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  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Reaching back to learn?

    Moderator's Note

    A new thread, which is fully explained in Post No.4.(ends)

    SWJ Blog on July 1st '09 had an odd title 'Call in the Cavalry' linking contemporary issues of recruiting and managing locally recruited irregulars to a book written in 1845, in the Imperial Indian period, for an irregular cavalry: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/200...n-the-cavalry/. The linked article:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...he_calvary?new and had three sub-titles or themes - incentivize, live and let live and go native.

    From my armchair it seemed odd for a journalist to reach that far back for lessons learnt, especially trying to apply in Afghanistan. Secondly there are far better books (see http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7442) and of course the books, articles etc cited in many threads.

    Looking through many of the FID threads the focus was on Iraq, so now the US is sending more troops etc to Afghanistan, it seemed appropriate to see if SWC needed to examine and debate the issues.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-21-2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Adding links and mod's note after merging

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From my armchair it seemed odd for a journalist to reach that far back for lessons learnt, especially trying to apply in Afghanistan. Secondly there are far better books (see http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7442) and of course the books, articles etc cited in many threads.
    From this armchair as well. My fear is that there's a whole lot of folk plundering their way through military history, with some trend spotting in mind.

    Might be good if folk actually read Calwell and Gwynn, instead of just quoting them.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    From this armchair as well. My fear is that there's a whole lot of folk plundering their way through military history, with some trend spotting in mind.

    Might be good if folk actually read Calwell and Gwynn, instead of just quoting them.
    I would contend that there are trends, but that they lie in how organizations react to certain types of perceived threats. For example, the US Army's continual shedding of its counterinsurgency experience is one of those historical trends, and one that should be learned from. History is also a better source for understanding what DIDN'T work in a particular situation than it is for predicting future events.

    The danger I usually see is one of polar constructs. We either ignore history entirely (or cherry-pick the appealing bits) or turn to it expecting a crystal ball into the future. Neither approach is especially helpful.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Setting up effective, local security forces

    On another thread I posted a week ago 'An option overlooked' after Fuchs rightly posted his succinct observation, with my emphasis:
    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    This is an issue which has always interested me and IMO deserves its own thread. As always this opening post will drop down when other, earlier posts are copied here.

    I am very aware that for the USA there has been a long history of involvement in setting up such local forces; post-1945 it became an SOF responsibility and in various modes is undertaken today.

    The big difference in this thread is 'sepoy-like', so I mean locally recruited with expatriate officers and NCOs. Not advisory teams, embedded and more recent descriptive terms.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.

    The Filipinos come more close, but at least the WW2-period Filipino troops were motivated by a promise of independence and thus again fighting for their people, not really for the Americans AFAIK.
    __________________________________________________ _________

    What's remarkable in the case of U.S. troops is that they don't form U.S.Army units with 80-90% foreigners from the region. It's really not that hard, as evidenced by the ease of how European powers did this during Imperialism times. See the German Askaris; German officers surely had no experience in creating such a force, yet built a formidable one in East Africa with IIRC initially Sudanese warriors.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Askari#German_colonies

    Just imagine; rotation would be limited to about 20% of the total force, deployed U.S. personnel could be cut by two thirds and the actual force available in-theatre would still be larger and have enough boots on the ground to dominate most of the places that are now effectively without Western control.
    Well-performing and reliable soldiers could be identified and promoted, with gradual replacement of U.S. troops over the span of maybe six years.


    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops. Most of their qualities are of little consequence in small wars and other characteristics are outright problematic. This also applies to Western mercenaries.
    A critical little bit more optimism about the utility of foreign culture troops (done right, not the ridiculous ANA approach) could serve very well.



    hmm, why do I pay attention to it? It's small wars stuff.
    The only consequence for great war stuff here is the use of foreign culture troops as manpower akin to the French practice of employing black troops in Europe. The success of this was mixed at best.
    We don't need foreign manpower for Europe's security (contrary to hysterical demography doom-sayers) and the Roman experience with culturally foreign auxiliaries in the long term is not a promising example.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.

