort of thing maneuver units were doing in Viet Nam for the first couple of years, after that, excessive caution took over. After Viet Nam, those really elementary skills you cite that should be prevalent in any decent Infantry Battalion -- any competent Infantryman -- migrated, in the US Army, to the Special Warfare community (it's a long, sad and not pretty story ) and, as Xenophon said, we forgot how to what we get paid to do...

    Good thinking. Don't stop!
    Last edited by Ken White; 07-11-2010 at 02:08 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IVIaedhros View Post
    The solution I propose is to create an eastern style kinetic force. Note that this is not SF. It is a bridge, of sorts. The ultimate goal would be a brigade size element that is capable of successfully conducting sustained ground combat operations in the squad/fire team level. While they could indeed engage in local training operations or SF/Ranger style raids, their primary task would be to act as hunter/killers in order to successfully clear and hold terrain.
    More rain, and the devil in the detail.

    What is this "Eastern Style?" ...and has it ever worked? Also I am very wary of operating at the squad/fire team level. Why? It creates no benefit - that I can see.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Well, where to start. I won't be as gentle as Ken or Wilf:

    Quote Originally Posted by IVIaedhros View Post
    Summary: Our organization and doctrine plays into the enemy's hands. We can counter this by creating a force patterned after classical eastern forces, while still retaining many of our greatest advantages.
    An "Eastern Force"? Sounds like a bit of the H John Poole kool-aid. Victor Davis Hanson tried to run with the "meta-cultural conflict" ball and, as far as I am concerned, it was debunked by John Lynn. I had a run at this with a fellow I worked with - the Afghan and his "Eastern Way of Warfare", drawing obscure links between Pashtun irregulars and Sun Tzu. Sorry, but the Pathan has more in common with the Scottish Highlander than with the People's Liberation Army.

    Simply put, the experienced insurgent's strategy and tactics put him at an inherent advantage to our classically western forces.

    The Afghan's follow the general eastern model that's been around for thousands of years. This assumes you're outnumbered, you strike where it's advantageous, operate mostly at the small level, etc. Their TTP's and "unit" organization are geared towards the small unit fight, especially in regards towards the ambush and the defense. Their "unit" organization and training (almost all command power with TL/SL equivalents, doesn't train rigid battle drills, but most successful TTP's), etc. allow them to adapt the fastest when adaptation is key. In a straight fight, they have an immense advantage in maneuverability due to a lighter load.
    I think you're buying a little too much into the Quetta Shura's press releases. Afghan insurgents really are ####ty tactical fighters. They have three things going for them - they know their turf, their determined and they know kill zones. Other than that, I wouldn't put them on such a lofty "small unit fighter" plane as you do. They tend to die fast and hard if they haven't beat a hasty retreat once the initial surprise comes to an end.

    Our doctrine creates a large, concentrated force (especially with vehicles) that's easy to spot and hit (though admittedly very difficult to destroy), his heavily dependent on supporting fires and thus severely handicapped in fulfilling the light infantryman's job of closing with destroying the enemy. This creates several problems:

    *We spend a massive amount of money to achieve relatively little effect, thus giving an already reluctant nation further incentive to back out
    *We are more likely to cause civilian casualties
    *It is much harder for us to fully pursue/destroy the enemy and hold the rugged terrain in which he operates.
    I agree that "close with and destroy" sometimes gets turned into "standoff and pummel (even if he's not there)", but that is another issue.

    The solution I propose is to create an eastern style kinetic force. Note that this is not SF. It is a bridge, of sorts. The ultimate goal would be a brigade size element that is capable of successfully conducting sustained ground combat operations in the squad/fire team level. While they could indeed engage in local training operations or SF/Ranger style raids, their primary task would be to act as hunter/killers in order to successfully clear and hold terrain.
    Sounds like patrolling - who's to say the Infantry don't (or can't) do this now?

    Guys from NTC/JRTC would be very useful here since they are already trained to act as the insurgents.
    Tsk, tsk - your forgetting your Galula. Read page 51 (PSI edition).

