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Thread: Effects Based Operations (EBO) - is it valid?

  1. #41
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Cavguy,


    By focusing on the population instead of the enemy, you didn't go after the nodes of an insurgent network, you went after the links. This destroyed the network in your area. You can go after nodes forever, and they'll simply be replaced.

    Yes,Yes,Yes that is exactly how I was taught(criminal networks) and how you break up a system!! The linkages are how you tear it up!!

  2. #42
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That is a great post...

    Slapout's already noted the most important point IMO; so I'll just agree with him and note the second most important point
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    ...
    EBO based on metrics is also flawed, and worse wastes considerable man hours attempting to develop and monitor metrics that in the end are generally misleading and beyond accurate measurement to begin with. (emphasis added / kw)

  3. #43
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Ebo

    Cavguy,

    I am a fan of EBO.

    Tom O's CALL references are worth reading and thinking about. I have played with EBO at Camp Smith, Hohenfels, NTC, and JRTC. IMHO these are good places to 'take it for a test drive' and see if it works for you. Worst that will happen to if you get it wrong is an ass-chewing. The old FA warrant officer's and some of the S2/G2 folks are great resources for helping you to set up your targeting matrices. I adapted my knowledge of EBO on the ground in OIF 1 as I moved from South to North, finally ending up in Mosul. Good stuff.

    On to metrics, they are important from a management controls standpoint as well as from a justification for additional resources from higher standpoint.

    From where the rubber meets the road in engineering, metrics are required: How many hours on the generators? How much fuel on hand? How many kW hours produced this week? How many amps are the houses limited to? How many MGD drinking water treated today? How many MGD wastewater treated today? How many tons of chlorine left? How many water connections were made this week?

    Medicine: What is the pharmaceutical registry (my have the incorrect verbiage here but the intent is what drugs are on hand, what's on order, etc). How many docs? What skill sets? Metrics apply to Law, Law Enforcement, and they are big in MBA school as well. An Operations Management class may be worth your efforts, if you are pressed for time try the book Operations Management-Quality and Competitiveness in a Global Environment by Russell and Taylor (ISBN 0-471-69209-3).

    "Operations management designs, operates, and improves productive systems-systems for getting work done. The food you eat, the movies you watch, the stores in which you shop, and this book you are reading are provided to you by the people in operations."

    Regards,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 03-31-2008 at 05:53 AM.
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  4. #44
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    Default Business management?

    Steve, with all due respect to a brother Soldier, counterinsurgency is not business management. Furthermore, bean counting (amount of fuel on hand) is a not a MOE. The one argument you made that I concur with is that metrics can be useful for justifying resources, but they sure as heck don't reflect the reality of the insurgency.

    Not everything can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. -Albert Einstein

  5. #45
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post I have to agree with Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Steve, with all due respect to a brother Soldier, counterinsurgency is not business management. Furthermore, bean counting (amount of fuel on hand) is a not a MOE. The one argument you made that I concur with is that metrics can be useful for justifying resources, but they sure as heck don't reflect the reality of the insurgency.

    Not everything can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. -Albert Einstein
    in that Metrics when concerning COIN are pretty much useful more for directed learning in how to approach it rather than any actual solutions.

    That said one requires some form of metrics with which to develop training which works across the spectrum of educations and personalities which exist.
    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

  6. #46
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Steve, with all due respect to a brother Soldier, counterinsurgency is not business management. Furthermore, bean counting (amount of fuel on hand) is a not a MOE. The one argument you made that I concur with is that metrics can be useful for justifying resources, but they sure as heck don't reflect the reality of the insurgency.

    Not everything can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. -Albert Einstein

    Bill,

    You hit the crux of my intellectual challenge - metrics. In my job I see a "new" system of assessing COIN environments at least monthly. Over my two tours I have seen everything from hours of electricity to days of food supply measured and counted. None really told the story of what was going on, even in concert.

    There is a framework I am beginning to like called TCAF (Tactical Conflict Assessment Framework) which was developed by a mad genius in USAID to measure developmental problem. In the most simple explanation, you survey the population to find our what their top issues are, and then develop programs to address those, along with metrics to assess progress of your program and follow-up surveys to assess whether you're meeting the population's expectation.

    There are things I like about it, but unless rigor is applied you wind up only treating the symptoms (like food availability) and not the cause (lack of delivery infrastructure) of a given problem.

    I agree with Steve that you need SOME metrics to justify things higher, but I've never been satisfied with the metrics I have used. The one that best reflects the timing/phasing of the enemy seems to be number and complexity of attacks, but we also know that a Phase I insurgency can be thriving in quiet areas, waiting to explode or exporting violence.

    Ken summarized my dilemma well - "How do you quantify relations with your wife?"

