Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Plan B in Iraq

  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Plan B in Iraq

    From the SWJ Blog:

    Plan B in Iraq
    Beyond the Surge: Keeping the Military Relevant in an Asymmetric World


    Major Fernando Martinez Luján

    Regardless of “the Surge’s” outcome this summer, growing domestic political pressure will likely soon force American decision-makers to “pull the plug” on the large US troop presence in Iraq. Faced with this difficult situation, senior military and civilian leaders must act now to develop a viable “Plan B” as an alternative to precipitous, forced troop withdrawal. By necessity, this Plan B must incorporate both a smaller, sustainable troop presence and a series of sweeping organizational reforms to address the military’s badly outdated intervention strategies. Yet the stumbling in Iraq is only a symptom of a much larger problem: America’s military and civilian institutions, organized for Cold War conflict have grown increasingly incapable of dealing with today’s world of failing states, insurgencies, humanitarian crises, and non-state actors. Without a major reform of institutions—leveraging interagency elements, developing more nuanced and culturally-attuned forces, and recognizing the importance of the media—the changing dynamics in areas of conflict will make American power increasingly irrelevant...

  2. #2
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    212

    Default Bravo!

    As another frustrated 04 stuck in the 'supporting' element I feel your pain.

    Let us hope that 'higher' reads this and gets it. Quickly.

    Though I think 35K or less would be dangerous. Then again it is crazy enough it might work!

    When you take this article and the Bings' I think you can start to see a solid and workable plan for Iraq. Which means no way we do it .

    I can here the dissention now: too hard, too exposed, its dangerous, you mean live...with them uh no thanks. Etc...

    Keep attacking, someone might listen!

  3. #3
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    44

    Default Two Front War

    I lack the qualifications to speak to the suggestions for restructuring, either of the military generally or the Iraq mission, but I have argued for some time that whether you're talking about the war in Iraq or the larger GWOT, the military needs to start thinking about this as a two-front war, where the "ground war" is a metaphor for the actual state of play on the ground, whether militarily, politically, diplomatically, in terms of intelligence, law enforcement, what have you, and the "air war" is a metaphor for the way the war appears on the nation's television screens and front pages. In a democracy, winning the one and losing the other is still losing, period.

    That's why there has to be a far more effective strategy for Information Operations (a far more proactive one, IMHO), that's why it isn't enough to talk about this being "a war of ideas" without pumping sufficient resources into the MoSs that deal most directly with the problem -- IO, PA, and Psyops -- and why military-wide attitudes towards the press have to change. I get the critiques of the press (if there weren't legitimate critiques of the press coverage I'd be out of a job, yes?) but you all in uniform have to remember that the press are your conduits to the American people. Sorry, that's the deal. Blogs are critical, YouTube is great, but there are still 30million people a night watching ABC, CBS and NBC. If you think the press coverage does not reflect "ground truth" (and you'd better know -- ignoring the coverage is not an option) that disconnect, that gap, between ground truth as you see it and what people are getting from the coverage, well, that's the distance you have to overcome in the American people's expectations and understanding.

    Part of the problem with COIN, to be honest, is that it puts an enormous emphasis on winning hearts and minds (since, after all, the "people are the prize") while largely ignoring the fact that the one Clausewitzing principle you can't get away from is that you still need to sustain support at home -- and, as this piece suggests, for cultural reasons (I'm talking American culture) that may well be more difficult during COIN operations.

    Obviously the trick is how. I have no pat answers, although I have a number of answers on the margins I've been mentioning here since I've been dropping by. This has been the focus of my work over the last year, and I'm pushing as hard and as fast as I can, but it all starts with this -- if the military generally, and the Army especially, doesn't start by acknowledging the importance of the issue, no solution is going to get you very far.

  4. #4
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Melbourne Australia
    Posts
    66

    Default

    With the greatest of respect "Plan B" has, I believe, a chance of succeeding, but for one critical factor - information operations.

    In this respect, I'm afraid we are building on sand because the foundations of such information operations must be truth. It also helps to have a vision of what you want to achieve.

    Without wishing to open up a debate on these points, I do not believe we have yet received a truthful and convincing explanation of why we invaded Iraq in the first place, assuming that such things exist. Nor has anyone shared with us a clear vision of what we wish our armed services to achieve.

    For example, the clear objectives in WWII were to defeat Japan and Germany and remove their respective governments. The objective then almost immediately became to craft bulwarks against USSR type Communism.

    To put it another way, now immortalised in every business school corporate strategy class, is the "business plan" of the Elves in a "South Park", to wit:

    1. Steal underpants.

    2. ???????????

