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Thread: Mechanization hurts COIN forces

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    Default Mechanization hurts COIN forces

    Study co-written by Princeton and West Point scholars:

    Empirical evidence suggests that Great Powers and weak states alike are increasingly unable to wage successful counterinsurgency campaigns. We argue that this decline can be explained by rising levels of mechanization within state militaries. Unlike their earlier counterparts, modern militaries possess force structures that inhibit the creation of information-gathering networks among local populations. Mechanized militaries therefore struggle to wield their power discriminately, pushing fence-sitters into the insurgency. We test this claim using a new dataset of 238 insurgencies (1800-2000) and a microlevel comparison of two U.S. Army Divisions in Iraq (2003-04). We find that mechanization is associated with a decreasing probability of incumbent victory; that regime- and power-based explanations only account for nineteenth century outcomes; and that oft-cited factors such as terrain or ethnolinguistic divisions are largely unconnected to outcomes in counterinsurgency warfare.
    http://www.princeton.edu/~jlyall/Rage2.3.pdf

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Interesting study, but it does contain (IMO) some flaws. By focusing exclusively on mechanization, the authors miss some key variables in terms of unit doctrine. To draw on their own example - would the 4th ID have operated differently if Petraeus had commanded it instead of the 101st? And would the 101st have behaved differently under a different commander? The example of Vietnam is also flawed in that the Marines were using the CAP theory, while the Army did not. Since the majority of Army units in-country were not mechanized, they could have followed the same operational doctrine but chose not to (although there were doctrinal changes later on). This isn't an issue of mechanization as much as it is doctrine and operational style.

    Mechanized units can (and do) play a valuable role as reaction forces, but one of the major lessons not learned from Vietnam was that most of them needed more dismounted elements. The units in-country learned this, but the lesson faded quickly after the war was over. The paper does make passing reference to the 3rd ACR, but not in the depth the subject may have required.
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    I agree with Steve, I'm not sold. how do you explain that the two biggest COIN successes thus far in Iraq were accomplished by heavily Armored units - i.e. 3 ACR and 1/1 AD? Under this logic, the light units should have much better success records, but they don't, and in the case of some of them, much worse.

    I think the personalities and leadership styles/philosophies of the CO's had much more to do with it than the tools employed. It also picks two easy examples - why not try 1AD in Baghdad, 3rd ID OIF 3, or 1st Cav OIF 2 and contrast....

    The historical argument that lighter forces are more successful at coin over the long run is much stronger, IMO, but the Iraq argument doesn't seem to be nearly as strong.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Competing factors at play.

    Mounted units have fewer people to do the on-foot work which COIN requires, period. The Math applies so there's some validity due to that factor in the historical precedent...

    Still, Steve and Cav Guy have it right IMO -- the good Commander (branch immaterial) will do good stuff, a less competent one will fail with the right kind of unit. Like MattC's tag line says:

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    There's also a large difference between an Abrams and a Stryker/LAV. On top of that, and this can be the source of a lot of confusion, there is a dramatic difference between MOUT and COIN. I won't get a chance to read the paper till this weekend - maybe some who have can shed light on whether the authors captured these distinctions.
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    Default Combined arms still needed

    Most people recognized that sufficient mounted armor forces could have made a significant difference in the Blackhawk Down battle in Mogadishu.

    We also know that dismounted forces are more effective at going into a neighborhood and protecting the people and also gathering intelligence on enemy activity.

    It is also inarguable that we have a real advantage against the enemy when we can call in an air strike on on a sniper trying to pin down the dismounted troops.

    I am not sure why there is an argument against the combined arms approach, Historically, it has been been pretty effective. We shouldn't be arguing about driving a vehicle with one of its wheels removed.

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    I'm not sure if mechanization leads to stalemate or defeat more often. I have to read the paper with more attention to detail when I have more free time.

    I do understand that mechanized forces are far more expensive to operate and maintain, and that we are spending vast amounts of cash in order to achieve results that are mediocre on average.

    A lot to chew on here - my gut feeling is that this is a piece to a much larger puzzle - that includes leadership, adaptability by individual and unit, tactics, cultural/religious/ethnic differences, and maybe a few other major criteria.

    Until I get into the weeds, I'm certainly not sold on mechanization = defeat in COIN, but I;m not dismissing it completely.
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    I will read it also. I have long thought there is a significant internal cultural difference between heavy and light forces when it comes to dealing with people and dealing with systems. Many heavy leaders are by their training and inclinations "systems" as in combat systems oriented. They think by nature of their training in map sheets not kilometers aand almost never in meters. Light leaders are prople oriented and all planning and think is human-centric and done one foot at a time. That makes many light leaders more adaptive (or accepting) of human-centric adaptations.

