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Thread: SSTRO-Stability,Support,Security,NationBuilding,FID,COIN , etc. and Logisitics

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default SSTRO-Stability,Support,Security,NationBuilding,FID,COIN , etc. and Logisitics

    We've hit this from different angles in other threads, but I don't know that we've tackled it head on before. The logistical framework for OIF and OEF, as well as the many other critical GWOT missions and the spectrum of operations across the COCOMs is nothing short of incredible.

    The LOG required to support OIF alone is staggering. While I appreciate the Joint nature of projecting, moving it around and receiving it by air and sea, the ground logistics of basing and supporting not only U.S. troops, bur CF partners and ISF is really where we actually see it in its endstate. On the ground its often taken for granted where things come from, or how they got there, but its absence is immediately felt.

    Much of the discussion on Thursday's testimony by GEN (R) Jones and his group addressed the ISF's ability to operate independently of CFs and how soon it could happen. Establishing the linkage between logistics infrastructure and sustained independent operations by the ISF so that Congress could understand it seemed to be difficult at best. I guess that is no surprise as often US FGs and senior officers also have a trouble considering the scope of wat it takes to create a viable LOG backbone that is suitable to the task at hand and is sustainable. Like many things, we've grown up not having to want for much (a good thing) for too long a period of time before it got there.

    Like many other things the answer in creating an ISF LOG system seemed to be to make it in our own image - it was pointed out on Thursday that this is not necessarily so as the ISF have different requirements.

    However, I'll use an anecdotal story that I think is relevant to a discussion on LOG and COIN campaigns.

    Background:

    The IA were using unarmored Toyota and Mitsubishi trucks to do their patrols. They were often out gunned and had no protection against IEDs - as a result, their patrols were overly careful, often static, and they had a high rate of injuries. When one of these trucks was hit - it was usually a catastrophic loss for vehicle and crew. The only bright spots were when parts naturally wore out there were enough shade tree mechanics and parts obtained commercially to fix them.

    We (meaning the US in conjunction with the Iraqi MOD) made the decision to start equipping the IA with up armored HMMWVs so that they would have protection, mobility and mounted firepower equal to the tasks and risks the conditions in the COIN environment required. IMO this proved to be the tool which allowed are Iraqi Army BN to take the lead more then any other. Within a month the quality of the patrols had significantly improved, and within 6 months the IA BN had seized the initiative and had the AIF on the run in our BN AOR. Many other things undertook a positive change as a result.

    However, the HMMWVs also brought increased LOG overhead. Its a more complicated vehicle. More patrols = more fuel consumption. CL IX (repair parts) for the HMMWV is not commercially available. Mechanics have to be trained. This meant additional CF support. The more aggressive patrols meant the IA were in more fights with the AIF. The increased effectiveness of the IA meant the AIF were now targeting the IA HMMWVs with more sophisticated IEDs that had previously been used only against US and CF troops. Without sustained CL IX and speedy repair, the IA mechanics were forced to cannibalize (controlled substitution) parts from one HMMWV that might be NMC (Non-Mission Capable) in order to bring up sufficient HMMWVs to meet the days ambitious patrol schedule. OR (Operational Readiness Rates) were tough to maintain. Our CF partner were honestly busting their logistical rear ends to assist the Iraqis once they understood the relationship, but there were some shortfalls in adopting our system to meet the IAs.

    The problem is not always easy to understand in even the most fundamental manner. The DIV MiTT TM XO, was a good guy, but really did not understand the relationship. I got an email back through our BDE TM Chief where the DIV TM XO thought that it was not really a problem as the IA were really under a Light Infantry MTO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment) and only needed vehicles for administrative functions. Here was a guy inside the operational environment and he really did not understand that just because something on a piece of paper states one thing, the reality of the conditions on the ground is what determines success or failure. IF we wanted the IA (and in the broader scope the ISF) to succeed, then they had to have the tools to do so in the environment they are operating.

    This is not limited to CL IX for HMMWVs, it extends across the spectrum of Logistics. One of the things that made a huge difference in IA confidence was knowing that if they were wounded they would receive the best medical care available. 3/2 and 4/1 BCTs made the US CSH more accessible to wounded ISF. They understood that if the individual Iraqi soldier or policemen knew that when he was wounded in action, he would be provided the best care available to him by his allies, he stood a far better chance of surviving and recovering well. It was a huge morale boost. One of the things we'd considered was the need for health care and trauma capability indigenous to the ISF for IA and IP, perhaps on the larger IA bases/FOBs - perhaps equal to that of a US?CF CSH - what would it take to build, train and sustain such infrastructure? Force protection assets such as barriers and infrastructure at IP stations and IA COPs are also another example of how LOG measures make a huge difference in effectiveness.

