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Thread: Historical Parallels?

  1. #41
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    Default The danger of forming speciality units for stability operations

    While I agree a number of interesting ideas have been surfaced regarding the formation of peace enforcement type units, I'll argue they're not good ideas for the following reasons:

    1. Our military is already time stressed as it is to simply meet our combat training needs which always must be a first priority. Not only is it a moral imperative, can you can imagine the political fall out if any of our units come up on the short end of an engagement with the enemy?

    2. We're struggling to meet our manning requirements for the combat forces, so exactly where is this Army of SOSO/Peace Enforcement experts going to come from? While we may be able to form one BDE of these specialists, whatever the speciality is exactly, we won't be able to deploy them indefinitely, so who backfills them?

    While the death before dismount mentality is alive and well in a few Army units, I would argue that many Army units have adapted (learned) to the current situation quite well, so I don't see a requirement for speciality SOSO units that we can't sustain. I do see a need for the new ideas to spread and for the dinasours to step aside, but that doesn't mean throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    What we do need is better leader and soldier education/training preparing them to handle the current and anticipated operating environments. We definitely need better joint and interagency doctrine that is "enforced". There is a bigger onus on the Dept of State (and other agencies/departments/bureaus, etc.) to transform, than the military. The Dept of State is a non-functional bureacracy that is undermanned and underfunded, yet they have perhaps the most critical role in GWOT. And we need to figure out exactly where the contractor fits in on the battlefield/operating space. We have several Young Turks coming up through the ranks with some great ideas, so I hope they don't get disillusioned by the bureaucracy and traditionalists residing at the mid level Army management.

  2. #42
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    Would we still need the same force structure if we didn't have combat troops tied down in peace-keeping/handover duties?

    Yes, these troops would have to be combat trained. If I were king, I would look to the older, more experienced troops already in the system, reserves, NG, and new recruiting specifically for these units.

    With reference to the current "additional duty" assignment theory in place, is this not the reverse of your concerns regarding time stress etc.? What is the difference between being time stressed to combat train handover units and being time stressed to teach handover to combat units?

    As for how well we are doing, I would offer that the "death before dismount" mentality is more pervasive than a few units. It has been a while since I was in, but the green army wasn't good at in at all in my day. i'm sure improvements have been made since I left - out of sheer necessity if nothing else.

    Like I said before, I don't have all the answers. But my experience tells me that there is more to winning small wars than kicking doors and setting up roadblocks with tanks.

    In my experience, most young soldiers join the military for one reason - excitement. Nation building isn't exciting and requires a different mindset than running and gunning. That mindset comes with maturity and experience. And older soldiers often look for a place with a slightly slower pace. The SF A-Teams are now being manned by 18Xs - very, very young. While they are more than capable of kicking doors, will they have the maturity and patience to replace the doors and do everything possible to ensure those doors remain open to the United States?

  3. #43
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    Default Time stressed

    NND,

    I'm confident I'm contradicting myself, thus the value of the discussion board to throw our ideas out to the murder board and see what we're left with. I'll agree with you, and if we lived in a perfect world where we didn't have human resource constraints I would be all for standing up a stability force composed of specialists.

    Should it be composed of older soldiers, or better educated soldiers, or both? The numbers we're talking about for manning these speciality units are signficant, so after we rob the Army of these senior leaders, who is now leading the fighters? I don't think there is a clear demarcation where we cross from door kicking to stability operations, the reality is they're done simultaneously, and the primary effort can flow back and forth. I would add that whoever owns the ground, owns the mission, whatever that mission entails. I can't see how it would work any other way. I knew conventional officers in Iraq that sincerely believed that once the Iraqi Army conventional units capitulated that their job was done. They quickly learned that there were no replacement units to conduct stability operations, and that they had to figure it out. Some did very well, others had some significant challenges. Furthermore, with all the troops we have in Iraq now, we still don't have enough to cover the entire country. I would ask you to do some rough math, and calculate the numbers required to man (and train and support) this speciality stability force. At a minimum they should be able to cover down on Iraq and Afghanistan for the next four years, then have enough left over to support another contingency. I hate sounding like a bureaucratic nay sayer, but I don't see this option as workable, at least not in the next few years.

