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    Default Michele Flournoy on strategy

    Michele Flournoy, President of the Center for a New American Strategy and a Principal DASD in the Clinton Administration, has an outstanding editorial in the Washington Times, quoted in the SWJ Blog. The most important point she makes is that the Bush Adminsitration has never had a political strategy for getting the Iraqi government to do the things it must do to achieve stability and legitimacy in the long run.

    There is no question that Michele understands strategy - it was her portfolio in DOD. There is also no question that she is very bright or that her observations are well informed. My only caveat is that while strategy is conceptually easy, doing it well is hard. And executing it is harder still. Today, everybody and his dog is a strategist. But, in government, only the military does it well - and not all the time. Among the many definitions of strategy is: strategy is the process of relating ends to means (through ways). Here is my army bias coming through: I see strategy in ends, ways, and means terms - objectives, courses of action, and resources. But even Army people and our Navy, Air Force, and Marine brothers, do not always get it right often slighting the resource component of strategy. this was true of the SOUTHCOM Regional Security Strategy that I was responsible for in 1988 - 89. We did it better, by far, in Max Thurman's SOUTHCOM STRATEGY of 1989 because he insisted on beefing up the resource component and adding a formal IO supporting strategy.

    This brings me back to Michele's point. Who in the USG is responsible for a political strategy in and for Iraq? the answer probably should be State Department. But who in State does strategy? The problem will exist, I think, no matter whether John McCain or Clinton or Obama is elected in November. It will exist unless the next President selects someone who knows what it takes to develop strategy to run the process and backs that person with the authority and power of the Presidency to force the process not only to produce a workable document but also to execute it with all the instruments of national power.

    Cheers

    JohnT

    PS In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote two case studies for a project that Michele headed in the Clinton Administration and have attended conferences and workshops with her. I was impressed with her at the time and am still impressed.

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    how about a link?

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    Excellent article, but a somewhat depressing analysis (no fault of the author's of course). Sadly, the Shi'a parties appear to have little ability to govern effectively, whilst the Sunni parties, which include some who do have some real government and administrative talent, are in no position to to do so. I have often suspected that a U.S. Military Government may have been a better way to go until Reconstruction had achieved at least a solid foundation of basic infrastructure and administration in-place, prior to making way for the formation of a popularly-elected civilian Government. At least the basic essentials would have been up and going prior to the hand-over of power back to the Iraqis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the article
    We are now in what U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine calls the "build" phase certainly the hardest phase in which the primary objective is enhancing the legitimacy of the host-nation government in the eyes of the population. The problem is that, to date, improved security has increased our legitimacy, not that of the Iraqi government.
    This observation was very interesting. How do you create "breathing space" without creating dependency? (The Bible talks about giving a man fish and teaching him to fish. Nowhere does it say that if you fish for him he'll eventually insist on doing all the work himself.)
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    thinking through withdrawal

    Ties in well with Marc Lynch's thoughts about Green Zone politics and politicians.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You don't. So then you have to wean them off

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    This observation was very interesting. How do you create "breathing space" without creating dependency? (The Bible talks about giving a man fish and teaching him to fish. Nowhere does it say that if you fish for him he'll eventually insist on doing all the work himself.)
    dependency, which is happening. Takes time. Some people wean more easily than others; in the ME, it'll be pretty slow. All we could ever do was open the window, crawling through it is up to the Iraqis -- who are as politically diverse and fractious as a bunch of Americans. Herding cats come to mind...

    Still, that's a minor problem. The flaw in her argument is the paragraph in the article following the one you cited:
    "And herein lies the cause for concern. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki government appears largely unwilling or unable to take advantage of the space created by improved security to move toward political accommodation, provide for the basic needs of the Iraqi people and lay the foundation for stability and its own legitimacy. And the Bush administration appears to lack a strategy for getting it to do so."
    Perhaps I missed it but I didn't see her prescription for such a strategy in convincing a sovereign government to do ones bidding. Much less an address of the issues of doing so.

    As has been often said, any idiot can surface a problem; the genius provides a solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    for such a strategy in convincing a sovereign government to do ones bidding.
    I'm glad you said that. Is there a way to make it happen or are we in a "no win" situation?
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default We were never going to 'win.' Bad choice of word

    on the part of those either pro or con. We were not going to destroy the Army, a fourth or so of the civilian population and half the infrastructure so there was never going to be a military victory or 'win.'.

    All we could hope for was and is a satisfactory outcome. I put the odds at 60:40 going in and they're, I think, in the 65:35 to 70:30 range now. Still up to the Iraqis and my guess is it'll work out okay. Certainly not to everyone's satisfaction and certainly not as soon as anyone would like. We'll just have to give it time and see.

    Not sure it's really in anyone's interest to "make that happen" as rushing things in the ME tends to push them into telling you what they think you want hear -- or what they want you to hear. Neither may accord with reality. That aside from the fact I'm unsure it's our job to make that happen in any event. It's their country, we just gave them a chance to rearrange it -- with, to my mind, anyway -- no real idea what the final product would resemble. Nor did we or do we need to know.

