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Thread: New Rules for New Enemies

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default New Rules for New Enemies

    October Armed Forces Journal - New Rules for New Enemies by LTC John Nagl and LTC Paul Yingling.

    ... Insurgent tactics are appealing to both nonstate actors and to states wishing to harm the U.S. Nonstate actors and weak states wishing to harm our country have little choice but to adopt insurgent tactics. These groups lack the means to generate conventional combat power. However, even states with the resources to generate conventional combat power find insurgent tactics effective. Great-power wars are costly, risky and are prone to escalation. When one or more of the great powers possesses nuclear weapons, the dangers of direct conventional combat are potentially catastrophic. To avoid the stalemate created by nuclear deterrence, great powers turn to proxies employing insurgent tactics. For those wishing to harm America, insurgent tactics are far safer and more effective than facing us in conventional combat. During the latter stages of the Cold War, the Soviet Union avoided direct military confrontation with the U.S., preferring instead to sponsor anti-American insurgencies in Vietnam, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The U.S. later employed similar tactics, supporting insurgencies against Soviet clients in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua and elsewhere. Today, there is growing evidence that Iran is supporting anti-American elements in Iraq.

    Although insurgents and terrorists operate in small cells, they are capable of inflicting great harm. The greatest national security threat facing the U.S. is not a conventional attack by a foreign military power, but rather a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction. On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida murdered nearly 3,000 Americans by turning civilian airliners into weapons. Had these terrorists procured weapons of mass destruction, the death toll would have been greater. Moreover, there is a clear link between insurgency abroad and terrorism on American soil. Terrorist groups such as al-Qaida seek to create rogue regimes such as the Taliban in Afghanistan or failed states such as Somalia and Iraq. In these ungoverned spaces around the globe, terrorists generate combat power for use against the U.S. and other free societies. Because free societies rely on the relatively free movement of people and goods across and within national boundaries, it is cost prohibitive to defend every vulnerable point. The best way to prevent terrorism at home is to deny terrorists the sanctuary they seek in rogue and failed states around the globe...

    To win the Long War, the Army must change its culture to one that demands and rewards adaptation. This cultural change will serve as the catalyst for a comprehensive redesign of doctrine, organizations, training, leader education, material development and soldier recruitment.

    To win the Long War, the Army must develop a more adaptive organizational culture. To create such a culture, the Army must change its focus from a centralized, specialized focus on major conventional wars to a more decentralized and less specialized focus on full-spectrum operations. This shift in organizational culture cannot occur within existing organizations indeed these organizations can be an impediment to change. The best way to change the organizational culture of the Army is to change the pathways for professional advancement within the officer corps. The Army will become more adaptive only when being adaptive offers the surest path to promotion.

    To create a culture of innovation within the Army, we must develop a new pathway to success that is not beholden to any branch. The old bromide is true give a man a hammer and he sees every problem as a nail. Human beings understand problems in the context of the tools available to solve them. A culture that fosters innovation is one that develops leaders who are equally comfortable applying the elements of combat power and the specialized capabilities of the various branches. Furthermore, the development of this generalized expertise must be rewarded through promotion and command selection the surest means the Army has to communicate which skills, knowledge and abilities it prizes most highly.

    Toward that end, the Army should consider abolishing branch distinctions among field-grade officers for most within the operational career field. Under the current model, an officer remains in his basic branch until he retires or is promoted to the rank of general officer. This lifelong branch affiliation narrows an officer's perspective and limits his familiarity with capabilities outside his branch. The new model for career advancement should terminate branch affiliation for most officers in the operational career field at the rank of captain. A captain who commands with distinction within his basic branch should have the opportunity to command again in another branch. Officers who command successfully in two organizations from two different branches maneuver and logistics, fires and intelligence, etc. are those most suited to command battalions and brigades. The pathway to high command should be reserved for officers who demonstrate a facility with a variety of tools, both lethal and nonlethal. While there would still be a significant need for specialized officers, the surest pathway to high command ought to lie open to the adaptive generalist over the narrow specialist.

    To win the Long War, the Army must embrace the combined-arms battalion (CAB) as the basic building block for tactical operations and develop a flatter organizational structure. The development of modular brigade combat teams is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. The current organization is too hierarchical and too specialized to operate most effectively in the Long War...