    People might argue that they're not mature enough, but the insurgents regularly use very young men with basically no combat experience and turn them into experts.
    Expert? You mean like the guy whos limbs we fished out of the tree when he tried (and failed) to put the IED on one of our routes or the guys who fired RPGs 25 feet over my section's heads, getting the attention of the gunner and a nearby Apache. Again, I think you give too much to the Afghan insurgent's tactical prowess.

    *Conducts continuous, small unit actions and patrols in an AO where they can become very familiar with the terrain.
    Who's to say this isn't being done. I know my Platoon conducted 125+ patrols that match this description.

    *Is entirely on foot.
    See above.

    Avoids the roads and towns.
    Why - that's where the insurgents are. What would your hunter/killer force do; roam around the desert and chit chat with the odd Kuchi on a camel?

    *Heavy emphasis on marksmanship
    Agreed, but finding someone once they've shot at you is very hard in this area.

    *Civilian clothes and haircuts to help blend in from a distance.
    Careful with this one. Your force is liable to get shot up by the closest ANSF patrol. As well, local garb and a beard don't fool the locals for too long. Read the assessment of the first CIA officer in country (I can't remember the book name) - people kept figuring him for an Arab due to his foreign mannerisms and local dress. Little things like how you take a piss give you away from a mile - seriously.

    *Supply: traditionally such forces have relied upon the populace. This will be solved through the use of caches, distributed from a central FOB or aerially dropped.
    Who needs caches and air drops - just give them money. I know I used money to "stimulate the local economy" and offer up a fresh alternative to rations (ANA goat and rice - yum). Be careful with water - some of the stuff is so bad that even after run through some sort of filtration, guys still go down; some of the bugs in Afghanistan are permanent.

    Caches will be found and plundered. Careful with air drops - a fellow Pl Comd had his air drop land on the insurgent compound a bit down the road from his COP.

    *Not Enough Firepower: I disagree. This force will be trained and mobile in feigned and tactical retreat to not be overwhelmed. Also, the insurgents manage to hold their own against us. Why cannot we do better with our training and technology?
    If your unit can throw its weapons in the field and blend in with the locals, then I guess you can do it. How you could expect this to happen is beyond me.

    Well, that's a rough summary of the ideas I've got bouncing around. Anyone got anything to add, critiques, etc. I'd love to hear some thoughts on how this could be done better or why it can't be done at all.
    Nice presentation with smooth flow, but I don't buy any of the assumptions you've based your proposal on. Have fun on Ranger Course though!

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    You've got the right passion to try to identify the problems and drive solutions, so good on you for invigorating us old coots.

    The longstanding issue with your recommendations is that the US military has some pretty heavy baggage it would need to drop in order to implement much of what you mention.

    A degree if the other functions you have addressed comes from Asymmetric Warfar Group and their assessment/training/employment methodology.

    As Ken said, keep thinking and never settle for the status quo.

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    Which 'eastern style armies' are you looking at? The ones I study are all Western style armies, and the others are following suit after following Soviet style tactics and TO&Es.

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    Well, if this "Eastern"/Western thing comes from Poole, then I've got a few words to say about this smoke grenade.


    Overall, it reminds me a lot of German tactics against Soviet partisans. Specifically the early Jagdkommando tactic.
    Actually, it's pretty much the same.

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    Wow, actual replies, and very thoughtful ones. I certainly wasn't expecting that...thanks to everyone, whether you disagreed or not, for the insightful input. I'll go ahead and just address Infanteer's strikes, since they all at least sound spot on to my untrained ear and he echoes almost everyone else.

    An "Eastern Force"? Sounds like a bit of the H John Poole kool-aid. Victor Davis Hanson tried...but the Pathan has more in common with the Scottish Highlander than with the People's Liberation Army.
    Hehe, always good to see I'm not the only avid reader and, in this case, I'm probably going to have to say that I jumped the gun early. Yes, reading Poole (Tactics of the Crescent Moon, to be specific) was a big influence in this since he painted such a grim picture, but offered little in the way of what I saw as true solutions. I wanted to see if I could think up at least the semblance of a practical response to this and other issues that have been raised.