    The alternative of a precipitous withdrawal would be, I think a major error (90:10 on that ) -- however, I doubt, regardless of campaign rhetoric that we'll do that. We're gonna be there a while...

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    Default From the Motherland

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Today, everybody and his dog is a strategist. But, in government, only the military does it well - and not all the time.
    Personal observations, if I may:

    1. The Military are good (often excellent) at Campaigning, not Strategy. Strategy (especially in a democracy) should be set by the civilian Government not by Servicemen, whose role is to implement that Strategy through military means in conjunction with other policy instruments (Diplomacy/Economics etc).

    2. Terminology can be confusing. For 'Strategy' regularly read 'Plan'. The phrase 'Grand Strategy' might reinforce a point that Strategy should be at the top of the food chain, but it paradoxically encourages the use of 'Strategy' at lower levels. The previous UK position outlined in 'British Defence Doctrine' (Oct 01) of having a 'Grand Strategic' level and a component 'Military Strategic' level has been removed by JDP-01 (Mar 04), with both terms replaced by 'Strategic level'.

    3. It seems beyond degate that progress has to be made in Iraq beyond the security arena. But the time required to achieve that progress is greater than the political cycle in Western democracies. Perhaps a reasonable strategic move would be to focus on economic progress before political. It might happen sooner and would tangibly benefit more of the Iraqi population than political developments. Improved/ing lives may secure continued investment in security.

    4. We can't take a graph with Time on one axis and Progress on the other and draw a line on it which is the model solution against which assessments of progress should be made. If nation building and/or COIN take decades to resolve then how can we make judgments on success or failure after only 5 years?

    PS

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    Default Hi Steve

    My understanding of the origin of "ends, ways, and means" is the same as yours - Art Lykke did put it in an article that found its way into - or was written for - the earliest editions of the AWC course 2 book on strategy. We used the article at Leavenworth as well - I think you did when you were there. You are correct as well that the construct leaves things out. The FAS test, which you mentioned on a different threat, was part of the original Lykke article but NOT part of the construct itself. It is the FAS test that addresses the problem you raise in your post of cost-benefit analysis. You may well be right that this was one of the major problems with Iraq strategy even though it seems obvious today. (That's the kind of thing that we labelled in SWORD [the Southcom Small Wars Operations Research Directorate] the "almost obvious" - an aha moment.)

    There is one other failing that a limited reading of the construct has. It is dependent on a prior estimate of the situation or strategic appraisal. That too, I think you are arguing, was badly flawed with respect to Iraq. Indeed, it was. In general, if the strategic appraisal is wrong, then the strategy will fail regardless of how well linked are the ends, ways, and means and how well it does when subjected to the FAS test. In the Iraq case, the strategic appraisal was wrong and the original strategy also failed the FAS test - especially the Acceptability part which directly addresses costs v benefits.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    My understanding of the origin of "ends, ways, and means" is the same as yours - Art Lykke did put it in an article that found its way into - or was written for - the earliest editions of the AWC course 2 book on strategy. We used the article at Leavenworth as well - I think you did when you were there. You are correct as well that the construct leaves things out. The FAS test, which you mentioned on a different threat, was part of the original Lykke article but NOT part of the construct itself. It is the FAS test that addresses the problem you raise in your post of cost-benefit analysis. You may well be right that this was one of the major problems with Iraq strategy even though it seems obvious today. (That's the kind of thing that we labelled in SWORD [the Southcom Small Wars Operations Research Directorate] the "almost obvious" - an aha moment.)

    There is one other failing that a limited reading of the construct has. It is dependent on a prior estimate of the situation or strategic appraisal. That too, I think you are arguing, was badly flawed with respect to Iraq. Indeed, it was. In general, if the strategic appraisal is wrong, then the strategy will fail regardless of how well linked are the ends, ways, and means and how well it does when subjected to the FAS test. In the Iraq case, the strategic appraisal was wrong and the original strategy also failed the FAS test - especially the Acceptability part which directly addresses costs v benefits.

    Cheers

    JohnT
    The three legged stool developed by "Strategic Art" really got wider exposure when he presented in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1987. A January 13 hearing called "conceptual framework for strategymaking" included Art, Bob Wood of the Naval War College, Denny Drew of the Air Power Research Institute, and Greg Foster of INSS/NDU. I'm not sure about Foster (haven't seen him for a few years), but the others are all retired.

    You're right that I made major revisions to the Strategic Analysis Model then taught at CGSC. Since the original one was known as the "SAM," my revisions, of course, was called the "Son of SAM."

    I remember picking up a CGSC distance education book at the house of a major on the MILGRP in San Salvador about five years later. I noticed that they were still using my revision then--they'd just taken my name off of it!

