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Thread: Costly Protection

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Costly Protection

    Below is a link to a story arguing that we place too much emphasis on force protection and that it has a negative effect on our goals in Iraq. I would be interested in reading the thoughts of some of the trigger pullers out there.

    http://www.governmentexecutive.com/f.../0907-01s3.htm
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    Below is a link to a story arguing that we place too much emphasis on force protection and that it has a negative effect on our goals in Iraq. I would be interested in reading the thoughts of some of the trigger pullers out there.

    http://www.governmentexecutive.com/f.../0907-01s3.htm
    I'd argue that applied a few years ago more than it does now. I think both Kilcullen and FM 3-24 talk about the drawbacks of focusing too much on force protection.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    I'm told the link may have issues. Here it is again.

    http://www.governmentexecutive.com/f.../0907-01s3.htm
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    This was noted in Vietnam during Withdrawls. Cutting back on patrolling tended to lead to a loss of control of areas close to base camps and a corresponding lack of motivation on the part of the troops (who had precious little to be motivated about in any case by 1970).
    "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 Stan's Avatar
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    Tom and I had an O-7 in charge of the JTF-A who left his 'gate Guards' standing with an empty SAW and M-16 in the middle of a civil war and refugee crisis.

    Wasn't my place to tell him that even the Africans know what a weapon looks like without a magazine or belt.

    I did get the SGM's attention - perhaps more than he cared to hear about.

    Force Protection has its place, but the applications seem to be generic and a global cookie cutter's not gonna work in Congo and Iraq simultaneously.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    The shift in American priorities from protecting the Iraqi population to protecting U.S. troops began on March 29, 2003, when a taxi packed with explosives blew up at an American checkpoint, killing four soldiers. Fanatical attacks by Iraqi irregulars dressed as civilians in the first days of the war already had unsettled American commanders. That suicide bombing provoked overreaction by U.S. military leaders, the exact result intended by such attacks.
    The entire article is a series of hyperbole-laden paragraphs, in which the author has pushed, stretched, and twisted the facts until they seem to fit the points offered. I offer the above as a sample: events are rarely so decisive in their effects. Yes there were numerous and well-documented irregular attacks against Coalition forces in OIF 1. Were US commanders "unsettled" by such attacks? Unsettled implies un-nerved; I would dispute that. Certainly then LTG Walace remarked the enemy was not the one they had briefed and a division commander I talked with echoed that. He was not, however "unsettled". Did a VBIED blow on March 29., 2003? Probably so given the author ofers a date. Did US commanders declare "weapons free" on Iraqi civilians as a result? No, unless you call increased security as the same thing as "shoot on sight."

    Is force protection a US military priority? Yes and it should be. How that force protection is accomplished is flexible. Certainly there has been a shift toward accepting greater immediate risk to achieve ultimately the greatest force protection measure, winning the war. Have US commanders sought to control escalation of force against civilians? Yes and that was going on well before FM 3-24 was issued.

    My overall assessment is nothing new here other than excessive use of hyperbole.

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 09-13-2007 at 07:06 PM.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    The entire article is a series of hyperbole-laden paragraphs, in which the author has pushed, stretched, and twisted the facts until they seem to fit the points offered. I offer the above as a sample: events are rarely so decisive in their effects. Yes there were numerous and well-documented irregular attacks against Coalition forces in OIF 1. Were US commanders "unsettled" by such attacks? Unsettled implies un-nerved; I would dispute that. Certainly then LTG Walace remarked the enemy was not the one they had briefed and a division commander I talked with echoed that. He was not, however "unsettled". Did a VBIED blow on March 29., 2003? Probably so given the author ofers a date. Did US commanders declare "weapons free" on Iraqi civilians as a result? No, unless you call increased security as the same thing as "shoot on sight."

    Is force protection a US military priority? Yes and it should be. How that force protection is accomplished is flexible. Certainly there has been a shift toward accepting greater immediate risk to achieve ultimately the greatest force protection measure, winning the war. Have US commanders sought to control escalation of force against civilians? Yes and that was going on well before FM 3-24 was issued.

    My overall assessment is nothing new here other than excessive use of hyperbole.

    Tom
    The first priority of work for any operation or activity was, has been, and always will be security. If you don't have that, you can't do anything else.


    "She says the pre-eminence of force protection as a U.S. military mission is a holdover from 1990s peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans and Somalia. Troops were consolidated on large bases and contact with the civilian population was limited to prevent the possibility of "collateral damage" in tense confrontations between Americans and civilians. This practice quickly was extended to Iraq when the American military began battling a determined insurgency and commanders tried to minimize losses."
    If the inference is that all American forces are doing is turtling up in FOBs, then the whole COP piece tears down that argument.

    I don't know of any units that are camping out at the FOB. I don't know any that are not going on patrols. I'm not sure where this logic is coming from.
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 09-13-2007 at 07:07 PM. Reason: Fixin my typos, not RTK's
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    What is the risk vs. benefit of foot patrols vs. vehicle patrols? Do we rely on vehicle patrols in an overabundance of caution? Does this reliance hurt our COIN effort?

    I am phrasing the questions this way because I saw only vehicle patrols from the FOB where I was deployed. Maybe they dismounted after getting into town, but on the two I played tourist on, we didn't.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    What is the risk vs. benefit of foot patrols vs. vehicle patrols? Do we rely on vehicle patrols in an overabundance of caution? Does this reliance hurt our COIN effort?

