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Thread: Exit Strategies

  1. #21
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I agree with you, but with FM 3-24 isn't that now government doctrine as well? Isn't that what all the rhetoric about "political, not military solutions" and all the pressure for reform of de-Baathification and a more equitable oil law in Iraq are all about?

    There's a subtle but, I think, important difference: what 3-24 codifies is the idea of undertaking political reforms to undercut the mobilizing narrative of the insurgents and wean supporters away from them. In other words, political reform is a technique for "victory," not an element of compromise. The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    There's a subtle but, I think, important difference: what 3-24 codifies is the idea of undertaking political reforms to undercut the mobilizing narrative of the insurgents and wean supporters away from them. In other words, political reform is a technique for "victory," not an element of compromise. The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such.
    I will have to check my copy when back in the office tomorrow morning, but I do not recall the FM being that proscriptive (that is, ruling things in or out) regarding what form 'political reform' could take. This is not surprising - after all, it is doctrine, not an operational or strategic plan. I think that there is ample scope to interpret that some form of acceptable compromise can be a valid tool in the counterinsurgent government's responses.

    The fact that " The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such" surely does not preclude its adoption as a strategy. There is a large difference between the recognition and acknowledgement of various / alternate forms of leadership within a society, and capitulation to insurgent demands. The peace process in Ulster is just one example of this.
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 07-19-2007 at 11:39 AM. Reason: syntax

  3. #23
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    I will have to check my copy when back in the office tomorrow morning, but I do not recall the FM being that proscriptive (that is, ruling things in or out) regarding what form 'political reform' could take. This is not surprising - after all, it is doctrine, not an operational or strategic plan. I think that there is ample scope to interpret that some form of acceptable compromise can be a valid tool in the counterinsurgent government's responses.

    The fact that " The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such" surely does not preclude its adoption as a strategy. There is a large difference between the recognition and acknowledgement of various / alternate forms of leadership within a society, and capitulation to insurgent demands. The peace process in Ulster is just one example of this.

    Well, the manual says, "Insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN) are complex subsets of warfare" (p. 1-1) and "The purpose of America’s ground forces is to fight and win the Nation’s wars" (p. 1-19, emphasis added). We don't normally "play for a tie" in war. We may settle for it to stave off defeat, but we don't aim for it. What I'm suggesting is that a "tie" is the normal and most realistic outcome in insurgency, so we have dissonance between our doctrine and reality.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Well, the manual says, "Insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN) are complex subsets of warfare" (p. 1-1) and "The purpose of Americaís ground forces is to fight and win the Nationís wars" (p. 1-19, emphasis added). We don't normally "play for a tie" in war. We may settle for it to stave off defeat, but we don't aim for it. What I'm suggesting is that a "tie" is the normal and most realistic outcome in insurgency, so we have dissonance between our doctrine and reality.
    I can see your point, but after years of 'interpreting' doctrinal guidance (I have never seen the 'perfect' doctrinal pamphlet), I am not 100% concerned about strictly literal interpretations of what are often 'default' or obligatory lines of text that often occur across series of publications. I suspect that the line you have cited from p. 1-19 occurs in a number of FM. It would seem to me , within the context of insurgency, and the content of the rest of the textual philosophy of the FM 3-24, that this line is one of those. With a sub-editors hat on one might rewrite the line to read something like " "The purpose of Americaís ground forces is to provide the landforce combat element of the interagency [in Australia we would say 'whole of government'] effort to win the Nationís counterinsurgency wars"

    I do not for a minute believe that Crane, Nagl et al believe, at any level, that America's ground forces alone can defeat an insurgency. That is clear from any holistic reading of the FM. Furthermore, if we are true to the views that we espouse on SWJ, surely the idea of any military pamphlet being able to provide a 'blueprint' for COIN victory (that is a 'strategic victory' as opposed to tactical or operational success) is a nonsense.

    Any half decent military pam on COIN that I have read has words to the effect that 'victory' cannot be solely achieved by military means. Since other government agencies, NGO and political leaders (that is, the other critical bits of any successful COIN response) probably do not read a great deal of military doctrine, and if they do are not obliged to heed it anyway, at one level it becomes a somewhat moot point whatever military doctrine proscribes regarding 'victory'. The only value in it doing so would appear to be so that Mil advisers, where they are listened to, can be aware as to what they might seek from other agencies in giving their advice.

    I guess what I am saying is that where a military COIN publication strays from advice regarding suitable military actions or thought within the permits, processes and capabilities of the military, it becomes 'advisory only'.

