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Thread: Suggestions for Small Wars Essay Contest?

  1. #41
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Models

    William,

    I agree with your assessment of models and would add that models and simulations allow us to think about things ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_%28macroeconomics%29 ) before committing resources.

    Actors and opponents are certainly integral components of a conflict model. More comprehensive models involve more variables and things rapidly get painful when running these types of models. Computational Fluid Dynamics ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computa...fluid_dynamics ) is an example that I am aware of that takes a look at fiercely complex issues and makes fairly decent predictions about them.

    I am looking for the range of conflict models from simple to complex in hopes of learning more and suggest that the SWJ essay incorporate some of these models when attempting to advance explanations and predictions.

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

  2. #42
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Metrics

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post
    It would be very useful if it could be defined for Infantry Squad/Platoon leader.
    Ranger 94,

    I carry a laminated copy of GTA 41-01-001 with me when I head downrange. Pages 34 - 40 of this publication might have some of the focus that you seem to be looking for.

    For those who do not have access to the GTA the portion I mentioned revisits the SPHERE and UNCHR standards and indicators for populations.

    Steve
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-21-2008 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Added link.
    Sapere Aude

  3. #43
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default

    Based on a lot of the discussion I've read since joining, how about:

    The spectrum of war?
    Does the nature representative government prevent winning small wars?

    Whatever you do, require the entries be written in English, not techno- or acadamebabble.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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  4. #44
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default How I Learned...

    to Stop Worrying and Love Small Wars.

    LIC and the Defense Acquisition Process

    Small Wars in the Context of National Security Strategy

    Airpower Application in Small Wars (A Charlie Dunlap fave!)

    Are Small Wars the Future?
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  5. #45
    Groundskeeping Dept. SWCAdmin's Avatar
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    Default Received from an SWC Member by PM...

    ...who prefers to remain anonymous for some unknown reason. Author does credit the discussion here for some of the thought.

    FYI, I got the dreaded SWJ Server Death Grip when I tried to post this yesterday. Fortunately, I can recognize it and know who to call. Need to change our host, and apologies to all the people who aren't reading this now because they can't get through.

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    One characteristic of many small wars is that they are asymmetric: one actor possesses considerably more “hard” or military power than the other. Yet many ostensibly weaker powers seem able to negate this advantage through the use of information. Manipulation of existing news outlets (e.g., newspapers and magazines), and creation of new media outlets (e.g., blogs and websites), may permit weaker actors to achieve end states otherwise unattainable. Under what conditions are such information operations most likely to succeed (e.g, during more traditional military operations, such as the November 2004 assault on Fallujah, or during less traditional military operations, such as the pacification of Anbar)? What are the most efficient ways for weaker actors to use information operations to negate their opponents’ military advantages? Conversely, what are the most efficient ways for stronger actors to deny weaker actors such capabilities (e.g., embedding, foreign-language websites, etc.))? Which branch or branches of the US Government are best able to conduct such operations, and in what ways?

    The US military has sought to learn counterinsurgency lessons from the experiences of other militaries as well its own. But to some extent, each military is unique. With respect to the US military, to what extent can lessons from other militaries be applied, to what extent are lessons from other militaries inapplicable, and why? What are the dimensions one should assess when importing lessons from other militaries? What makes such lessons applicable or inapplicable – the nature of the US political system (e.g., division of responsibility for prosecution of wars between Congress and the Executive), the nature of the US military (e.g, dissimilar from the British regimental system), the absence of unity of command within a theatre and separate lines of authority between DOD and State, etc.? For example, to what extent should one apply British COIN lessons from Malaya or Kenya, or Russian COIN lessons from Afghanistan, and what rationales dictate which lessons should be applied when (e.g., British lessons should be applied because the British political system is more similar to the US one, or Russian lessons should be applied because it too lacked a small wars tradition)?

    The concepts of guerilla war, unconventional war, insurgency, low-intensity conflict, asymmetric conflict, and terrorism – to name a few – overlap to a considerable degree, but also diverge to a similar degree. Not all insurgencies take place within the context of unconventional wars (e.g., actions during the US Revolutionary and Civil Wars), nor do all asymmetric conflicts necessarily involve insurgencies (e.g., the Israel-Lebanon/Hezbollah 2006 war). Accordingly, distinctions between small wars and large wars may be considerably overstated: a war might be characterized as “primarily” “small” or “large,” but nevertheless contain large components of each. To aid to the complexity, militaries – and organizations more generally – can arguably change only slowly and painfully at best, and/or be capable of doing only one thing. Finally, while the United States is currently waging (at a minimum) two counterinsurgencies, the potential of major or large regional conflicts cannot be discounted entirely. Accordingly, to what extent – if at all – should the US military attempt to organize (or reorganize) itself for small wars? Or, conversely, should the US military be content with the progress it has made in drafting FM 3-24, and reorienting itself toward small wars, and decide its change has been sufficient? What tradeoffs, if any, should be made?