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    Default Hi Paul and welcome

    I sometimes forget that I am not just writnig for an American audience here - mea culpa

    While I agree with you that grand strategy should be the business of the civilian government, the civilians - particularly the non-defense civilians - are often terribly deficient in their knowledge of the strategy business, at least in the US. That, indeed, was one of the points I was trying to make. Where Michele Flournoy, as a civilian defense policymaker, was/is a strategist, most of her counterparts in State and elsewhere were/are not.

    In our system, the military is not excluded from the grand strategy development process. By law, the CJCS sits as a statutory advisor to the National Security Council. By policy, he sits as a full member of the Principals Committee of the NSC. By policy, the VCJCS sits as a full member of the Deputies committee of the NSC and military members sit as full members of the Policy coordinating Committees, etc. The point is that in our system the military is fully integrated into the strategy and policy processes, Indeed, our civilian side of DOD integrates military officers as high as the level of Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense. (As an aside, when I first met Marine Gen. Chuck Wilhelm who later commanded SOUTHCOM, he was a 2 star DAS-D in the ASD/SO-LIC.) We also have civilians serving in positions on the Joint Staff (the military side). As I understand the UK system the Chief of Defence Staff and the MOD are separately structured with military members in the former and civilians in the latter. Coordination takes place in formal meetings as well as informal consultation but civilians and military are not normally integrated in the same staff.

    When I was teaching strategy at Leavenworth we made similar distinctions to those you say current British doctrine has removed. Hope we haven't made the same mistakes.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default A Basic Strategy Framework

    I found this article in Military Review a while back and have been meaning to post it. One does anybody no where there is a clear copy of the charts in the article?? Two it came out just a little while before the Arthur Lykke,jr. article and it compares( Objectives,Resources and Environment) to METT as a framework for Strategy. Thought it was interesting how much emphasis he placed on the history and culture of the country as part of the environment. Thoughts on the article??


    http://calldp.leavenworth.army.mil/e...CUR_DOCUMENT=1

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    I found this article in Military Review a while back and have been meaning to post it. One does anybody no where there is a clear copy of the charts in the article?? Two it came out just a little while before the Arthur Lykke,jr. article and it compares( Objectives,Resources and Environment) to METT as a framework for Strategy. Thought it was interesting how much emphasis he placed on the history and culture of the country as part of the environment. Thoughts on the article??


    http://calldp.leavenworth.army.mil/e...CUR_DOCUMENT=1
    Seems to be an attempt to treat the security realm like the business world. Just glancing at it, I see the word "enemy" used exactly once in passing. I find such approaches misguided and potentially dangerous. It is focused on an environment of structured competition, not deadly conflict. Much more useful to look at the first chapter of Edward Luttwak's book Strategy.

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    John T,
    copied, thanks. I don't believe our system (within MOD) is quite as 'stove piped' as it may appear. True, there are many areas where Civil Servants or Military Staff reside, but in key areas (i.e. current ops and Policy) they do share offices (especially since the building was rennovated into an open plan layout. Being a much smaller defence organization than yours also helps, and as staff reductions continue (a curent cut of 25%, yes 1 in 4, is underway), de facto people are having to broaden their remits. Outside of MOD, with notable exceptions (e.g. the Stabilization Unit in our Department for International Development (DfID - your USAID) the military are not plugged in to the machinery of government. In my view, this is one major reason why the military instrument is not a favoured tool of foreign policy; we don't have a string of ex-Gens in political office nor a history of them being Prime Ministers. Nor do we (yet - change pending) have an NSC. So the UK military is not postured or expected to shape national Strategy.

    I have a personal view on Strategy in the US system, having worked in DC with State, the DOD (both JS & OSD) and NSC, but I wouldn't go public on it!

    Paul

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    Default Hi Paul, thanks for the update

    on what's happening in the UK system. Godd to see that our Brit cousins are eminently adaptable.

    Certainly, the US strategy system leave much to be desired. When it is done well, it is done very well; at other times it is horrid. NDU has published - both hardcopy and online - NSC 68 and its predecessors with an essay by Paul Nitze. It is a superb strategy in its NSC 4 iteration and was well executed for over 40 years. Congress did us a service in Goldwater-Nichols by reiquring the Executive Branch to publish its National Security Strategy. The requirement to do so each year has been honored in the breach beginning with the Clinton administration but it is still published often enough along with other strategy documents. The unintended consequence it that these documents for public consumption are often more PR than strategy but they usually contain enough so that the public and the bureaucracy understands where the Administration wants to go, how it plans to get there, and generally the resources it thinks it needs.

    I teach a course on National Security Policy in which I lay out the NSC decision-making system (including strategizing). Then, when I think my students believe that we have a fully rational system, I draw a diagram on the board of the Washington policy community above the line and the Field below the line. Then I draw in command and coordination lines. When I am done I have made a mess - which is the intent of the author of the exercise, Ambassador David Passage.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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