    The Filipinos come more close, but at least the WW2-period Filipino troops were motivated by a promise of independence and thus again fighting for their people, not really for the Americans AFAIK.
    It’s hardly news that individuals working within a colonial structure are often primarily motivated by local concerns. I would assume that is the norm, actually.

    There are a couple of anthropologists—Gerald Hickey and Oscar Salemink—whose work directly addresses the ties between Montagnard ethnic identity, the colonial endeavor, and Vietnamese nationalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops.
    There is a tendency amongst Americans to talk themselves up, but I assure you that it is neither a universal amongst us nor exclusive to us.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No and Yes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Montagnards were fighting for their 'tribe', not for the Americans. I believe this doesn't count in this context.
    That's incorrect, most of the Montagnards were in the go along and get along mode until recruited by and paid by the US. You can and will of course believe what you wish.
    What's remarkable in the case of U.S. troops is that they don't form U.S.Army units with 80-90% foreigners from the region...
    Difference in national traditions and self-perceptions. *
    I suspect the U.S. has a misleading perception of the quality of its own troops. Most of their qualities are of little consequence in small wars and other characteristics are outright problematic. This also applies to Western mercenaries.
    A critical little bit more optimism about the utility of foreign culture troops (done right, not the ridiculous ANA approach) could serve very well.
    In reverse order for the last assertion, see * above.

    On the first three statements, totally true but Ganulv answers it far better than I :

    "There is a tendency amongst Americans to talk themselves up, but I assure you that it is neither a universal amongst us nor exclusive to us."

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    That's incorrect, most of the Montagnards were in the go along and get along mode until recruited by and paid by the US.
    I don't consider this in conflict with what I wrote.
    Propaganda and other means shape perceptions, and Montagnards knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people once they had joined the 'anti-communist' cause.

    Most conscripts of European armies were in a "go along and get along mode" shortly before being sent to war. So what?

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Exclamation Well of course you don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I don't consider this in conflict with what I wrote.
    You rarely do see such conflicts. On the rare occasions you do, you attempt to drive your bulldozer over them...
    Propaganda and other means shape perceptions, and Montagnards knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people once they had joined the 'anti-communist' cause.

    Most conscripts of European armies were in a "go along and get along mode" shortly before being sent to war. So what?
    And the bearing of all this on your statement that the Montagnards were fighting for their tribes is precisely what? It would in fact seem to me that your statement they "...knew that defeat would cause repercussions for their people ..." which is true indicates a situation that would in fact deter them from fighting 'for the tribe' lacking some other incentive. As an Economist, you know money talks...

    Note also that the Montagnards were neither European or conscripted -- the tribal leaders did not force their young men to fight for the Americans, they simply allowed them to do so. The men had a choice and they exercised it so that comparison is sorta specious, that's what.

    Not that contradictory statements have ever deterred you, Lieber Fuchs...

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Perceptions and reality

    Difference in national traditions and self-perceptions. *
    An interesting observation. I think there is a contradiction in the way American's view themselves in relation to non-western foreign militaries. We do not want to see ourselves as imperialists conquering and subjugating the locals. Therefore we do not like the idea of mixed, Sepoy style forces.

    Yet we are a hierarchical culture. We believe that people make their own success and if you are in the gutter you are there based on your own failures. Therefore we still view people in parts of the world as somehow "lesser". You see it in the way we mock their systems as inferior to ours.

    It sets up a condition where we do not want to build combined unite with them because that would be colonialist yet we refuse to accept that they can do the job as well as us so we continue to treat them as if they are our subjects.

    It is our problem and I don't think we are likely to fix it any time soon.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    There might also a lack of long-term strategy play into this.

    I have two pet theories about how to handle small wars as the one in AFG:

    (1) As described, build foreigners into the force till it turned foreign completely, shedding the too technicized TO&E components in the process.

    (2) Send your troops, but set a withdrawal table from day one and tell the locals about it. Also tell them that for every WIA you take two replacements will arrive and for every KIA you take ten replacements will arrive - so violence against your personnel will have a perverted effect and be discouraged strongly. This approach is supposed to buy a calm period, for whatever purpose that's required.