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle
    I carry a laminated copy of GTA 41-01-001 with me when I head downrange.....
    The version of the Civil Afffairs Planning and Execution Guide linked above is dated Oct 02. It has just been superseded by a new version, dated Jan 08. (AKO log-in required)

  7. #47
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Ya Allah!

    Quote Originally Posted by SWCAdmin View Post
    One characteristic of many small wars is that they are asymmetric: one actor possesses considerably more “hard” or military power than the other. Yet many ostensibly weaker powers seem able to negate this advantage through the use of information. Manipulation of existing news outlets (e.g., newspapers and magazines), and creation of new media outlets (e.g., blogs and websites), may permit weaker actors to achieve end states otherwise unattainable. Under what conditions are such information operations most likely to succeed (e.g, during more traditional military operations, such as the November 2004 assault on Fallujah, or during less traditional military operations, such as the pacification of Anbar)? What are the most efficient ways for weaker actors to use information operations to negate their opponents’ military advantages? Conversely, what are the most efficient ways for stronger actors to deny weaker actors such capabilities (e.g., embedding, foreign-language websites, etc.))? Which branch or branches of the US Government are best able to conduct such operations, and in what ways?
    I have fundamental problems with the language and logic in use here. "Asymmetric" is meaningless in terms of military thought. It does not usefully describe the phenomena that it claims to.

    IMO, the use of the description "Small Wars" is also largely useless, in that it is not a useful description. How do you measure Small versus Large?

    What all these bumper stickers manage to avoid is the admission that there are opponents against whom the use of conventional military force is not useful because they shelter and subsist within civilian populations. That's it! It's nothing to do with information or the media. Information and media are not and never can be military ends in themselves. They are activities that create a friction which may negatively impact on military action, because of the political/humanitarian dimension. EG: If military action remains unknown or unreported, (or no one cares) there can be no information dimension.

    There are populations who are completely inoculated against information operations, EG - The militant and ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in Israel and the wider world or militant Islam and the Pro/Pan-Arabists anywhere, and people of any extreme position. They only accept information that supports their beliefs. Check out "cognitive dissonance" as a phenomena. These people are not swayed by information. - However a gun in the mouth does get them to take their fingers off the keyboard or stop the interview for the BBC.

    To my mind the entire challenge is to make and retain the utility of military force, so that it achieves the decisions we need. You have guerillas and bad people because they believe that power comes from the barrel of a gun. The best and most effective solution is to make such men, fear for all they believe, should they wish to attempt gaining influence by such means.
    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

  8. #48
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I'm in general agreement.

    Agree totally that 'asymmetric' simply describes the way anyone should ALWAYS fight -- attack ones opponents weakest point(s).

    If, for example, the opponent is not able to successfully attack us militarily and as a result turns to successfully using IO to weaken our national resolve for completion of a goal, then our effort should be directed toward undermining the opponents efforts in that regard and destroying his credibility. I do not believe that is a military function, it is a governmental function but the Armed Forces are the absolute wrong agency to prosecute the effort.

    Other than to covertly remove some of his messengers and destroy some of his dissemination capability, of course...

    Wilf is correct in that:
    "...that there are opponents against whom the use of conventional military force is not useful because they shelter and subsist within civilian populations.
    . Yet there are also cases where conventional military force is required for one reason or another to open the window for non conventional force or effort to be applied. That effort will vary considerably dependent on the nation(s) involved and the general situation and success will depend on knowledge of the cultures and forces involved and on good intelligence. We do not do well at understanding the former and we have not done well at obtaining and / or promulgating the latter. Hopefully, both those conditions will see improvement in the future.

    I do not as strongly agree about 'small wars.' It's a term, no more and some wars are in fact smaller than others. As it is generally applied today, it points toward COIN. I think that the Armed Forces don't “do” COIN, rather they act in support of US Government COIN, they don't conduct COIN but do -- and must be able to -- operate in a COIN environment. I believe that distinction is critical and is not being applied -- and that is why we've been floundering for a while. Volumes have been written about that and about the failure to involve the total government in this effort so there's little to be gained by flogging that stud here.

