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Thread: Suggestions for Small Wars Essay Contest?

  1. #21
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    Since war is politics by other means, and we're a democracy, what does the average voter need to know about small wars?

    How do we finance small wars? How can we weight the costs versus the benefits?
    Last edited by Rank amateur; 01-19-2008 at 03:49 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  2. #22
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Well - One term is now becoming solidified in my new lexicon - Security Sector Reform (SSR). The new FM on Stability Ops is not too far out - Security Force Assistance (SFA) will be a part of it (big hat tip to SWC member Old Eagle for some damned fine witting!).

    I vote one of the topics incorporate the broader topic of SSR - this will allow potential authors to cover everything from Inter-Agency work in SSR to Rule of Law.

    Under the broader topic we can also include sub and related topics of: advising, working with/in support of indigenous forces, FID, PRT, building partner capacity, etc. While these are often parts and pieces of the same things, or cross into multiple areas which together work toward stability - they fall under the SFA and SSR umbrellas.

    I'll sign up to be on the review board.

    It will also help our effort here at JCIFSA (Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance) by identifying folks interested in the topic, and by some possible ideas from those thinking or working in other areas. Some good threads might be spun off from the papers.

    Best Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-19-2008 at 04:24 PM.

  3. #23
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Puzzle solving by essays!

    1) How did civil & military institutions learn from small wars in the Imperial age (1860-1960)? How do those insititutions learn now in the Internet age? Are the obstacles similar?

    2) Can we (the West?) identify a possible small war / insurgency before violence occurs? If identified what do we do first and what do we not do?

    3) Fighting small wars a national or international responsibility?

    4) The fast technological fix -v- the slow human fix for intelligence in small wars. Can we wait? I'm mindful of Northern Ireland and some CT lessons in Western Europe, e.g. ETA in Spain and the Italian Red Brigades.

    davidbfpo

  4. #24
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    why not ask for paper that Usefully inform practitioners as to the conduct and understanding of modern conflict.

    I am becoming more and more convinced, (by reading these forums) that trying to keep COIN in some box that is distinct from wider aspects of conflict is utterly counter-productive and even delusional. War is war. Conflict is conflict. Trying to create discrete groups of conflict does not help - witness the mess that gets made of it.
    Well said, I know exactly what you mean. In the past few years, I have found in almost every area I have studied this almost irrepressible movement to categorize and separate issues to death. In theory, everything can be separated, analyzed and turned black and white. In reality everything is one big greyish area. To try to "keep COIN in some box that is distinct from wider aspects of conflict" (William F Owen) is akin to not allowing surgeons to consult non-surgical specialties.

    Adam L

  5. #25
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    ---The Irony of "Small" Wars: They're Not Just for the Military to Execute
    ---Are Small Wars Any More "Political" Than Conventional Wars?
    ---AS/D SOLIC: The Case for a Similar Arm within Each Governmental Department
    ---Who Rightfully Defines the Term, "Small War," and Is There Really Such A Thing As a "Small War"?
    ---If Small Wars Are So "Small," Then Why Do Great Powers Struggle With Their Execution?

  6. #26
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    1-SBW theory (Slapout Based Warfare) VS: Small Wars Theory

    2-History of Law Enforcement influcene COIN TTP's.

    3-Small Wars on $5.00 a day or less.

    4-Economic Targets as The Key to Winning Small Wars.

    5- How The Police Would Fight And Win Small Wars.

  7. #27
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with Wilf,

    "I am becoming more and more convinced, (by reading these forums) that trying to keep COIN in some box that is distinct from wider aspects of conflict is utterly counter-productive and even delusional. War is war. Conflict is conflict. Trying to create discrete groups of conflict does not help - witness the mess that gets made of it."
    and I think Bodhi summed up the question fairly well:
    "--Who Rightfully Defines the Term, "Small War," and Is There Really Such A Thing As a "Small War"?"
    so I'll second the motion on that question.

    I think Slapout has a valid point on costs (of all sorts) with his number 3 topic:
    "3-Small Wars on $5.00 a day or less."
    and second it.

    Also suggest:

    -- Improving Officer and Enlisted accession training to better prepare for future threats.

    And, channeling Steve Metz:

    -- Will the American body politic support small wars that can be lengthy?

    For JJackson, who above suggests:
    "JJ --Rednecks, should they be trusted with guns - discuss?"
    That also is a good suggestion, seriously -- as it implies we Americans are not to be trusted with dangerous toys, a valid question.