    To win the Long War, the Army must educate leaders to think critically and comprehensively regarding the application of all elements of national power. Destroying our enemies' capacity for organized resistance is necessary but not sufficient to deny terrorists and insurgents the permissive conditions they require to sow instability. To eliminate or prevent the emergence of terrorist sanctuaries, Army leaders must possess the intellectual tools necessary to foster host-nation political and economic development. The development of capable and credible political and economic institutions denies terrorists the ungoverned spaces they need to thrive. Such development can be fostered only by highly educated leaders. Some look elsewhere in the Executive Branch for this expertise, and there are efforts underway to improve both capacity and capability for stabilization and reconstruction tasks in the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development; however, it is our soldiers who will pay the price if we count on others to perform these essential tasks that only the Army has the resources to implement.

    COIN is graduate-level warfare practiced at the lowest echelons of command. Small units are often responsible for fostering political development and economic reconstruction within their areas of operation. These tasks are essential for effective counterinsurgency. Building effective political and economic institutions denies insurgents support from the population, making them easy prey for security forces. However, the typical company commander has neither the professional education nor the language skills necessary to accomplish these tasks. While there are many gifted amateurs in our formations performing heroically, the Army cannot rely on improvisation for mission-essential tasks. Company-level commanders ought to have undergraduate-level education in economics and politics and language training prior to commanding in a COIN environment. Field-grade officers require more advanced training in these disciplines and skills, as their challenges in COIN are correspondingly more difficult. The education of noncommissioned officers must change as well. NCOs must receive language training comparable to that of officers, as our sergeants are most often those in direct contact with civilian populations and host-nation security forces. NCOs ought to have at least some undergraduate-level education in relevant disciplines to complement and keep pace with the efforts of their officers...

    To win the Long War, soldiers must treat non-combatants with respect while at the same time act aggressively and independently to defeat our enemies. Balancing aggressiveness and restraint is certainly stressful and difficult, but it is not impossible for intelligent and disciplined soldiers. Effective counterinsurgency requires security forces to isolate insurgents from the population. To cut off insurgents from the physical and psychological support provided by civilian populations, security forces must earn the respect and trust of the host-nation population. Security forces earn trust and respect when they treat non-combatants with dignity and in accordance with host-nation laws and internationally accepted norms. Such behavior is not only a moral imperative but also an operational necessity. Treating non-combatants with respect increases access to human intelligence, fosters participation in political processes and ethnic/sectarian reconciliation and encourages risk-taking and investment necessary for economic reconstruction...
    Much more at the link...

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Very interesting article, although I feel I must (in relation to this thread comment on one of the authors' statements.

    When they say
    During the Plains Indian Wars, many of the tribes opposing America's westward expansion adopted decentralized hit-and-run tactics to terrorize settlers. In response to these threats, the U.S. Cavalry abandoned the large-scale tactics of the Civil War in favor of small-unit operations. Cavalry troops and squadrons conducted area security operations to protect settlers dispersed over wide areas of the frontier. Cavalry squadrons were combined-arms formations that contained intelligence collectors and cultural advisers (then called scouts) as well as maneuver forces and an organic indirect fires capability. This decentralized approach was necessary to ensure that these organizations possessed the tools they needed to bring security to the frontier.
    this is only partly true. Of all the frontier army commanders, only Nelson Miles regularly took artillery with him, and he was an infantry officer by trade (colonel of the 5th Infantry) and not a cavalryman. In truth, the cavalry commanders tended to dislike taking artillery (combined arms) as they felt it slowed them down. Units also tended to operate in an "either/or" configuration: using either infantry or cavalry as the main striking arms. When infantry accompanied a cavalry column they were usually used to provide security for the supply trains and not as a main striking force. Scouts played a role, but it was most prominent with George Crook and less so with other commanders (one being Ranald Mackenzie, arguably the most successful of the frontier army officers). The strategy of force dispersal was also forced on the army by events (a very small base force and a large number of garrisons required for what were often political reasons - much like today... ). It was not so much a conscious choice as something that was required by events.

    This "historical correction" aside, I am glad to see some officers finally looking to the frontier army for some historical context and examples. I've been working on an article about army operations in Arizona between 1860 and 1870 that ties in with some of this, and have also done something in the past regarding the operations tempo of a frontier army regiment. A very interesting field once you get past the Custer fans and foes....