    From reading Poole and others, I define "Eastern Force" in this case as
    *Operates in very small, independent cells with the same intent
    *Does not depend on vehicles or non-organic supporting fires and is very light weight (EX: has kevlar vest like cops, not IBA variants)
    *Stays out in terrain (I acknowledge that avoiding towns is probably very foolish) and relies heavily on ambush

    My main thought is that this force is to be used to deny enemy access to the backcountry and be able to more effectively shut down their suspected ratlines and areas of travel. For example, we know they like to ambush a lot along a certain road. Well, a conventional infantry unit wouldn't be able to deny the insurgents the same amount of area as this one would simply because it would be more dispersed.

    I think you're buying a little too much into the Quetta Shura's press releases. Afghan insurgents really are ####ty tactical fighters. They have three things going for them - they know their turf, their determined and they know kill zones. Other than that, I wouldn't put them on such a lofty "small unit fighter" plane as you do. They tend to die fast and hard if they haven't beat a hasty retreat once the initial surprise comes to an end.
    Likely enough, I say, however, many more people than Poole acknowledge that the best of the insurgents are excellent tactical fighters. The thing is, unlike us, they're not all coming from the school house and don't have the luxury of NCO mentors. I believe that, in terms of "doctrine" (if you can really call it that), they're operating methods are superior, at least for certain situations.

    On the patrolling comment: it is patrolling, I think I even said it was at some point. The difference is there would be even more emphasis on avoiding built up FOB's and the like + you break up the action down even further so that fire to buddy teams are the primary fighters, not squad and platoon level.

    On marksmanship and loosing the enemy: very true I imagine. I like that that there is an increased emphasis in getting squad designated marksmen (I think that's the proper name...). I'd then add that we should properly outfit this hypothetical unit with more distance oriented weapons than the standard M4's or at least make excellent scopes the rule...no idea if ya'll have already been doing this in-country.

    On uniforms: good points by all. My original was, at least, in the backcountry you wouldn't be operating with friendly fire risks. And while it's only a superficial veneer, I thought that it could at least fool the casual glance.

    Who needs caches and air drops - just give them money.
    Excellent points on the weaknesses of the cache. I do think it's still a viable method, but I no longer believe it can be a primary one. From what I've heard from a recent newsletter, using our money to "stimulate" the local economy works well so that's definitely a viable option.

    If your unit can throw its weapons in the field and blend in with the locals, then I guess you can do it. How you could expect this to happen is beyond me.
    Obviously throwing weapons isn't going to fly. However, as you pointed out, it's very easy to loose people in the terrain so trying to blend into the local population is necessary, nor would I expect us to be able to. Instead, I would either make the common to tactic to be a baited ambush where you retreat into a fire sack of some sort or you go back to your neighborhood conventional unit or you simply fade into the terrain.

    Nice presentation with smooth flow, but I don't buy any of the assumptions you've based your proposal on. Have fun on Ranger Course though!
    Hehe, well at least I know I'll be able to wow the fobbits with my PowerPoint. Not sure how much "fun" is possible to be had in Ranger School, but I'm definitely anxious to begin.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the helpful comments. I had no idea about the old Marine Corp and Army operating methods so I'll definitely be checking those links out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Well, if this "Eastern"/Western thing comes from Poole, then I've got a few words to say about this smoke grenade.


    Overall, it reminds me a lot of German tactics against Soviet partisans. Specifically the early Jagdkommando tactic.
    Actually, it's pretty much the same.
    I'd definitely want to hear more then. Also, you're going to have to fill me in on the Jagdkommando's, as a quick google search reveals only that they're similar in concept to our (the USA's) SF teams, which is horribly broad b/c they mean SF as a whole and not just the Green Berets.

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    Also, this would be distinct from any SF that I know of simply because it'll be using more men and it's not relying so heavily on extremely experienced NCO's to provide the bulk of the manpower.

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    Default Is this ....

    from IVI
    While they could indeed engage in local training operations or SF/Ranger style raids, their primary task would be to act as hunter/killers in order to successfully clear and hold terrain.
    self-conflicting ?