    While I'm sure many in the world would agree, I'm equally sure many more would not and would rather we, with all our faults, have them than some others. In any event, to reassure him, I can attest that this heir to all the Scotch Irish Presbyterian genetic flaws has six firearms in the house; that all three of my sons have about the same on average and none of us thus far have killed or wounded anyone we weren't supposed to; therefor he can sleep soundly. Unless he suffers a home invasion -- a phenomena which for some really strange reason seems to be a great deal more prevalent in his locale than it does in mine...

    So, these four for consideration:

    -- Who Rightfully Defines the Term, "Small War," and Is There Really Such A Thing As a "Small War?" (Seconded, from Bodhi)

    -- Small Wars on $5.00 a day or less. (Seconded, from Slapout)

    -- Improving Officer and Enlisted accession training to better prepare for future threats.

    -- Will the American body politic support small wars that can be lengthy?

  8. #28
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    -- Improving Officer and Enlisted accession training to better prepare for future threats.
    I'll second that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    And, channeling Steve Metz:

    -- Will the American body politic support small wars that can be lengthy?
    I think this is a little too narrow and already answered (possibly.) How about expanding it to include possible methods to employ in order to increase understanding of small wars. Perhaps an essay about the best methods to depoliticize the discussion an analyis of Small Wars. Basically an essay about how to improve Small Wars PR.

    Adam L

  9. #29
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    -Organizing for small wars in a post 9/11, OIF, and OEF era. In the wake of the aformentioned events (assuming we get to the latter two), what should the formal organizational structures of the various services look like? Is there a requirement to establish formal changes to support future battles in the "Long War", or will ad hoc structures and organizations serve our military better, considering the current expenditure of funds to make technological changes and improvements in kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities?

    Put another way, should coalitions of the "willing" invest more in training and COTS enabler technologies - with an eye towards increasing capabilities at COIN, or will the future require them to continue making capital investments in fighters, tanks, and ships to deter and defeat potential threats that also possess fighter, tanks, and ships (oh, and assymetric capabilities)?

  10. #30
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Good topic! I was working on something along similar lines, but I had not quite put it together yet. I think you hit it right on the head.

    Adam L

  11. #31
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default iPhone, FM's and reality...

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    What about an essay about the roles of SOF and conventional forces in COIN? Prior to OIF, the attitude in the big Army was that COIN was the realm of SOF and they wanted no part of it. That attitude has changed (though not gone away completely) but there is still a disconnect between SOF and the conventional forces. What should each one's role be? What responsibilities should be shared and what ones kept
    Uboat509,

    This quote of yours has been pinging around in my head today, that and the iPhone comment you lucky...

    I would like to share an experience with you that changed my thinking about things SOF. "No ####, so there I was..."

    The 2000 copy of FM 41-10 has figure 1-1 which provides a nice clean visual about the continuum of conflict and how we CA-bubbas try and drain the swamp throughout the full-spectrum of things. This is the picture that was in my mind when I hit the ground in Iraq in 2003.

    Iraq covers about 167400 square miles / 433400 square kilometers depending upon which website you quote and in this large area I was very aware that SOF were in short supply and conventional forces were plentiful. My AO was too large for me to cover every day but the 101st did a damn fine job of it. When then MG Petraeus shifted the whole DIV from 'Cordon and Search' to 'Cordon and Knock' operations I realized that US conventional forces are capable of COIN op's. When MG Petraeus had his BCT commanders meet with the locals, id problems and work to resolve them I saw that with the right leader and given time and experience conventional forces can excel at COIN. Necessity is the mother of invention and with the current situation Big Army has no choice but to excel at COIN and to keep those skills sharp or risk losing this fight and future fights.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and we have learned this lesson in spades. For SOF, I am of the opinion that we need to ensure that we are regularly inserted further upstream in the time continuum in AO's of concern to US interests to conduct our missions before things get to where they are today. SOF must also effectively educate, advise, and train with our conventional forces on our mission just as we do with host nations. Failure to effectively execute either of these missions is harmful to the nation. In the meantime we all need to play team and kick some ass.

    My 0.02 cents,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 01-20-2008 at 01:35 AM.
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  12. #32
    Registered User SteveO's Avatar
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    Lightbulb PMCs in small wars

    Not only private contractors, but all non-state armed groups. USG-contracted armed groups fighting ideological or criminal armed groups - sort of like what's happening in Colombia. Is that a small war?

    Another idea for an essay prompt. Influence or information operations and strategic communication in small wars - winning minds and wills - both in the area of operations and in the global public square.

    One last one, a couple of people have mentioned it. The interagency in small wars, but not just the Federal IA - public, private, nonprofit, and even super empowered individuals in coalitions of the willing. How could we attract all, or many, of the elements for good into a unified effort? should we?