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Small Units

    Among my pet rocks, the one most fondled is the issue of transformation and small units. I wrote a piece for Mil Review a couple of years ago; to get it published I had to sell it to the Mil Review editors as something truly related to transformation and therefore worthy.

    Nagl and company address this issue and that is a good thing. Altjough I agree with Steve on the US Frontier Wars analogy; Nagl is an Armor officer so he would think Cavalry, not necessarily a bad thing. I still like the flexibilty and combat power we built into the ACRs.

    But getting back to the issue of small units, the real issue is not simply numbers. It is experience. We have long equated small unit leadership with junior leadership, even as we add ever increasing loads on those same small units and their same junior leaders.

    We have wasted the rank of Major for years and we need to change. Majors should command--at the company level.

    For more see: Transformation: Victory Rests With Small Units

    Best
    tom

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Something is nagging in the back of my mind

    Tom and Steve,

    I have a little bell going off in the back of my mind. Back in the Seven-Years war, if I remember correctly, weren't the American colonial units "combined arms"? Also, was the pre-Jefferson army based on a combined arms/legion model?

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Yes, Marc. In the early days of the American Army it was organized as combined arms legions. This didn't last more than a few years before it was replaced. During the Seven-Years period there were some units that were sort of combined arms, but it was more typical to see them style themselves that way but in practice be light infantry.

    And Tom, I tend to feel that the ACR in either its more current or (preferably) its Vietnam TOE would be outstanding for this type of warfare.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Yes, Marc. In the early days of the American Army it was organized as combined arms legions. This didn't last more than a few years before it was replaced. During the Seven-Years period there were some units that were sort of combined arms, but it was more typical to see them style themselves that way but in practice be light infantry.
    Thanks, Steve. I sort of remembered that from reading one of my ancestors journals. Okay, that gives a career re-organization an historical basis that can be sold as a "return to traditional values".

    To win the Long War, the Army must change its culture to one that demands and rewards adaptation. This cultural change will serve as the catalyst for a comprehensive redesign of doctrine, organizations, training, leader education, material development and soldier recruitment.

    To win the Long War, the Army must develop a more adaptive organizational culture. To create such a culture, the Army must change its focus from a centralized, specialized focus on major conventional wars to a more decentralized and less specialized focus on full-spectrum operations. This shift in organizational culture cannot occur within existing organizations indeed these organizations can be an impediment to change. The best way to change the organizational culture of the Army is to change the pathways for professional advancement within the officer corps. The Army will become more adaptive only when being adaptive offers the surest path to promotion.
    The problem with this recomendation is how to actually get it implemented politically. A "return to traditional value" argument is one way to do that.

    The proposal to abolish branch affiliations after the rank of Captain seems interesting, but I would have to question whether or not that would work without fairly extensive retraining. Also, I expect that there is no way it could be implemented without grandfathering everyone who holds higher rank so that they don't have to meet the new requirements <wry grin>.

    In some ways, the proposal reminds me of Heinlein's organization of the Mobile Infantry in Starship Troopers. I wonder if that is where they got the idea from?

    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
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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Legion units

    I believe the Civil War saw a revival of "combined arms" units among the volunteers of certain northern States, early in the war.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
    I believe the Civil War saw a revival of "combined arms" units among the volunteers of certain northern States, early in the war.
    It was also very popular in the South. Wade Hampton's Legion springs first to mind, but there were other examples as well. These efforts tended to die out within the first year of the conflict, as the issues of equipment and replacements came to dominate matters.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Aging the Force

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    We have wasted the rank of Major for years and we need to change. Majors should command--at the company level.
    I attended a 4GW PME at JFCOM on Monday - TX Hammes hit on this point several times during the panel discussions.