  9. #49
    Council Member Geoff's Avatar
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    Default Conflict?

    What about the simple ones, I'm probably re-hashing some of the things that have been discussed, c'set la vie.

    Reconstruction after conflict - an invaders responsibility?
    The soldier of the future - a geek, sneak or killer?

    I do like the idea about Rednecks and guns, does the use of Monster trucks in modern warfare follow on, or is it assumed?

    Cheers

    Geoff

  10. #50
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    Role of religion in conflict resolution
    Role of religion in counterinsurgency

    Some feel that the soft power of religion is often overlooked in the politics of societies. It would be interesting to see this issue explored.

  11. #51
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    Microfinance in counterinsurgency.

  12. #52
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default On MRAPs and Monster Trucks

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    I do like the idea about Rednecks and guns, does the use of Monster trucks in modern warfare follow on, or is it assumed?
    At last the mysterious attraction for MRAPS is revealed--Is it the Monster of all Monster trucks?

  13. #53
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Talking I was

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    At last the mysterious attraction for MRAPS is revealed--Is it the Monster of all Monster trucks?
    kinda leanin towards the latter. It only makes sense, not to mention the added benefit of bringing new mods for our current trucks more likely

    Military advancements always fortell lots of neat toys for the rest of us

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    Microfinance in counterinsurgency.
    Intriguing. Gets into the soft side of COIN, development, etc. Question: licit or illicit microfinance?
    --
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    Quote Originally Posted by invictus0972 View Post
    Role of religion in conflict resolution
    Role of religion in counterinsurgency

    Some feel that the soft power of religion is often overlooked in the politics of societies. It would be interesting to see this issue explored.
    Also intriguing. But I'll bring it back to my earlier suggestion about terrain complexity. Religion is cognitive terrain, and if we're to follow Anthony Smith on the sacred sources of nationalism, it's a tight fight with material/physical terrain. And neither view exists in the absence of human terrain.

    Sorry, yes: I'm a reductivist. ;0
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  16. #56
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default

    I'd offer a contest for the tactical level.

    I would like to see a contest focused to the tactical level - BN and below. We have a plethora of studies, think tank reports, op-eds, etc. on whole of government and larger issues.

    What we are not seeing is a large density of high quality work on the small stuff that makes tactical level COIN successful or unsuccessful. For the most part the branch journals have a hard time attracting these sort of articles, and when they are published they don't hit the mainstream.

    SWJ should encourage the works of the CPT/LT/SGT level, which aren't as common.

    Just my thoughts.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  17. #57
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    I'd offer a contest for the tactical level.

    I would like to see a contest focused to the tactical level - BN and below. We have a plethora of studies, think tank reports, op-eds, etc. on whole of government and larger issues.

    What we are not seeing is a large density of high quality work on the small stuff that makes tactical level COIN successful or unsuccessful. For the most part the branch journals have a hard time attracting these sort of articles, and when they are published they don't hit the mainstream.

    SWJ should encourage the works of the CPT/LT/SGT level, which aren't as common.

    Just my thoughts.

    Ditto, all this Strategical Stuff tends to overshadow the fact that sooner or later it gets down to the tactical level of how are you going to do this.

  18. #58
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    IMO, the use of the description "Small Wars" is also largely useless, in that it is not a useful description. How do you measure Small versus Large?
    Oh yeah? I was utterly wrong. Small War is a very useful description when applied within a context of Regular and Irregular threats. Live and learn!
    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

  19. #59
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default At the command level

    People are in command to lead and they in turn implement broad strategy on the ground at the tactical level, having previously contributed to strategy development.

    Thus I like the battle plan of Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest of CSA Civil War fame: "Get there firstest with the mostest."

    I also like the hard reality which General Ulysses Grant (he had no middle name, the "s" was made up to create the image of a middle name) had of we will over time grind them down by the sheer force of men, material, supply and national productivity.

    These days we still lack a more uniform individual participation, self sacrifice on the home front to back up "whatever it takes" in the field, "whatever it takes" having been defined by our most senior policy makers.

    Tactical views/opinions/experiences of a pro-active, constructive, not backbiting nature, at the company grade officer and NCO level we need now as a part of the SWJ daily, on going dialogue on this good site, also my view.

    A start on my two cents.

  20. #60
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm glad that it appears we will get some practical examples of both topics from the winners and honorable mentions. There has been a ton of theory running awry at times, and although it helps describe what we think we see, the guts of it all requires getting us towards endstates. I hope the articles are judged on how well the material can be applied to a tool box.

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