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Thread: The Best Trained, Most Professional Military...Just Lost Two Wars?

  1. #141
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Who selected that aim? .... ("putting together a self-sustaining Afghan state")

    You?
    That would have been the Bush administration. I don't and didn't agree with that policy. I thought it was stupid, as I've said many times. I don't make policy, for better or worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    After four years in office the buck stops with the Obama Administration. Go ask them what the strategy is.
    The strategy now appears to be to get out with all deliberate speed. It won't be an entirely gracious or graceful exit, but that was a given once the deranged policy of install-a-democracy "nation building" was adopted. Jump in a sewer, you ain't gonna come out smelling like roses. That's not a consequence of how you climbed out of the sewer, it's a consequence of jumping in.
    “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”

    H.L. Mencken

  2. #142
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default The space in between ...

    Thought I would throw out a thought and argue that the problem is in the gap between what the Army is expected to do (the ultimate political solution, i.e. a democratic Afghanistan) and what it is capable of doing (destroy enemy military capabilities). The U.S. Army does not have the capability, nor the will, to accomplish this political objective. It does not matter if the objective is the right one. Not for us to argue. It is the objective. If we do not have the capability and we are not interested in creating that capability (we currently pay lip service to it with things like Advise and Assist Brigades), who should fill the gap between capability and requirement ... what is commonly referred to as "mission creep". It is not mission creep, it is the mission, the Army just can't do it as configured.

    Not for the Navy to do, they sink Ships. The Air Force drops bombs. Maybe the Marine can help, since they are the only other ground force, but they are spread pretty thin. They certainly have more experience. None the less, it is the Army who is stuck with occupation duty in large scale conflicts. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute...dpower/2012/09
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 11-25-2012 at 11:11 PM.
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  3. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Thought I would throw out a thought and argue that the problem is in the gap between what the Army is expected to do (the ultimate political solution, i.e. a democratic Afghanistan) and what it is capable of doing (destroy enemy military capabilities). The U.S. Army does not have the capability, nor the will, to accomplish this political objective. It does not matter if the objective is the right one. Not for us to argue. It is the objective. If we do not have the capability and we are not interested in creating that capability (we currently pay lip service to it with things like Advise and Assist Brigades), who should fill the gap between capability and requirement ... what is commonly referred to as "mission creep". It is not mission creep, it is the mission, the Army just can't do it as configured.

    Not for the Navy to do, they sink Ships. The Air Force drops bombs. Maybe the Marine can help, since they are the only other ground force, but they are spread pretty thin. They certainly have more experience. None the less, it is the Army who is stuck with occupation duty in large scale conflicts. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute...dpower/2012/09
    I take issue with the will part of your argument. First off the Bush administration argued we were not an occupation force (we were) in either Afghanistan or Iraq, so the responsibilities of an occupying power were not accepted at the political level. I suspect that will continue to be the case.

    Second there was, and to some extent continues to be a debate on the roles of the military and the roles of the State Department (State has a lot of big ideas, a lot of hope, but very little capacity to do anything on this scale), but they still oppose the Army doing this, and they carry some weight on Capital Hill.

    Assuming we were given the mission there would be the will to get done, and the solution wouldn't be advise and assist BDEs. It would be much more complicated and robust. We would have to have a civilian corp of experts that would probably come from our reserves and national guard to facilitate the construction of a political system that never existed in the first place. Many would have to be civilians that are temporarly deputized (for lack of a better term) because their skill sets wouldn't be resident in the ranks.

    I still think Iraq and Afghanistan are aberrations instead of the new norm. I suspect for the next decade or so we'll be less ambitious and more reasonable when we design our objectives. We're capable of assisting governments who desire to change (Eastern European governments, Burma, etc.), but forcing undesired political system change is probably not something we want to invest in.