    It would seem that the emphasis for hunter/killers would be to "clear" enemy personnel (esp. military and political cadre infrastructure), and "hold" local population groups ("holding" in the sense of exercising indirect control via popular mobilization). Holding terrain seems contrary to your basic concept.

    You may find the discussion in this thread, Is it time for psuedo operations in A-Stan?... (started by who else than Jon Custis), useful in developing your hunter/killer concept (whether "Eastern", "Western" or whatever works in the end).

    Be forewarned that when you get into unconventional direct action operations, the legal intensity increases. So, you had best plan on learning some applicable operational law along the way. There are legal pitfalls in these operations (and what clothes you wear is only one of them). A risk-averse SJA will kill your plan in a hurry.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I sent a PM about Poole.

    About Jagdkommandos:

    The German army had a successful recipe against Eastern European partisans, but it usually lacked the right (young) men for it.
    The concept included area sweeps (such as 3 divisions sweeping a 30x50km area, with all men in units of less than 80 men each (combat troops and support troops) if the area was too infested with partisans. No heavy weapons (apparently not even 81mm mortars).

    The more regular concept for average partisan problems included - besides security troops for infrastructure protection - two components:
    1) Patrols on horse or off-road vehicles
    2) Jagdkommandos

    The latter were meant to be 40-60 men strong and supposed to live, hunt, ambush, recce and destroy the enemy like partisans.
    The leaders had to meet special requirements. The most successful ones were so-called "outsiders", soldiers whose personnel files included remarks such as "difficult subordinate".
    The focus wasn't on combined arms, but on "nature people" instinct - preferred were apparently civilian hunters, forest workers and such.

    The equipment was limited to (assault) rifles, submachineguns, hand grenades, food for several days, backpacks. Machine guns and mortars were usually not necessary. Light radios and recce riders were the means of communication.

    The patrols (Jagdstreife) were meant to find the enemy, then the hunting teams (Jagdkommando) were supposed to intercept the hostiles and ambush them.

    The effect was that their combined employment took away the freedom of action from partisans and turn them into hunted ones.



    This all is from one book published in the mid-50's by an ex-officer (with help of others) who was responsible for German Army tactical lessons learned in the general staff (OKH); Eike Middeldorf.

    The problem with this Jagdkommando concept was of course that suitable personnel was short in '42-'45 even in front-line units, and rear area security units were typically manned with old (35+ years) or foreign soldiers, often with captured equipment.
    The only infantry divisions available for sweeps were typically second-rate allied divisions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IVIaedhros View Post
    Summary: Our organization and doctrine plays into the enemy's hands. We can counter this by creating a force patterned after classical eastern forces, while still retaining many of our greatest advantages.
    If you read the replies below you will note that some people fear change and new ideas more than they fear the Taliban. So be careful of using words which can be used as a means of distracting from the real meaning behind your post. This being the use of "eastern". Think of another more generic name to describe your concept.

    ***First of all, let me give a general disclaimer: while in the infantry, I am still only a newly minted 2LT with no prior service, waiting to go to Ranger School. I make no claims to being anything close to an expert. Now that that's out of the way...
    A lot of us here were a 2LT at some point in time. Some just went with the flow while others put their hand up. I see a lot of myself (35 years ago) in your post and am happy to see there are still thinking 2LTs out there. For heavens sake don't let anyone pee on your battery.

    Looking back at me at your stage I would say I needed to learn to sell my ideas better (they call it marketing these days). So learn from the responses both positive and negative and maybe even rewrite your piece to maintain your essential idea but deal with the questions and negatives so as to close those doors.

    Now here is the killer. If you couldn't be bothered to rewrite and refine your idea then you have a problem. Anyone can throw bright ideas into the air and then walk away. If you are serious you will realise this piece of yours is merely version 0.1 of a number of versions to come. So take your piece you posted here and save it somewhere under FireWithFireV0.1. The journey has begun.

    And remember too that 2LTs don't make the massive changes, they merely provide the spark that lights the fire. So this is only your first idea (of many to come) at the beginning of a long career so accept that some LtCol, Maj, Capt may actually run with this idea and just be happy that you were the spark.