    Surely it is only State strategy, not military doctrine, that can reasonably direct the path to COIN 'victory' as that is the only thing that all the required players are compelled to address or follow.

  5. #25
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    I do not for a minute believe that Crane, Nagl et al believe, at any level, that America's ground forces alone can defeat an insurgency.

    Now, I didn't say that. I simply said that the way the United States conceptualizes insurgencies is as a variant of war, hence "victory" defined as the defeat of the insurgents is the end state. That's not just a military/doctrinal thing.

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    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Now, I didn't say that. I simply said that the way the United States conceptualizes insurgencies is as a variant of war, hence "victory" defined as the defeat of the insurgents is the end state. That's not just a military/doctrinal thing.
    Steve,

    I know, I was just making the point that the line cited was , for want of better term, a 'rote' line as opposed to a considered view that required 'defeat' of the insurgents as the end state. I would not like to rely on that line alone to justify your point.

    At one level, I think it is possible to view a compromise that is suitable or acceptable to the state as 'defeat' for the insurgents. This is because of the fact that several conditions favourable to the State have been met:

    1. The insurgency, and its implicit threat, has gone.
    2. The state has survived and the 'elite' have made a deal that they can live with.
    3. The societal ill that lead to the insurgency has been mitigated against to some acceptable degree to all parties, thus having a normative effect on stability.
    Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 07-19-2007 at 12:43 PM. Reason: spelling

  7. #27
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
    Steve,

    I know, I was just making the point that the line cited was , for want of better term, a 'rote' line as opposed to a considered view that required 'defeat' of the insurgents as the end state. I would not like to rely on that line alone to justify your point.

    At one level, I think it is possible to view a compromise that is suitable or acceptable to the state as 'defeat' for the insurgents. This is because of the fact that several conditions favourable to the State have been met:

    1. The insurgency, and its implicit threat, has gone.
    2. The state has survived and the 'elite' have made a deal that they can live with.
    3. The societal ill that lead to the insurgency has been mitigated against to some acceptable degree to all parties, thus having a normative effect on stability.

    This suggests one of the big strategic dilemmas the US faces in counterinsurgency: in order to mobilize and sustain public and congressional support, we have to demonize the insurgents. Then if our partner government turns around and cuts a deal with them, it causes an uproar and leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Imagine, for instance, if the Iraqi government works out a deal that brings AQI into the government and the conflict subsides. Is that strategic success for the US? I would argue "yes" but I think our current conceptualization, which seeks victory rather than resolution, would not.

    And, by the way, I can't thank all of you on the board enough for helping me improve and refine my "Rethinking Insurgency" briefing. I'm literally cutting and pasting comments from here into the text.

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    But what if the U.S. cut a deal that brought former Ba'athists and Sunni insurgents into the government that alleviated the insurgency?

    Already we see U.S. troops fighting alongside former Ba'athists and Sunni insurgents in Baghdad, Ramadi, Diyala, etc. This has been greeted in the U.S. not with horror at the sight of American troops shaking the hands of men who probably have a lot of American and innocent Iraqi blood on them, but with cheers and relief, especially on the prowar side.

    I think our current conceptualization of victory has come a long way since the triumphalist days of 2003.

  9. #29
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Less Than Total War and Total Victories

    What I'm trying to suggest is that outcomes that are something less that a full victory for either side are actually the norm. I believe we ought to change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government as the objective.
    Steve,

    Returning to this comment for a moment, let's go back in time a bit and broaden it because I think you made a key point that I have dealt with for decades. First of all I would say this applies in general wars not just insurgencies. It is quite common to see the Cold War bipolar structure as a limiting structure for general conflicts--the view that war between two countries or camps was too dangerous unless controlled and manipulated for gain by either or both of the major players. While I believe this was true in that Cold War parameters did tend to put brackets around conflicts, certain conflicts used those brackets to set goals that were less than "victory," ones that could be achieved before Cold War patrons forced some sort of settlement. Because it was my back yard, I look at the Arab-Israeli Wars as fitting this model. Indeed the very essence of IDF force structure, mobilization, and strategy is built around the idea that wars must be short and exported, adding terrain and creating facts as rapidly as possible. Where Anwar Sadat distinguished himself as a strategist was his adoption and adaptation of this model in the "73 War.

    As for small wars, LIC, COIN, or whatever we call them, this less than total victory also played out in the Cold War framework. Conflicts in Africa were not necessarily about total victory. Regional secession was often de facto and not de jure. Katanga began as a Western interests-sponsored secession that was fought actively by governments of the same Western interests, the Soviets (at least rhetorically), and the United Nations. But over time and subsequent Shaba wars, the region became a de facto separate political entity. In late 1993, the governor of Shaba renamed Shaba, Katanga. Standing besiade him at the time was Nguz Karl I Bond who Mobutu had convicted of treason after the Shaba II War. The governor and Bond drove to the ceremony in Moise Tshombe's old car. That victory required 33 years to achieve and it was for regional goals, not total independence.

    What changed somewhat as the Cold War ended was the likelihood of Cold War pressures moving to shut down or control the outcomes of such conflicts. Even without that control valve, very few have escalated to full blown conflicts resulting in clear cut victory for one side. The major exception was the RPF victory in 94 but that victory set the stage for an even greater conflict in the Congo and that one is not over.

    Finally in closing this long-winded comment, I believe what you are saying we should do--change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government-- is already happening in the case of Iraq through sectarian pressures.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Steve,

    Returning to this comment for a moment, let's go back in time a bit and broaden it because I think you made a key point that I have dealt with for decades. First of all I would say this applies in general wars not just insurgencies. It is quite common to see the Cold War bipolar structure as a limiting structure for general conflicts--the view that war between two countries or camps was too dangerous unless controlled and manipulated for gain by either or both of the major players. While I believe this was true in that Cold War parameters did tend to put brackets around conflicts, certain conflicts used those brackets to set goals that were less than "victory," ones that could be achieved before Cold War patrons forced some sort of settlement. Because it was my back yard, I look at the Arab-Israeli Wars as fitting this model. Indeed the very essence of IDF force structure, mobilization, and strategy is built around the idea that wars must be short and exported, adding terrain and creating facts as rapidly as possible. Where Anwar Sadat distinguished himself as a strategist was his adoption and adaptation of this model in the "73 War.

    As for small wars, LIC, COIN, or whatever we call them, this less than total victory also played out in the Cold War framework. Conflicts in Africa were not necessarily about total victory. Regional secession was often de facto and not de jure. Katanga began as a Western interests-sponsored secession that was fought actively by governments of the same Western interests, the Soviets (at least rhetorically), and the United Nations. But over time and subsequent Shaba wars, the region became a de facto separate political entity. In late 1993, the governor of Shaba renamed Shaba, Katanga. Standing besiade him at the time was Nguz Karl I Bond who Mobutu had convicted of treason after the Shaba II War. The governor and Bond drove to the ceremony in Moise Tshombe's old car. That victory required 33 years to achieve and it was for regional goals, not total independence.

    What changed somewhat as the Cold War ended was the likelihood of Cold War pressures moving to shut down or control the outcomes of such conflicts. Even without that control valve, very few have escalated to full blown conflicts resulting in clear cut victory for one side. The major exception was the RPF victory in 94 but that victory set the stage for an even greater conflict in the Congo and that one is not over.

    Finally in closing this long-winded comment, I believe what you are saying we should do--change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government-- is already happening in the case of Iraq through sectarian pressures.

    Best

    Tom

    That may be the outcome in Iraq but I think it's going to cause Vietnam-like political turmoil in the U.S. Because we see counterinsurgency as war and the American way of war is to win, not a cut a deal which allows the enemy to attain his objectives, there will be widespread discontent over such a deal. That's kind of what I'm getting at: that the way we conceptualize counterinsurgency creates unrealistic expectations. Then when those expectations aren't met, we just reject counterinsurgency for a period of time. Then we start the whole cycle over.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    That may be the outcome in Iraq but I think it's going to cause Vietnam-like political turmoil in the U.S. Because we see counterinsurgency as war and the American way of war is to win, not a cut a deal which allows the enemy to attain his objectives, there will be widespread discontent over such a deal. That's kind of what I'm getting at: that the way we conceptualize counterinsurgency creates unrealistic expectations. Then when those expectations aren't met, we just reject counterinsurgency for a period of time. Then we start the whole cycle over.
    Again, I believe you are correct but I would say as Ken White has said that the problem is not just in COIN. It is in war in general as we use words like "victory" to describe expectations that often are not met. We have repeatedly marched off to war in expectations of victory and even when we "won" emerged at least partially disillusioned from the experience.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Again, I believe you are correct but I would say as Ken White has said that the problem is not just in COIN. It is in war in general as we use words like "victory" to describe expectations that often are not met. We have repeatedly marched off to war in expectations of victory and even when we "won" emerged at least partially disillusioned from the experience.

    Best

    Tom

    True that the same thing applies to conventional warfighting but, I think, it's exacerbated by the "intimate" nature of counterinsurgency. We were able to make at least a reasonable case that we attained victory over Saddam Hussein in 1991. If the outcome of the current conflict in Iraq is a coalition government that includes AQI or other former insurgent leaders, it will be harder to convince the American public that it was a win.

  13. #33
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Reading the thread, four thoughts occur

    And that's one over my limit for one day...

    1. The misuse of words by us and our political masters lead to false expectations. I for one used to get somewhat irate when anyone called me a Warrior -- I contend that a warrior is an undisciplined fighter who may be quite competent personally but in unable to impose his will on anyone other than by presence and direct action. Simplistic, yes but essentially correct. I was a soldier, not a warrior. Dumb term IMO. Same thing goes with the word 'victory.' Note that even you couch victory in Desert Storm as a "reasonable case." That implies that you have questions. Joe and Mary Ann Sixpack may not question that connection. I'd submit it was not a victory but we gave away the farm (that's another topic). Point is that in any COIN op, an acceptable outcome is all that is likely to be achieved. The political trend since WW II is to accept partial 'victories' and draws. The word may need to be buried (along with 'shock and awe' a real loser...). Mellifluous verbosity is unmilitary, he bloviated...

    2. The Army has adopted the spin techniques of politicians. They don't work. We need to be more blunt, honest and cautious in pronouncements and should not let the politicians bulldoze us into spinning -- and we certainly shouldn't let ourselves fall into the coverup trap.

    Both those above fit into the expectations and public confidence arenas, both absolutely as important in a democratic society to the pursuit of any military goal as the basic strategy and operational plan. To paraphrase Clemenceau with respect to the rationale and expectations issues; War is much too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

    3. The US Army needs to adapt its thought processes to the fact that warfighting is more than firepower, mass and force protection. Seems to be all that's considered. Planning, equipping and training emphasizing those factors has led us down a bad road. Demonstrations and deterrence can sometimes work; stealth, surprise, sensible audacity, agility and innovation most always will...

    5. Re: FM 3-24. Interesting read. Way, way too long and way too much philosophizing. Soldier scholars will love it, soldiers who are not scholars will not. Most soldiers are not soldier scholars. Leaves out some things but it'll broadly work. As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded."

  14. #34
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    And that's one over my limit for one day...

    1. The misuse of words by us and our political masters lead to false expectations. I for one used to get somewhat irate when anyone called me a Warrior -- I contend that a warrior is an undisciplined fighter who may be quite competent personally but in unable to impose his will on anyone other than by presence and direct action. Simplistic, yes but essentially correct. I was a soldier, not a warrior. Dumb term IMO. Same thing goes with the word 'victory.' Note that even you couch victory in Desert Storm as a "reasonable case." That implies that you have questions. Joe and Mary Ann Sixpack may not question that connection. I'd submit it was not a victory but we gave away the farm (that's another topic). Point is that in any COIN op, an acceptable outcome is all that is likely to be achieved. The political trend since WW II is to accept partial 'victories' and draws. The word may need to be buried (along with 'shock and awe' a real loser...). Mellifluous verbosity is unmilitary, he bloviated...

    2. The Army has adopted the spin techniques of politicians. They don't work. We need to be more blunt, honest and cautious in pronouncements and should not let the politicians bulldoze us into spinning -- and we certainly shouldn't let ourselves fall into the coverup trap.

    Both those above fit into the expectations and public confidence arenas, both absolutely as important in a democratic society to the pursuit of any military goal as the basic strategy and operational plan. To paraphrase Clemenceau with respect to the rationale and expectations issues; War is much too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

    3. The US Army needs to adapt its thought processes to the fact that warfighting is more than firepower, mass and force protection. Seems to be all that's considered. Planning, equipping and training emphasizing those factors has led us down a bad road. Demonstrations and deterrence can sometimes work; stealth, surprise, sensible audacity, agility and innovation most always will...

    5. Re: FM 3-24. Interesting read. Way, way too long and way too much philosophizing. Soldier scholars will love it, soldiers who are not scholars will not. Most soldiers are not soldier scholars. Leaves out some things but it'll broadly work. As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded."

    Well, having provided a bit of the philosophy in 3-24 myself, *I* like it. But, have you seen the exchange between Petraeus and Peters on "soldier scholars" in the July/August issue of The American Interest? My copy just came yesterday so I haven't read the articles yet.