    Niel
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  7. #47
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Neil,

    Again you are on the mark. I don't advocate metrics as the Holy Grail as the metrics based-systems seem to always seem to turn into dog waggers. Still you have to have some means of comparing what goes on in an AO overtime.

    The TCAF model has some merit; certainly has been discussed here extensively. I can put you in contact with some guys on that.

    best

    Tom

  8. #48
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Neil,

    Again you are on the mark. I don't advocate metrics as the Holy Grail as the metrics based-systems seem to always seem to turn into dog waggers. Still you have to have some means of comparing what goes on in an AO overtime.

    The TCAF model has some merit; certainly has been discussed here extensively. I can put you in contact with some guys on that.

    best

    Tom
    I would also appreciate it if you could provide me with that as well. It may fit in to something their working on here right now.
    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 Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Embrace your inner bean counter

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Steve, with all due respect to a brother Soldier, counterinsurgency is not business management. Furthermore, bean counting (amount of fuel on hand) is a not a MOE. The one argument you made that I concur with is that metrics can be useful for justifying resources, but they sure as heck don't reflect the reality of the insurgency.

    Not everything can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. -Albert Einstein
    Bill,

    I appreciate what you do and the risks you take (as a ca –bubba I am happy for the opportunities to learn from my sf brothers). I do not claim to know much, in fact the more I travel and the longer I live the more I see how little I know.

    Foco-ism as I understand it is creating conditions that are so bad that the citizenry is forced to act against the government/authority structure. Mao felt foco-ism was the wrong method, Che thought it was the right one. Successful government/authority structures are able to provide secure and stable conditions to the citizenry such it is in the citizenry’s best interest to support and protect the government/authority structure. By targeting security infrastructure and key leaders, electricity infrastructure and key leaders, water/wastewater infrastructure and key leaders, etc. either side can influence the citizenry. I would argue that the appropriate use of metrics (which leaders must change as the situation warrants/changes-they are fluid ) gives both sides a targeting tool and an insight to what is going on.

    Consider embracing your inner bean-counter. I came to the quantitative path fairly late in life as compared to my kids, but I can say that it’s powerful stuff. I have not forsaken the joy of being outside, fingerspitzengefuhl, and all the benefits of qualitative/intuitive thinking and bean-counting does not take the place of making the jump from theory to reality. It’s just a tool I use to get things done, not an end in itself.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 03-31-2008 at 02:58 PM.
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  10. #50
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Metrics are required in most aspects of hard science

    and, as nearly as I can determine, in all engineering. They are quite beneficial in all fields of business and can frequently aid in ordinary life decisions. Every one should be able to apply then to situations where there is some benefit.

    As Sureferbeetle said:
    ...Itís just a tool I use to get things done, not an end in itself.
    Human conflict is, like it or not, an instinctive and visceral endeavor. Proper conduct of it on an organized basis is intuitive -- and it's most emphatically an art, not a science or a business. Metrics can be somewhat useful in some instance but extremely careful selection of WHAT metrics is critical; metrics for metrics sake solve nothing and not only do not add value, they may well detract from the effort. When they become an end in themselves, they invariably will do more harm than good.

    My experience with the Armed forces of the US is that we rarely got what metrics were important correct and that far too frequently, they became an end in themselves. Hopefully, everyone else here had -- more importantly, will have -- better experience with 'em.

  11. #51
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    Default Steely-eyed COIN warriors vs. magic bean counters

    I would recommend that all of us think deeply about metrics, even those of you still sporting beards and sweat-stained shamals. Because, like it or not, much of modern day COIN (at least in the US Army) is indeed like business management.

    First of all, we all use metrics. Even if you don't put them in a spreadsheet or a nice powerpoint slide with red, yellow, and green bubbles, you are judging the success or failure of your operation somehow. There are some objective benchmarks being used; the question is, how do you articulate them.

    Because if you can't articulate them, you are inviting others to fill a vacuum. Imagine General X coming to your AO, and when he asks how you know your program is working, you say, "I just feel it in my bones, General." Now, he may be a great guy, and he may trust you implicitly. But he has a boss who doesn't know you from Adam, and eventually, "Don't worry, LTC A feels in his bones things are going well," will no longer serve as justification.

    Even scarier, you may get a call from COL Y, a staff officer with a briefing slide to fill out. He will probably not take, "Just leave the heavy lifting to us warriors, pogie-bait," as material for his briefing. Eventually, if you do not articulate a meaningful set of metrics - and they don't have to be a simplistic set of bean-counting numbers - someone in the staff will articulate them for you.

