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Thread: Fight-Win or Full Spectrum?

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Fight-Win or Full Spectrum?

    War at the Pentagon - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post

    The most intense arguments over U.S. involvement in Iraq do not flare at this point on Capitol Hill or on the campaign trail. Those rhetorical battles pale in comparison to the high-stakes struggle being waged behind closed doors at the Pentagon.

    On one side are the "fight-win guys," as some describe themselves. They are led by Gen. David Petraeus and other commanders who argue that the counterinsurgency struggle in Iraq must be pursued as the military's top priority and ultimately resolved on U.S. terms...

    Arrayed against them are the uniformed chiefs of the military services who foresee a "broken army" emerging from an all-out commitment to Iraq that neglects other needs and potential conflicts. It is time to rebuild Army tank battalions, Marine amphibious forces and other traditional instruments of big-nation warfare -- while muddling through in Iraq.

    I unavoidably compress what is a serious and respectful struggle about resources, military strategy and political ideology. The weapons in this discreet conflict include budget requests, deployment schedules and, increasingly, speeches and public presentations that veil the true nature of the internal struggle but reveal how the military's top commanders line up...

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Good men being stupid?

    At the risk of sounding like a stuck-record, and apologising upfront for what will be plain and unambiguous language, if there really are two opposing views, as suggested by the article, then it just goes to show what idiotic things, supposedly intelligent men can think and believe.

    How does preparing to fight one type of enemy make you any less able to fight another type? If it does, the clear assumption is that you are too stupid to adapt.

    I submit that their confusion is most probably based on believing in "types of conflict" and not "types of enemy." COIN means fighting against insurgents. It's not a type of conflict. It's a type of enemy!
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    How does preparing to fight one type of enemy make you any less able to fight another type? If it does, the clear assumption is that you are too stupid to adapt...I submit that their confusion is most probably based on believing in "types of conflict" and not "types of enemy." COIN means fighting against insurgents. It's not a type of conflict. It's a type of enemy!
    Dear Wilf:

    I am much less sanguine than you are to think that the American Army can easily shift from fighting say Iraqi insurgents in Iraq to a hybrid enemy using more conventionally oriented tactics and fighting in ways the Hiz did against the Israeli Army in summer 2006. Although clearly our last 6 years in Iraq and Afghanistan have given us much combat experience; but it is of a certain type and not necessarily symmetrically transferable to fight other types of enemy.

    The British 7th Armored Division after a steep learning curve ended up being a pretty solid fighting outfit in North Africa by early 1943 against the Germans. But then they were pulled out and prepared for Normandy; and when they hit the beach at Normandy they had an extremely rough go at the Germans in Caen and the surrounding areas for at least two months in June and July 44. It wasn’t that they suddenly turned or fell apart, but just that it was a very different type of terrain and the same enemy fighting them with that terrain differently.

    The Israeli Army also comes to mind in southern Lebanon in summer 2006. There were many reasons for their poor performance; but one in particular that stands out is the fact that they had atrophied some of their basic fighting skills at the platoon, company, and battalion levels from many years doing almost only stability operations in the territories.

    So I do think our joint chiefs are right to be concerned about the current state of the American Army and what 6 years of coin has done to it.

    Is it worth breaking the American Army over Iraq? Naturally, this is ultimately a policy question way outside of my pay grade. I will continue to serve until unable. But I do believe that within the American Army we should acknowledge what is happening to us, the fact that we are very close--if not already there--to breaking, and then go from there. That seems to me to be what this "Pentagon War" is about.

    gian

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    Dear Wilf:

    I am much less sanguine than you are to think that the American Army can easily shift from fighting say Iraqi insurgents in Iraq to a hybrid enemy using more conventionally oriented tactics and fighting in ways the Hiz did against the Israeli Army in summer 2006. Although clearly our last 6 years in Iraq and Afghanistan have given us much combat experience; but it is of a certain type and not necessarily symmetrically transferable to fight other types of enemy.
    I think Hybrid enemies is a poor description. - It has only helped to mislead and distract from the fundamentals. There has been very little conversation on this board has actually focussed on discussing the Ways and Means of such an opponent. Hezbollah are still Insurgents. There is nothing that qualifies them as a conventional or formation type enemy, even if they have SSMs and UAVs. If they operated like a formation enemy, they could be defeated like a formation enemy.

    The British 7th Armored Division after a steep learning curve ended up being a pretty solid fighting outfit in North Africa by early 1943 against the Germans. But then they were pulled out and prepared for Normandy; and when they hit the beach at Normandy they had an extremely rough go at the Germans in Caen and the surrounding areas for at least two months in June and July 44. It wasn’t that they suddenly turned or fell apart, but just that it was a very different type of terrain and the same enemy fighting them with that terrain differently.
    I concur and there was no excuse for it. As you know, the exact reasons are still hotly debated, but the British Army Doctrine, as published in 1937, was pretty sound. - just no one applied it. I blame Monty! - on the flip side, look at Burma!