    It seems to me that, despite the fact that we routinely come out on top of direct engagements, we're playing into the enemy's game so far as kinetic operations are concerned. Simply put, the experienced insurgent's strategy and tactics put him at an inherent advantage to our classically western forces.
    They are only at an advantage because we rotate troops through at a speed too rapid to allow them to understand METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Terrain and weather, Troops and support available—Time available, Civilians) and thereby don't become ruthlessly efficient in killing the enemy.

    The rotation issue and the use of semi-permanent troops has been discussed before here and it near frightened most of the contributors here to death. PTSD they screamed, burn-out etc etc. 101 reasons why the same failed rotation systems needed to be maintained. You will face the same response from many quarters. Be prepared for that.

    The bottom line is that you either flood the battle field with your own troops at a ratio of 100:1 or you start to think and act smart.

    I suggest that what is needed is to seize the initiative away from the Taliban and to achieve that the restrictions placed on ISAF forces need to be removed to set the military free. At the moment operations seem to be planned more on what they are not allowed to do than what options are available to be used. Its a desperate situation. You have identified it.

    The Afghan's follow the general eastern model that's been around for thousands of years. This assumes you're outnumbered, you strike where it's advantageous, operate mostly at the small level, etc. Their TTP's and "unit" organization are geared towards the small unit fight, especially in regards towards the ambush and the defense. Their "unit" organization and training (almost all command power with TL/SL equivalents, doesn't train rigid battle drills, but most successful TTP's), etc. allow them to adapt the fastest when adaptation is key. In a straight fight, they have an immense advantage in maneuverability due to a lighter load.
    Try Mao 101 : When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.

    (And if you have more time read Mao's Basic Tactics)

    My belief is that soldiers with the best basic training have the best ability to innovate tactically. Warfare does not come naturally you have to work at it constantly to keep your men alive.

    Learn the basics well and apply METT-TC properly and you stand a chance of outsmarting the Taliban.

    Our doctrine creates a large, concentrated force (especially with vehicles) that's easy to spot and hit (though admittedly very difficult to destroy), his heavily dependent on supporting fires and thus severely handicapped in fulfilling the light infantryman's job of closing with destroying the enemy. This creates several problems:

    *We spend a massive amount of money to achieve relatively little effect, thus giving an already reluctant nation further incentive to back out
    *We are more likely to cause civilian casualties
    *It is much harder for us to fully pursue/destroy the enemy and hold the rugged terrain in which he operates.

    The solution I propose is to create an eastern style kinetic force. Note that this is not SF. It is a bridge, of sorts. The ultimate goal would be a brigade size element that is capable of successfully conducting sustained ground combat operations in the squad/fire team level. While they could indeed engage in local training operations or SF/Ranger style raids, their primary task would be to act as hunter/killers in order to successfully clear and hold terrain.
    A large force is easy to avoid.

    Small forces or small teams would need to rely on fire support other wise they risk being taken out piecemeal. Remember if they see you operating in smaller groups they will tend to concentrate to take you out and then melt away into the mountains.

    Point 1: Read McCuen. His applicable 'golden rule' here is:

    Winning and maintaining support for the war on the home front(s) and in the international community. Doing so means maintaining legitimacy and avoiding losses through incompetence. McCuen covered somewhat under this thread.

    Point 2: To avoid unnecessary civilian casualties one has to separate the enemy from the civilians. Easier said than done. Through correctly applying METT-TC a way should be found.

    Point 3: Hold terrain? That's the biggest current error. McCuen has told them (but they don't seem to hear) that instead of "clear, hold and build" it should be “clear, control, and counter-organize the population”. Smart guy this McCuen.

    (Carried over to second post to reduce length)
    Last edited by JMA; 07-13-2010 at 08:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IVIaedhros View Post
    How To Raise the Force

    1) Appoint an officer with a minimum rank of COL as CO. Should have a track record of thinking outside the box and good coordinator/trainer IE he knows how to teach. Primary task is to get necessary support from chain of command.
    I support Ken's comment.