    I saw a very smart colonel, placed in charge of the counter-IED program in Afghanistan, defend his operation from outside 'help' through the intelligent use of metrics. The number of IED attacks had climbed continuously, leading to some questioning of his methods. He acknowledged the increase, but he also pointed out that a larger percentage of the IED attacks had resulted in no damage, that more IEDs were being discovered before being set off, and that even successful attacks were causing fewer casualties per incident. He convinced the headquarters that one simplistic metric (number of attacks) actually masked a deeper truth: that the IED chain was slowly coming apart with less effective devices, poorer tactics, and less experienced personnel. He was allowed to stay the course because he was adept at articulating how he measured progress in this aspect of counterinsurgency.

    So I would suggest formulating metrics for every aspect of your COIN program, both as an inherently worthwhile exercise, and as a protective measure against the business managers who lurk in every headquarters.

  12. #52
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default All eminently sensible and I agree that is the way it's done

    and possibly will have to be...

    That begs the question of whether or not it is correct if taken to an extreme -- and in my view, it has been taken to that limit.

    I would also suggest that while this statement reflects the current reality:
    "...Imagine General X coming to your AO, and when he asks how you know your program is working, you say, "I just feel it in my bones, General." Now, he may be a great guy, and he may trust you implicitly. But he has a boss who doesn't know you from Adam, and eventually, "Don't worry, LTC A feels in his bones things are going well," will no longer serve as justification."
    the Army did not always operate like that and I, old, though I be, strongly question three things in this admittedly current mode:

    1. If I'm LTC A, the General's boss should know I'm trustworthy regardless of whether he knows me or not -- if he doesn't know that, then I suggest there's a systemic problem in how I got to be a LTC that probably needs to be addressed. An Army has to operate on trust and not who one knows, the pipeline will not always give you people you've worked with before. That process works (albeit very poorly and unethically) in peacetime and in little wars like these, it will not work in a major war, too many replacements.

    2. If I'm LTC A and answer my boss with a statement like that, I don't deserve his or anyone else's trust and I probably am not going to be able to produce a meaningful set of numbers to change that correct assessment. conversely, if a set of numbers assuage my boss's boss angst, I'd worry about him...

    3. If I'm sensibly fulfilling my reporting requirements, the General should know how I'm doing without asking. If I'm not then I'm way wrong, if I am and he does not; who's wrong?

    The issue, as I said, is not totally echewing numbers, it is that metrics be properly selected -- and in my observation, post 1962 when the numbers syndrome was introduced throughout DoD without regard to validity of effort, that has been rarely been done well. I also said that the danger of metrics being an end in themselves is quite real and can be dangerously misleading. That, to me is the crux of the issue.

    You also say:
    So I would suggest formulating metrics for every aspect of your COIN program, both as an inherently worthwhile exercise, and as a protective measure against the business managers who lurk in every headquarters.
    I'd change the first part of that to read; "Formulating sensible and pertinent metrics for those aspects of your COIN program where they can truly add value is a worthwhile exercise and is just common sense."

    I'd also suggest that the latter part of your paragraph has become the real reason for most, not all, metrics -- and we can continue to disagree on both the ethical and the military value of that.

  13. #53
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default In the Land of the Blind...

    Eden,

    Excellent post. You said it better than I did.

    It was my experience that if I took the trouble to articulate to myself what I thought what was going on in my AO I was ahead of the game when it came to sharing those views with a greater audience. For instance, one omy constant worries in Zaire was the state of the Farce Armees Zairiose (FAZ) and when that illustrious body might decide to again take to the street. When I arrived in Oct 93, they had already done so on two occasions, that same year and before in 1991. The trigger for both pillages was money and in particular the issue of absurdly large Zaire notes as a sop to rampant inflation.

    Stan and previous DATTs had gone through both of those pillages as had some of the rest of the embassy. Military payday was a scheduled crisis event with the country team. Even as I landed, Mobutu issued a "New Zaire" and we all started worrying whether it would trigger another pillage.

    I admit that I fell in on this tradition of payday watching for 2 to 3 months until Stan and I did some serious introspection regarding our approach to what was going on with the military. In a country where a sergeant might get 20 New Zaires for payday (worth 5 dollars on their initial issue), perhaps the coin of the realm was no longer the coin of the realm. That suspicion crystallized as the New Zaire inflated so that 3 months later it took 200 NZs to make that same 5 dollars and the sergeant was still only drawing 20 NZs per month.

    So Stan and I started looking at the "voodoo" economy to figure out how Zaire worked. I actually told the country team to stop worrying about the military's payday and encouraged my counterparts to look beyond their own preconceived notions. A few did. Most did not.

    Where all of this paid off was when it came to addressing the greater audience in DC, we could say what we knew was happening. Our counterparts who continued to look at the country in a Western economic framework could only guess at what they didn't know. This proved quite useful when dealing with the odd policy wonk who came into country with a "solution" based on those same guesses. Typically they built all their assumptions on the need to downsize and "domesticate" a military machine that only existed in their own imaginations.