    The Israeli Army also comes to mind in southern Lebanon in summer 2006. There were many reasons for their poor performance; but one in particular that stands out is the fact that they had atrophied some of their basic fighting skills at the platoon, company, and battalion levels from many years doing almost only stability operations in the territories.
    Again, I concur, though the skills and drills in the regular companies and platoons were not found as wanting as some suggest. The reservists were a different story. Again, I suggest this is easily correctable, if the problem is viewed as one of enemy ways and means and not "stability operations."

    I do not want to suggest that this is without challenge, but the idea that there are "big wars" and "Small wars" is a false analogy, as is the idea that there is such things as "complex adaptive war fighting." They are are all semantically inaccurate terms that sow confusion and create futile debates as in the one that is allegedly occurring in the Pentagon.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 04-13-2008 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Doing Hebrew homework, so got confused! :)
    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

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default PSYOPS & Public Relations = Voice of America, not "spin"

    Psyops and PR - as distinct from spin - are a little understood part of the campaign against our enemies. A friend on this site just mentioned this topic to me as little understood by many who write here.

    Being budget conscious as the JCS has to be, vs. General Petraeus in the field, PSYOPS and related public relations (again, not spin) are the tactical and stratetic, long term most cost effective way to deal with Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The total war on terrorism, is an ideological/religious conflict, as Tom has written in related recent postings here. I have been hammering that point of view myself since day one of 9/11, it is a war being waged due to terrorist kidnapping of Islam as if it were soley theirs to interpret and run!

    Guerilla warfare has never been easy to defend against, the ratio you know better than I do (I am Air Force, not Marine or Army) of troops to resist and fight back against guerillas is pretty substantial.

    If any older West Pointers are out there you used to study in a textbook sense at West Point lessons about the Civil War's best known guerilla warfare personage, Colonel John Singleton Mosby. Mosby and my late first cousin, Alex Singleton, an Army paratrooper in WW II and Korea, in side by side photos looked like twins, in fact!
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 04-13-2008 at 12:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I think Hybrid enemies is a poor description. - It has only helped to mislead and distract from the fundamentals. There has been very little conversation on this board has actually focussed on discussing the Ways and Means of such an opponent. Hezbollah are still Insurgents. There is nothing that qualifies them as a conventional or formation type enemy, even if they have SSMs and UAVs. If they operated like a formation enemy, they could be defeated like a formation enemy.

    I do not want to suggest that this is without challenge, but the idea that there are "big wars" and "Small wars" is a false analogy, as is the idea that there is such things as "complex adaptive war fighting." They are are all semantically inaccurate terms that sow confusion and create futile debates as in the one that is allegedly occurring in the Pentagon.
    Gentlemen,

    Another thread that helps get the mind rolling. Thanks.

    Have to agree with Wilf on this one, despite the fact that I've used "Hybrid", "Small" and other names in an attempt to energize folks to think about the enemy that we're fighting and how to defeat this enemy. War is war is war. Retired Marine LtGen Van Riper has said the US military can only fight two types of wars: those involving fighting enemies that use formations and fire and maneuver, and those against insurgents. I think he'd agree with Wilf in that all the "new" names for conflict only serves to confuse the issue, if not worse.

    If all this is true, why have I used "hybrid," "small", "complex irregular" or other names to describe what it is that we're fighting or may fight again in the future? In part because reading articles/books that use such titles has helped me understand the motivations, tactics, strategy, etc. of some of the enemies that we've encountered recently and in the past. But also because I do believe such terms often energize or re-energize debates about who it is that we're fighting and what it will take to defeat him/them. Wilf, based on previous discussions concerning Col Boyd's presentations, I suspect you'd say "why all the fancy wording and slides? Why not just analyze your enemy, figure out what he intends to do to you, adapt where appropriate and crush him/them." I'm not sure that all in the military are able to easily make the jump from thinking about and fighting a nation-state, formation-typed army that uses fire and maneuever, to thinking about and fighting locally- or transnational-based insurgent movements without first thinking about what is meant by the acronym "COIN" or terms such as "Small Wars," "Hybrid" warfare and the rest. I was definitely in this group in 2003, 2004, and for most of 2005. I'm not sure that I'm completely removed from this group just yet, but I have to admit that Boyd's presentation and slide showing the more complex version of the OODA loop, including the "orientation" slide that mentions the enemy's cultural norms, heritage, etc., still helps me think about all aspects of the enemy that we're fighting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    How does preparing to fight one type of enemy make you any less able to fight another type? If it does, the clear assumption is that you are too stupid to adapt.