    Now before RTK and CAVGuy shoot me, I used the term many and not most. It is always a question of leadership and some leaders are adaptive and some are not. But in a macro sense, I see this as a trend that has continued for some time. How it plays out in COIN is certainly debatable.

    But I would also say that we do have to be careful in talking COIN in an urban environment versus a full-blown MOUT fight. No argument at all on the need for combined arms in MOUT; them that use combined arms win the Shugart-Gordon fight here (at least when we were doing them). That is however a different world than cordon and knock or TSE.

    Best

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Tom,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    No argument at all on the need for combined arms in MOUT; them that use combined arms win the Shugart-Gordon fight here (at least when we were doing them). That is however a different world than cordon and knock or TSE.
    If I can amplify a bit on combined arms: I'll concede to the Air Force the potential utility of a 2000 lb. bomb in MOUT. In COIN, I not only can't see any utility, I think ANY use would be seriously counterproductive.

    By the same token, an Abrams in COIN has a terrific psychological effect, one I'm sure is more profound than a Stryker/LAV. But I also believe, and I'll defer to RTK and CavGuy, that the Stryker/LAV has much greater COIN utility as transport and occasional base of fire for the dismounts. And it's the dismounts who will ultimately decide the outcome.
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    I also haven't read this in depth yet, but my first response is is there really a difference between getting out of a brad/striker to getting out of an uparmored vehicle?

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I don't know if we've just mitigated it through leadership and training, or its a question of adaptation over time, but I do know this. While there I saw three different BCTs rotate through Mosul. The 172nd SBCT out of AK was on the ground when I first got there - and after their RIP TOA with 3/2 SBCT from FLW they went South. 3/2 was on the ground just long enough to get things laid out (however this was much of that units 2nd time in Mosul) before they too were sent South. 3/2 was replaced with 4/1 CAV out of FT Hood. They were all good units, had quality leaders and good soldiers.

    The two SBCTs had lots of soldiers in vehicles tailor made to move lots of Infantry quickly, with good protection for the conditions and enough firepower to overcome any enemy you'll find in most COIN conditions I think - there are about 170 soldiers in a SBCT Rifle Co, you get three of those in an SBCT BN, and a good size HHC as well - lots of snipers in the BN MTO&E and within the BDE you get lots of extras to provide lots of organic Combined Arms. You also get a lot of C4ISR and in addition to the three IN BNs you get a RSTA Sqdn, an EN CO, and a AT CO - so as Ken points out - the number of folks you can put on the ground is substantial. I promise even though Shek and I are products of the SBCTs - we're not biased (much) This provides lots of options for the CDR. Both of those SBCTs were well led and well employed both in Mosul, Baghdad and Baquba.

    However, the unit that seemed to adjust the quickest to its surroundings and be able to move from lethal to non-lethal-to lethal, etc. (I could use kinetic/non-kinetic - but it just seems anti-septic to do so) was 4/1 CAV. I really wondered about that - so I started just asking the EMs, NCOs, LTs and CPTs about their experiences. For many, this was their 2nd and 3rd tours - many had been to different places and gone with different types of units. Many also discussed their MRE (Mission Readiness Exercise) at the CTC - all agreed the training had gotten to where within reason (talking resources) it reflected what they knew about the COIN environment, many had gone through the COIN Academy in Taji - and said that the training there was valuable, many had been involved with LPDs/OPDs/NCOPDs focused to COIN at Home Station, undergone special training with EMS, LE and other Civil organizations. They were well read. They were smart. These soldiers and leaders could run in Bradleys and Tanks on one day and work out of 1114s the next with no issues.

    This is not to sell the two previous units short - just to point out that over time (not very long at all if we are looking at individuals, leaders and specific units) we have gotten much better at COIN regardless of the type of unit. Also that conditions change in an area - 1/25th SBCT had been in Mosul prior to the 172nd and had a different set of challenges, and I believe the situation got progressively better to where when 4/1 came in they had 1 x IN TF conducting CF ops (but partnered with a variety of folks to include ISF) and 1 x AR TF that had been given the mission to stand up an ISF cell and partner with what was then the IAG TTs at various levels (DIV through BN) to provide greater training capability with the ISF - so you have to consider the requirement to be flexible and take advantage of opportunities as they emerge.