    Sounds like the C-IED colonel had his message wired and could support it with an analytic framework.

    Best

    Tom

  14. #54
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Neil,

    Again you are on the mark. I don't advocate metrics as the Holy Grail as the metrics based-systems seem to always seem to turn into dog waggers. Still you have to have some means of comparing what goes on in an AO overtime.

    The TCAF model has some merit; certainly has been discussed here extensively. I can put you in contact with some guys on that.

    best

    Tom
    The other danger with metrics is we do that which is checked/briefed. So if enemy captured is a key metric, I'm going to seek to capture as many as possible. If it's patrols conducted, I'm going to call everything that exits the wire, from chow run to admin, as a combat patrol. Where do you think the term 'Combat Logistics Patrol' came from, vice 'log convoy'? Been there, done that in 2003-2004.

    We sent one of my intrepid contractors to USAID in DC last week to integrate a little better with TCAF since it's getting some traction in the interagency world.

    Unfortunately, I haven't been given permission to post Dr. Derleth's slides for public consumption yet. My general opinion on TCAF is that it's the worst metrics method, except for all the others.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  15. #55
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    The other danger with metrics is we do that which is checked/briefed.
    Absolutely true and if we can't fit events to the metrics, we ignore them. Stan and I could not get the political and econ types to quit thinking currency because it was simpy too entrancing to keep figuring exhange rates as a measure of potential unrest. They never got it that something that is worthless one month does not become 5 times more worthless because you print more of it. The soldier paid one month in worthless currency is not 5 times more inclined to riot if the inflation rate of thet same worthless currency reaches 500 percent.

    As for your experience, a senior officer told me that in 2003 into 2004, detainee numbers became the new form of body count.

    So I would say as we "embrace our inner bean counters," we remain chaste in our self-acceptance. Otherwise we have screwed ourselves..

    I have asked a good friend of mine working these issues to consider a TCAF-Lite. You need something. It needs to be specific enough to be useful and simple enough so that it gets done. It also must led itself to comparisons in time and in space. That's it and no more. Otherwise it becomes the driver of what you do versus a yardstick to measure what and how you are doing.


    best

    Tom

  16. #56
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Cool Hmmm

    If we all worked on it we might be able to help cut it down to the minimun necessary elements and Vwalaa

    DCAF
    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

  17. #57
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    If we all worked on it we might be able to help cut it down to the minimun necessary elements and Vwalaa

    DCAF
    Now that's actually funny!
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  18. #58
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Metrics Redux

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    in that Metrics when concerning COIN are pretty much useful more for directed learning in how to approach it rather than any actual solutions.

    That said one requires some form of metrics with which to develop training which works across the spectrum of educations and personalities which exist.

    Ron,

    I agree with your assessment of metrics as a tool for rigorous thinking/directed learning as opposed to an end in and of itself. Someone had posted a funny and relevant youtube video link at SWJ sometime back about the 'underpants gnomes' from southpark...1) Collect underpants. 2) ? 3) Make money. Effective commanders are able to bridge the gap between steps 1) and 3).

    As I see it EBO and associated metrics are an adaptation of the marketing and strategic management concepts of SWOT Analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats), VRINE Analysis (Valuable, Rare, Inmitable, Exploitable), Stakeholder Analysis, and the Balanced Scorecard. All of these tools, to include EBO, have to be regularly recalibrated as the situation changes. The effectiveness of all these tools is based upon the quality and flow of information (garbage in, garbage out) and the effectiveness of the management structure.

    Large organizations with many objectives, which do not effectively utilize management information systems (a method to achieve unity of command which we should consider pursuing more rigorously ) are at a disadvantage when compared to small, highly trained and/or motivated and agile organizations which use simple technology (lets say cell phones) for limited objectives (lets say IED use). Large organizations do have the advantageous of massing at decisive points and staying power for conventional fights but GWOT is not a conventional fight. It seems to me that we need to start stealing more ideas from business, a place where America excels in unconventional and quick thinking, and see if we can apply some of these methods to our warfighting. EBO seems to be just such an attempt.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 03-31-2008 at 07:08 PM.
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  19. #59
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Now that's actually funny!
    Make mine a double DCAF

  20. #60
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default The Bureaucracy of Metrics

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Make mine a double DCAF
    Before you know it we will have a carmel machiato DCAF, a double peppermint DCAF with 2% milk and Splenda, etc. And, they will all come in your choice of medium/vente, large/tall, and super/grande depending on whether you get them from Seatle's Best Metrics, Starmetrics, or the Harvard Review of Metrics.

    That's the problem with formalized/named metric systems--they become bureaucratic. By this I mean that too often the system becomes a cottage industry which is more interested in maintaining and growing itself than in serving its users as a meaningful tool.

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