    I submit that their confusion is most probably based on believing in "types of conflict" and not "types of enemy." COIN means fighting against insurgents. It's not a type of conflict. It's a type of enemy!
    I'll both broadly agree and broadly disagree (and sit on both sides of the fence here, too). Wilf is right that a well-led, well-trained force should have no fundamental difficulty (though there will be a period of adjustment, obviously, which may see a little friction) in switching between conventional and "irregular" warfare. It's primarily a matter of solid, comprehensive training, and the ability to switch, psychologically, between the two - again a product of good leadership, preparation, and training.

    The problem for the US Army and the USMC is that you have 150,000 troops (+/- c.10,000) trying to do the job of at least three times the number required. There is no time for solid preparation or training across the "full spectrum"; there is an increasing substantial number of field-grade combat arms officers who have rarely or even never manoeuvered a battalion or brigade either on EX or even in the field. They may have Staff College under their belts, but they have not developed the practical knowledge of how to actually manoeuvre units of formations in the field. That requires personal experience, preferably plenty of it.

    With the almost gross over-stretch of the USA and USMC in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps only a year between deployments - that are each at least a year-long themselves, there is time between deployments for units and formations only to sweep everyone up, cobble them back together, refocus on some basic skills and especially upon the anticipated skills needed for the next deployment, and then pack up and head off. Obviously while engaged in COIN in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little or no time for unit- and formation-level combined arms field manoeuvres for the most part.

    Complicating all this is the fact that battalions and squadrons have to spend part of their time (if they have time) completing the basic occupational training of new soldiers, as the 17- and 20-week infantry syllabi of the USA and USMC are too short to fully address all the basic skills needed and to a high-level of profiency in all those same basics at the same time. That, and the personnel system which undermines unit cohesion in the longer-term.

    To address the matter of the article itself, the US and the Coalition are, in Strategic terms, stuck pigs. Ends, Ways, and Means must always include Costs and Risks. The latter two, as everyone knows, were given short-shrift, never mind the question of whether the invasion of Iraq was right in the first place. The US (and to a rather lesser extent, the Coalition partners) cannot expeditiously disengage from Iraq without serious consequences. Iran's strategic position might improve considerably. The Iraq Invasion was a win-win opportunity for Iran; first off, its potent local enemy, the Ba-athist regime, was removed as a military threat, and the Shi'ite factions that had Iran's backing gained considerable influence within the new Iraqi Government. Secondly, if the US was defeated or at least compelled to withdraw from Iraq by the insurgency, Iran would be left as the undisputed power with the most influence within Iraq; not quite a puppet-master, but certainly in a position to potentially sway Iraqi policy and conduct in ways inimical to that of the US and the Arab states.

    On the other hand, there is no question that the USA and USMC have been figuratively bled-white by the scale, duration, and intensity of the Iraq mision. There is a serious institutional degredation beginning, and even if the troops were pulled out of Iraq tomorrow, the damage to the Army and Marine corps as institutions - loss of experienced junior and field-grade officers and NCOs, the lowering of recruiting standards, the damage done to the RC, the loss or serious damage to something like 40% of major equipment stocks, and the degredation of unit- and formation-level combined arms skills, will take perhaps 15 to 20 years to fully recover from. And none of this addresses the loss in lives of thousands of troops, or the physical and/or psychological wounded in the tens of thousands, troops who were too precious to loose.

    The sad fact is, the US for all practical purposes got suckered into doing Iran's dirty work, while simultaneously getting its blood sucked. Kipling's literary warning against the West trying to hussle the East is most appropriate here. They are the masters of subtlety and guile, and it's a basic survival skill there; we are lucky if we amount to their rather dim pupils by comparison. The US cannot get out of Iraq without suffering the loss of a substantial portion of its standing and influence in the ME and especially the Persian Gulf. It cannot stay in Iraq without causing serious long-term damage to the Army and Marine Corps as institutions. Just as the invasion of Iraq was based, implicity, more on a hope that all would turn out just fine, and the US leave a friendly, restored Iraq quickly, the US is almost left with little more than hope that things will settle down enough to get out of Iraq very quickly, within a year or two at the most. Before institutional damage becomes deep and enduring.

    Apologies for the long post.

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    Default The debate should be about the mix; not either/or.

    I suspect that the proponents of "fight to win", as Mr. Hoagland describes them, are more committed to the goal of keeping "boots on the ground" in Iraq than they are to any particular type of force structure or tactical doctrine. Those who want to put this war behind them must argue their case by focusing on the strategic challenges ahead, rather than be tarred with the brush of "defeatism". Nonetheless, restructuring our military to fight more "Iraqs" and "Afghanistans", at the expense of not preparing to fight another "Korea", "Vietnam" or some other type of "big war", will have tragic consequences somewhere down the road.