    What might work is providing stability planners down to each BDE as force multipliers? This is more than PSYOP, Civil Affairs, etc., these are planners that understand the full spectrum and can help keep the boss on track. Does SAMS at Levanworth produce these planners already? Maybe, but there is room for improvement. The bottom line for the troops is there will be a lot of hip pocket training as the situation evolves and the missions change. This means we need smart soldiers that are capable of assessing and adapting to the environment, thus the danger of the Army recruiting more CAT 4's to man the force.

    Somewhat off the subject, I would like to respond to your comments about the 18X program (for those of you not familiar with it, it is the relatively new program where we recruit soldiers off the street to join Special Forces; actually it isn't new, we had this program in place a couple of other times in our history). We were all leary about it initially, but the reality is we're getting some incredability smart kids and adults who wouldn't have joined the service if they couldn't go directly into SF. We're getting several soldiers with advanced degrees, Wall Street Brokers, and at least one PHd. This reminds me of the OSS initial manning under Wild Bill (a successful businessman, thus a proven achiever and thinker). They will be an asset to the force, and again they're only a percentage, so the old salts will still be there to mentor them along. I'm also not convinced there is necessarily a correlation between experience and effectiveness downrange. I think the correlation of whether a soldier is effective is based more on his character and intelligence, than his experience. If he has the right traits, then experience will make him better, but we all know there are several senior NCOs and officers that are stuck in ineffective operational ruts. Some of the younger guys bring some interesting perceptions to the force that can be very effective downrange. I guess we just need to provide further clarification beyond experience.

  4. #44
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
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    Default 2 cents on the "Death Before Dismount" issue?

    As I grew more aware of the T/O of the Army, I became increasingly surprised at just how few infantry there are in the Army infantry. Current situation is almost the "most dangerous" COA for the folks that came up with that org. USMC is prepared to flood the streets w/ 900+ riflemen (every Marine is one) per infantry Bn (BLT / BCT, almost all hands go out), while Army doesn't approach those numbers per unit.

    Don' want to turn this in to inter-service bashing. Strong belief that the Army is playing the hand they were dealt like the warriors they are. Also concur with the "feasibility" concerns for the SASO-specialist units. But really, what is the Army doing to do about their "infantry?" Current course and speed assuming that the next war won't be the same, or is there a fundamental questioning of assumptions that goes along with the refreshing revelations / admissions that we may enter the occasional urban area rather than bypass?

    I asked this question to CSA 18 months ago in a public forum. Got a slick deflect. "Aware of" and "looking at it" and "doing the best with the T/O that we LD'd with." Agree with the latter. What's really going on with the former two?

  5. #45
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    Default Big Bird

    Your points on the Army are well taken, but I am a fan of the new direction our Chief is leading the Army in. Based on the points you mentioned above, and several other lessons learned since 9/11, we're undergoing a substantial transformation in the way we train the force. Having recently received a brief on Basic Training, those kids are receiving relevant combat scenario focused training, that is much more focused on weapons handling and field training than it was in the past. This directive is also impacting our leadership training at all levels from junior NCO academies to Officer's advance courses. We're a learning organization, albeit we're slow learners as an organization. You have every right to ask why did it take so long to implement such obvious common sense measures, but overcoming years of stagnant culture and our history is a challenge to say the least. I don't think our non-combat arms guys will be riflemen in the true meaning of the word, but they should be able to handle themselves and at least provide convoy and static security, so when you say I providing you with XX number Soldiers, then you be able to count on them being well trained in the basics.

  6. #46
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    Default How we are Training

    I think I understand all of the previous gentlemens points. I would say that the Army is adapting in a very real way to the changing battlefield. Scenarios no longer include simply "snatch and grab" HVT or hostage problems, but units are beginning to include working the local populace to find actionable intelligence. While Battle drills and basic soldier tasks are still most of what we do, as we move to collective training we are beginning to take more time to train company grade leaders more and more on conditional maneuver and intelligence gathering during operations. I am a very new captain in the Infantry and I am amazed at the difference in training between before I first went to Iraq and now, as my unit prepares for a second tour.