    As others have pointed out, its really about providing leadership at every level, and being able to employ the right tool or adapt it to the task at hand. I found few (if any) stereo-types in those three units, just leaders trying to the best they could (and their best was very, very good) as they understood the mission - as time has continued, our soldiers and leaders understand the mission and supporting tasks better and better -

    I think at this point the light/heavy comparison is OBE except in the raw sense of MTO&E. If we're talking about the formations that provide the most flexibility in those terms - then I'd advocate more soldiers and more capabilities as it applies to good mobility (keep in mind while more and more people live in urbanized areas - some still live in remote, hard to get to places), adequate protection given the conditions of METT-TC, enhanced C4ISR - (everything from low level comms, to access to raw information and feeds), reasonable firepower that means in a COIN environment we are never the ones who show up to a gunfight with a knife, and the host of low density MOS that seem to be ever more critical and ever growing since DOD is the 800lb gorilla and the Inter-Agency just can't fill out fast enough. These types of units are going to be expensive because there are allot of people, and allot of capabilities and you have to provide them with the type of training that sets them up for success. This is not meant to translate directly into a SBCT - but you could come up with a hybrid given the amount of MRAP we are trying to acquire - the actual vehicle is just a platform that we have wired up with good computers and comms - the important piece is the soldier and leader.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-19-2007 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Addition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Interesting study, but it does contain (IMO) some flaws. By focusing exclusively on mechanization, the authors miss some key variables in terms of unit doctrine. To draw on their own example - would the 4th ID have operated differently if Petraeus had commanded it instead of the 101st? And would the 101st have behaved differently under a different commander? The example of Vietnam is also flawed in that the Marines were using the CAP theory, while the Army did not. Since the majority of Army units in-country were not mechanized, they could have followed the same operational doctrine but chose not to (although there were doctrinal changes later on). This isn't an issue of mechanization as much as it is doctrine and operational style.
    Steve,

    Some good points here, but I don't think that they necessarily undermine the authors' thesis that mechanization has a negative impact on outcomes in counterinsurgencies. I'd argue that it is not the mechanization itself, but rather the doctrinal focus that mechanization brings that is your causal relationship. In otherwords, mechanization is a proxy for how your force thinks and/or wants to fight (since I'd imagine that it would be pretty hard to develop and quantify a doctrine variable). Turning your GEN Petraeus example into a question - given the Army's level of mechanization and hence doctrinal focus prior to the start of OIF, on average, do you get a MG Petraeus type division commander or not? As far as Vietnam goes, did mechanization (defined through the use of helicopters) provide a positive or negative impact? The technology may be neutral, but how it affects doctrine is not.

    In terms of the examples of the adaptability of leadership since 2003 such that mechanization is not an automatic curse in COIN, this is certainly true. However, the fact still remains that our doctrinal focus and the resulting performance in the early years of Iraq has made achieving victory much more difficult. So, I still think you get a causal impact from mechanization, although its effect is greatest at the outset of the counterinsurgency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Steve,

    Some good points here, but I don't think that they necessarily undermine the authors' thesis that mechanization has a negative impact on outcomes in counterinsurgencies. I'd argue that it is not the mechanization itself, but rather the doctrinal focus that mechanization brings that is your causal relationship. In otherwords, mechanization is a proxy for how your force thinks and/or wants to fight (since I'd imagine that it would be pretty hard to develop and quantify a doctrine variable). Turning your GEN Petraeus example into a question - given the Army's level of mechanization and hence doctrinal focus prior to the start of OIF, on average, do you get a MG Petraeus type division commander or not? As far as Vietnam goes, did mechanization (defined through the use of helicopters) provide a positive or negative impact? The technology may be neutral, but how it affects doctrine is not.
    That was my suspicion, that a heavily mechanized Army (probably unavoidable up to the present) reinforces some of the worst aspects of the "American Way of War." Especially given the current situation.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Light Infantry is willing to fight in squad sized elements

    Mech, to include Strykers doesn't do that. Mech has to protect their vehicles and Rob misunderstood my earlier comment; yes, Mech can put out a substantial force (particularly the SBCTS) but there are still vehicles to be protected and crew elements to be left in those vehicles. There is also a comfort factor, the Mech guys I've know were reluctant to get too far from their vehicles. That may not be the case with SBCTs but I suspect it is with the Bradley guys...

    Still, the biggest difference is in the mindset and willingness to kick out Squads and even Teams in some case versus fighting as a platoons -- and doing it all on foot...

    That's not to take anything away from the re-roled guys who are doing better than expected or anyone who's over there busting their hump.