  4. #144
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    Thought I would throw out a thought and argue that the problem is in the gap between what the Army is expected to do (the ultimate political solution, i.e. a democratic Afghanistan) and what it is capable of doing (destroy enemy military capabilities). The U.S. Army does not have the capability, nor the will, to accomplish this political objective. It does not matter if the objective is the right one. Not for us to argue. It is the objective. If we do not have the capability and we are not interested in creating that capability (we currently pay lip service to it with things like Advise and Assist Brigades), who should fill the gap between capability and requirement ... what is commonly referred to as "mission creep". It is not mission creep, it is the mission, the Army just can't do it as configured.
    Not only does the US Army not have the capability to transform Afghanistan into a democracy, the US Government overall doesn't have that capacity. Neither does anyone else, which raises some questions about the wisdom of selecting goals we haven't the capacity to achieve.

    If any smart people are considering the possibility of trying to reconfigure the Army to make it capable of achieving such goals, I hope they're also considering the possibility that we might at some future time need an Army that functions as an Army. It would suck to reconfigure the Army to turn them into agents of democratic transformation and suddenly run into a situation where we need them to destroy an opposing armed force.

    I would personally rather let the Army be an Army... if we really desperately need some organization to turn nations into democracies we should build a new organization, let the Army handle Army functions (fighting armed antagonists and training the host country military) and have a civilian organization tasked with the rest of it. Whether we really need to be going around trying to impose democracy in other countries is another question altogether, to which I suspect "no" is a really good answer.
    “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”

    H.L. Mencken

  5. #145
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default a start ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I take issue with the will part of your argument. First off the Bush administration argued we were not an occupation force (we were) in either Afghanistan or Iraq, so the responsibilities of an occupying power were not accepted at the political level. I suspect that will continue to be the case.
    While I would argue that some in the military knew exactly what was to come in both Iraq and Afghanistan and chose to ignore it during the planning, execution and what came after, that is not the point of what I am getting at.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Second there was, and to some extent continues to be a debate on the roles of the military and the roles of the State Department (State has a lot of big ideas, a lot of hope, but very little capacity to do anything on this scale), but they still oppose the Army doing this, and they carry some weight on Capital Hill.

    Assuming we were given the mission there would be the will to get done, and the solution wouldn't be advise and assist BDEs. It would be much more complicated and robust. We would have to have a civilian corp of experts that would probably come from our reserves and national guard to facilitate the construction of a political system that never existed in the first place. Many would have to be civilians that are temporarly deputized (for lack of a better term) because their skill sets wouldn't be resident in the ranks.
    OK, this is what I was thinking. A constabulary "force" for lack of a better term under the auspices of the State Department. It could be made up of current reserve forces (designated for dual use) including Civil Affairs, MPs, Medical units, Engineers, and the like. It would need some very specialized capabilities that it would pull from State. It would not be the Peace Corps with weapons. Its mission would be limited to stability and humanitarian assistance (not nation building or social restructuring). It would be built around a preferred political solution but would have the flexibility (given that they have the go ahead from Washington) to allow traditional governments to remain in power as long as they were not the problem in the first place. It would be capable of defending itself against lightly armed company size elements.

    Based on the above parameters, what would such a force require (other than funding)?


    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I still think Iraq and Afghanistan are aberrations instead of the new norm. I suspect for the next decade or so we'll be less ambitious and more reasonable when we design our objectives. We're capable of assisting governments who desire to change (Eastern European governments, Burma, etc.), but forcing undesired political system change is probably not something we want to invest in.
    I disagree with and agree with this assessment. Baring a major collapse of the current world systems small wars, humanitarian interventions, and stabilization will be more prevalent in the future than near peer wars. We will, by necessity, be less inclined to get involved in the next few cases, but it is man's curse that he forgets. I would prefer not to forget what we have learned in the last ten years.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 11-26-2012 at 12:54 PM.
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  6. #146
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I would personally rather let the Army be an Army... if we really desperately need some organization to turn nations into democracies we should build a new organization, let the Army handle Army functions (fighting armed antagonists and training the host country military) and have a civilian organization tasked with the rest of it.
    I agree completely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Whether we really need to be going around trying to impose democracy in other countries is another question altogether, to which I suspect "no" is a really good answer.
    I don't think it is that simple, although I agree that we cannot "impose democracy". The world is changing as those parts of the world who are not democratic experiment with the idea or fight against it altogether. It took the French nearly a hundred years from the revolution to a stable democracy and included two emperors and at least two republics. The original round of revolutions of 1848 would not see a stable Europe for over another hundred years and two world wars. I suspect that we will see the same types of gestation from the Arab Spring. Political transitions of this type are messy. They involve an internal restructuring of the society's value system. We may not be able to force countries into becoming a democracy but we certainly can limit the damage that they will inevitably do, that may end up on our doorstep, as they make the transition themselves.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 11-26-2012 at 12:57 PM.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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  7. #147
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Bearing any burden... Again?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    ...Baring a major collapse of the current world systems small wars, humanitarian interventions, and stabilization will be more prevalent in the future than near peer wars.
    Arguable on several levels. A major collapse might not be required, we -- the world -- could get simply get smarter. Unlikely, to be sure but a series of minor and more probable "collapses" could trigger change for better OR for worse. Note also that our ability to predict near peer wars is suspect at best.