    I don't think I understand what is meant by the "death before dismount" mentality that is referred to. We use our vehicles to get as close to the fight as possible and then dismount for manuever. At least in my Brigade, we still understand that our best weapon is the infantry squad/platoon on the ground. I will admit that as I deployed to Iraq I never suspected that I would be the coalition representative to city council meetings and working the military intelligence side as much as I did, but I feel like my peers and I adapted well. Special Operations is a great asset but they will never be in great enough numbers to create a huge difference in the theater you just can't train enough of them. It has to be won with the squad leader and platoon leader on the ground, and that is what the focus should be. The best way to do this is complicated scenario based training at the battalion and company levels forcing young leaders to shift from a hot objective to a cold on and back to hot.

    Also, as far as specialty SASO/SOSO units I think that is dangerous territory for an army to be in. It needs to be a secondary mission of all units to expliot the victory no matter how long it takes. SASO seems to be a leader intensive task and most Army leaders I have served with are more than up to it as long as good guidance is given to us. If we are failing to do anything, it is the dissemination of political goals to the small unit leader. The time is gone where we can rely on Brigade and battalion commanders to handle political aspects of an operation. I would say that while most Infantry Squad leaders and Platoon Leaders wouldn't like it, they would understand the political mission and curb their actions in accordance with it.

    I really enjoyed reading all of your comments.
    Last edited by entropico; 10-21-2005 at 07:58 PM.

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    Default Army Transformation

    After sitting in briefings over the past several days on this subject, and how it relates to our ability to prosecute counterinsurgency campaigns, I would respectfully disagree. One need only review the latest Army field manual concerning how it is to mitigate and eliminate IEDs to see much of the same old same old. It suggests creating MECH and Armor heavy units structured around engineers that will go out and conduct counter-IED missions.

    With 15 brigades currently deployed to Iraq, 7 of which are Army National Guard, one is forced to ask, where are all the rest of the soldiers. Obviously, the Army has done its part in the GWOT, but is in not unnecessarily burdened by troop deployments in South Korea and Germany? If the active duty, reserve, and national guard components of the Army total over a million men, and over 150,000 are currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, where are all the rest?

    The USMC maintains 7 true RCTs (there is no true RCT 4), and has fielded 2 non-stop in Iraq for the past 2 years. I would imagine if the Army could bring 28% of its active duty combat power to bear in Iraq, things would be appreciably different.

    I am in no way trying to bash another service. I just think we should not expect but so much from the National Guard and Reserve, and stop trying to kid overselves that the Army is going to have an ephiphany, and start parking Bradley IFV in favor of producing foot mobile infantry.

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    Default I see

    I think you have a better view on the bigger picture, but I would say when you take the whole manpower of the Army you are not taking in the support aspect of the Army that are not necassarily boots on the ground. Marine Corps god bless them have most of their support taken care of by the Navy. Navy corpsmen attached to Marine units not Marine Medics is a great example of this. This is why the Marine Corps has a higher percentage of "boots on the ground" than the Army does. Only recently has the Army begun to streamline. An example of this is recently the Army discontinued their book-binding MOS. They are doing this by using civilian contractors more and more. However the Army is a much bigger organization than the Marine Corps and that means a huge amount of support assets that go along with it. That takes up numbers.

    As for IED's I have been in a few Strykers when they "Blew up" and they seem to do fine as far as survivability. If they would except the associated risk and allow sniper teams to set up along main MSRs where IED's are a problem I think that would be more effective. We need to stop IED's from being planted not sweep through them after the fact.

  9. #49
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    Default IED's are not the real issue

    I thought the CPT had several excellent points; especially his comments on setting up STX lanes that focused on transitioning from hostile to uncertain environments and back to hostile again right on the money. I'm not sure what those would like, so I hope he'll share some examples later.

    Since we have digressed from the original topic (historical parallels), Iíll try to transition back in that direction by focusing on the IED problem discussed above.