    During my active duty service (1969-1975) I served with the U.S. Army Special forces for almost 4 years, mostly in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. I served a little more than a year with conventional forces in the Republic of Korea. As good and brave as the Green Berets were, they could not have lasted very long in combat against North Korean armor and artillery in the rugged but open terrain of South Korea. Conversely, M60 tanks and M113 APCs could be easily destroyed from covered and concealed positions along the myriad of choke points on the twisting trails and roads throughout South Vietnam, especially during the quagmire-causing monsoon season. Moreover, one can terrify a population using tanks and IFVs; but that is very diferent from pacifying them.

    Based upon the experience I had, I believe that it is not possible for the same tactical doctrine and force structure to work well in both insurgency and mechanized warfare. Our military must have both an unconventional warfare force and a mechanized warfare force. The debate should be over what is the proper mix of these two force structures, and -just as important- what the distinction between the roles of the Army and the Marines should be.

    I have my own ideas about what the mix of force structures, and what the distinctions between marines and soldiers, should be. I am sure that every one in this community has their own as well. That's where the focus of the struggle in the Pentagon should be. The "fight to win" crowd are just playing politics by another name.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I agree with Wilf...

    He says, in his own inimitable way:
    "How does preparing to fight one type of enemy make you any less able to fight another type? If it does, the clear assumption is that you are too stupid to adapt."
    I disagree with his use of 'stupid' and would substitute "lack of adequate training and self confidence." There is no question that our training in the basics is marginal and I never cease to be amazed at the number of senior officers and NCOs who really lack a lot of self confidence --my contention is that the former feeds the latter.

    However, like Norfolk, I also agree with Gian:
    "So I do think our joint chiefs are right to be concerned about the current state of the American Army and what 6 years of coin has done to it."
    However, I would submit that the concentration on COIN was and is necessary; it also was and is unavoidable. One can argue whether or not we should be in Iraq but that's a waste of effort -- we're there. The issue has long been what to do about that.

    There's little question in my mind as a not disinterested observer who has not been on the ground there that (1) The initial attack conducted by the Army and Marines, assisted by the Navy and the Air Force was well executed. The campaign was not perfect because NO campaign is ever perfect; that's war but it was well done. (2) That was followed by 18 months of dithering and excessive violence induced by the fact the concept of operations changed (why is broadly immaterial to the military problem) and forces on the ground had no training in -- nor really any good idea of -- what needed to be done. That phase took 18 month due to a lack of doctrine and concomitant training -- that is a slap on the senior leadership of the nation through four administrations from both parties. (3) In turn, another 18 months elapsed while a large unwieldy bureaucracy laboriously rearranged itself and sorted out a course of action that has been effective. The "Surge" at the end of that period was mildly helpful but not totally, IMO, necessary -- and it arguably contributed more to overstretch than it gained.

    AGBrina has a very good point on that topic:
    Based upon the experience I had, I believe that it is not possible for the same tactical doctrine and force structure to work well in both insurgency and mechanized warfare. Our military must have both an unconventional warfare force and a mechanized warfare force. The debate should be over what is the proper mix of these two force structures, and -just as important- what the distinction between the roles of the Army and the Marines should be.
    I believe he's correct to an extent, the key of course is the doctrine. Doctrine must cover the total spectrum of warfare, from low intensity to high and it certainly differs amongst them. Our extremely poor and superficial initial entry training for Officers and Enlistees must train the basics of combat -- which are totally transferable up and down the spectrum. I submit that below Battalion level the mechanics of combat are pretty much the same; the major differences being only in the amount of force applied and the results desired.

    For echelons of Battalion and higher where the difference truly matters, the varied doctrine, level dependent, must be taught to senior people who, with an adequate (not long, just adequate) refresher period for the task at hand can move between spectrums with some slight friction but without major lapses.

    When a unit prepares to deploy, it simply trains for the specific mission at hand. Anyone who thinks the Army and Marines cannot do that has, IMO, far too little faith in their own Soldiers or Marines -- and their junior officers.

    So AGBrina is correct -- we need units trained and ready to deploy to fight a mechanized war and units trained to deploy and fight an 'unconventional' war. Not a problem. The heavy BCTs train to do big war -- but are prepared to receive a train up and deploy to a COIN effort if needed. The light BCTs train to fight a COIN or COIN like effort -- but are prepared to train up and deploy to a big war OnO. The light guys do COIN better because they don't have the impediment of vehicles and have a few more folks per unit to put out on foot -- and in COIN, that is imperative. In a mech war, it's dangerous (with the caveat that METT-T applies to where and when the foot slogger is used, mech doesn't do mountains that well -- nor cities... )

    Norfolk as usual hits a nail solidly:
    "Wilf is right that a well-led, well-trained force should have no fundamental difficulty (though there will be a period of adjustment, obviously, which may see a little friction) in switching between conventional and "irregular" warfare. It's primarily a matter of solid, comprehensive training, and the ability to switch, psychologically, between the two - again a product of good leadership, preparation, and training."
    Just so.