    3. Profit!

    What is the 2. ????????? imperative in Iraq? Why are we there?

    Absent these foundations, the information operations task is going to be extremely arduous, if it can be performed at all.

  5. #5
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    Without wishing to open up a debate on these points, I do not believe we have yet received a truthful and convincing explanation of why we invaded Iraq in the first place, assuming that such things exist. Nor has anyone shared with us a clear vision of what we wish our armed services to achieve.
    Why don't we put that debate that we "don't want to have" in a bit smaller box to try to NOT have it.

    Any lofty "truth" behind "why we invaded Iraq in the first place" can take a damn back seat to "what now?"

    IO needs a compelling message, not some epic truth per se. Whether that is some lofty neo-con confessional, or just something that plays well in Peoria, depends on which O the IO is supporting. There not only could, but should have been some mission creep in the past 5 years.

    So let's not make this a referendum on the past, but a way ahead for the future.

  6. #6
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Melbourne Australia
    Posts
    66

    Default

    I agree with you Iron Horse. There is no point in racking over the past and I'm trying to approach the problem from a business strategy approach.

    To put it in narrative terms, every story needs a plot. And a plot has a starting point and an ending point. We cannot conduct coherent information operations without this "plot", otherwise they will not make sense.

    For example, we can write a saccharin story about how life in such and such a town is now "better", but without a reference point its meaningless - ie: "Better than what? Better than it was under Sadaam Hussien? Better than it was before we bombed the sewerage plant? Better than it was before you shot my son? Better than it was before the death squads came? Do you see my point?

    None of our information operations will link together into a coherent whole without some overarching vision of what we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it. I do not believe we have yet done this, although I believe there are skilled and intelligent military men that could.

    It's not "over analyzing" the situation, its more of what was called in officer training as "selection and maintenance of the aim", or what Americans would perhaps call "The Mission". I always received the biggest toungue lashing from instructors when I led my troops into something without first getting it very clear what I was trying to achieve and resisting the urge to just "do something".
    Last edited by walrus; 06-01-2007 at 10:45 PM.

  7. #7
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wherever my stuff is
    Posts
    823

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    I agree with you Iron Horse. There is no point in racking over the past and I'm trying to approach the problem from a business strategy approach.

    To put it in narrative terms, every story needs a plot. And a plot has a starting point and an ending point. We cannot conduct coherent information operations without this "plot", otherwise they will not make sense.

    For example, we can write a saccharin story about how life in such and such a town is now "better", but without a reference point its meaningless - ie: "Better than what? Better than it was under Sadaam Hussien? Better than it was before we bombed the sewerage plant? Better than it was before you shot my son? Better than it was before the death squads came? Do you see my point?

    None of our information operations will link together into a coherent whole without some overarching vision of what we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it. I do not believe we have yet done this, although I believe there are skilled and intelligent military men that could.

    It's not "over analyzing" the situation, its more of what was called in officer training as "selection and maintenance of the aim", or what Americans would perhaps call "The Mission". I always received the biggest toungue lashing from instructors when I led my troops into something without first getting it very clear what I was trying to achieve and resisting the urge to just "do something".

    Walrus,

    While I can see some of your points, I can't really put them into perspective since you haven't introduced yourself or filled out your profile. Please fill it out.

    Having said that, we've gone a while and not cracked the code on IO. Perhaps the focus for the immediacy needs to be counter-IO. We don't let JOE blog, but Al Jazeera has it's own YouTube channel. Maybe instead of the "better" scenario, we should be shoving what the insurgency does to "better" society down the world's throat. Exploit the killing of children and women. Maybe the message needs to be that passivity is as dangerous as overt support.
    Example is better than precept.

  8. #8
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default

    RTK, a good reminder to me and all of us to "profile up" a bit.

    Walrus,
    If I follow your aim, I have to use different terms to get there and stay with you.

    To me you're really talking about strategy (grand strategy, split whatever terminology hair is needed, I probably deserve it coming back at me ), of which the major operational IO themes are one actor in a large supporting cast. Perhaps the big name, top of the marquee actor, but only one of many.

    Below that, all kinds of focused messages. Many very precise, very localized, very tactical, and not by any means the whole truth. IO out the wazoo.

    But we can't talk big IO like you seem to want to, without knowing which big strategy we're talking about.

    I have to admit the terms are becoming very blurry, but we can't use IO to mean everything on the one hand and media ops on the other.

    Thank god my account isn't suspended anymore

  9. #9
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wherever my stuff is
    Posts
    823

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironhorse View Post

    Any lofty "truth" behind "why we invaded Iraq in the first place" can take a damn back seat to "what now?"