    I am phrasing the questions this way because I saw only vehicle patrols from the FOB where I was deployed. Maybe they dismounted after getting into town, but on the two I played tourist on, we didn't.
    LawVol: Respectfully, that goes into a TTP category we probably shouldn't discuss.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Haven't been there and i'm sure someone who has

    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
    What is the risk vs. benefit of foot patrols vs. vehicle patrols? Do we rely on vehicle patrols in an overabundance of caution? Does this reliance hurt our COIN effort?

    I am phrasing the questions this way because I saw only vehicle patrols from the FOB where I was deployed. Maybe they dismounted after getting into town, but on the two I played tourist on, we didn't.

    will provide a better answer but generically, foot patrols in COIN are far better and the more of them the better. The number of them will be highly dependent on the type of unit.

    Light infantry will prefer to patrol on foot though many such units were mistakenly (IMO) forced into HMMWVs early on in Iraq. Mechanized infantry have vehicles to worry about; you cannot just leave them and they do vehicles for a living so they're more comfortable doing vehicular patrols. Artillery and Armor units operating as Infantry are a mixed bag.

    Light infantry is usually willing to kick out Squad and even Team sized patrols; the mounted guys are used to operating as platoons and tend not to go to below that level. Command desires enter into it. For example, when Sanchez went into Kosovo with elements of the 1st Armored Division, the already on the ground units of the 82d Abn Div had LTs and even SSGs out in the villages acting as de facto Mayors; they were patrolling heavily. Sanchez upon arrival gathered small units into larger enclaves and insisted tha a Field Grad officer accompany all sorties. he was Armor and used to formation maneuver; he also in Iraq insisted on vehicles for light infantry units and on no less than platoon sized patrols. Different strokes...

    All in all, it's terrain and situation dependent; the unit culture does have an effect. Foot patrols are subject to more fire fights, vehicles patrols to mines and IEDs. Casualty rates can vary depending on many parameters.

    That's an overview, I'm sure someone will provide more accurate theater specifics.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Rtk

    You are probably right. However, I was thinking more in generic terms like the answer Ken provided. Thanks Ken, your explanation gives me some food for thought.
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK
    Quote Originally Posted by LawVol
    What is the risk vs. benefit of foot patrols vs. vehicle patrols? Do we rely on vehicle patrols in an overabundance of caution? Does this reliance hurt our COIN effort?

    I am phrasing the questions this way because I saw only vehicle patrols from the FOB where I was deployed. Maybe they dismounted after getting into town, but on the two I played tourist on, we didn't.
    Respectfully, that goes into a TTP category we probably shouldn't discuss.
    Without going into TTPs, I will say one thing: HUMINT can't collect from vehicles.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Zing...

    73 characters....

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All in all, it's terrain and situation dependent; the unit culture does have an effect. Foot patrols are subject to more fire fights, vehicles patrols to mines and IEDs. Casualty rates can vary depending on many parameters.
    And without getting into specifics, in the COIN environment as a scout, much like th e HIC, the vehicle stands a good chance of getting you killed.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Heh. I'd noticed that...

    Armored vehicles have their uses -- their only real shortfall is that they can lull the untrained and poorly led...

    (Said as a guy who last tore up the TCPC in an M41A1...)

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    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
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    Default "Focusing too much on force protection"

    Pardon the semantics, but I don't think that's possible.

    We only run into problems when we erroneously define force protection as armor, big walls, etc. that we think segregate us from the threat but instead fix us for them, and isolate us from success.

    As opposed to preservation of the force in order to accomplish the mission, with that preservation and all good things achieved through HUMINT, immersion in the population, etc.

    We are at that same point where the brave knight was, sick of seeing his compadres drilled by cross-bow bolts, who thought it is time to nude up and get more mobile.

    Also reminds me of that scene from the Full Monty - "I didn't think they could be too big."

    Force protection is not something you can never have either enough or too much of. It is just something you always need more of, but must always stay IN SUPPORT OF the mission. And must not be poorly "provided" in sophomoric, counter-productive ways.

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    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
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    P.S. should the HMMWVs, etc., be armored? By all means!

    Do we still need to get out of them? HELL YES!

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    Default I don't exactly recall that to be true

    The highly restrictive rules of engagement issued at the beginning of the war were dropped. Soldiers were told to treat all Iraqis, whether they appeared to be civilians or not, as enemies first. The exact wording of the order was cautious, but the tone and meaning were unmistakable: Shoot first, ask questions later, and don't worry about the consequences. I

    Is he joking?

    And as much as I greatly admire Sewall, I believe he is caricaturing her points to fit a premise that's simply a cartoon.

    With some competence, the author might have ventured into questions of the sagacity of our ongoing force structure, CMNF-I strategy to "lower the footprint" of US operations so that ISF would stand up or the uneven implementation of COPs by SF, MTT and USMC units (and the Tal Afar experiment), but to create a blanket view of our COIN efforts in such a way only distorts what was really going on.

    I don't understand this because he's been to OIF, has written fairly good stories about complicated topics (http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mh/d...p?startpage=30) and doesn't seem to be intentionally obtuse.

    Is his audience so lacking in sophistication that they can't understand nuance when it comes to the actual ROE in 2003, questions about force structure or COP tactics that began in both Army and USMC units more than year before the so-called "Surge" finally began?

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