    Though I disagree with him on this aspect:
    "There is a serious institutional degredation beginning, and even if the troops were pulled out of Iraq tomorrow, the damage to the Army and Marine corps as institutions - loss of experienced junior and field-grade officers and NCOs, the lowering of recruiting standards, the damage done to the RC, the loss or serious damage to something like 40% of major equipment stocks, and the degredation of unit- and formation-level combined arms skills, will take perhaps 15 to 20 years to fully recover from. And none of this addresses the loss in lives of thousands of troops, or the physical and/or psychological wounded in the tens of thousands, troops who were too precious to loose."
    Degradation, yes. Serious? Not so much. The rest has some validity but I believe to be more than a bit hyperbolic; I also have far more faith in the our ability to adapt and recover in far less time. While in one sense physical or psychological wounding, much less the death, of anyone is regrettable, I must admit I have difficulty considering anyone including my self or my son as "too precious to lose." The Navy solution of "Put your hand in a bucket of water and then pull it out -- if the water doesn't return to the state existing before you stuck your hand in it, you're irreplaceable." Or excessively precious. We all volunteered and should have, mostly did, know what we were getting in to so we have no complaints. The institutions that are Armed forces are designed to go to war and loss of life and other casualties are a factor; a factor with which the institutions are designed to cope.

    I also disagree with Norfolk on these items:
    "The sad fact is, the US for all practical purposes got suckered into doing Iran's dirty work, while simultaneously getting its blood sucked..."
    I think that's a quite serious misreading of 'why it happened.' And the result...
    "...The US cannot get out of Iraq without suffering the loss of a substantial portion of its standing and influence in the ME and especially the Persian Gulf. It cannot stay in Iraq without causing serious long-term damage to the Army and Marine Corps as institutions..."
    In that, I agree with the first part, strongly disagree with the second. It will be debilitating, no question -- but it will also provide almost as many pluses as minuses and will not cause 'serious' damage.
    "...Just as the invasion of Iraq was based, implicity, more on a hope that all would turn out just fine, and the US leave a friendly, restored Iraq quickly, the US is almost left with little more than hope that things will settle down enough to get out of Iraq very quickly, within a year or two at the most. Before institutional damage becomes deep and enduring."
    Same comment; agree with the first phrase, disagree with the last

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    As ever Ken, you are the font of sober-second thought to my youthful impulsiveness.

    I am very concerned, however, with Iraq becoming a hole from which the US (and the Coalition) finds itself practically unable to crawl back out of in the near-term. That dire possibility has not occurred, and hopefully will not occurr. There is an unpredictability factor, however, that could still kick in; if it does, and in the wrong, removing or at least substantially reducing the troops levels in Iraq may end up being impractical. A full-fledged and sustained fight between Shi'ite factions that drags on for a couple years with no clear winner might fit such a bill. That, or a Sunni about-face if fears of Shi'ite domination come to head, or both, would make things very sticky. Things are looking better, but things aren't out of the woods in Iraq, not quite yet.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus View Post
    War is war is war. Retired Marine LtGen Van Riper has said the US military can only fight two types of wars: those involving fighting enemies that use formations and fire and maneuver, and those against insurgents. I think he'd agree with Wilf in that all the "new" names for conflict only serves to confuse the issue, if not worse.
    I with agree Van Riper. I met him, 5 years ago, and we corresponded for a short while. I would add that the US can only fight two types of enemy because essentially that's all there are.

    Wilf, based on previous discussions concerning Col Boyd's presentations, I suspect you'd say "why all the fancy wording and slides? Why not just analyze your enemy, figure out what he intends to do to you, adapt where appropriate and crush him/them."
    Language is so critical in discussing military thought/science/doctrine. I am sure a fair few here regard me as a pedant, but without the right words we may as well say "ghooodemigig," and then argue if Rommel ever used it.

    Quote Originally Posted by AGBrina View Post
    Based upon the experience I had, I believe that it is not possible for the same tactical doctrine and force structure to work well in both insurgency and mechanized warfare. Our military must have both an unconventional warfare force and a mechanized warfare force. The debate should be over what is the proper mix of these two force structures, and -just as important- what the distinction between the roles of the Army and the Marines should be.
    I agree that it is not useful to have "one doctrine" and "one force structure", but you can have a force capable of altering it's structure, at the sub-unit level, and you can have comprehensive doctrine that addresses both types of enemy - and both may be present at the same time (EG: NVA and NLF/VC) so, I submit, you can't afford not to.
    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

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I've been saying since mid 2002

    (Note the year, 2002 is correct), after W. told that CNN Reporter in Jan 02 that "Regime change in Iraq is a goal of my administration," that we'd go to Iraq (did, in 2003), it'd take five years (2008) to achieve marginal stability (takes that long to rebuild --or build, either way -- an Army), ten (2013) to reasonable stability (that long for that Army to get fully functional on ID) and about fifteen (2018) to the nominal rule of law (that long before they have an external defense capability) -- and that within 30 years (or by 2033), Iraq would be a fully functional nation governed in accordance with world -- not western but world -- norms.