    I would not limit it to the support to indigenous security forces though. The LOG required to reconstruct and build civil infrastructure that brings stability is another task our folks have taken on. Part of this is in working the contracts that reach outside of our own capabilities, but they are certainly related.

    The scope of LOG support for these operations has certainly reached outside of fixing, feeding, manning, basing re-arming and refueling our own folks. For these operations the US LOG system has extended to the HN government and security forces and the HN populace and infrastructure on a massive scale. We often talk about capabilities required in the trigger puller, but we should also consider adding additional capability to our trigger puller support infrastructure, those critical capabilities certainly contribute to us working ourselves out of a job.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-08-2007 at 04:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    We often talk about capabilities required in the trigger puller, but we should also consider adding additional capability to our trigger puller support infrastructure, those critical capabilities certainly contribute to us working ourselves out of a job.
    Let me add a further level of complication (that's what we do around here, right? ).

    One of the things that has bedeviled both general development assistance, and stabilization/post-conflict reconstruction in particular, is the issue of fiscal sustainability. Donors sometimes finance physical infrastructures (schools, hospitals, roads, power, water, sanitation, etc) with little attention to the downstream recurrent costs, and the fiscal ability of the host country to pay. This is less of a problem in Iraq (where the government can't spend what it has), but clearly a problem in Afghanistan, and in a great many other war-to-peace transitions too. War-torn countries and those emerging from conflict usually suffer from very weak revenue collection systems, and large fiscal imbalances.

    The net result can be that efforts to improve immediate capacity (build or expand a hospital--politically, an attractive, politically high-profile donor investment) has long-term negative consequences (several village primary care clinics closed to finance the running of said hospital). I know IMF and World Bank folks who tear their hair out over this, arguing that short-term donor-financed infrastructure investments (and military assistance programmes) are setting the stage for future fiscal crisis and state failure (again).

    This might seem a bit remote from the (military) concern
    of adding additional capability to our trigger puller support infrastructure
    ...but I would suggest that it has several connections:

    1) Local military LOG and support capabilities (and their recurrent costs) need to be locally affordable in the medium to long term--otherwise they'll eventually collapse from lack of resources, or bleed resources from other critical areas.

    2) Don't expect your local counterparts to be thinking of this--they are presumably in a fight, and in any case the usual response is "we'll take it now and worry about paying later".

    3) Off-topic, but related: with the military involved in local civilian infrastructure projects, there needs to be some awareness of issues of fiscal sustainability. It looks nice when you build it, but how will they run/afford it?

    4) Finally, infrastructure projects (whether military LOG and other supports, or civilian "quality of life" projects) that are provided--only to decay because of lack of sustainability--do enormous damage to the reputation of both the host and donor.

    There's some treatment of these issues (from an economic development point-of-view) here, although unfortunately not as much as at the conference that the book is based on.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Default Logistical Battle

    Our ability to logistically handle OIF and OEF has been truly remarkable. It's hard to supply a war in a non-industrialized nation without an infrastructure.

    1) Local military LOG and support capabilities (and their recurrent costs) need to be locally affordable in the medium to long term--otherwise they'll eventually collapse from lack of resources, or bleed resources from other critical areas.

    2) Don't expect your local counterparts to be thinking of this--they are presumably in a fight, and in any case the usual response is "we'll take it now and worry about paying later".

    3) Off-topic, but related: with the military involved in local civilian infrastructure projects, there needs to be some awareness of issues of fiscal sustainability. It looks nice when you build it, but how will they run/afford it?

    4) Finally, infrastructure projects (whether military LOG and other supports, or civilian "quality of life" projects) that are provided--only to decay because of lack of sustainability--do enormous damage to the reputation of both the host and donor.
    I think you have a few good points here. Too often the economic realities are overlooked.

    However, the HMMWVs also brought increased LOG overhead. Its a more complicated vehicle. More patrols = more fuel consumption. CL IX (repair parts) for the HMMWV is not commercially available. Mechanics have to be trained. This meant additional CF support.
    It makes you miss old fashioned jeeps, not much training to fix them. If you had none they were pretty easy to figure out. Unfortunately they could be tempermental, but they got us through a lot of wars. Unfortunately, I don't think they could handle the weight of any armour. Plus, do you think there are enough people left who can drive sticK? Oh, well.
    Last edited by Adam L; 09-09-2007 at 08:19 AM. Reason: clarification

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default One of the things we've always done poorly

    with only rare exceptions is supply our friends of the day with proper equipment. We try to give them either our castoffs (with a huge maintenance burden as well as a heavy learning curve) or our current issue items (same problem).

    Giving the Iraqis M4s is not smart, giving them HMMWVs wasn't either. The AK family is far better suited for the human and environmental conditions in Iraq and for a vehicle, we could've gone right next door and funneled some money to someone who's at least borderline friendly...