    This concept needs a champion. A general with a bunch of stars. Then you are looking for a "fire-ball" of a young officer. Lt Col or promote a Major if he is the right kind of guy.

    2) Recruit enough seasoned NCO's and field grade officers to make a platoon or at least a section. Guys from NTC/JRTC would be very useful here since they are already trained to act as the insurgents.
    I support Ken's comment.

    Get the best instructor NCOs (the old and bold) for the training phase. Give them a bunch of young officers and sgts... they will know what to do. The basics, the basics, the basics.

    3) Using studies of current and past insurgent TTP's, wargame and refine the force at home, then deploy it for 4-9months to get the kinks out.
    Yes, by using the old and bold NCOs as instructors for as long as it takes. Then deploy to Afghanistan and continue the training there until operationally competent. Then go have a ball.

    Note: Am I following you correctly here? Is this first deployment an all chiefs and no indians affair?

    4) Return home. The previous members of the platoon now become trainers. Recruit lower level enlisted (PFC-Sergeant) who have either qualified Ranger or have had some combat experience. The rational for not going only for more experienced men is twofold. First, it would be too great a draw on other units. Second, these men are basically going into a new MOS, like 11B to 11C or 11X. They've proven themselves enough to be relied on, but they still need to be sponges to adapt rapidly. People might argue that they're not mature enough, but the insurgents regularly use very young men with basically no combat experience and turn them into experts. Granted, their life expectancy is horrid and they've most likely grown up in harsh 3rd world conditions. This is countered by the recruit's prior training/experience and by the superior training he will receive through the returned senior NCO's and officers. Recruiting should not be difficult. Just say: it's hard, no one's done it before, and you get to wear civies+grow out your hair in the field SF style. Sold, hook, line and sinker.
    Why not by the time the "leader group" returns home the 'old and bold' Snr NCOs have men ready (and trained) to allow the unit to be properly formed.

    Merely put it all together get familiar with the organisation and then ship the whole caboodle off back to Afghanistan. Same sort of familiarisation training in-theater for as long as it needs then off to war.

    Ken's correct, don't get hung up on Rangers (as good as they may be) and don't expect combat experience. After the first flush of newbies to fill the unit let the unit grow by introducing a trickle of new guys who can be absorbed 10% at a time to maintain the levels of experience being built up as you go along. Promote from within where you can and if necessary send your NCOs and potential NCOs back for training.

    And don't forget to send the stateside Snr NCO instructors out for the odd familiarisation trip and ask them to try to keep it down to 8 beers a night

    Tactics

    *Basically the same as the insurgents, except they're not going to be terrorizing or really interacting with the populace any more than a normal infantry platoon. That would require more maturity and experience than we can give and is already being filled by other organizations.
    *Conducts continuous, small unit actions and patrols in an AO where they can become very familiar with the terrain.
    *Is entirely on foot. Avoids the roads and towns.
    *Heavy emphasis on marksmanship
    *Civilian clothes and haircuts to help blend in from a distance.
    Let this evolve. Its hard work and a continuous process. Mistakes made by small teams normally translate into KIA.

    For heavens sake you don't want your unit to become attractive for the wrong reasons i.e. growing a beard and wearing their kit and carrying their weapons. Watch out for this.

    Potential Problems & Solutions

    *Supply: traditionally such forces have relied upon the populace. This will be solved through the use of caches, distributed from a central FOB or aerially dropped.

    *Not Enough Firepower: I disagree. This force will be trained and mobile in feigned and tactical retreat to not be overwhelmed. Also, the insurgents manage to hold their own against us. Why cannot we do better with our training and technology?

    *Maturity of Soldiers: Again, I believe that, if the insurgents can do it, so can we. Initially, success will totally hinge upon careful selection. However, as the training process improves and the unit gains more experience, the implementation should become no more difficult than Ranger Bat or SF.

    Well, that's a rough summary of the ideas I've got bouncing around. Anyone got anything to add, critiques, etc. I'd love to hear some thoughts on how this could be done better or why it can't be done at all.
    Supply: Anything and whatever you can think of. Obviously you booby trap your caches or you can leave stuff you want them to find (dirty tricks stuff

    Firepower: Carry light plus a few claymore mines to protect you when static and rely of fire support from air and arty and whatever is close by. You are right your tactics will save you and once you have been cornered once you tend to get damn clever at not being found again.