    I further have long said we'd start reducing troops in late '08 and get down to around 40K by 2012 to 2013 and that number would be there for years. For Balad, think Stuttgart; for Al Faw, think Camp Casey; for Kuwait, think Japan.

    Thus far, I've seen nothing that indicates I need to revise my guesses so I have not. Prepared to admit I erred if it appears that I did -- but thus far, I'm pretty sure we'll be there in 2033 (with acknowledgment that it is the ME and unpredictable things can happen).

    Things are indeed not out of the woods -- and will not be for many years; the end result will be judged worth it but there'll be a lot of screaming by the impatient and unconfident in the meantime...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Absolutely

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    ...
    I agree that it is not useful to have "one doctrine" and "one force structure", but you can have a force capable of altering it's structure, at the sub-unit level, and you can have comprehensive doctrine that addresses both types of enemy - and both may be present at the same time (EG: NVA and NLF/VC) so, I submit, you can't afford not to.(emphasis added / kw)
    correct.

    I'll add my de rigeur 'initial entry training is the same for all levels of warfare...'

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Language is so critical in discussing military thought/science/doctrine. I am sure a fair few here regard me as a pedant, but without the right words we may as well say "ghooodemigig," and then argue if Rommel ever used it.
    I am behind you 100%. Perhaps 1/4 of the arguments that have transpired on SWJ have been caused and/or prevented from reaching any meaningful conclusion because no terms have been defined. Even though all of us generally are on the same page, a slightly different opinion on the meaning and/or connotation(s) of a term can be detrimental to progress.

    Adam L

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Interesting thread.

    I'm currently slaving away at a presentation for the Armor Conference next month - I'm making a presentation that cuts to the core of what is discussed in this thread.

    The panel topic is "Role of Heavy Forces in Irregular Warfare". After great thought, I decided to present along the following points:

    1) Armored forces (physically) have proven successful in Irregular War throughout history - when used correctly and in context.
    2) It is much less about the equipment or MTOE than the training/education/mindset of the leaders - the units in Iraq that have been radically successful have understood their environment's demands and developed approaches suited for it.
    3) Armor/Cavalry branch has developed some of these leaders in the past (Indian Wars, Vietnam), and some leaders who have bridged both types successfully (MacMaster, Abrams (Creighton))
    4) The key is creating adaptive leaders, schooled in the principles of all forms of warfare (HIC, COIN, etc), and able to develop solutions unique to the environment the soldier finds himself in. Given the force structure, we can't afford to "specialize" in anything, we have to (and can) prepare through education and training for the "full spectrum" of conflict. Contrary to posters above, I believe we can have an "all purpose" force, which morphs to the environment's demands.
    5) Company grade officers have excelled in the current fight, adapting and executing at levels unheard of five years ago. We can't go back to the pre-2003 version of the micro-managed, overcontrolled, O-6 signature army. Once this begins to wind down, we can't let garrison intertia strip the initative and authority from these superb officers who wielded great responsibility downrange. We need to nurture and develop it systemically.
    6) We learned all this previously, as did other armies. We can't afford to forget it again.

    Comments appreciated.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I couldn't do anything to improve on that

    other than nit pick.

    I would suggest one more topic; from COL Roper's trip report slides; "Delegate beyond point of comfort." I believe that is totally applicable to all spectrums of combat and to most non-combat activities.

    I understand 'Outcome based training' is a new term in the works.

    I might also add Bruce Palmer to those Cav / Armor leaders who adapted to both types of war.

    Good job.

  17. #17
    Council Member ipopescu's Avatar
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    Default Money

    I unavoidably compress what is a serious and respectful struggle about resources, military strategy and political ideology. The weapons in this discreet conflict include budget requests
    Really excellent thread.

    One more thing I believe deserves serious consideration is the financial aspect of this so-called Pentagon war. Reading the op-ed, the words “struggle for resources” and “budget requests” are what captured my attention more than the other aspects, either because I have a special interest in such issues or I’m just really cynical

    I believe (actually the real experts in defense economics do and I merely trust them) that the coming budgetary environment is particularly tough for defense spending, in light of our current fiscal situation. The next administration may be disinclined, to say the least, to support another $150 billion/year (or so) supplemental for the war in Iraq on top of the $500+ billion defense baseline budget. In addition to O&M costs of maintaining troops in the theater and the reset costs, there is also the issue of the costs of adding enough soldiers to make such long-term deployments sustainable without “breaking the force.” For example, the “Grow the Force” initiative, the administration’s request to add 65k to Army and 27k to Marines active duty strength, which was designed to allegedly make it easier to sustain future COIN campaigns, is estimated by CBO to cost $108 billion over the 2006-2013 period, and $15 billion per year after that.