    LINK.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Ken,
    The AK, RPK, PKC are pretty good small arms for the environment. There is also a culture that is intimate with it - generally 1 AK-47 per house hold w/1 magazine - sometimes other related goodies. I'm not much on the DshKa, but the IA liked it just fine. Their SDM/Sniper rifle was either the Yugoslav M76 or the Dragunov SVD - the M76 just fires a bit bigger round - then the SVD. Interesting story about that - the M76 is generally what was fielded to units up around us - but the rounds are harder to come by - but the SVD can fire PKC ammo - why didn't we figure that one out We eventually worked enough innovative solutions to equip our folks with enough rounds to train and do missions - when combined with other TTPs, our folks were successful. I'd seen a few photos of ISF running around with M4s - I hope this is limited to specialized units - but I do not know. The AK though (and its copys) have come along way. You can get rails for toys if you want pretty cheap - although I quickly learned I did not want or need a weapon where the toys on the end weighed more then the weapon - by the end I think all I had on my M4 was an ACOG (I had bought) - I gave that to one of our IA sniper TM ldrs who'd already killed quite a few AIF - with open sights - he went out found where the differences were in the reticle at ranges he liked to shoot and made it work.

    I like the armored car you linked to. The IA have some of these - but from another maker. It has a Toyota engine - and runs on MOGAS - if I recall. They had many good qualities, but there were many qualities they lacked. While they could carry troops - I rode in back a couple of times - you'd get out disoriented. They were one piece hulls - so if an IED ripped through one - it was a gonner (along with the crew). Its hull armor was not up to the task for anything bigger then ball bearing directional pipe bomb - even those were sometimes strong enough. They could never buy them in sufficient quantities due to the size of the requirement. I was not in the decision cycle for why we decided on HMMWVs, but I'll bet there simply was no good alternative that could be produced fast enough and quick enough. While CL IX is a bear, at least the pipes are established - even if through put stinks. I heard Senator Biden discussing getting MRAPs down range quick enough - and while I think the different MRAPs are a big improvement (seen a few take hits that I'm glad were not directed at my 1114), the decision to fund and purchase does not translate to a 1:1 anywhere near quick enough. Supply and Demand will take awhile to catch up I think - maybe if we'd have committed in 2005 we'd be further along.

    I agree with about about equipping our friends. I think largely its goes hand in hand with organizing them and training them to look like us. I used to think it was awfully high handed - but then I just figured out it was what was most expedient, and had much to do with a rotational culture.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post

    Like many other things the answer in creating an ISF LOG system seemed to be to make it in our own image - it was pointed out on Thursday that this is not necessarily so as the ISF have different requirements.
    Rob,

    I know for a fact nobody on this board has the appreciation for how frustrated the ISF logisitics system is than you do after your experiences last year.

    Your point above is interesting to me, as it is a direct reflection of one of Dr. Kilcullen's articles. Security Forces must mirror the threat, not ourselves. We disrupted this process long ago.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Second that

    Rex,

    1) Local military LOG and support capabilities (and their recurrent costs) need to be locally affordable in the medium to long term--otherwise they'll eventually collapse from lack of resources, or bleed resources from other critical areas.

    2) Don't expect your local counterparts to be thinking of this--they are presumably in a fight, and in any case the usual response is "we'll take it now and worry about paying later".

    3) Off-topic, but related: with the military involved in local civilian infrastructure projects, there needs to be some awareness of issues of fiscal sustainability. It looks nice when you build it, but how will they run/afford it?

    4) Finally, infrastructure projects (whether military LOG and other supports, or civilian "quality of life" projects) that are provided--only to decay because of lack of sustainability--do enormous damage to the reputation of both the host and donor.
    Good observations. In terms of building and sustaining capacity - I'd point to #3 & #4. Long term stability should shoot toward independence from external experts - whatever the solution, the knowledge base must be expanded to meet it. Ideally it would fall in an established cultural solution, and the hardware could be obtained from a system already in place. Hard work for sure - especially when the conditions that exist now - are not comparable to conditions that existed before, or the conditions as they might exist in the future. We sometime joked about how the Iraqi electrical grid in would collapse if they ever did manage to run 24/7 electricity - the building we lived in was part of a new electric company complex - it had state of the art, brand new 1950s equipment. At times I worried more about getting electrocuted then shot or blown up

    Best regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-10-2007 at 01:32 AM.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey RTK,

    Your point above is interesting to me, as it is a direct reflection of one of Dr. Kilcullen's articles. Security Forces must mirror the threat, not ourselves. We disrupted this process long ago
    .