    I agree that the mounted mentality adversely impacted our efforts in Iraq early on; that and I'll also restate my earlier point that the right Commander will do his METT-T thing and do well regardless of background or type of unit involved and the wrong one will err regardless of what type units available.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Pros and Cons

    Ken,
    good point:
    but there are still vehicles to be protected and crew elements to be left in those vehicles.
    There is certainly a trade - if you give anybody the mobility of organic vehicles of any flavor - they now have to be protected and crewed. If you organic crews to the MTO&E it does not take away from your squads and platoons, but if you don't you have to get them from somewhere. If you have vehicles you have to either be willing to cut them loose - i.e put somebody in charge and tell them to return to a place out of contact (like getting dropped off), place them somewhere where organic TTP and vehicle weapon systems can handle the force pro, or limit your movement to where you can always cooperate - i.e. you can't just abandon them without compromising their force pro in an environment where an enemy on foot who blends in well with the population has a natural advantage. Any crew of any combat vehicle is going to have their attention split between seeing to the vehicle, and their other duties. Leadership has pretty much found the balance.

    However, there are things you get by having the vehicle. Some I mentioned already - but you also get the powerful communications system - having a VRC with a power amp to get you through the interference found in a city is a good thing, a satellite based BFT or EPLRS FBCB2 with a crew to relay new information, or reach back to request combat multipliers - and bring them into range of dismounted comms allow CDRs to extend their AOR - and more flexibility in planning operations.

    I've seen guys operating in sections - but always with at least three vehicles - that is pretty much the rule. The problem with using 1114s or other HMMWV variants for any organization is that it limits the number of people who can dismount. It means that to conduct dismounted operations in normal organic formations, teams, squads and platoons must first assemble at the dismount point. The folks that can retain their mobility in combat vehicles that allow for teams and squads to be dismounted as a unit have an advantage here - hopefully the type of MRAP vehicles which best account for this will find their way into the units which are tasked with doing patrols.

    Hey Shek,

    However, the fact still remains that our doctrinal focus and the resulting performance in the early years of Iraq has made achieving victory much more difficult. So, I still think you get a causal impact from mechanization, although its effect is greatest at the outset of the counterinsurgency.
    Another good point. The effects of technology can be so subtle that once you and everyone else are surrounded by it, it becomes normal. The same can be said with the doctrine and training we followed to put that technology to best effect and fulfill task and purpose. Tom had referred to the days when the MOUT site at Shugart-Gordon was different then it is now. We considered our MOUT sites as independent blocks or villages where when all was said and done, we just could not see visualize the impacts of the tactics we were using to seize or clear it - those were generally the tasks.

    Now its hard not to consider those training sites without seeing them plugged into a much larger social system, full of people who have made their homes their for generations, who have no where else to go, families of families who have 6 or more kids all living in small rooms - where we were lucky to get a few folks to a building before (JRTC has come a long way since then).

    There is also the problems with heavier vehicles operating on infrastructure that in some cases was built when trade traffic was light, and technology was limited - there have been more then one case where a M1 or M2/M3 crushed some subterranean sewage or water piece that led to further problems. However, those same Brads caught the AIF way off guard when they first appeared and using thermals and coaxial MGs dirupted quite a number of AIF IED complex ambushes to good effect.

    Its a tough call, as COL Foresman pointed out in AFJ we have to be capable of full spectrum operations in the complete range of conditions. We want the best tech, but ideally we don't want to be constrained by it. We appreciate leaders who can negotiate and know when to use restraint and let the situation develop and get solved from the inside out, but we also recognize the need for those who can recognize when to kill without hesitation.

    So overall I guess our doctrine, mindsets, national and service cultures, TTP, and technology did hinder us in conducting COIN at the outset. However it was the same set of predispositions which was needed to send a large force to the other side of the world, pursue multiple LOOs of division sized elements and sustain them through the fight with minimal casualties. Also worth remembering is the fight in Falluja - now some will say if we'd had the appropriate sized force at the outset, the conditions that gave rise to making that city an insurgent stronghold might never have occurred, but I believe its beside the point. Fog/Friction/Chance will always conspire to throw you a curve ball, and the enemy will always seek to disadvantage you - he gets a vote - the units that cleared Falluja fought a hard combined arms fight and did so to a determined enemy's disadvantage. Also worth considering are some of the other fights that have required a large scale jump up the lethal line - Mosul 11/11/2004, Ramadi in 2006, Baquba was just recently a serious fight, and there are certainly others. It brings me back to the "there are no easy answers, only compromises for the tough questions".