    Is there really an IED problem? In other words, is the IED any more than a tactical nuisance? I will argue that we can achieve all of our tactical and operational maneuver objectives even if the IED threat doubled.

    However, the IED threat was never intended to defeat our military forces, it was intended to have its effect/affect on the home front, thus the strategic value of a tactically/ operationally insignificant weapon system. Our enemy knows they canít defeat our military, just like they knew it in the Balkans, Somalia, Vietnam, Algeria, Lebanon (both the U.S. and Israel), and assorted other small wars, so they correctly identified our center of gravity as our national will.

    Our leadership having recognized this has engaged in a progression of smarter counter measures countered by smarter IEDs and firing systems (tougher to jam). Itís a classic catch 22, weíre obligated to counter the IEDs and force the enemy to counter our counters, which in effect is creating (I donít like this term, but if will suffice for now) a super terrorist armed with better technology and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) for export. Much like Maoís revolutionary tactics spread around the world (obviously adapted to local conditions), we now not only see the Islamist ideology exported at the speed of the internet, but also their associated TTP. Weíre now seeing advanced IEDs in SE Asia and it wonít be long until we see them in South and Central America.

    IEDís are the tactics of the flea, but unlike the War of the Flea in Vietnam, this is the War of the Flea empowered by the internet along at least two lines of operation. First, the flea bite wounds us soldiers, but the severity of the wounds are magnified a thousand fold on our national psyche by the media and the rapid development of grass root organizations like mothers against the war, etc. While Collin Powell rightfully got us away from the enemy body count as a metric of success, our nation has somehow managed to turn our own body count into a metric of failure, and several peace organizations are just waiting until we cross the 2,000 KIA mark to attempt to aggressively spread their anti-war message, which will probably result in more emphasis from our political leaders to minimize casualties, which in turn will give our enemy freer range of movement; and force us to Iraqize the war faster than prudent. The second line I already discussed and that is the spread of effective flea technology and TTP to like minded groupsí world wide.

    I realize this is no great insight to any of the readers here, but it is imperative we find ways to counter this trend. I personally think the American people are much more resilient to casualties when they believe we have the high moral ground and the war in is our national interest, thus the burden of winning the war on the home front is on our political leadership. They must clarify our purpose for being there in a way that resounds with our population, and with all due respect, our President has been unable to effectively convey that message. We canít afford to confuse support for the military as support for the war. I know the poster above me (I believe MAJ Stricklin) thinks we should put more U.S. soldiers on the ground (I agree), but that wonít be possible when our national leaders feel cornered by the flea. I think we have strong national leadership at the moment, but their weakness has been their inability to build a consensus with our countrymen. What can we do to help?

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    Default In response to query

    Basic new STX Lane scenario we have been training with;

    Respond to overwhelmed Iraqi forces, intelligence points to who may be responsible and a general location as to where they may be in the city(The army has been investing in some excellent MOUT sites in which this can be accomplished). Unit gets there and nothing happens for an hour to two hours. Unit leaders have to works COB's to find out exactly what happened and who the community leaders are. As they get closer to the real story, violence starts ramping up. Each objective leads to a new objective, it is not an all at once thing. Success depends on exploitation of each new HVT in order to get to the one big guy. Consolidation and exploitation are no longer options, they must figure out what they have before they make their next move. At the end of the scenario handover with Iraqi forces and orderly withdrawal for follow on operations.

  11. #51
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    Responding to Bill asking about the effectiveness of IEDs: they're not effective in a strictly military sense, ie they are merely a nuisance, but have a substantial impact in the propaganda effort.

    The better question is how the presence of IEDs will impact our future tactics. How often will we invade a country which contains gigantic stockpiles of arty shells dispersed throughout thousands of ammo dumps? My guess would be very rarely if ever. Thus, most of the lessons we learn on how to deal with IEDs will unlikely have a long-term impact in our operations beyond the current conflict. Future wars will probably contain very different assymetric threats.