    However, the issue isn't really what might occur but our response...
    We will, by necessity, be less inclined to get involved in the next few cases, but it is man's curse that he forgets. I would prefer not to forget what we have learned in the last ten years.
    What we have learned in the last few years we also learned in the Indian Wars, in the Philippines, in the Caribbean and Central America and in Viet Nam:

    - Small wars should be kept small. Commitment of major forces, the GPF, is inherently and by definition enlarging.

    - Humanitarian interventions should be of the shortest possible duration to preclude any semblance of occupation or of overwhelming local mores and practices.

    - "Stabilization" is a myth. We have never stabilized anything. We have imposed or, more often, tried and failed to impose our will on others. That's not stabilizing, that's simply interfering for our nominal and theoretical advantage -- and it universally fails.

    What we have learned in the last ten years we really already knew and that knowledge was not forgotten, it was deliberately ignored as much for US domestic political reasons as for any others; we didn't keep the war small; we didn't intervene for humanitarian but rather for political reasons and we did not 'stabilize' but instead added significantly to the normal flow of destabilization that is endemic to humankind.

    Oh -- we also learned that our 'doctrine' has lost its way and our overall state of training and military education is marginal.

    I'm with you. I hope we don't forget those things.

  8. #148
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Mostly agree

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    However, the issue isn't really what might occur but our response...What we have learned in the last few years we also learned in the Indian Wars, in the Philippines, in the Caribbean and Central America and in Viet Nam:

    - Small wars should be kept small. Commitment of major forces, the GPF, is inherently and by definition enlarging.

    - Humanitarian interventions should be of the shortest possible duration to preclude any semblance of occupation or of overwhelming local mores and practices.
    Agree with all of the above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    - "Stabilization" is a myth. We have never stabilized anything. We have imposed or, more often, tried and failed to impose our will on others. That's not stabilizing, that's simply interfering for our nominal and theoretical advantage -- and it universally fails.
    Disagree to a point. I think there are examples of successful "Stabilization"; for example, Bosnia. In that case we (along with others) imposed our will on the local population in order to reduce the threat to the neighboring countries. But I agree successful cases are limited. I would add that the odds of them failing increase the farther afield we go from simply keeping the peace. The more we try to "change the world" the more likely we are to fail. Stabilization can also take the form of Containment which does not necessarily require direct military action but may require military and civilian presence. The current situation in around Syria is an example of this type of situation. We cannot fix them but we can keep their problems from spilling over to other countries ... or at least try to stop that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Oh -- we also learned that our 'doctrine' has lost its way and our overall state of training and military education is marginal.
    Perhaps part of our problem is that we are trying to do too much in realms that we have limited capabilities. As a result, we have to throw out doctrine and dilute training and education. Just a thought.

    My intent would be to, for the most part, remove this burden from the U.S. Army and move it over to State where it belongs. Yes, there would still be a contribution of forces as well as logistical support but I believe it is a better solution than continuing to expect the Army to do things that are beyond their capabilities.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 11-26-2012 at 05:14 PM.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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