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Thread: Lines of Operation

  1. #1
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    Default Lines of Operation

    Many planners and commanders have reached the conclusion that our planning processes need to be modified in order to incorporate lines of operations. While not a new concept, articles written by individuals such as LTG Chiarelli about their use of Lines of Operation in Iraq have renewed the debate. LTG Chiarelli used the following Lines of Operation: Combat Operations, Train & Employ Security Forces, Essential Services, Promote Governace, and Economic Pluralism. Others have suggested Rule of Law and Information Operations as appropriate LOOs. While working to assist the Sri Lankan Gov't against insurgents in the 1980s, Dr. Tom Marks developed a campaign based on the following LOOs: Elimination of Grievances, Population and Resource Control, and Military/Operational Measures. I would like to hear what others think of the utility of using the LOOs approach, as well as what they believe to be the most useful/appropriate LOOs for SASO/SROs. In addition, any discussion of what implied tasks fall under each line would be helpful.
    Last edited by Strickland; 02-03-2006 at 12:06 AM.

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    Default Warden's Rings

    Additionally, if anyone has any recent material concerning the application of Warden's 5 rings to Lines of Operation planning, please pass it along.

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    Default Lines of operation

    What is the difference between "lines of operation" and a "To do" list?

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    Default to-do-list

    Instead of using sequentially phases or staged operations (ie - Phase IV operations), the utilization of lines of operations allows for simultaneous actions throughout both shaping and decisive actions/phases/stages, etc. Instead of having Phase IV (SASO/SRO) tasks, you would have implied tasks associated with a Rule of Law Line of Operation that was in effect throughout the operation. Therefore, during initial operations, the military could be eliminating threat competitors or establishing basic security, and then as the operation progressed, focus on recruiting and training security forces, establishing courts, etc. While the tasks would change, they would all enable or affect rule of law. The to-do-list portion of this is in the implied tasks.

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    Same guy?
    LINK

    As you said, nothing new. Galula, Clausewitz, O'Neill, Callwell all wrote about it. Magsaysay and others did it. Rings, tables, to do lists. Same requirements in a different wrapping. We seem to be following the lead of the business world with all these "new" concepts, but most of the time we end up right back where we started, just like the business world.

    We know what has to be done, we need to quit re-wrapping the package and get on with it.

    I thought this was interesting:
    Contrary to Clausewitz, destruction of the enemy military is not the essence of war; the essence of war is convincing the enemy to accept your position, and fighting his military forces is at best a means to an end and at worst a total waste of time and energy.
    Does anybody here believe this will really work with the enemy we face now? Or any other True Believers?

    Looks like a "more sensitive approach" with a group that saws heads to me.

    He also needs to study Clausewitz more. He is making the same mistake many do. Clausewitz goes on to address less than total war, even admitting it will be the case most often. Destruction of the enemy is indeed the essence of war - whether or not it reaches that point is a conscience decision depending on the circumstances. But the essence of war does not change.

    To go into a war with anything less as mindset is to go in half-assed and asking for defeat.

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    Default Stepping out on a limb...

    Quote Originally Posted by Col Warden
    Contrary to Clausewitz, destruction of the enemy military is not the essence of war; the essence of war is convincing the enemy to accept your position, and fighting his military forces is at best a means to an end and at worst a total waste of time and energy.
    Quote Originally Posted by NDD
    Does anybody here believe this will really work with the enemy we face now? Or any other True Believers?
    I think that a true believer would not give up.

    I think one can go about destroying an enemy in many creative ways. What is needed is partly determined by those involved in the fight and what the desired end state is. For example, if your enemy want to annhilate all infidels, that makes your desire to bring them into society less appealing. On the other hand, everyone may not be hard core, so perhaps you could use PSYOPs on some parts of society or the organization, etc, etc.

    The author in that quote makes a mistake in differentiating between tools and cause.