    Maturity: We are talking about the maturity that counts on the battlefield (and not what mischief he can and often does get up to stateside when back amongst the civvies) There is nothing wrong with the "combat" maturity of a 18/9 year old who has 20 odd contacts under his belt involving a few hairy moments. In the end less about training and more about reaction under enemy fire. We are all different. You want to find the guys who get a buzz from being in combat.

    You need to pick up the ball and run with it now. As I suggested rewrite your ideas into a version 0.2 and float that here too.

    Look for a better way to rotate the troops to achieve better operational continuity. Pick up on the discussion on this thread from about post #165

    Here is an effective 'stick' from the Rhodesian war days (I'm not in it) comprising two 18 year olds and two 19 year olds. The officer (standing right) was 18 at the time.


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Supply: Anything and whatever you can think of. Obviously you booby trap your caches or you can leave stuff you want them to find (dirty tricks stuff
    There's a huge difference between inserting "Eldest Son" ammunition or "40 On/offs" into the enemy supply chain, and blowing the legs off an 11-year-old who went to steal some stuff from your cache.

    Caches are something requiring quite a lot of thought and a good deal of planning. Usefulness is very context dependant. I'm not sure they are viable in the Green Zone, or anywhere near where you get population movement.

    Firepower: Carry light plus a few claymore mines to protect you when static and rely of fire support from air and arty and whatever is close by. You are right your tactics will save you and once you have been cornered once you tend to get damn clever at not being found again.
    Is lack of Firepower an issue??
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Default we're not using our technologies in Afghanistan properly

    one of the videos i saw in the last week was one taken by the Afghanistan Al Quaida forces as they assaulted a pro/US military base in the mountains.

    it was a side and frontal assault up steep slopes with automatic weapons and RPG support. they were 'owned' as the video discussion mentioned because the US called in A-10 support as the battle progressed. quite a few of the militants were killed or wounded... you could see them being carried back from the front lines by their forces.

    anyway...

    due to the rugged territory and hills of that war front, they move almost exclusively on foot or in small fighting forces and carry their weapons on backpacks or in hand.

    might i suggest the force multiplier WE need in this is a significantly larger air surveillance presence in AWACS , "Joint STARS" , or UAV flights. this is especially needed with IR system detection of such forces as they move in the terrain at night or by day.

    with our air eyes, there is no reason to ever be surprised by an attack or by an ambush. we would have seen them as they moved, deployed, and
    set up for assaults.

    one of the other posters here mentioned;
    ================================================== ===

    '...Afghan insurgents really are ####ty tactical fighters. They have three things going for them - they know their turf, their determined and they know kill zones. Other than that, I wouldn't put them on such a lofty "small unit fighter" plane as you do. They tend to die fast and hard if they haven't beat a hasty retreat once the initial surprise comes to an end....'
    ================================================== ====

    they do not have the eyes over the battlefield, they have eyes on the ground. we have an advantage there and must use it to our purpose and also to defend our forces against local 'tactical' battles with high attrition rates.
    we may not know the turf, but we surely can see it.
    that's a major advantage.

    and knowing where the enemy is and their movements to the battle field or attack points, we can avoid kill zones and ambush situations if we use these technologies before our troops move and after they are in an area.

    and another thought. the terrain in those mountains provides few relatively travel routes, even for militants on foot. these foot routes are choke points and kill zones we can use against the enemy.

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    How easily would a small foot force like this be able to operate at length in Afghanistan, where (depending on the location) it safe to presume:

    • unarmed Taliban spotters mixed in with (and largely indistinguishable from) the local population, on foot or motorcycle
    • Taliban spotters on very high ground (sometimes with vistas extending many km) equipped with some degree of optics
    • widespread use among local Taliban units and spotters of various HF/VHF comms, plus various non-RF signals and communications methods


    ... or is it presumed most movement would be at night?
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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