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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Nov 2008

    Default Mass Insanity: Latest Trend in Army Doctrine

    Phoncon (slightly modified for dramatic effect):

    Smart old SOF Action officer (SOSAO): "I like this slide that shows the relative roles of SOF to Conventional forces across a spectrum of activities, and understand why you have placed "Unconventional Warfare" on the far right end of the scale where it is primarily "SOF enabled by GPF," but you're showing "Stability Operations" as the far left end of the scale for "GPF enabled by SOF." We need to add "Major Combat Operations" to the left end to recognize high end, state on state warfare, and then slide these IW mission set farther over into the SOF led realm."

    Brilliant young Army major (BYAM): "Sir, 'Major Combat Operations" is no longer a doctrinal term."

    SOSAO: "You have to be F'n kidding me. What do you use to describe war"?

    BYAM: "Sir, 'war' is no longer a doctrinal term."

    SOSAO: "Come on! Get out your F'n doctrine! We need to tell a complete picture here, and this slide fails to tell a complete picture because we are only recognizing one end and aspect of a broad spectrum of war and conflict."

    BYAM: (incredulously) "Sir, did you just say 'F Doctrine'?

    SOSAO: "No, damn it, I didn't use it as a F as a verb, I used it as an adjective. Are you going to tell me now that using 'F' as a universal military adjective is no longer in military doctrine either?

    BYAM: "Sir, I've been in Afghanistan. In modern doctrine the army has recognized that our focus on Major Combat Operations left us unprepared to deal with the realities of the modern battlefield. Now we have "Unified Land Operations" (ULO) that cover all situations, and within that there are only "Combined Arms Maneuver" (CAM) and Wide Area Support (WAS). (Goes on to list a long list of doctrinal cites and direct quotes from memory).

    SOSAO: Look, I appreciate that Senior Army Leadership is under tremendous pressure as we enter an era of constricting budgets, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the most recently released Strategic Guidance from the President, SecDef and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The shift away from the 65 year old European mission and the demise of the Cold War land threats that demanded we sustain a large ground force; and the clear guidance that we will no longer resource the military for massive "COIN" operations such as we conducted recently in Iraq and Afghanistan puts the Army in a hard spot to justify force structure, but we need to be intellectually honest here."

    BYAM: "Sir, you're killing me. First you tell me to F-off, then you accuse me of being intellectually dishonest! I've been in Afghanistan, you know."

    SOSAO: (resisting urge to say 'thanks son, is your mommy or daddy home'?) "Relax, you know that isn't what I said. Now, lets get to the business at hand. We just received two high-level documents describing a major shift in strategic guidance and direction. We need to focus on how we work together to implement this guidance to best effect."

    BYAM: "Sir, my guidance is focus on Lessons Learned from the past 10 years."

    SOSAO: "So, besides rendering Major Combat Operations obsolete, what else have we learned"?

    BYAM: "We have learned that conventional forces can do SOF operations, but that we need SOF trainers to prepare us at home station first so that we can go out and do their mission down range."

    SOSAO: "Really."

    BYAM: "Yes, sir. But we need to work together as fused teams as well, and to avoid the confusion that caused so much ineffectiveness over the past ten years we need to get to unity of command."

    SOSAO: "Fascinating, so how do you propose we get to unity of command, when the conventional force has a physical mission, tied to terrain and threats, while the SOF commander has a functional mission tied to specific niche operations conducted across multiple BSO's area of operations"?

    BYAM: "We provide forces to the GCC. The Theater SOF Commander (1-2 stars) must go to the Army Service Component Commander (3-4 stars) and coordinate all of his theater activities prior to taking them to the GCC. They will determine who has lead. So, if it is very SOF, like CT or UW, SOF would lead; otherwise it should be led by the Conventional Force Commander.

    SOSAO: "This is what we've learned over the past 10 years"?

    BYAM: "Yes sir!"

    SOSAO: "Does anyone see it as problematic that this is a "lesson" directly derived from Iraq and Afghanistan; and that the new strategy is explicitly clear that we will work to avoid such operations in the future, and will not resource to them either"??

    BYAM: "Sir, I've been in Afghanistan. The Strategy can say we need to avoid these types of conflicts, but it cannot guarantee they will not occur."

    SOSAO: "Indeed. Not to be overly technical, but you realize these are not "lessons" learned at all, but rather are Army-centric solutions to lessons learned. This might be a more effective conversation if we peeled the onion back a bit and focused on the actual lessons that, for example, led the Army to divine that rotating conventional forces into SOF missions, such as FID, does not work well unless those forces are first trained by SOF forces, and then fused with SOF forces for execution. It sounds like the real lesson learned is that 'Conventional Forces are not trained, organized or equipped to conduct SOF operations; but in extremis, with special training and leadership, can be an effective supplement.'

    BYAM: "Sir, are you calling me intellectually dishonest again? This lesson learned came straight from the Center for Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth. It does not say what you are suggesting at all."

    SOSAO: "Ok, I've got to get back to work, but I want to make sure I'm clear: War and Major Combat Operations are obsolete; Army lessons learned from 10 years of operations trumps the current POTUS, SecDef, CJCS strategy telling us to avoid the same in the future through the application of new, less expensive and invasive approaches; and conventional forces are the new SOF?

    BYAM: "I think you are starting to get it sir!"
    Last edited by Bob's World; 02-17-2012 at 01:08 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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