    As has been pounded home many times on the SWC - experience combined with training and education is the key to success. When we throw in strategic compression and expect wonders from the strategic corporal (and all small unit leaders) we have to start looking at aging the force. TX talked about majors as company commanders and staff sergeants as squad leaders as a start. Of course simply aging the force is not the silver bullet - proper training, education and experience must go hand-in-hand.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Again, from the frontier army example, one way to age the force may be to allow people to remain in certain ranks/grades longer than we have previously. This has been touched on by some of the military personnel system reformers, and I really feel it deserves a second (and third) look. Shoving majors down to company command level creates expensive companies, but allowing a captain to remain at that rank and lead his company effectively for a few more years gives us the baseline experience without clogging the ranks with more "leaders." Again, to draw from the frontier army level, majors were often used as either fort commanders or as squadron/battalion commanders (at this time in our organizational history the squadron/battalion was an ad hoc unit containing from two to four companies depending on tactical need). They served a purpose, but didn't clog the smaller units.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Majors II

    Steve,

    The issue with Majors goes beyond adding experience to companies. It also targets adding experience to the force. At present a junior captain who successfully commands a company say at the 5 year mark willl not command again if he does everything correct until another 10-13 years. That gap in troop leading for maneuver officers especially is critical for them, for the army as a whole, and for the companies who would have benefited. Expensive? Perhaps but the infantry has already become a most precious asset, one spread way too thin. And the model I look at puts captains at platoons and lieutenants at sections. In any case, in wars costing billions of dollars every month to sustain, wars being fought, won, or lost by small units, does it not make sense to strengthen those units?

    best

    Tom

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Tom,

    I think that we do need to strengthen our small units, but it also has the very strong potential to undermine the learning ability and authority of the NCOs in those units. Increasing the officer to NCO ratio just rings lots of bells with me, but that may be because I've been around the Air Force too long. What I see there, with heavy officer supervision, is a whole set of NCOs that may be good technicians, but have little in the way of leadership skill (on the average). Then when they hit E-7 or so they're expected to have leadership skills. I know I've mentioned this before on another thread, but I do worry about the effect shoving officers further down in the chain will have on our enlisted force.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Steve,

    From what I understand, the air force is an anomaly as far as the officer - NCO relationship is concerned, at least that's what my brother in law says (22 years USAF, E8, ret'd). I doubt that, if you compared actual tasks, you would find that much similarity, and task definitions are the basis of career tracks.

    Marc
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Marc,

    Yeah, I know the Air Force is something of an anomaly in this regard. But you do run into something of an organizational issue when you start over-supervising folks and then expect them to show leadership and initiative. To an extent I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I do view it as a real concern. I agree that we do under-use the rank of major now, but even after reading Tom's article I'm not totally convinced that shoving them down a command level is a complete answer to the problem.

    I'm not knocking your ideas in the least, Tom, just raising a concern I have about the process and how it may impact other areas and levels of command.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Yeah, I know the Air Force is something of an anomaly in this regard. But you do run into something of an organizational issue when you start over-supervising folks and then expect them to show leadership and initiative.
    Well, I can't disagree with the concern . I think you can certainly mitigate some of the organizational problems with training and being very, very, clear on both leadership expectations from both officers and NCOs and on how people can gain those attitudes / skills. While micro-managers, like death and taxes, are always with us, it is certainly possible to structurally mitigate against them and, in this case, shift the individuals out of areas where they can do damage and into areas where their propensities will be useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    To an extent I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I do view it as a real concern. I agree that we do under-use the rank of major now, but even after reading Tom's article I'm not totally convinced that shoving them down a command level is a complete answer to the problem.

    I'm not knocking your ideas in the least, Tom, just raising a concern I have about the process and how it may impact other areas and levels of command.
    I'm still trying to print it off but, on the whole, I think I like the idea IFF majors are also required to have a fair amount of cross-training. That's going back to the Nagl and Yingling article.

    Marc
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Wearing out my pet rock

    Steve,

    The dynamic I advocate is parallel structural improvements in NCO ranks. It is not a question of over supervision. It is a question of experienced leadership that adds to the unit's collective experience. We suffer from a leader development model that keys on the individual; in consequence we develp very experienced leaders--who never (almost anyway) do the same job again. In contrast our units continually go through a cycle that brings in new leaders (officer and NCO). The unit learns and improves overtime and peaks at a certain stage--usually about the time the leadership starts preparing to move on. The cycle starts again. Unit stability efforts have helped somewhat but the cycle is still there.

    We have compounded this cycle because we have altered the career paths of NCOs to where (unfortunately in my mind) the days of the platoon daddy with several years in that role is no more; they get 18 months or so and that's it. When you throw into that issue, the problems of NCO shortages--using fresh out of advanced training specialists as team leaders and even squad leaders we are back to the era of breaking the NCO corps.