    Both could be combined, but (2) would lose effectiveness in such a combination.


    Meanwhile, the standard Western approach under U.S. leadership is to send relatively few occupation troops, rotate them and reinforce them if politicians get too much under pressure by poor news about the occupation.
    In parallel, indigenous puppet regime forces are being built from scratch, perform rather poorly and are unreliable for many reasons.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default An option overlooked

    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:
    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-21-2012 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Add Mods note and then move it to the new first post
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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:

    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    The U.S./Montagnard relationship, perhaps. I don’t know that the comparison isn’t apples and oranges, though. The imperial/provincial dynamic is distinct from the dynamic between a hegemon and an admittedly less powerful but nevertheless sovereign state. Mark Danner’s book The massacre at El Mozote (one of my favorite books of any stripe) is a good case study in the latter.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Fuchs rightly posted on a separate thread, with my emphasis:

    The Americans never really mastered this indirect rule and the setup of effective indigenous sepoy-like forces either.
    Yes such forces would appear to be mercenaries and history shows that money was one factor in a sometimes complex equation. If the British in the imperial period could raise irregular units in the NW Frontier Province and FATA, with very few examples of mutiny or disloyalty, can this not be replicated? More recently and in a non-imperial context there were local units in Borneo, Oman, Namibia etc.

    Are there not American examples post-1945? i am sure there are pre-1939.
    Actually the US did exactly that, reasonably effectively, in the Philippines during their colonial enterprise there. Given that the American "sepoys" in the Philippines never staged an equivalent of the sepoy rebellion (though of course they weren't around as long) you could argue that the US did it more effectively. Of course the US didn't pursue that strategy on as wide a scale, because they didn't have as many colonies. It's not a strategy that translates accurately to the post-colonial proxy wars, in which the role was largely taken over by the national armed forces of our proxies.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Default The flaws of through, by, and with

    The following article challenges our baseless assumption that through, by, and with others is always the best approach. History indicates otherwise, and recent history simply reinforces that this approach has its limitations and only works in select situations. Where it does work, the results are fantastic. I suspect it is our desire to replicate those fantastic results in situations where the conditions don't exist for it to work that compel us to generally view this as the approach of choice. That is wrong headed, proven to be wrong headed, and this blind assumption causes Congressional leadership to threaten to pull money from all UW/FID programs. Not all are wrong headed, but since we fail to honestly assess what works and what doesn't we are simply going kill the approach across the board.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...eac_story.html

    Why foreign troops can’t fight our fights

    The programs rest on a theory embraced across the U.S. government: Sometimes direct military interventions do more harm than good, and indirect approaches get us further. The theory briefs well as a way to achieve U.S. goals without great expenditure of U.S. blood and treasure. Unfortunately, decades of experience (including the current messes in Iraq and Syria) suggest that the theory works only in incredibly narrow situations in which states need just a little assistance. In the most unstable places and in the largest conflagrations, where we tend to feel the greatest urge to do something, the strategy crumbles.
    It fails first and most basically because it hinges upon an alignment of interests that rarely exists between Washington and its proxies.
    Second, the security-assistance strategy gives too much weight to the efficacy of U.S. war-fighting systems and capabilities, assuming that they alone are enough to produce desired outcomes for both our foreign proxies and ourselves.
    The third problem with security assistance is that it risks further destabilizing already unstable situations and actually countering U.S. interests.
    A more humble approach is needed. We must think about security assistance the same way we think about long-term alliances, looking for alignments of interests, not convenience.
    This author's critique is valid, yet it doesn't invalidate FID and UW, it simply points to the fact, that for it to work, it is bigger than train and equip. Train and equip is a small subset of a greater whole that must be congruent. For example, diplomats must set realistic goals/expectations agreed upon by our partner. These goals need to focus it on mutually agreed ends. Once this hard task is out of the way, the assistance should be tailored to support those ends. It is worth revisiting the IDAD concept, and ensure our efforts are properly aligned and sustainable by the partner. More and more, both FID and UW is getting dumbed down to train and equip programs with no associated strategy on our end, and all to often no strategy mutually agreed upon with our partner.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-28-2019 at 02:14 PM. Reason: 40,820v in stand alone post till merged