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    Default IED's was only part of my point

    Hans, I understand what you're saying, and must admit I remain amazed to this day at the number of large (very large) ammo supply points throughout Iraq. Our unit tasked guys to tackle that problem full time, and they barely put a dent in it. Where else may we find this situation in the future? How about Syria, Iran, N. Korea, former members of the USSR, and other nations that we may at some time in the future consider potential adversaries? I wouldn't write off as a problem unique to Iraq, but agree that Iraq was/is exceptional in the volume of munitions readily available.

    The underlying point, is that our center of gravity is generally our national will, and for illogical reasons, the number of our KIAs appears to be the decisive point. You can't measure military success by body counts (in most cases), so the decisive point in this case doesn't impact the military directly in a decisive manner, but it does indirectly through the political system. Isn't this truly what we mean when we use the phrase asymmetrical warfare?

    You're right that in future conflicts there will be other tactics to put pressue on this decisive point beyond IEDs, but the challenge remains the same, how do we win the battle of minds on the home front? While not a military role, it still needs to be addressed if the military is going to achieve success. Can you name a small war where a western nation lost when this wasn't the center of gravity? I can't recall an instance of Western forces being soundly defeated on the battlefield (with the exception of a battle lost here and there). We're once again in danger of pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. This will be our recurring achille's heel, and we (the Unitied States and other Western Nations) have better find a find of mitigating it.

  13. #53
    Council Member Hansmeister's Avatar
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    Default

    Bill, the problem we face is that we don't have a pro-American media. For evidence I would cite the way the media has covered the passing of the Iraqi Constitution:

    The NYTimes: "Many Sunni Arabs voted against the document, but the "no" votes were not enough to defeat it."

    LA Times: "Sunni Opponents Unable to Block Iraqi Constitution"

    The AP needed 23 paragraphs to finally mention the overwhelming public approval for the Constitution.

    How to overcome the desire of the media to see us fail? Develop a stronger voice of our own.

    There are many independent journalists and bloggers that do excellent reporting from Iraq. Th Pentagon needs to create a way to collect all that information thru a website, trying to provide content to second-tier media that aren't biased against our efforts.

    The Pentagon should also be much more aggressive when dealing with the hostile press. Do'nt be defensive in press conferences. Open up each press conference by pointing out misleading and false articles by the press over the previous day. Force the media into the defensive and to expose their bias. This would shake up the dynamic of the give and take between the media and the Pentagon and somewhat even the playing field.

    Basically, the Pentagon has to divide the media into "friendly" and "hostile" camps and vigorously seek to discredit the latter.

    The media would go all atwitter over such a policy (just remember their outrage over the "Office of Strategic Influence") and intensify their hostility. However, this would mainly serve only to discredit those media outlets that engage in that strategy since the public would discount their statements as partisan.

  14. #54
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    Default Moreover...

    The passing of the referendum headlines will be butted up against 2,000 mark in GI deaths tomorrow morning.... AP is already running stories about "Iraqi deaths more than U.S." Forget about countering foreign IO - we have our own doing the job for AJ and the BBC.

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    Default Friendly IO

    Quote Originally Posted by DDilegge
    The passing of the referendum headlines will be butted up against 2,000 mark in GI deaths tomorrow morning.... AP is already running stories about "Iraqi deaths more than U.S." Forget about countering foreign IO - we have our own doing the job for AJ and the BBC.
    I am amazed that we do not attempt to counter the negativity of US media sources through a campaign of context. If we put our 2,000 KIA in the context of events with similar deaths such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, or September 11th, then maybe people would see this figure with less astonishment. If we further attempted to put this same figure of 2000 KIA in the context of the 16,000 homicides per year that we have in the US, I trust that they would look even less daunting.

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    Default We agree on the problem

    Seems a lot of us agree on the media being a significant problem; however, they aren't our only problem. Unfortunately, the bad news they report is largely true. What isn't true is the perspective they put it in. Personally I love a media that challenges our government. Can you imagine our government if we didn't have the media as part of the check and balance system? Within reason professional members of our media are as essential to protecting our freedoms as we grunts are.

