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Thread: Indirect and Direct components to strategy for the Long War

  1. #41
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default As usual, Ken

    cuts through the verbiage to the heart of the issue .

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    All goes back to Robert Fulghum; be careful what you want, you may get it. Seems to me that defining two things; (a) the National Interest; and (b) as Marc said "The point I am trying to make is that the ideology / symbology - what we stand for - must transcend any individual national interest." is the first step and that it is a quite difficult if not impossible step. Still, if one succeeds in doing that, then one must reconcile the two -- even more difficult.
    Absolutely. Actually, I think that such an ideology / symbology is rather simple to build since most of the base ideas are already floating around in various forms. As I see it, it can be structured around the basic idea of a convention between sovereign entities (BTW, not limited to nation states) along the loose confederate lines Rob mentioned at a global level. As long as it also includes guarantees of internal sovereignty within minimal agreed upon limits, including the right of departure, it should work. Of course, negotiating those limits and the conventions would be a freakin' nightmare .
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  2. #42
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    Of course, negotiating those limits and the conventions would be a freakin' nightmare .
    You know Marc, the other day I got asked to brief a foreign attaché on JCISFA. There was a set of slides to go over as a kind of info brief. The most wonderful thing happened - technical difficulties arose and caused a pause. The pause allowed a real, no fooling conversation to take place. In that brief time I found out he'd already gotten a similar info brief not 6 months ago. At that point we were both relieved and nixed the slides and talked about what was on his mind with regards to SFA, and many of the other subjects we've discussed in this thread and others. We probably talked for a good hour - and I believe we all got infinitely further then any set of slides could go.

    So the key I think is the interaction, the discussion, the negotiation. I think up front, although terribly unpopular as it does not hold "solution" like answers that can be filed away as another win in time to hold up as one more reason to elect or re-elect. This gets to the reconciliation that both Ken and you mentioned between what you want and what you can realistically achieve (for whatever reasons), what you want and what your partners want (or believe to be more in their interests), how it plays in one place vs. somewhere else, etc. None of those things are easy because they are conditional and that means unless you are willing to roll the dice and be able to live with comes up, then you are going to have to bring appetite and stomach into balance. That our political cycle is what it is does not engender itself to that reality, but it does not stop us from perpetuating the fiction that there are easy wars either.

    So we're back to the nightmare that is, and the guy who gets sent forward to do the best that he can, be he a soldier or civilian advising foreign forces or bureaucrats, or the guy getting off a Blackhawk as part of an AASLT to seize some key piece of terrain to extend the Line of Operation.

    One of the things I'd mentioned early on is that I don’t consider the genesis of this thread as something novel - if anything it is an attempt to synthesize what I think we're already doing in many ways (and many have done before us), just maybe in a disconcerted manner. Putting it in the format that I did just helps me to frame the strategic and perhaps operational contexts as I contemplate where SFA fits, be it as part of BPC in an Indirect sort of way, or be it in post conflict operations following a Direct application of military power. This is one of the reasons why the SFA slide showing breadth and depth in an attempt to consider its scope was upfront.

    I think of the two approaches (Direct and Indirect) as complementary. Indirect, for many of the reasons Ken mentioned and I think I brought up early on is hard, and from a military standpoint (if not a political one), somewhat contrary to our nature. However, I also believe we have to have an indirect component to fight a long war, particularly one in which just access can be so critical to be able to be direct at times and places more (not completely) on our terms. We could quickly exhaust ourselves in terms of domestic will, international political capital, and military means by trying to unilaterally pursue a direct approach. The other thing about framing it into direct and indirect components is it helped me consider where the broader inter-agency, multi-national partners, IOs and maybe even NGOs might work together to better achieve (or achieve out right) what military power may not be able to accomplish in and of itself. To me its about better positioning ourselves to take advantage of things as they are vs. how we’d like them to be, then when we realize they are not so, we reach for military power applied in a direct manner, because that is the only element we developed, and the only manner we have time for.

    As stated over and over, t’aint easy.
    Best, Rob

  3. #43
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True...

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    ...
    Absolutely. Actually, I think that such an ideology / symbology is rather simple to build since most of the base ideas are already floating around in various forms. As I see it, it can be structured around the basic idea of a convention between sovereign entities (BTW, not limited to nation states) along the loose confederate lines Rob mentioned at a global level. As long as it also includes guarantees of internal sovereignty within minimal agreed upon limits, including the right of departure, it should work. Of course, negotiating those limits and the conventions would be a freakin' nightmare .
    Taking the last (and most difficult) first; very much so -- but that also leads one to your three earlier points; the ideas are out there; confederations; and guarantees.

    All those fall afoul of human foibles and perversity:

    The "... but it's not MY idea..." syndrome.

    To quote Eisenhower "This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect." I see little evidence that his admirable desire is on the horizon. I believe that mutual trust and respect have been ruined by a short sighted, immediate gratification view of national interest (on the part of virtually every nation, not just the US). The Politicians are at fault -- but we elect them...

    Add that, as R. Reagan said of guarantees, "Trust but verify" as an innate human trait and you have an admitted encapsulation of some of the obstacles to a better world order.

    I think those human factors are what make the agreements so very difficult and are also those which most confound today's strategic planning.

    More germane to this thread. I see three points:

    Strategic planning is difficult at best, more so in the politico-military environment of the US and, indeed, the world today. The very factors that make it difficult are the same factors that make it imperative that it be done.