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Digger's 60 tips to become a more effective advisor

    Spotted via Twitter a contribution from an Australian soldier, an infantry captain, who explains near the start:
    The following tips are based on my experiences working with security forces in the South Pacific, as well as with other nations during exercises in Australia throughout my career. I can’t claim to be a skilled advisor, but I have been privileged to work with many skilled advisors and this article aims to accumulate my observations and lessons, reinforced during a recent two-year posting to the Defence Cooperation Program in Papua New Guinea, in an accessible aide-memoire. These tips should not be considered a template solution for every situation. They do however contain themes and skill sets which are universal and should be applied when working alongside foreign security forces, both within the region and globally.

    The list concludes:
    Advising is a difficult business; every advisor is placed in a position of trying to influence people they have no authority over, perhaps to do things that may not be in their nature, all whilst trying to implement Australian policy and answer for Australian government decisions over which they have no control. This is all conducted in a culturally diverse, developing and potentially troubled nation. If you can adopt the skills of rapport development, build your cultural confidence and competence, communicate clearly and understand your part in the big-picture you will find success as an advisor. Embrace the opportunity that an advisor posting or deployment presents; it will be one of the most challenging, interesting, memorable and enriching missions you will complete.
    Link:http://groundedcuriosity.com/aide-me...gn-militaries/
    davidbfpo

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    Nice find David.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default US$100 billion and lessons learnt?

    I only rarely catch Modern War Institute @ West Point articles, but this one aroused my interest. As the opening passage says:
    The United States has invested more than $100 billion in training and equipping security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past sixteen years. The result? ISIS swiftly defeated the Iraqi Army in 2014, securing large swaths of land, and requiring international intervention. Since the US presence began decreasing in Afghanistan in 2015, the Taliban have steadily forced the Afghan Security Forces out of rural areas, gaining control of vast portions of the country. An additional 3,500 US service members will soon be en route to reverse this trend. The $100 billion spent to date is a milestone, not a final bill.
    It lists five lessons:
    Lesson 1 – Effective advisory missions rely on high-caliber, well-trained, and committed individuals who demonstrate competence as advisors; furthermore, the advisory mission must endure long enough to ensure success.
    Lesson 2 – The advisory force cannot be general purpose—it must be tailored for the specific environment into which it will deploy.
    Lesson 3 – The highest degree of competence and effectiveness that an advised force can achieve when operating independently is better than any level of readiness that relies on US assets (to a degree).
    Lesson 4 – On a larger scale, the advisory mission cannot rely solely on military and security forces.
    Lesson 5 – Like all military endeavors, the advisory mission must be undertaken with a clear objective in mind, with consistent and reasonable intermediate metrics to determine effectiveness over time.
    Link:https://mwi.usma.edu/fourth-time-cha...rations-right/

    Elsewhere on SWJ Blog there is an article on Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) and the MWI article asks:
    The current evolution of the SFAB generally marks the fourth attempt at tackling the advise-and-assist mission set since the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Link:http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/fir...in-four-months
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-15-2017 at 07:11 PM.
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    Default The Godfather Doctrine

    The current issue (10/17) of the Marine Corps Gazette has an article pertinent to the West Point study. The Godfather Doctrine by LtCol. Douglas Luccio calls for more organized and committed security force assistance training including generating a publication similar to The Small Wars Manual, updated and focused on today's conflict locations.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A pointer to The Godfather Doctrine

    Quote Originally Posted by JHR View Post
    The current issue (10/17) of the Marine Corps Gazette has an article pertinent to the West Point study. The Godfather Doctrine by LtCol. Douglas Luccio calls for more organized and committed security force assistance training including generating a publication similar to The Small Wars Manual, updated and focused on today's conflict locations.
    The article cited in the Gazette is behind a registration / payment wall, but an earlier edition (29 pgs.) is available via:http://www.dtic.mil/docs/citations/AD1037564
    davidbfpo

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