    IO needs a compelling message, not some epic truth per se. Whether that is some lofty neo-con confessional, or just something that plays well in Peoria, depends on which O the IO is supporting. There not only could, but should have been some mission creep in the past 5 years.

    So let's not make this a referendum on the past, but a way ahead for the future.
    I wish more people would get on the bandwagon with this. The sh1t-sandwich is here. How will we take the bite?

    And you're right. IO doesn't have to be all factual. Let's take a cue from the media. Take a bunch of quarter truths and build them into one big truth. Additionally, lets do a better job of exploiting success.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ironhorse View Post
    Below that, all kinds of focused messages. Many very precise, very localized, very tactical, and not by any means the whole truth. IO out the wazoo.

    But we can't talk big IO like you seem to want to, without knowing which big strategy we're talking about.
    And that's the problem. What is the overarching IO strategy?

    I don't know either...
    Example is better than precept.

  10. #10
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default This here is my work truck, my other car is vette

    The way forward in Iraq and in the broader “War on Terror” calls for a bifurcated military , organized into two distinct but supporting elements.
    I liked the post, it provides some great ideas that I hope will lead to examining what we need to spend our money on.

    I don't agree with a bifurcated military though. I think its too much along the lines of what we'd love to see. On the one hand you have this conventional force that we equip and train to fight a quick, knock down drag-out fight, on the other you have this force that in today's world would pretty much stay deployed. What sounds strange about that?

    One, war is chance. So which horse do you trot out to the races?

    Two, consider the problems with manning and equipping. If your deployment OPTEMPO for one is higher then the other, but your manning requirements are roughly the same - you start to go down the road of unpleasant comparisons. One example is the Air Force and the ground services - Right now the ground services ask about the value of the F-22 in light of the burden the ground services are bearing. Imagine if you have the same argument, but this time between a "War Winning" ground service and a "Peace Winning" ground service. You don't have to look far to know where the $$$ is to be made for Industry - Its with your major War Winning technologies. Industry has the more effective lobbyists, and Industry knows there is not much money to be made in winning the peace. So we have a nasty competition in which the "work truck" gets unleaded and used tires, and the "vette" gets premium and armor all - even though it rarely gets driven.

    Now if everybody was willing to serve and and if money for Defense was not an object - then I'd say bring it on. But money is an issue, and will always be because the public does not see foreign policy as the superior issue amongst all their other concerns.

    I do think that the concept is useful for public debate because it reconsiders what we see our military being used for, and perhaps it can be used to articulate to the public how we are using our military towards political ends, and how those political ends affect them at home, or potentially will affect them. I think it brings out the debate of how we use the entire DIME and perhaps how those capabilities should be restructured to face the challenges we have at hand. I think it should help political leaders consider how we employ the "M" in the DIME and when its appropriate to do so with its human and financial costs, the problems it can solve and the problems it can create - - you can't pursue a policy that resorts to bringing the "hammer" out of your tool box every time - every problem is not a nail. If you want to use the "M" for all your problems then you need to fund it with a very capable tool box. Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the ground services and the military in general - it helps s look at how we spend the money we've been allocated. What are our priorities? The last is perhaps the most important, because the well is not bottomless -fiscal responsibility starts with deciding how you apply the resources at hand. While at the tactical level we demonstrate great depth of agility, what do we express in our strategic culture?

    Any solution that promises to solve all of our problems probably does two things - it creates new problems somewhere that are often more difficult to solve then the original ones - because you didn’t see them coming, and it rarely addresses the real problem because it assumes the hardest choices away. Since we can't fix this Inter-Agency stuff, we'll just make us another "Peace Army" that can do it for us. Your still using the hammer, just instead of a claw, you have a ball pen hammer. The military is still doing the job we know OGAs are better suited to do.

    Hat Tip to Fernando though for an outstanding look at a very tough subject and for bringing it together under one heading.

  11. #11
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    212

    Default Who does windows?

    "Perhaps the best way to illustrate the impact of these collective organizational shortcomings is to imagine the Iraq War as a series of closing windows of opportunity"-Lujan

    I tend to agree with most of the MAJ's thoughts where I differ with him is in the discussion of Windows of Opportunity. I believe firmly that a new focused effort can shock the system. In effect we can re-open windows through efforts like the troop surge, where we buy time and distance through the provision of a temporary security blanket. It would appear to me that the surge is the perfect (ok, more like close or imperfect, but best shot) vehicle by which to gain a temporary advantage over the insurgencies and allow for the emplacement of the multi-dimensional advisory teams that he discusses. Without the surge re-opening the window the opportunity to insert these advisors will be closed.
    Last edited by TROUFION; 06-03-2007 at 08:11 PM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •