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Thread: William S. Lind :collection (merged thread)

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    Default Recent William Lind article

    Here's a link to William Lind's article for February 13, 2007. It concerns the current hype in some circles over distributed operations; more or less what it is, what it isn't, and what it could be or should be. I think you will find Lind to be his usual controversial self. I liked this latest article though.

    http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_archive.htm

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I've got my issues with DO as well, but Mr. Lind demonstrates once again a certain degree of ignorance through his writing, which is a pity.

    Sea Dragon was a concept experiment, not merely a justification to fund new programs. It was also not developed with small wars in mind per se, which undoubtedly do need lots of light infantry.

    I think Mr. Lind is simply barking up the wrong tree. DO depends on tactical mobility, whether one wants to admit it or not, and that mobility has to have a relative advantage over the enemy's mobility. When operating in the hinterlands of Afghanistan, Jaeger tactics won't amount to crap unless you can move.

    Across the spectrum of distributed operations, light infantry might not even be the answer. Although they had an infantry core, the British SAS and Long Range Desert Group (built from Commonwealth formations) didn't look like light infantry at all. They operated behind enemy lines, usually without mutual support, but relied on cavalry tactics to a degree, and a whole lotta vehicles to do it.

    LAVs can offer a degree of tactical mobility required for distributed operations, but I guess it is pointless to look a their further development because they are from "a long list of the usual big-bucks programs—"MRAP, EFV, JLTV, LAV, V-22, CH53K," L-70 class Zeppelins etc.—which distributed ops supposedly justifies."

    From the Wikipedia article on Lind (who by the way never once rucked up):

    Lind has authored and co-authored a number of monographs on behalf of the Free Congress Foundation attempting to persuade American conservatives to support government funding for mass transit programs. He was a co-host of an NET program on light rail called The New Electric Railway Journal.
    Maybe we should just move about the battlefield on light rails. Give me a break...Maybe Mr. Lind needs to be given a whole lot of books on the history of the N. Africa Campaign in WWII.
    -----
    Edited to add: As I step back and think about it, I think some of the confusion on DO may stem from the historical examples used. I strongly believe that the Long Range Desert Group is actually a markedly better case study to use when discussing DO. Anyone from MCWL and MCCDC listening?
    Last edited by jcustis; 02-15-2007 at 02:41 PM. Reason: new thought

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I see a lot of fluff in this article, combined perhaps with some sour grapes that Mr Lind wasn't one of the "usual suspects" contacted (and contracted) to work on the project. He's also taking his light infantry stuff at something of a historical half-mast. Some armies may have used them in a guerrilla mode, but on the whole they were intended (and normally used) as highly trained skirmishing units with a good marksman capability (through the use of rifles) thrown in. Certainly there was talk of using them in other roles, but it normally didn't come to pass.

    The LRDG was actually closer to light cavalry than infantry in terms of its raiding and reconnaissance role. Use of historical examples has often been a stumbling block for some military theorists, unfortunately. I'm reminded here of the "examples" Warden pulled for his Air Campaign, but that's a whole other rant....

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    -----
    Edited to add: As I step back and think about it, I think some of the confusion on DO may stem from the historical examples used. I strongly believe that the Long Range Desert Group is actually a markedly better case study to use when discussing DO. Anyone from MCWL and MCCDC listening?
    Another WWII example that should, in my opinion, be looked at for a historical review regarding DO are the Long Range Penetration Operations of the Burma Campaign (Orde Wingate and Slim). Of particular interest is the 'Special Force' more commonly known as 'Chindits'. The use of airborne inserted, mobile columns, supplied by air, with a special purpose built 'air commando' was novel then and fits some of the DO concepts now.

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    Council Member Stratiotes's Avatar
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    I have been, in the past, a huge fan of Bill's. His work on maneuver warfare and 4GW is generally quite good. But, at times he does seem to have a bad habit of making blanket judgements or mischaracterizing some things. He is not just some nobody who has never served however - he is a pretty bright guy who has made some significant contributions in the past. This may not be one of them but I wouldnt' throw Bill out with the bathwater .
    Mark
    Discuss at: The Irregulars Visit at: UW Review
    "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G. K. Chesterton

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    Another WWII example that should, in my opinion, be looked at for a historical review regarding DO are the Long Range Penetration Operations of the Burma Campaign (Orde Wingate and Slim). Of particular interest is the 'Special Force' more commonly known as 'Chindits'. The use of airborne inserted, mobile columns, supplied by air, with a special purpose built 'air commando' was novel then and fits some of the DO concepts now.

    I believe that the example of the Chindits are part of the reason why DO is confusing. For example, after they were inserted, they had no relative mobility advantage. The Japanese were either on foot like the Chindits, or happened to be constrained by the jungle. That constraint didn't make them less mobile than the Chindits, IMO, b/c when the Chindits got themselves into the midst of decent road and river networks, the Japanese came close to cornering them on a couple of occasions.

    Chindit operations were also constrained by the wet monsoon season, and IIRC, was part of the impetus behind a anticipated 90-day window of operations.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default precisely the point

    The fact that the Chindit ops faced constrants is the point. When you read the DO theory you see a tendency to use future tech promises to remove the effects of weather, terrain, enemy and relative mobility. In the case of the Chindits the Jungle, the air commando, the jungle skills, the use of FWCAS, and OSS/indig forces gave the Chindits realtive superiority. The radios they carried, the air resupply capability and indig foces gave them a level of communication and aggregation-deaggregation capability the enemy could not match. It was of course a unit designed to fight in jungle terrain only,, it was not intended to fight in open conflict and when pressed to do so as at Mytkynia they suffered. Historical examples are only capable of providing a perspective, what can work, what has worked and what is ineffective and what should be shelved. DO has a lot of open questions we should not write off any past close approximations. LRDG and LRPG are very similiar and neither is an exact guide for future DO.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    The radios they carried, the air resupply capability and indig foces gave them a level of communication and aggregation-deaggregation capability the enemy could not match.
    I'll give you the capabilities, but I'm not seeing the aggregation part. Didn't the columns remain separated throughout ops?

    I'm doing intermittent reading of "Codebreaker in the Far East" by Alan Stripp. Based on what I've gotten through so far, the capability to decipher Japanese codes was fairly robust by 1943, and it makes me wonder how signals interception factored into Chindit movements and target planning.

    Let's develop this a bit further, if you can humor me TROUFION...You make mention of the Chindits actually having relative superiority, but were there any lasting results? Did they sever any lines of communication that weren't restored in quick order? Did they tie down any formations, and if so, which ones? Did they pass on actionable intelligence that contributed to the destruction of any Japanese combat formation?

    Finally, what would the Chindits have been were it not for Allied air superiority at the time, and the availability of CAS as a supporting arm?

    I'm not trying to downplay the Chindits, just that I'm not so sure those operations bear the fruit of lessons learned that many people think.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Alright i'll give it a shot...

    Here are the stats that I know of:

    During the first 90 days of the Chindits, a brigade sized air ground task force, second operation March-May 1944. The Chindit 'special force' supported by the 1st Air Commando succeeded in:

    Supporting the major offensive in southern and central Burma, Impahl-Kohima, by Slim's 14th Army by 1) destroying @70 enemy aircraft, 2) cutting the line of food and ammo supply 3) tieing down the equivalent of 2 and a half Japanesse Div.

    "General Wingate's airborne tactics put a great obstacle in the way of our Imphal plan and were an important reason for its failure." Japanese 15th Army Commander.

    Further: the columns moved about the jungle with speed and through radio and OSS/indig support were able to and did at many different points aggregate and deaggregate. This was a key component of their mobility and allowed them to conduct several larger scale assaults.

    No analogy is perfect, and the Chindit force had a lot of downsides. They were missused in assaulting Mytkiniya-they lacked artillery and due to monsoons and scheduling the 1st Air Commando no longer flew for them at this time, they were kept in the field beyond the planned 90 day mark which seriously degraded their combat effectiveness. But these very downsides are what make the operations valuable to DO study. It is hard to replicate the effects of weather, distance , indigenous populations and extended combat in the DO experimentation. The 77th Inf which was the CHindit Special Force's official title, was made up of regular troops, not SAS types, regular troops who recieved extra training for jungle-airborne ops. Further LRP was somewhat radical in its day and controversial much the same as DO, the fight to get LRP actualized and supported is a similiar fight that proponents od DO face.

    -T

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default DO reference material

    The link will take you to the Marine Corps University page, and has some expanded scope of things DO:

    http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/MCRCweb/Library/DOHome.htm

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    I don't know how relevant this is, but I'll toss it out for consideration.

    I think the SF Mobile Guerrilla Forces, aka the Blackjack projects, probably took the Chindit/Merrill's Marauders concept to the next level.

    They accompolished a lot tactically; however, I don't know how significant or lasting the effects were. It seems to me that any study of the DO concept should include them though.

    I've read one of Jim Donohue's books about the operations. I intend to read the others.

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    Off topic a little bit, but I completely agree with his most recent (April 16th) article. But, I'd like to see him suggest how to make that transition. Not just complain that it hasn't been done.