    In short, I believe that the chiefs are worried (with good reason) that trade-offs will have to be made eventually and they are afraid that their investment accounts will be raided, especially the capital-intensive ones - the Navy and Air Force. It’s no secret that most of the “transformational” programs are designed for force-on-force warfare, so it’s no surprise that some people feel our ability to wage war against future high-tech “conventional” enemies is imperiled. I don’t necessarily buy that, but I can see where they are coming from.

    While I agree with the points made about the flexibility that one can introduce in doctrine so that soldiers are “full spectrum” general-purpose forces, I believe that when you talk about force structure there are REAL trade-offs that need to be made. You can have different doctrines for different operations, but by and large you have one set force structure over the medium term: so many BCTs, so many air wings, so many carrier groups, so many MEFs, etc.

    Unlike doctrine, force structure in the context of limited resources is much more of a zero-sum game.

    And while the Army pretends that their BCTs will be all things to all people, I am not yet persuaded by that. Even if it were so, at the most basic level, it’s ultimately also a question of numbers. Most people agree that COIN/irregular warfare ops are manpower-intensive, and you either have enough troops to sustain long-term presence or you don’t. Yes, you can make marginal modification at the sub-unit level, but only to a certain point.

    So even if our troops can perform equally well in all types of operations with the proper training, I still think that there is very important debate going on, as the article suggest, on what we want our military to become in the medium-term future.
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

  18. #18
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Flattened, decentralized organizations and operations

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post

    2) It is much less about the equipment or MTOE than the training/education/mindset of the leaders - the units in Iraq that have been radically successful have understood their environment's demands and developed approaches suited for it.

    4) The key is creating adaptive leaders, schooled in the principles of all forms of warfare (HIC, COIN, etc), and able to develop solutions unique to the environment the soldier finds himself in. Given the force structure, we can't afford to "specialize" in anything, we have to (and can) prepare through education and training for the "full spectrum" of conflict. Contrary to posters above, I believe we can have an "all purpose" force, which morphs to the environment's demands.

    5) Company grade officers have excelled in the current fight, adapting and executing at levels unheard of five years ago. We can't go back to the pre-2003 version of the micro-managed, overcontrolled, O-6 signature army. Once this begins to wind down, we can't let garrison intertia strip the initative and authority from these superb officers who wielded great responsibility downrange. We need to nurture and develop it systemically.
    6) We learned all this previously, as did other armies. We can't afford to forget it again.

    Comments appreciated.
    Cavguy,

    Just in case, it does come across that you are a fan of armor.

    I would agree that the US needs to increase its efforts on the human resources side of things. We need to attract, develop, and retain innovative multi-lingual, and multicultural soldiers and civilians who can successfully work DIME and interagency operations. The world is too complex a place not to employ specialists to solve problems. Pick-up games are not the solution. We can improve our abilities to fight and win full-spectrum operations by training together and synchronizing our actions across all elements of our power. To do all of this however means that the current method of recruitment, retention, rewards, and employment will need to be revised. I see many smart capable folks in the private sector who have no desire to work in government service and IMHO this is a reflection of a fault line in American society. As to the number of greybreads, I see the natural tension between wisdom and youth as beneficial and it would seem that the current war will help to shake things out to an acceptable equilibrium. I am not convinced about the balancing point you ascribe to armor in this fight however. Just as I get a little bit too focused upon the CA end of the stick from time to time, perhaps a broader view on the role of armor and something more about flattened, decentralized organizations and operations will help you to find success in your article. Either way, post a link if you can when you are done...

    Ken,

    I have been reflecting upon your thesis expressed in this and other threads which I paraphrase here as 'an example had to be made'. I would agree that displaying weakness in the ME leads to greater issues, and because we have shown weakness in the past the seeds of this can be found in 9/11. I feel that energy policy played a significant role in the calculus, but like you I recognize at this point that the reasons are moot, we must win this one and everybody is expendable. What bothers me is the politicization of many positions within government when instead we need the apolitical experts who are mature enough to look beyond short-term gain. A coherent energy policy which allows us to prevent the funding of our enemies is long overdue. We also really need to tighten up our shot-group when it comes to using all elements of national power in order to obtain our objectives.