    I'll jump off my soapbox now, but I wanted to set the stage for the remainder of my reply. Why does the popular media's version of the story sell, and the Pentagon's version of the story flop? We have an unsosphisticated spin machine in the Pentagon that couldn't sell bottled water to a person isolated in the desert. On the other hand we have a public media that seeks out bad news, and presents it in a very dramatic and unbalanced manner. I don't think they want to see us lose (some do, but they're out of the norm), they simply think they're doing the right thing.

    Paraphrasing something I heard Mr. Rober Kaplan (author numerous articles and books, most recently Imperial Grunts), "you can't paint images of plastic saints, and expect them to be credible". I think it was an attempt at an apology perhaps because he tells his readers about our heroic exploits and about the warts on our butt. He's right! Our pentagon news services like to put out these clean, just too happy, just too feel good stories that wouldn't convince a second grader that the story was true.

    I don't think we counter the bad news by ignoring it, or rushing to put it out, then hoping it will go away. We have to admit our challenges, we definitely have challenges in Iraq and elsewhere beyond the media. I guess I'm kind of weird in the fact that I believe that the American people have a good sense for the truth when they hear it.

    Imagine if we had real people speaking to the press at the Pentagon and in the field, that didn't have a story to tell, but rather discussed the issues, the challenges we're facing and where we're making progress. Not some perfumed prince getting in front of the spot light to give his five minutes of sound bites, then leaving the press to analyze it. Why aren't we analyzing it with them?

    The saying that the truth is the first casualty of war appears to have a long history, but what is different now (from the recent past) is the number of sources that information seekers can go to to seek the truth. We can't operate the way we used to and simply put out a simple spin message and expect it to sell. We have to get in the mud and speak from there, and tell the American people how we're transforming this mud pit we're in. Stop trying to create unrealistic expectations, stop giving time lines, and simply tell the truth (where we can). The truth sells too, not just bad news, but the truth must be perceived as the truth to sell. Sometimes I think the harder we try to counter the bad news, the worse we look. We should tell the bad news, then tell the rest of the story and put it in perspective. If we don't address it someone else will.

  17. #57
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    Default 2,000 Dead, in Context

    Quote Originally Posted by Major Strickland
    I am amazed that we do not attempt to counter the negativity of US media sources through a campaign of context. If we put our 2,000 KIA in the context of events with similar deaths such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, or September 11th, then maybe people would see this figure with less astonishment. If we further attempted to put this same figure of 2000 KIA in the context of the 16,000 homicides per year that we have in the US, I trust that they would look even less daunting.
    2,000 Dead, in Context - 27 Oct. Op-Ed by Victor Davis Hanson in the NYT:

    "...Comparative historical arguments, too, are not much welcome in making sense of the tragic military deaths - any more than citing the tens of thousands Americans who perish in traffic accidents each year. And few care to hear that the penultimate battles of a war are often the costliest - like the terrible summer of 1864 that nearly ruined the Army of the Potomac and almost ushered in a Copperhead government eager to stop at any cost the Civil War, without either ending slavery or restoring the Union. The battle for Okinawa was an abject bloodbath that took more than 50,000 American casualties, yet that campaign officially ended less than six weeks before Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender..."

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hansmeister
    Responding to Bill asking about the effectiveness of IEDs: they're not effective in a strictly military sense, ie they are merely a nuisance, but have a substantial impact in the propaganda effort.

    The better question is how the presence of IEDs will impact our future tactics. How often will we invade a country which contains gigantic stockpiles of arty shells dispersed throughout thousands of ammo dumps? My guess would be very rarely if ever. Thus, most of the lessons we learn on how to deal with IEDs will unlikely have a long-term impact in our operations beyond the current conflict. Future wars will probably contain very different assymetric threats.
    I would not be so dismissive of IEDs as a threat. They are the number one killer of our troops - more have been killed by IEDs than small arms fire. And that statistic only reflects IEDs - not VBIEDs (non-suicide or suicide) or suicide bombers with the device on their person. That makes them a bit more than merely a "nuisance".