    But getting back to Nagl and ideas of adaptive leadership, the key to adaptive leadership is experience. You cannot train experience; you can train from experience. Adaptive leadership for inexperienced soldiers is a certain part smarts and a large part guessing. Adaptive leadership based on experience is infinitely preferable and certainly more survivable.

    Much of our modeling of unit leadership requirements is industrial age thinking in that we structured our forces on a draftee military (or a huge influx of volunteers) and we expected largely to gain our experience the hard way by taking casualties. With certain exceptions (the airborne for one) infantry soldiers came from the pool of those without key skills.

    We don't do that anymore; the very reason for the creation of the combat training center program was to gain our combat experience in training. It works but it still suffers from keeping the same model of leadership requirements that we had under the industrial age parameters.

    We have to get past that---and current operations are driving us that way. There are limits to what you can train into a young soldier and expect him to retain. We hear the calls for language skills, cultural awareness, etc. None of those obviate the needs of tactical reality--like understanding how to best use an machine gun or operate an ever growing assortment of communications hardware and software.

    Infantry soldiers are no longer "those not selected for something else." They and the other combat arms soldiers are the reason the Army and the Marines exist. if we are to truly achieve the concept of the "strategic corporal," we have to start reinforcing small unit leadership with greater experience levels.

    Now I am gonna give my pet rock a rest

    best
    Tom

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Heh...throwing down a gauntlet....

    SWJED wrote
    "As has been pounded home many times on the SWC - experience combined with training and education is the key to success. When we throw in strategic compression and expect wonders from the strategic corporal (and all small unit leaders) we have to start looking at aging the force. TX talked about majors as company commanders and staff sergeants as squad leaders as a start. Of course simply aging the force is not the silver bullet - proper training, education and experience must go hand-in-hand."
    Tom wote:
    "But getting back to Nagl and ideas of adaptive leadership, the key to adaptive leadership is experience. You cannot train experience; you can train from experience. Adaptive leadership for inexperienced soldiers is a certain part smarts and a large part guessing. Adaptive leadership based on experience is infinitely preferable and certainly more survivable."
    Well said. Now check this out:

    From H-Diplo Listserv

    "Forwarded From: "Herrera, Ricardo A Dr CSI"
    <Ricardo.A.Herrera@us.army.mil>

    CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

    Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors:
    Implications for the U.S. Army

    11-13 September, 2007
    Fort Leavenworth Frontier Conference Center
    Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

    Organizers: The United States Army Combat Studies Institute,
    Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Combat Studies Institute will host
    a symposium entitled "Warfare in the Age of Non-State Actors:
    Implications for the U.S. Army." The symposium will include
    a mixture of guest speakers, panel sessions, and general
    discussions.

    This conference will explore the impact of conflict between
    nations and non-state combatants within a historical context.
    The conference will examine current issues, dilemmas, problems,
    trends, and practices associated with conflict between
    constituted nations and trans-national, religious, ethnic or
    criminal groups.

    Proposed Program: CSI will issue a Call for Papers in October
    2006. While the symposium program is tentative and flexible,
    CSI expects it to include the following panels and topics:

    - Non-State Actors and their impact on strategic communications
    and Information Operations.

    - Law of War and Military Doctrine dealing with Non-State Actors.

    - The military's role in conflict termination and securing the
    political end state especially if one or more combatants is a
    Non-State Actor (e.g. Hezbollah, IRA, FARC, FMLN, al Qaeda).

    - The armed forces as part of the interagency process.

    - Military operations with International Government Organizations
    and Non-Governmental Organizations.

    - Tactics of militaries and rogue organizations or Non-State
    Actors on the battlefield.

    - The military and cultural awareness.

    - The role of technology in empowering and combating Non-State
    Actors.

    - Impact of Non-State Actors on Global economics and Non-State
    Actors' financing.

    For more information on the symposium, please contact CSI at
    913-684-2139 or email: CSIconference07@leavenworth.army.mil
    <mailto:CSIconference07@leavenworth.army.mil> .

    Ricardo A. Herrera, Ph.D.
    U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute
    201 Sedgwick Ave
    Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027

    O: (913) 684-2126
    F: (913) 684-4861

    http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/csi/INDEX.asp
    <http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/csi/INDEX.asp>"
    That might be a good place for SWC regulars to make their points.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    That might be a good place for SWC regulars to make their points.
    Is someone thinking of putting a panel together? If so, I would be interested in putting a paper together - maybe on "symbolic warfare".