    You may want to include an option for people to write whatever they want to keep the new ideas flowing. You never know what you're gonna get.
    Last edited by SteveO; 01-21-2008 at 01:10 AM. Reason: typo

  13. #33
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Figure 1-1. CA Mission Activities Across the Range of Military Operations


  14. #34
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    Originally posted by Slapout:
    4-Economic Targets as The Key to Winning Small Wars.
    Maybe as an offshoot of the above:

    "Practical Economics For Small Wars" a/k/a "You Can't Live On A Steady Diet of Sand".

  15. #35
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    This is, IMO, woeful. It is not a spectrum of conflict. It is also inaccurate. I think the old Three Block War is simplistic, but it's more useful than this. This actually implies that there are discreet areas of operation that are distinct and clearly identifiable. However, we know this not to be true, and thus it is misleading.

    ..and, how does it help to think like this? What use is this type of graphic?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  16. #36
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    This is, IMO, woeful. It is not a spectrum of conflict. It is also inaccurate. I think the old Three Block War is simplistic, but it's more useful than this. This actually implies that there are discreet areas of operation that are distinct and clearly identifiable. However, we know this not to be true, and thus it is misleading.

    ..and, how does it help to think like this? What use is this type of graphic?
    I'm not reading it that way at all. Seems to me that all it's attempting to point out is that CA is involved in military activity all the way from war to peace, but that it's specific functions vary.

  17. #37
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    Default Terrain Complexity in Small Wars?

    Hi folks, just getting started here at SWC after following it for quite some time. Bear with me, I've scanned over the previous 30-odd posts in this thread, and seen nothing explicitly related to the role of terrain, broadly speaking, in small wars.

    I'm pandering to my own limited expertise here, but as an outgrowth of writing about sanctuary in insurgent and terrorist thought and practice, I've been building a conceptual suite that I've come to think of as "terrain complexity".

    Right, the complexity part's not complicated, it means what it means, and gets into the role of networks, complex adaptive systems, and all the "unrecognizables" and incoherence of post-cold war low intensity crises. But the terrain angle is much more convoluted. Complex terrain might be just another word for "ecologies" or "environments", but I hesitate to go that route, thinking that it could be somewhat misleading to the lay, non-security types thinking more about maritime ecosystems and sustainable forests than the problems of CT/COIN battlespace and IPB, esp. in a global context.

    Terrain, in this sense, is a weave of material/physical, human/demographic, and cognitive/social threads. It gets into rural vs. urban ops, hard vs. soft COIN, domestic vs. foreign theatres of operation, policing vs. military options, etc. Its ties into processes and conditions of radicalization (historically, not just in relation to today's Iraq and Afghanistan), cross-border migrations and transnational pipelines, etc. And, I think, the notion of terrain complexity underlies, so to speak, a great many of the suggestions that've already been put forward.

    Anyway, just a thought.
    Last edited by Mike Innes; 01-21-2008 at 02:35 PM. Reason: Forgot a detail

  18. #38
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Models

    William F. Owen,

    FM's evolve and it is instructive to compare the current offering on civil affairs to the earlier versions. Distribution is limited so access may be an issue.

    With regard to models which attempt to predict reality I am currently working on a trickling filter model in microsoft excel; eckenfelder, germain, velz, nrc and their derivations all attempt to provide guidance on how to ultimately, commit resources to improve things. After everything has been programed it is fun to change the variables and note the resulting ranges of predications. I am also a fan of Isaac Asimov's ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov ) idea that one day we will have quantitative models with which to predict human behavior.

    So, the three block war model is a good one in that is able to provide a general concept of what is happening on certain aspects of small wars.

    What other models are you aware of and would you be willing to share with the forum?

    My hope is that the essay solicitation will generate some type of working/quantitative model. Along these lines I ran across a blog that is attempting to generate analysis/recommendations on weapons proliferation using collaborative efforts by the blogs visitors...perhaps that is something we could look at here

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 01-21-2008 at 05:18 PM.
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  19. #39
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    [QUOTE=Surferbeetle;38187]How about:

    --Developing Metrics for Small Wars


    It would be very useful if it could be defined for Infantry Squad/Platoon leader.

  20. #40
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    What other models are you aware of and would you be willing to share with the forum?
    Well first I would ask, why do we need to model war/conflict. I submit so as we have something that allows us to conuct operations in a better/more effective fashion.

    Thus I feel we need to model opponents/actors, not the conflicts themselves. If there are no bad guys, then what are we doing?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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