    You are right - LOG is just one aspect of a larger problem that I hope by considering advisory work differently, we might focus on the security challenges of the indigenous force we are working with -by asking what will work in their cultural environment and their set of METT-TC challenges, we will set them up to be more effective, and independent.

    It will require operational empathy - seeing it from the perspective the indigenous force will operate in without the big US footprint. We have to see past our rotation, and consider a future where we're gone, but security and stability is still challenged. After all, we're trying to work ourselves out of a job.

    Best regards, Rob

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Excellent points all. Your recent experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Hey Ken
    . . .
    I like the armored car you linked to. The IA have some of these - but from another maker. It has a Toyota engine - and runs on MOGAS - if I recall. They had many good qualities, but there were many qualities they lacked. While they could carry troops - I rode in back a couple of times - you'd get out disoriented. They were one piece hulls - so if an IED ripped through one - it was a gonner (along with the crew)...
    bears out my prehistoric experience. We tried to give 'em bronze spear points and they kept bending them so we had to go back to fired wood...

    Agree on the small arms.

    I have a problem with MRAP vehicles as a concept (and let me reemphasize I'm not in Iraq and haven't been) because I contend that you cannot make a vehicle I cannot penetrate and that Armor can give a false sense of comfort. Having no armor about you makes you very much aware of your mortality and it makes you cautious. That keeps you alive. I do not disagree with the MRAP approach for certain tasks but trying to put the bulk of the troops in them is, I think, not a good plan. We'll see.

    I'm also a firm believer in foot patrols out the left flank as opposed to vehicle borne elements when insurgents and their ilk are about. Realize that troop strength and density make that problematic. No easy answers...

    I was not in the decision cycle for why we decided on HMMWVs, but I'll bet there simply was no good alternative that could be produced fast enough and quick enough. While CL IX is a bear, at least the pipes are established - even if through put stinks...
    I'm sure that was it. Jordan could use the money for the possibly more appropriate Toyota mods but I'm sure they could never have hit the numbers required. We're having the same problem here, to placate Congress we're buying multiple types and the poor Loggies are gonna go berserk -- not to mention that with in a year we'll have a major Cl IX problem and Congress will rave about that, never acknowledging that they created the problem...

    I agree with about about equipping our friends. I think largely its goes hand in hand with organizing them and training them to look like us. I used to think it was awfully high handed - but then I just figured out it was what was most expedient, and had much to do with a rotational culture.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Expedient and rapidly do-able. The rotational effort makes it almost mandatory, the five years required to stand up an Army from scratch makes for an awfully long tour. In fairness, it can work, particularly with the right culture.

    I can remember standing on a hill in 1975 watching a ROK Division cross the Imjin to replace another on the DMZ. Our ROK LnO asked me what I thought about the ROK Army. Told him I thought they were good (and I did and do)\. He said "Everything we do you teach us how to do. Why don't you do what you teach us to do?" I did not have a good answer for that...

    The good news is that a lot of good guys keep on plugging.

    Regards,
    Ken
    Last edited by Ken White; 09-10-2007 at 01:49 AM. Reason: Typos

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    Infantry Magazine, Sep-Oct 07 (AKO log-in required):

    Combat Logistics: Low Cost, Low Altitude Airborne Resupply in Afghanistan
    History has shown that without combat service support and sustainment operations, the warfighting capability of any unit is certainly diminished, and potentially leads to interruption of combat operations. Hence, the ability to develop innovative, adaptive combat service support sustainment processes remains a strong principle within contingency operations.

    The 782nd Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) has brought such innovation to the modern battlefield of Afghanistan. Due to the expertise and initiative of the Soldiers of the 782nd BSB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, the Army has a new aerial resupply capability in the form of the Thestral “Speedball” Low Cost, Low Altitude (LCLA) Aerial Delivery System.

    The LCLA program is a new and innovative means of aerial delivery currently being employed throughout portions of Afghanistan. The program differs from the Air Force high velocity container delivery system (CDS) drops in that bundles are smaller in size and delivered at a very low altitude from a smaller civilian style aircraft with almost pinpoint accuracy — usually within 20 meters of the established point of impact (PI).....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 11-09-2007 at 08:13 PM.

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    I wonder if The Washington Post is getting its article ideas from Rob

    Quote Originally Posted by Washington Post
    Although U.S. commanders have often said that recruiting members of local Iraqi tribes and former insurgents is a crucial part of the war against extremists, the plan hasn't gotten very far because of logistical problems and general distrust from Iraqi leaders.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Interesting article - underscores that there are no easy, risk free choices out there, but that folks are weighing the risks and potential gains. It also speaks to the challenges of raising, training and equipping HN/Indigenous forces - not an overnight process - but one that MNF-I has made steady progress on over the 10 months or so. I'd also say that the article was of sufficient depth to make you think - thanks for pointing it out.
    Best, Rob

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