    While we must get better at COIN - because I also believe that is probably the majority of the types of conditions we will find ourselves in over the next decade or two - we cannot afford to not be able to fight force on force and have the advantage in doing so (how much of an advantage is needed is debatable). If we divorce ourselves too much from our former selves, somebody else will fill that vacuum - and then one of our tools in bad neighbor behavior modification will be less a couple of teeth. If we want true specialization so we can be good at everything its going to require a much larger force (and allot more $$$) so we can have enough Schlitz to pass around for every occasion - otherwise we have to live with some kind of balance. My cautionary note comes as I more often hear "if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail" becoming a panacea cliche' to describe all doctrine & force structure solutions. In our business, some (not all) problems will remain nails - and if you have ever tried to drive a nail with a Gerber multi-tool I don't recommend it. We flat out have to be good (better then the other guy) at the full range of military operations.

    Best to all, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-20-2007 at 11:49 AM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Dragoons

    In the back of the article he talks about the imaginative commanders of the 3RD ACR at Talafar and how they fought as Dragoons "corralled their horses" motor pooled their tanks and fought as dismounted infantry. He also mentions in the back a question about why were some mechanized units able to fight so well why others could not. It short it is the Cavalry Dragoon doctirne (mounted Infantry) is what he is talking about. I will comment more on this later at my day job.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    This thread made me think about an Armor officer buddy of mine who remarked as he was reading "The Sling and the Stone", that he thought COIN was much harder then HIC - if you guys remember prior to that some of the high level thinking was that if you could do HIC well, the rest would follow.

    Imagine though, if you were under the other premise, and your organization and doctrine, your training and acquisition priorities were similarly associated. How different would we have looked? Take it one step further and consider if threat was a Joint outlook?

    We often take for granted why we are what we are because our concern for the present and immediate future alters the context of the decisions made in the past - this is the curse of the fortune teller I guess.

    It was pointed out to me that the Army is often asked why it requires so much of a LOG tail when other services and allies do not. We (the Army) campaign - we come and we stay, and although we desire certain expeditionary capabilities, our ability to sustain a difficult and enduring land campaign is something that nobody else does like us. The Joint Force (and this is not to deny they have their own sustainment/LOG capabilities, or provide the means to bring it in and take it out) and allied forces heavily rely on US Army Logistics when campaigning on land - much of their (our Joint and allied) capability truly is expeditionary, and as such is built to get there quickly, but not necessarily to support an enduring campaign. I am still not entirely comfortable with including "campaign quality" and "expeditionary capabilities" in the same sentence -but it reflects the realities of today's requirements to remain "ready and relevant"

    I'm not sure where the mean of pendulum should be. I know that if you have always had something, you tend to take it for granted, and its hard to conceive of the work that was required to build it to that point, or how seemingly minor changes can have secondary and tertiary consequences, or the work that would be required to fix it. Fortunately we are evolutionary, so I think we will find the right balance over time. We must be able to do it all, because within a major COIN campaign today there is likely to be times when the enemy will use very lethal, portable and available firepower to challenge us on his terms, and there is the also the very real possibility that we will be asked to destroy another's conventional means of making War.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    I see from the post, that there are some "vintage" or "retro" perspectives out here. The biggest change I have seen during my time in Iraq, is that the light guys have come to see that the mech guys aren't really all that different. Whoever posted about the what is the difference between dismounting soldiers from an M1114 HumVee or a Bradley hit the nail on the head. Personally it is easier to dismount from a Bradley/Stryker because of the ramp, and you do not have to bleed off squad members to man the vehicles. A mech IN company has 9 rifle squads in it. So a mech company commander/platoon leader you are fighting squads and vehicles I never had a problem with sending squads out on patrols independent from the Bradley. During my time in Iraq, I have seen many armored vehicles patrolling/overwatching without Infantry squads on the ground. The advantage that he mech forces have is that the Bradley makes a very effective platform at supporting the Infantry.

    As far as mindset, there are some differences. Before the war in Iraq, the biggest difference that I noticed was the concept of areas of operation. I remember light company commanders an PL's only needing a small section of the map based on their mobility while mech guys were operating across greater differences. The joke was that a light guy could get into trouble pretty fast, but that mech guys got into trouble at 40 miles an hour. Stryker units a something of hybrid between the two. They have a lot of benefits of both communities.