    Their use has significantly affected the way we conduct ops in-country and has resulted in a major technological/tactical effort on our part to defeat and/or mitigate their effects. Of course, the bad guys' IED TTPs continue to evolve to meet our countermeasures. IEDs won't win battles or campaigns, yet their use is of military significance in the disproportionate amount of resources we have had to use in order to meet the threat in relation to the effort the bad guys expend to construct and emplace the devices.

    The use of IEDs is not unique to this conflict - although their use in Iraq has reached unprecendented levels. The ANC used roadside bombs to effect in its campaign against the apartheid South African military, as did Hezbollah in South Lebanon against the IDF and SLA. The IRA used them, but much more sparingly than the first two examples. Today, IEDs have also become a major weapon in the arsenal of the Nepalese insurgent group the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal.

    In future conflicts, the IED threat may not be as widespread and frequently applied as a tactic by whatever opponent we may face at that time - but you can count on their use, as they are too simple and effective a weapon to be dismissed by those overmatched by conventional US combat power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    I would not be so dismissive of IEDs as a threat. They are the number one killer of our troops. That makes them a bit more than merely a "nuisance".

    Their use has significantly affected the way we conduct ops in-country. IEDs won't win battles or campaigns, yet their use is of military significance in the disproportionate amount of resources we have had to use in order to meet the threat. They are too simple and effective a weapon to be dismissed by those overmatched by conventional US combat power.

    Jedburgh, I can't argue with your logical counter argument. I expected my post to prompt several heated replies, yet you were the only one that fired back on the IED issue. All of your points are on the money, but taking it a step further:

    1. IED's can't "directly" defeat a conventional maneuver unit conducting an attack or defense operation. They sure as hell can make it painful, and they can force us to adapt to our tactics to mitigate the threat (probably true throughout the history of war, it is a constant evolution of tactics and counter-tactics).

    2. IED's may defeat us indirectly, much like the Hezbollah defeated the Israelis in Lebanon using similiar tactics. Our foe's definition of success of success isn't winning the battle, but defeating us by with a thousand cuts (on our flesh and in our psychic). In my opinion we still plan military operations to achieve tactical success, which obviously must be done, but tactical victories won't win the war by themselves as some seem to think. Worse, I'm concerned that many of our military planners think our enemy plans their operations to achieve tactical success, which means we're using mirror analysis by assuming the enemy thinks like us. I don't think the enemy in Iraq cares about tactical success; they measure success on how effectively they influence their intended audiences.

    For one, they have had some success targeting our national will on the homefront with their IED and other attacks.

    For another their successes (by their definition of success) has given Islamists around the world a sense of hope they can defeat us, thus they're successfully able to continuely generate new recruits. This belief in the possibility of winning is strategic and we need to address it.

    Another audience is Iraqi people (this group needs further defined), and I assume their intent here is to make them believe that their security forces can't protect them, so it is best to give the insurgents what they want, so they can live in some semblence of peace.

    3. Assuming that even half of I wrote in para 2 is correct, then your comments about not making light of IEDs are spot on. We know that winning insurgencies isn't about winning tactical battles (although we better not lose one, the psychological repercussions on the home front would be severe), rather it is winning in the battlespace that lies between the ears.

    Thanks for pushing back
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 10-29-2005 at 03:32 PM.

  20. #60
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    Default Iraq - Congo 1960-1964

    After reviewing US policy towards the UN (ONUC) intervention in the Congo in 1960, I was surprised at the similarity of endstate and disparity of actions between it and the US invasion of Iraq. A review of a State Department document dated Jan 1961, provides the following guidance for policy and operations in the Congo:
    1. Strengthen UN Mandate and International Cooperation
    2. Undertake a retaining and/or useful employment of the Congolese military and police elements
    3. Bring under control all military and police elements in the Congo
    4. Prevent civil strife and give adequate protection against possible tribal attacks
    5. Deter and prevent all outside intervention and assistance

    If we compare this guidance with what has transpired in Iraq: little international support, dissolution of all security forces, to include the military, lack of control of influence with regional militias, inability to prevent the influx of foreigners or their influence, should we have expected things to have turned out differently?

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