  15. #35
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default The American Interest

    Beyond the Cloister - David Petraeus

    Learning to Lose - Ralph Peters

  16. #36
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    Default A parasitic enemy

    Al Qaeda is basically a parasitic entity that does not aspire to control countries so much as it aspires to have people in control of countries that will let them operate and plan and practice for attacking others. In Iraq it is basically using a chaos strategy in the hopes that an entity favorable to it will take over.

    This is basically what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban came in to control the chaos. You saw a similar attempt in Somalia where the Islamic Courts were perceived as someone who could control the chaos that al Qaeda helped to create.

    That is why the "sectarian civil war" which they have created in Iraq fits so well into their chaos strategy for Iraq. I think they are helped when we get bogged down in semantics and Steve is right to be against those arguments.

    The parasite analogy would also cover much of their logistics and their day to day operations. I have compared them to cockroaches in the past where they hope to make such a mess that you will want to leave rather than eradicate them.

    The recent revelation that they created a phony group with which to ally themselves with Iraq is probably a reflection of how much they have alienated everyone in Iraq.
    Last edited by Merv Benson; 07-19-2007 at 04:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded."
    Halsey also came from the Navy, which has a singular disinterest in actually publishing doctrine or certain formal procedures. One of the many interesting service cultural differences.
    "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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  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Halsey also came from the Navy, which has a singular disinterest in actually publishing doctrine or certain formal procedures. One of the many interesting service cultural differences.
    Steve,

    Yes for the surface warriors, the SOF guys, and aviators.

    No for the submariners for whom if it is not written, it cannot be done. Then again they do live in a different world.

    Best

    Tom

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    I think looking at the insurgency as fighting state versus stateless is also a limiting factor in the equation of war and total war which hampers the understanding of motivation and solution. The insurgents are interested in "harming" corporations like Shell Oil, Halliburton, and others. The concept of "harming" versus winning I think (a rare occurrence) is endemic of the difference of expected outcome in the current conflicts of Iraq. Winning isn't the end goal state that the insurgents are looking to reach. They want to strike out and have us expend our resources without an expectation of winning anything of strategic or state value. That value may be the simple act of revenge in a "Hatfield and McCoy" response in perceived injustice.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I have no complaints at all about the philosophy,

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Well, having provided a bit of the philosophy in 3-24 myself, *I* like it. But, have you seen the exchange between Petraeus and Peters on "soldier scholars" in the July/August issue of The American Interest? My copy just came yesterday so I haven't read the articles yet.
    I agree with almost all of it; what I'm questioning is where it is being stated. Questioning is not correct; what I'm suggesting is a look at what's where.

    Let me caveat what follows with the fact that I know 3-24 was produced to fulfill a need that the senior leadership of the Army had wrongfully neglected. As such it is good and it needed to incorporate all that it does. I also understand it is to be an overarching document to quickly address a need. It does that well.

    What I think is now required is to selectively incorporate the 'what' and 'how' with a minimum of why into a CI chapter in the next editions of FMs 3-21.10/11. More detail and more why should be in the new 3-21.20 and even more why in the next 3-90.6 (and 3-0). IMO a Field Manual should be designed for the ease and utility of the designed end user. Who is the end user for 3-24? A Company Commander or Platoon Leader. He needs the 'how' and 'what' the 'why' should be available to him elsewhere. Folks at Battalion have more need for the why and so on up the chain.

    I have now read the articles SWJEd linked. I agree with both of them!

    Seriously. I strongly agree with both and I'll explain that by pointing out that while we can certainly insist on or desire advanced degrees for all Officers or all Field Grades, everyone does not truly need -- and some would gleefully not obtain one if they had the option and could remain competitive -- an advanced degree. Do we really need all officers to possess one?

    I see a need for a healthy percentage of Officers with varied degrees but I do not see that it is necessary for all. I think that a part of why we do what we do today is for ease of the personnel managers, it is easier to manage a single class of people than it is to manage two classes.

    I'll also note that the younger generation of Officers may be more inclined to want advanced degrees and that can be a great incentive and I certainly don't object to that -- but I still think some without advanced degrees (or even a bachelors degree...) are or should be perfectly acceptable.

    Both authors have good points; I think graduate education for officers should be encouraged but not mandated (other than for specific positions where a need is identified) and I do not doubt that we need many with advanced degrees. I do not think it necessary or even desirable that all officers obtain at least one. Having said that, if I just had to choose one or the other, I'd reluctantly go with Petraeus.

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