    People fight for reasons. Clausewitz said that "War therefore is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will." If we rewrite what Col Warden said, if the enemy has fulfilled our will, there is no need for war. But we cannot rewrite what he said so easily, because to "accept your position" entails a hint of self-destruction or drastic social re-orientation if, for instance, your demand on the enemy is to die because they do not have the same skin color, or do not believe in democracy and in the rule of law by a just justice system. Culture, too, may not allow this to happen.

    On the other hand, de-escalation can work to allow negotiations to solve an issue - depends on the issue and those involved. One of the building blocks for democracy.

    Then, war is a tool. You have to choose it at the right time, and know how to bend it to your needs. It still work towards that goal of getting your enemy to acknowledge and accept your position.

    I think that it being a "total waste of time and energy" either suggest that you have chosen the wrong tool for the task at hand, or have mis-identified the scope. Which brings us back to the beginning: Who is the enemy, and why?

    Martin

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    Thumbs down

    Looks like a "more sensitive approach" with a group that saws heads to me.
    Our enemy wants to instigate hatred in us; they want us to overreact. We in turn act with a vengence, only to stigmatize ourselves as bullies; it is meant to divide. When this ruse finally comes to fruition, islamic insurgents reffer to it as a "harvest".

    Go here and search "harvest".

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    Forcing a reaction, or over reaction, is a tactic not an objective. It is not what they want, it is one of the means they will use to get what they want.


    Well said Martin, I agree.

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    Default Making the enemy feel defenseless

    Clauswitz point on winning was making the enemy feel defenseless. Of course destruction of the enemy army was one way to achieve that objective. But he also talks about focusing on the enemy's "center of gravity." That may or may not be his army. One of the classic ways this was done in his era was by manuevering forces to get between the enemy and their "lines of communication" i.e. their supply lines and lines of retreat.

    One of the reasons why it is important for the US to defeat the insurgency is to make that form of warfare less attractive and less likely to be used against our interest. If the insurgency can be defeated, the enemy will have to resort to political means to achieve its objectives and in doing so he will find it difficult to persuade most people to live under a Taliban type society. There is some recognition of the mistakes of the Taliban in Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi.

    While this insurgency has its true believers, it is doing a very poor job of making the people think they would be better off under their trule. In fact there is substantial evidence that it is alienating the Iraq population and things like the bombing of a Shia holy site is not calculate to endear them to their cause. Zarqawi seeks to persuade through abuse like a sadistic parent.

    When this thread started there was an issue of organizing certain events in connection with achieving an objective. While my question about a to do list, may have understated the complexity, it does sound like a situation that used to be addressed by project management software in the early 90's. I have not looked at that type of software in several years but it might be a solution to managing several different events in connection with achieving the objective.

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    Default LOO's

    Lines of operation, much like effects based operations, is largely a conceptual means to help military planners structure and explain their thoughts. It can also be used to simply present a smoke and mirrors brief that says absolutely nothing if we don’t put in the appropriate intellectual effort to make it mean something. For example, what is a Civil Affairs (CA) line of operation really mean?

    In my opinion a line should represent a path to an objective or a subordinate effect to an objective and depending on the situation there could be numerous lines. A path is perhaps to close a parallel to the original use of LOOs, which was to describe maneuver, but it is useful in that we should be on a line to make progress towards achieving our effect or objective(s). Going back to the CA line of operation (if it is applicable), I think we need to identify markers on the trail, sort of navigation check points that need to be some sort of prioritized order. For example, if your unit is trying to establish security and stability in an AO, you may want your CA line markers to look something like this: 1. provide baseline security 2. Establish emergency services (law, fire, medical) 3. Open the banks. 4. Provide trash pick up 5. Open local businesses 6. Open schools, etc. I put no thought in this, so don’t waste time tearing up my priorities, they are simply meant to illustrate a point on a way we can make a line of operation useful. If you have enough resources you may be able to address several markers on this line simultaneously. Of course you’ll be working along several lines of operation simultaneously such as conduct security operations, build HN security force capacity, establish local government, etc….