    Norfolk,

    We have taken some heavy blows but we are not out by a long shot. Iraq & Afghanistan have exposed our limits and flaws but we have enough bright and dedicated folks who are digesting the lessons and applying the solutions. Fortunately our election cycle allows for regular change and hopefully the next round will result in better outcomes for the nation. Congress in particular needs some fresh faces at the feed trough and one can only hope that a majority of the next members will be able to focus upon putting the country and constitution first. Time will tell.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 04-14-2008 at 03:42 AM.
    Sapere Aude

  19. #19
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Question.

    Quote Originally Posted by ipopescu View Post
    Really excellent thread.

    One more thing I believe deserves serious consideration is the financial aspect of this so-called Pentagon war. Reading the op-ed, the words “struggle for resources” and “budget requests” are what captured my attention more than the other aspects, either because I have a special interest in such issues or I’m just really cynical

    I believe (actually the real experts in defense economics do and I merely trust them) that the coming budgetary environment is particularly tough for defense spending, in light of our current fiscal situation...
    No question on that, just a comment. Yes. Always has been true.
    And while the Army pretends that their BCTs will be all things to all people, I am not yet persuaded by that...
    What do you mean by pretend and about what are you not persuaded?

  20. #20
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Just in case, it does come across that you are a fan of armor.
    Never would have guessed. Just presenting to the audience.....

    I would agree that the US needs to increase its efforts on the human resources side of things. We need to attract, develop, and retain innovative multi-lingual, and multicultural soldiers and civilians who can successfully work DIME and interagency operations. The world is too complex a place not to employ specialists to solve problems.
    I guess we're talking apples and oranges. I would never argue we don't need specialists. My argument is about the general purpose forces - the conventional "core" of armies - especially the combat arms soldiers that usually command the forces. The specialty disciplines need to continue pretty much as is.

    Pick-up games are not the solution. We can improve our abilities to fight and win full-spectrum operations by training together and synchronizing our actions across all elements of our power.
    No disagreement here. But the Combat Arms guys tend to get handed the COIN/IW "problem" when done large scale, and need to be prepared to do the above. Part of why I am arguing for balanced combat arms leaders - esp. in all the listed characteristics. But it is folly to think we can create supermen fluent in mutiple languages, Pattons on the battlefield, and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    My argument is broader - be less perscriptive about what we want, and more focused on generating the type of leader that can learn and adapt in his environment. I think we committed many sins in Iraq (Gian can disagree) in the early stages because we were too bound by our conventional warfighting, enemy focused "box". We risk the same in COIN, getting in the reverse "box".

    My point is that the maneuver (Armor/Inf/FA) leader, who let's face it, will be running the show. That's who my presentation is to. Our leaders failed to take the lessons of our own experience in Vietnam in 2003, or the French in Algeria, or the British in Malaya. As a macro, we made extremely similar mistakes to the first years of each of those conflicts.

    In my mind, they were either ignorant of it (an education/training problem) or they were dismissive of it (which means they were prisoners of their bias). I prefer the former. We can fix that. The latter is a selection/attitude problem. I can state that as an Armor CPT in my professional education up to 2003 the basic principles of COIN had never been explained to me by an Army course. When I started self-study after 15 months in OIF 1, I was distressed to learn that most of the mistakes we made were avoidable if we had looked back and learned from the past.

    It's unrealistic to think we'll be able to speak all the languages of where we may fight - cross cultural skills are much more important. I prefer a leader able to think/adapt to the problem at hand, and integrate solutions across the lethal and non-lethal spectrum to win it. So for the maneuver leader, he needs to understand and be able to employ all the tools available, which means broader training than in the past.

    I am not convinced about the balancing point you ascribe to armor in this fight however.
    Don't get too wrapped around it. I fully appreciate Armor is not the answer to all. I was attempting to address a point that seems to be cyclical in what is now called irregular warfare (broader than COIN). Between wars, Armor is pejoritively dismissed as vulnerable, counterproductive, and heavy handed fo anything other than another Desert Storm or Fulda. Light infantry is always described as best suited. History has repeatedly demonstrated the fallacy of this. Operational experience in WWII, Vietnam, the Canadians in OEF, and us in OIF have repeatedly demonstrated the superiority of mixed light/heavy units for urban combat, peacekeeping and many counterguerrilla tasks. And "maneuver" trained leaders have proven as good at it, historically, as any light-fighter, or even SF in the most recent conflict. (SF is almost all DA at this time, very little COIN going on) That doesn't mean they do everything from a tank, hell, I rarely rode mine (I only took 6 of 14 anyway). It just means they were adaptable enough to adjust rapidly and accordingly. The armor vehicle is a tool, much more important is how it is employed, and the understanding of the environment of the person employing it.

    For more, check out the "Mechanization hurts COIN forces" thread.
    Last edited by Cavguy; 04-14-2008 at 04:03 AM.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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