    Marc
    Last edited by marct; 10-26-2006 at 12:43 PM.
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
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    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    - The role of technology in empowering and combating Non-State
    Actors.
    Would that be a place to publish a paper on high speed acquisition of data from items like cell phones, PDA’s, and computers in the field for intelligence analysis or to far out for the audience?

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Resourcing the right people with the right skills

    I think one of the first things that would have to be addressed is the issue of resourcing. You either pay for the type of people you want up front (incentives or appeal), or you develop them (time, money, investment). To paraphrase a recent article by retired General Scales – this is a people business, and without good people you will not have a good military. This resourcing issue is exacerbated by competing requirements – we have both a mass based set of requirements in the Army, as well as an increasingly technical set of requirements (the range of attributes covers all of the leadership traits).

    We are competing for the same types of leaders (in terms of realized or unrealized potential) as the profit based organizations which can afford to offer these people what they desire within the context of an 18-25 year old’s sense of what is important. Certainly we have an appeal, but when you add up incentives, which option do we think comes out ahead? Further, we often cannot afford, or choose not to afford providing the incentives at critical points in these leader’s lives where they make choices about staying or leaving (could be a branch, a service, an organization or the military). We all know Business covets the military leadership experience brings to the table, just look at the ranks of the contractors right now in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. We need to consider what made the difference in that Soldier/Airman/Marine’s decision to go, or stay; then we need to adjust to compensate.

    If you look at the erosion of benefits that active duty service offers, it most often targets people. Consider who and when the erosion of benefits like family medical and dental care, DODs schools, Housing, and social services targets. It impacts the family of a soldier at a time when his loyalties are divided between taking care of his family (this is of course compounded when deployed) and serving his country. The family weight in his decision making process should not be under valued. Consider the skill set this man or woman has in the context of COIN – he is by virtue of having a family, somewhat more emotionally stable – he is probably slightly older and his cumulative experience is worthy. He is a combat multiplier in his unit by his ability to provide calm and wisdom – having a family builds patience and exposes you to problem sets outside the normal military experience, and by such infect/influence many others with the same qualities. Consider the value of this man or woman when considering the use of lethal force. This is just one example of how we either undervalue people skills in favor of hardware.

    Resourcing the types of educational investment to build the leaders we want is critical to realizing the goal. While Knowledge Networks, Communities of Practice, and Distance Learning offer opportunities in experience transferal and education on the cheap, the context upon which they draw is limited to the personal ability to internalize it an apply it, therefore it should not be a substitute for small group instruction, but a supplement. So how do we resource pulling out leaders at all level and giving them the right tools to succeed? Granted a bigger pool to rotate is attractive and provides more flexibility, but it also means more resources required for education, recruiting, and retention. Given the people we want often have families that must be entered into the equation; this has a large price tag.

    I realize that culturally we are much more comfortable with a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) equation vs. the subjective human one, but if we do not resource the kind of people we know we need we will have to lower our expectations in reference to our capabilities. We have to balance our appetite for hardware with requirements for quality people we can recruit, train and retain. I’ve been on the Army’s cutting edge for technology for about 6 years (Stryker, FCS) and for the last 8 months I’ve been doing the advisory job here in Iraq. I can tell you, sophisticated equipment only bears good results when there are good people using it. Do we need to modernize, yes; but do we need everything on the buffet table right now? I see some great vehicles here in Mosul that would be perfect for COIN, it’d be great to replace every 1114/1116/LVL II 998 with the RGR Engineer vehicle. COTs is not necessarily a bad thing and relooking our hardware acquisition strategy to match our personnel one may not be a bad idea. Reevaluation of our genesis for hardware in the context of new alternatives and requirements for the 5-25 year mark seems militarily prudent in light of the strategic, operational and tactical consequences of not doing so.

    Our strategy needs to be people centric with the goal to equip them with the best technology that meets their needs. Conversely, if we show a long term trend of taking care of people at the DOD level ( I mention it because I’m not sure it happens for most above the BN & BDE levels), then our reputation for doing so will spread. People want to belong to good organizations that they can both believe in and which believe in them. One of the things you learn early on is that it is not so much what you are doing that makes you happy, it’s the climate of the organization, and purpose or esprit de corps which accompanies it.

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