    Comparing mech and light unit effectiveness in COIN. If you want to draw those conclusions, then one would have to look for an example where a mech unit and a light unit had operated in the same area of operation. As many have stated, Iraq is a mosaic. Each area has it own challeneges. You have to look at the security situation as far as the people who live there, the physical terrain (especially how much you own), and how many troops you have available. When those factors are similar, then you can draw a fairly accurate comparison.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Steve,

    Some good points here, but I don't think that they necessarily undermine the authors' thesis that mechanization has a negative impact on outcomes in counterinsurgencies. I'd argue that it is not the mechanization itself, but rather the doctrinal focus that mechanization brings that is your causal relationship. In otherwords, mechanization is a proxy for how your force thinks and/or wants to fight (since I'd imagine that it would be pretty hard to develop and quantify a doctrine variable). Turning your GEN Petraeus example into a question - given the Army's level of mechanization and hence doctrinal focus prior to the start of OIF, on average, do you get a MG Petraeus type division commander or not? As far as Vietnam goes, did mechanization (defined through the use of helicopters) provide a positive or negative impact? The technology may be neutral, but how it affects doctrine is not.

    In terms of the examples of the adaptability of leadership since 2003 such that mechanization is not an automatic curse in COIN, this is certainly true. However, the fact still remains that our doctrinal focus and the resulting performance in the early years of Iraq has made achieving victory much more difficult. So, I still think you get a causal impact from mechanization, although its effect is greatest at the outset of the counterinsurgency.
    My take is more that mechanization plays into how segments of the military prefer to fight their wars. It's more of an extension of the Word War II mindset. Helicopters increased mobility, but one of the biggest destructive factors in Vietnam aside from airpower was artillery; good old WW2 era-guns. The helicopter also had its downside in the amount of logistic support it required, creating a need to open and secure roads and tie down assets keeping those roads open (many of which were mechanized...a number of division cavalry squadrons spent the bulk of their time securing roads).

    Doctrine is also tailored to fight the preferred conflict, not the one that may be close at hand. Thus mechanization is, in my view, tailored to fight "the big one," not to deal with smaller conflicts.

    We agree on the impact of doctrine, I think, but I also feel that divorcing mechanization from doctrine (which the study authors seem to do) really undermines their main point. Mechanized units can and have played very important roles in COIN efforts. They make outstanding reaction forces for outlying posts and garrisons; they have the ability to escort relief supplies and protect local improvement projects; and they can respond quickly to any emergency (be it combat or humanitarian)...much quicker than a leg unit in many cases.

    With the commander variable...I don't know if that can be tied to doctrine either. Good commanders change or modify doctrine (or ignore it) to suit the situation; poor commanders do not. Others go with the flow and fight how they were taught to fight. An aggressive commander with a light unit can cause almost as many problems as a commander with a mechanized unit IF he doesn't understand the situation at hand.

    Interesting questions. Certainly makes for good discussion.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    With the commander variable...I don't know if that can be tied to doctrine either. Good commanders change or modify doctrine (or ignore it) to suit the situation; poor commanders do not. Others go with the flow and fight how they were taught to fight. An aggressive commander with a light unit can cause almost as many problems as a commander with a mechanized unit IF he doesn't understand the situation at hand.
    Steve,

    I agree that the commander is an omitted variable, but one that I think would be hard to quantify and thus should be addressed qualitatively in the paper. The question is what bias this creates, and the section that I highlighted from your post is what I'd argue is what happens on average, and thus, the bias would be very low.

    Commanders are selected based on their performance within the chosen doctrine of the force, and the current incentives reinforce this - grad school is poo poo'd as time spent away from the force while muddy boots assignments are the "tickets" to success. While there is lip service that grad school is good now (although the incentives haven't been changed to match this, e.g., telling boards that civilian graduate school is the equivalent as a second command in Ranger Regiment), I don't think that it is much more than that. Thus, a GEN Petraeus or LTG Chiarelli that can adapt on the first go around in a non-doctrinal scenario is the exception and not the rule. The necessities of the scenario will cause others to adapt and become more effective as time goes on, but I'd still argue that mechanization does have a causal impact (through the effects of doctrine and mindset) on the probability of winning a counterinsurgency.

    Essentially, what we would consider a good full spectrum commander may not be the commander that is promoted because the doctrine/mindset doesn't have the same definition of good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair
    Interesting questions. Certainly makes for good discussion.
    Absolutely. The interesting policy question that stems from this is still the same million dollar question - how do you (and can you) develop an Army that can truly be full spectrum and not one that pays lip service to full spectrum operations while treating small wars as the lesser included case?

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