    It would seem the art is finding a method to ensure these lines have a synergistic effect, or at least are not at odds with one another. Obviously all the markers on the CA line will be tied to some extent to the provide security LOO. Synching the lines is partly intuitive, and partly the process of detailed analysis that takes place in your Effects Targeting Coordination meetings.

    Clausewitz was a genius in his time and much of what he wrote still has some relevance, but we cannot afford to take every new (or old) idea we have and then reshape it so it fits within a Clausewitzian construct. We’ll fail to evolve if we do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NDD
    Forcing a reaction, or over reaction, is a tactic not an objective. It is not what they want, it is one of the means they will use to get what they want.
    Harvesting a community to uprise against us is their objective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson
    Clauswitz point on winning was making the enemy feel defenseless. Of course destruction of the enemy army was one way to achieve that objective. But he also talks about focusing on the enemy's "center of gravity." That may or may not be his army. One of the classic ways this was done in his era was by manuevering forces to get between the enemy and their "lines of communication" i.e. their supply lines and lines of retreat.
    How do you physically strike an opponents center of mass when it's their family ties, tribal loyalties, a koranic code, or faith in god? Although not impossible, it is very counterproductive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore
    Clausewitz was a genius in his time and much of what he wrote still has some relevance, but we cannot afford to take every new (or old) idea we have and then reshape it so it fits within a Clausewitzian construct. We’ll fail to evolve if we do.
    Ahmen
    Last edited by GorTex6; 02-23-2006 at 05:32 PM.

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    Default Current LOO Employment

    I see utility in the LOO construct for planning and assessing operations.

    Some citations:

    • Joint Pub (JP) 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Operations, defines LOOs as the directional orientation of the force in time & space in relation to the enemy.
    • JP 3-0 states LOOs attain a three-dimensional aspect and enable commanders to visualize the application of combat power throughout space and time in a logical design that integrates the capabilities of the force to converge on and defeat adversary centers of gravity (COGs).
    • FM 3-0 puts LOOs in context of stability operations & support operations where positional reference to an adversary is less relevant. Commanders visualize the operation along logical lines which link multiple objectives & actions with the logic of purpose – cause & effect.

    The identified desired endstate can suggest a set of conditions that, when achieved, combine to bring about the endstate. The degree of contribution in time and total may vary owing to the situation confronted in the operating environment including the interaction of diverse group actions and the cumulative impact on perceptions. The calibrating role of this set of conditions is to focus thinking and discussion in planning, and eventually the execution of operations.

    The conditions suggest an objective for an associated line of operation. Decisive points along this LOO are geographic places, specific key events, or enabling systems that allow commanders to gain a marked advantage over an enemy (JP 3-0 and FM 3-0). These DP are often the focal points of connection between multiple LOO.

    I think that when employed, LOO can speed the process of appreciating the situation confronted, and lend efficiency to identifying tasks that contribute to the end state.

    I share concerns voiced by others about claims of a "new" answer or solution to situations confronted. This approach can be helpful.

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    Default LOO is useful like a set of vice grips

    I won't argue the point that LOO "can" can be useful, but I will stand on my original criticism that I have seldom seen it used in a constructive matter. Vice grips are useful to turn nuts, but not drive nails, paint, or assorted other uses. LOOs are useful for maneuver, but don't necessarily add anything but confusion to operations that don't involve maneuvering to achieve an objective. I don't know how many times I have seen the following in briefs: Our lines of operation are security, civil affairs and information operations. At first glance you might think that sounds appropriate in a stability operation, but the substance to this part of the brief never follows, it just doesn't come. Obviously you think you missed something, so you have side bar discussions with the briefers so they can explain how they use their lines of operations to achieve their objectives, what the mile stones are along the lines, and how they synergistically contribute to an end state. You'll get a bunch of blank stares, and sometimes you'll get the truth, well the boss wants to see LOOs in the brief, they don't really add any value or mean anything. If we don't get back to hard core, no nonsense commanders, that demand that plans and words mean something we'll be spinning our wheels for years to come.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 03-20-2006 at 12:42 AM.

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    Default LOO's in Small Wars

    Just because someone has missused LOO's as a window dressing in a brief does not prove that it is a flawed concept.