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    I had some involvement at MCCDC in reincarnation of DO back in 2004(interestingly, many of the "usual suspects" from the USMC Hunter Warrior experiments).
    What I don't like about the current USMC definition is that it describes units operating out of mutual support range of one another. I think that the whole point of DO is to redefine, through training, education, technology, etc. what exactly "mutual support" is and what distances it can be effected at.
    It seems that much of modern warfare is simply the story of the tug between dispersion and concentration (look at Napoleon's corps). There are many variables: communications (to coordinate external fires and logistics), mobility, internal fires capabilities (that has to balance for mobility and logistics), training and maturity (how independent can units operate depending on the environment).
    DO applies to every unit in every mission--its just how physically dispersed they can be and still be able to mass the appropriate "effects" (whether these be fires, civil affairs, training indiginous forces).
    The current thrust of USMC DO seems to be to validate small unit infantry organization and equipping. I welcome DO if it means we're putting brainpower and $$ to supporting squads (compared to the money we put towards aviation and other big items).

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    Default Lind's critique of DO--a different perspective

    I think as the DO concept translates from theory to application in the field we'll see it mature in ways well enough to decide whether or not Mr. Lind has reason to be wary. He was not alone in his negative impressions of some of the experimentation regarding what many thought was DO--notably the HUNTER WARRIOR evolution. Then Major John Schmitt--author of the venerable FMFM 1 Warfighting and a man who certainly has "rucked up"--wrote extensively of these same concerns. I'd also heard LtGen P.K. Van Riper echo these same concerns in other fora.

    Regarding JCUSTIS's comment that:
    As I step back and think about it, I think some of the confusion on DO may stem from the historical examples used.
    I couldn't agree more. I've got a rather large PowerPoint file (with animation and speaker notes) that outlines a larger historical survey of DO if anyone is interested in getting it. Regrettably it does not contain the Long Range Desert Group, but I could easily work that in if we think the CHINDIT example doesn't do that particular facet of the concept justice.

    --Eric
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    Default William S. Lind :collection (merged thread)


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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default A Guiness Toast---Brilliant!

    While I agree that the only applicable defintion of "victory" that means anything in Iraq is restoration of the state---in other words putting it back to where it was when we started--I also believe the likelihood of that happening is small.

    But Lind in his ever present push for 4GW theory now proposes putting Al Sadr in charge as the man most likely to succeed is stunning. Whether you find it stunning in its brilliance or its stupidty is up to you.

    I would pick stupidity and suggest Lind link up with Diana West.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    While I agree that the only applicable defintion of "victory" that means anything in Iraq is restoration of the state---in other words putting it back to where it was when we started--I also believe the likelihood of that happening is small.

    But Lind in his ever present push for 4GW theory now proposes putting Al Sadr in charge as the man most likely to succeed is stunning. Whether you find it stunning in its brilliance or its stupidty is up to you.

    I would pick stupidity and suggest Lind link up with Diana West.

    Tom
    I can't figure out the motives of people like Lind and Luttwak with his "kill them all and plow salt into the earth" counterinsurgency strategy.

    West I can understand--she knows she isn't trying to actually influence policy but is just trying to sell papers. So like Michael Moore, Limbaugh, Coulter, etc., she realizes that utter nonsense will appeal to some.

    But Lind (and Luttwak) I would think actually want to be taken seriously by policymakers. Writing stuff like this erodes that possibility. What worries me is that while most people who are in a position to influence policy realize that West, Coulter, Limbaugh etc are entertainers and not policy analysts, there are people who take Lind (and Luttwak) seriously.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    While I agree that the only applicable defintion of "victory" that means anything in Iraq is restoration of the state---in other words putting it back to where it was when we started--I also believe the likelihood of that happening is small.

    But Lind in his ever present push for 4GW theory now proposes putting Al Sadr in charge as the man most likely to succeed is stunning. Whether you find it stunning in its brilliance or its stupidty is up to you.

    I would pick stupidity and suggest Lind link up with Diana West.

    Tom
    No! They might reproduce then...

    I think Lind got a taste of the policy thing during the maneuver warfare push and really liked it. After that he's just been playing the "see what Generation I have TODAY" game.
    "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."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I need an emoticon that is holding its head in its hands...shaking.

    It's no so much because I disagree with Lind on the Al-Sadr thing (and I do), but it's the fact that this is what the war has come to. We have begun to grasp at straws because there are so few options remaining.

    I liked the analysis, and Lind may be spot on that a Christian invader may never be able to restore institutions in Iraq that have any chance of lasting. That is, not unless we develop a predisposition to violence and heavy-handedness that bends opponents and bystanders to our will, and in turn setting us back on that Catch-22 cycle.

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    Default Debatable

    I like the final paragraph where he ponders the effect on the presidential debates if one of the candidates were to back his proposal.

    Waiting with baited breath ...out.

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