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Thread: Focus on CI versus Conventional warfighting

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    Default Focus on CI versus Conventional warfighting

    Currently I'm writing a thesis about negative effects of using the military in counterterrorism missions. I'm especially interested in the issue that if militaries engaged unconventional missions for a long period of time do they lose their conventional war fighting skills. I'm following the arguments of Col. Gentile and find them very useful. My question is that do you think any other conflict in history may become an example like of Israel against Hezbollah in 2006 where a military lost a conventional type of conflict because of focus on counterinsurgency for a long period of time?

    Regards,

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    terbay,

    Probably not what you want to hear/read, but I think you're making some false assumptions. First off the U.S. military has special operations forces and some of the units within SOF are uniquely organized and trained to conduct counterterrorism operations. I think you would be hard pressed to make a case that our General Purpose Forces are conducting counterterrorism operations (don't use counterterrorism and counterinsurgency interchangeably). For the most part GPF is and has been conducting counterinsurgency, stability operations, and foreign internal defense. If you are making a case that our conventional warfighting skills are atrophying because of our current focus, I suspect you are correct, but you need to accurately label it, and it isn't CT.

    Second, how did you come to the conclusion that the Israeli's lost (they didn't) to Lebanese Hezbollah? IMO there were no clear winners, but Israel did achieve its military objectives which included establishing a buffer zone, forcing LH to withdraw from the area, and effecting a cease fire. LH waged a savvy media campaign, so you can make a case they won "some" aspects of the conflict in that regard, but it was hybrid conflict that continues to this day, just at a much lower level of intensity.

    For historic examples, we're watching it in the making.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...3171d04daef.41

    Top US military officer General Martin Dempsey, who met Aquino on Monday in Manila, said that he spoke about expanding cooperation with the former US colony beyond recent efforts focused on fighting Islamic insurgents.

    The Philippines "has been inward-focused on its internal terrorism and insurgent issues for some time -- for decades really -- and so have a very limited capability to project power or to influence activities around it," said Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    "We think that they need some of that, particularly in maritime security," Dempsey told reporters in Washington.
    The Philippines is having a tiff with China over some disputed territorial waters, but the Philippines hasn't done much to develop its conventional military capabilities, so now it has no military deterrent, and talk is cheap when it isn't backed up with capability. Counterinsurgent forces are no match for a conventional military threat (obviously).

    One of the reasons the U.S. doesn't face a serious conventional threat is because deter them with our superior conventional capability, but if we were to let that superior status lapse there is no reason to believe that another nation won't fill that power vacuum.

    There are no easy answers, since we're superior conventionally our adversaries will seek asymmetric/unconventional means to attack our interests, so in the end we need both unconventional and conventional warfighting skills. The concept of hybrid warfare is useful to allow people to visualize that future fights (like past fights) will involve both conventional and unconventional aspects, often simultaneously. The challenge we're faced with is developing and maintaining a balance of capabilities that will enable us to meet future threats. We tend to bias towards the conventional threat because it is seen as the greatest threat, but over time with the growing parity of lethal technology between state and non-state actors, that may no longer prove to be a correct assumption.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    "since we're superior conventionally our adversaries will seek asymmetric/unconventional means to attack our interests,"

    Bill,

    We see and hear this line of logic all the time, right? But consider.

    A 300 lb man is standing on your foot. You ask him politely to please move and he ignores you. You finally get to the point where you cannot tolerate this violation any longer, but you notice this 300 lb man is also armed. So you knee him in the groin and run like hell. So, did you knee him in the groin because he was armed, or because he was standing on your foot?? We obsess on tactics applied, when often we'd be better served by focusing more on purpose for action. Sure, the ideology community tells us to blame ideological differences, and not any action or policies on our part for such attacks.

    But these attacks are interest based. Yes the US defines and defends interests, and invariably those interests overlap and either support of conflict with the interests of others. In an era where so much is evolving rapidly, those governments currently in power positions evolve the most slowly, and are dedicated to sustaining the stability and certainty of the status quo, even when they recognize such positions are artificial, unsustainable, and at odds with the evolving demands of the people they affect most.