    In Small Wars, combat operations are not always the primary focus of effort. There are many non-combat types of operations that need to be undertaken to achieve success in unconventional operations. How many and what are the LOO's depend entirely on the existing situation and the conditions that must be met to achive the desired endstate.

    LOO's are not new. What is new, is that LOO's in this context does not describle physical maneuver over the landscape, but rather key problems that must be addressed in a coordinated fashion simultaneously rather than sequentially. Furthermore, the lead agency in some of the LOO's will not be the military.

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    Default Logic Needed

    As Bill Moore posted above, LOO and many other constructs used to visualize, describe and direct actions to achieve an objective can be misused. It seems self-evident that logic is a necessary element in any operational design. If someone can't explain their logic, generally I think we can agree that the design warrants another look. The application of LOO outside maneuver can be valuable, since it can focus discussion on endstate, conditions to contribute to endstate, and DPs that enable or facilitate achieving these conditions. These points should have a defined relationship (logic), though. Like Bill states, if it's power point deep it won't be part of the solution.

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    Default Surface level analysis

    Some of the criticisms of lines of operation strike me as misplaced. If, in fact, a military planner can't tell you anything more about the "public opinion" line of operation than "we have one" then there is indeed a problem - that planner clearly does not understand how public opinion affects his forces in a small war. If our hypothetical planner couldn't tell you the real substance behind his air support line of operations in a maneuver battle, we wouldn't be so quick to criticize the planning technique - it would be obvious that the planner wasn't prepared.

    These "non traditional" lines of operation and centers of gravity associated with small wars are a hallmark of small wars and not so much a problem with the military theory, in my opinion. The central characteristic of a small war/low intensity conflict/insurgency/stability operation, etc. is that it is not a normal war. Unusual obstacles, goals and operations are the norm. If you could identify the insurgent center of gravity as something so prosaic as a headquarters or main line unit then we'd just be in a really easy maneuver war.

    Perhaps it's true that "Lines of Operation" are not a useful tool for analyzing the planning challenges of a small war - however I don't think it's fair to compare the two based on their application by the United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. We run the risk of concluding that wrenches are no good for solving plumbing problems because none of the electricians we called could fix our leaky faucet with one . . . .

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    Default

    I am bringing this post from the dead instead of open a new one because I need to know (from a USMC perspective hopefully) what the current nomenclature is out there for Lines of Operation in Iraq.

    I've recently read a unit AAR about its last rotation, and LOOs are mentioned in loose terms. The overall number of LOOs and area concerned within each LOO are not addressed, so I have no frame of reference (and I'm headed to the unit in question ).

    I shouldn't have been surprised, but when I ran a google string on "lines of operation", this SWC thread was the very first hit. Amazing...
    Last edited by jcustis; 03-07-2008 at 06:04 PM. Reason: added in material

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post

    I shouldn't have been surprised, but when I ran a google string on "lines of operation", this SWC thread was the very first hit. Amazing...

    Yes we are aren't we?

    Seriously I believe the term remains the same for us Army types

    Best

    Tom

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    Default

    I guess that was a poorly written RFI. I was looking for the various LOOs that are out there. If Army LOOs and Marine Corps' LOOs (that sound silly) are the same, should I refer to the pubs referenced above?

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    Default Army References

    Jcustis,

    FM 3-0 has 26 listings for 'lines of operation'

    F 3-24 has 41 listings for 'lines of operation'

    FM 3-05-40 has 1 listing for 'lines of operation'

    FM 3-05-401 has 2 listings for 'lines of operation'

    My copy of JP 3-57 is corrupted, so I can't do a search at the moment, but it's worth rummaging through.

    FM 5-0 has 1 listing for 'lines of operation'

    FM 6-0 (I have the 03 version looks like I need to update my pubs library) has 0 listings for 'lines of operation'

    ***TC 25-20 AAR's

    Anything you can share on the USMC side would be appreciated
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 03-08-2008 at 01:48 PM.
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