    Both direct and indirect approaches will be required; the indirect to bypass some problems; the direct to confront those that cannot -- or should not (not always the same thing) -- be circumvented. This requires great flexilbility, a willingness to innovate (and for the powers that be to accept, even encourage, innovation), knowledge not only of own aims but of target goals and aspirations as well as an acknowledgment of those and a willingness to be pragmatic and accept what is achievable as opposed to what is desired (while preparing stepped plans to over the long term* arrive at the desired end state). That's a terribly long way of saying we must break the habit of trying to get everything done on one person's watch; that has crippled us since the early 60s.

    Such planning in the mass and immediate communication environment of today must balance conflicting demands but due simply to the fact that everything always comes out should always emphasize simplicity, transparency and total honesty (OPSEC contingent on the last two items, of course).

    * Not one of our strong suits. In fact, I'm not even sure we have that suit...

  4. #44
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    RAND, 6 Jan 09:

    Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects, and Implications for the U.S. Army
    ....This report uses the generation of either “trajectories” or alternative paths in which the long war might unfold to explore the implications for the U.S. military. The discussion focuses on the potential threats the U.S. faces in each trajectory and considers the confluence of three major problems raised by the war: those related to the ideologies espoused by key adversaries in the conflict, those related to the use of terrorism, and those related to governance (i.e., its absence or presence, its quality, and the predisposition of specific governing bodies to the United States and its interests). The goal of this report is not to determine which of these areas is the key problem. Instead, we take the stance that in order to ensure that this long war follows a favorable course, the United States will need to make a concerted effort across all three domains. Numerous broad conclusions and recommendations are given for addressing issues surrounding the long war.....

  5. #45
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Interesting monograph.

    I don't fully agree with their conclusions and recommendations but I'm sure they'll start a flood...

  6. #46
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    May I start by saying how much I dislike the term "The Long War" ?
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 01-06-2009 at 08:18 PM.

  7. #47
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Can I start by saying how much I dislike the term "The Long War" ?
    No....
    "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

  8. #48
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default unfortunately

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    May I start by saying how much I dislike the term "The Long War" ?
    don't look like it's goin away anytime soon
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  9. #49
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    don't look like it's goin away anytime soon
    how about the "don't look like it's goin away anytime soon" war?

  10. #50
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    As a guy who's spent a lot of time out at SOCPAC where this whole business of "direct" and "indirect approaches" latest version really developed (I believe Sun Tzu gets credit for first recorded use of the terms) I'll offer a little history and personal opinion.

    The phrases "Basilan Model" and "Indirect approach" were getting thrown around in ever expanding circles as the good news story of the OEF-P began to circulate. The problem was that the real essence of what those terms meant resided primarly in the head of then MG David Fridovich who was the first JSOTF CDR and the SOCPAC commander. Everyone else was forming their own idea as to what they meant based on their own experiences elsewhere. To capture this essence in a simple form as his J5 I drafted this and he approved it:

    "We are waging two campaigns, a COIN campaign that is our main effort and is based on the indirect approach; and a CT campaign that is our supporting effort and is based on the direct approach."

    I later modified that to say that we were actually conducting FID, and that it was the Govt of the Philippines that was conducting COIN and CT.

    Now, to SFA. SFA is primarily the direct approach.

    If you are building security force capacity to go out an execute CT operations, or counterinsurgent operations, it does not somehow make it the indirect approach because you are enabling someone else to go out and execute the direct approach.

    The indirect approach is so named because it focuses on addressing the environment that gives rise to the insurgency in the first place, not so named because it is executed by surrogates.

    So whether you are a drain the swamps (indirect) and kill the alligators (direct) guy;

    or of you are a fan of Thoreau: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil (direct approach) to one who is striking at the root (indirect approach), and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve."

    or can grasp: attack the symptoms (direct), attack the causes (indirect)

    you get what it is all about.

    I have seen recent GCC plans that lay out efforts of building host nation security force capacity to go out and conduct COIN against the insurgent as their indirect approach effort. As I told them, "good engagement, but not the 'indirect approach'."
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-06-2009 at 08:56 PM.

  11. #51
    Council Member Mark O'Neill's Avatar
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    Default Good explanation Bob,

    I think that the understanding of 'direct' and 'indirect' vis a vis OEF-P was perhaps not helped by the article in JFQ in early 2007 by Fridovich and Fred K, (see Fridovich, David and Krawchuk, Fred, Winning in the Pacific: The Special Operations Forces Indirect Approach, Joint Forces Quarterly, Q1 2007, Issue 44, pp 24-27) which did not make the distinction you made quite as clear (note: this is not a critcism of either the General or Fred, I think both men are smart operators who have done fantastic work in advancing commonsense approaches to these issues).

    When I worked with another former JSOTF-P commander in Iraq, the position he narrated seemed more in tune with what I would have regarded as a 'classic' SFA task supported by 'good old hearts and minds' stuff (MEDCAPS etc).

    Cheers

    Mark
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-07-2009 at 02:09 PM. Reason: Added link.

  12. #52
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The UK official strategy

    The Uk has had a national strategy for CT for a few years, known as Operation Contest, with four steps: Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. Short summary on this link via Google: http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/t...ic/contest.asp

    Only in the last eighteen months has the indirect Prevent aspect gathered pace, after recognition that the direct Pursue aspect alone was insuffiecent.

    If only there was the brevity and understanding Bob's World's contribution makes:

    "We are waging two campaigns, a COIN campaign that is our main effort and is based on the indirect approach; and a CT campaign that is our supporting effort and is based on the direct approach."

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-06-2009 at 11:38 PM. Reason: Add Bob's World passage

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