    The US does not have a problem with our ability to deal with threats of any sort. Our problem is that our policies provoke so many to take action against us. We have a right to secure our reasonable interests. But we have a reciprocal duty to ensure that we secure those interests in reasonable ways. Most of our ways are long out of date and grow increasingly "unreasonable."
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by terbay View Post
    Currently I'm writing a thesis about negative effects of using the military in counterterrorism missions. I'm especially interested in the issue that if militaries engaged unconventional missions for a long period of time do they lose their conventional war fighting skills. I'm following the arguments of Col. Gentile and find them very useful. My question is that do you think any other conflict in history may become an example like of Israel against Hezbollah in 2006 where a military lost a conventional type of conflict because of focus on counterinsurgency for a long period of time?

    Regards,
    My two cents' worth...

    I think it's a BIG mistake to have it as a national policy / strategy / doctrine / whatever you want to call it, to have our general purpose forces as proficient in unconventional (irregular) warfare as they are in conventional warfare. That's what the SOF folks are for. The focus areas of these two types of warfare are entirely different, requiring different methods to organize, train, and equip (OTE). One is basically focused on defeating a known adversary thru attrition, the other by securing the population and winning their hearts and minds. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that the OTE requirements are entirely different for these two mission sets.

    And I'd have to agree with the previous comment that Israel didn't "lose" that conflict with Hezbollah in 2006. Were they surprised at the TTPs and resiliency that they encountered from the Hezbollah fighters? No doubt. But did they "lose" that conflict? I don't think so.
    "We're here to preserve democracy, not practice it." from the move, Crimson Tide

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by socal1200r View Post
    I think it's a BIG mistake to have it as a national policy / strategy / doctrine / whatever you want to call it, to have our general purpose forces as proficient in unconventional (irregular) warfare as they are in conventional warfare. That's what the SOF folks are for. The focus areas of these two types of warfare are entirely different, requiring different methods to organize, train, and equip (OTE). One is basically focused on defeating a known adversary thru attrition, the other by securing the population and winning their hearts and minds. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that the OTE requirements are entirely different for these two mission sets.

    Very well said and we used to know that and..... then we fell off a cliff or something?

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    Default Confused by the question?

    Sorry terbay but your question is confusing to me because of your use of different terms… I think you are thinking tactically vs strategically. I included the JCS Pub 1 definitions only to illustrate.

    Counterterrorism - (DOD) Actions taken directly against terrorist networks and indirectly to influence and render global and regional environments inhospitable to terrorist networks. Also called CT. See also antiterrorism; combating terrorism; terrorism.
    Source: JP 3-26
    Antiterrorism - (DOD) Defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals and property to terrorist acts, to include rapid containment by local military and civilian forces. Also called AT. See also counterterrorism; terrorism.
    Source: JP 3-07.2
    unconventional warfare – (DOD) Activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt, or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary, and guerrilla force in a denied area. Also called UW.
    Source: JP 3-05
    counterinsurgency - (DOD) Comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to defeat an insurgency and to address any core grievances. Also called COIN.
    Source: JP 3-24
    conventional forces - (DOD) 1. Those forces capable of conducting operations using nonnuclear weapons. Source: JP 3-05
    (DOD) 2. Those forces other than designated special operations forces. Also called CF.
    Source: JP 3-05

    Do you want SOF rooting out terrorist networks? ...sure, but should SOF direct action be the focus of effort for counter terrorism or should it be in support of intelligence operations?
    Do you want SOF operating against terrorist networks in a counter insurgency? Absolutely…but I do not think there is enough of them to make a difference using direct action…I think they can buy time tactically but not victory strategically.
    Are intell officers and enlisted conventional forces? Yep! Do you need them in both counter terrorism and counter insurgency?...Oh Ya!
    Do their skills deteriorate in a counter insurgence?…No, they should not and they should get better.
    The should “conventional forces” of straight leg infantry train for counter insurgency?...I my opinion …absolutely because it will enhance all those small unit leadership skills you need on the battlefield.
    Is Hezbollah an example we will see in the future? Oh Ya!...Why? because, to date, it is successful and neither Israel or anyone else worked out a counter…and I do not think Israel’s forces had a hard time in 2006 because they focused on counterinsurgency for a long time. I think they neglected their training especially infantry tactics.
    "If you want a new idea, look in an old book"

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