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Thread: Fight-Win or Full Spectrum?

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No argument from me on any of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    ...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.
    I've also long said (a) I wouldn't have done it that way (not that I was or will be in a position to do so ); and (b) The Admin fouled up in many, many ways once they did decide to do it that way. That early -- and dumb -- politicization by them is IMO directly responsible for much, not all, of the political babble today in opposition. Plenty of egg for a lot of faces in this one.

    My sensing is that energy was a part of the rationale but that it was not a major driver -- other than to try to do it with minimal effect on the world oil supply; we really want China to have oil...

    We've got all the classics; major Intel failure; leading to major policy decision flaw; leading to interference with the Combatant Commanders plan; leading to a thrown-out TPFDL; leading to a major political error in an attempt to help Blair -- and then on downhill from there. Immaterial at this time; like you said, we're there.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Never would have guessed. Just presenting to the audience.....
    . . .
    Good points all.

  3. #23
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    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:
    .
    All excellent points. Additionally I think I'd be inclined to view the issue from one of '"restricted force." Why can't I use my tank(s) to full effect? Terrain has normally been seen as that factor that most effects the employment of armour.

    I suggest that "human terrain" is now the one that most greatly prevents amour doing what it was designed to do while still being an important element of combined arms action against insurgents. - and this might beg the question, as to "human terrain" (we need a better term - human terrain sounds silly) and how it flows across all types of conflict (- same as types of enemies)
    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.
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  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Learn and learn again

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    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)....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.
    Great thread and as an armchair observer I get angry when I read this time and time again. How such an institution as the military can be either ignorant or dismissive eludes me. Let alone in the USA, where I believe military performance is far more open to public and private review from outside.

    I am well aware that the UK has failed to learn too, or applied a plan without realising the context was very different (Helmand Province and the early years in Northern Ireland come to mind).

    davidbfpo

  5. #25
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post

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

    Good job.
    Outcome based education has been around since the 1950's, 1940's?

    Maybe the military is going to adopt a new term, rip it off, or even once again use some key phrase and mangle it into mush, but it's been around a long time.

    Oh, and there is a difference between training and education, but they are linked.

    As a educator of educators once told me. The difference between education and training is thus, "Would you want your daughter to receive sex training, or sex education?"

    Outcome based education is a process much maligned and rarely understood. In a nut shell OBE is about aligning what you teach with what you want taught.
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  6. #26
    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default OBE pitfalls

    Selil wrote:

    Outcome based education is a process much maligned and rarely understood. In a nut shell OBE is about aligning what you teach with what you want taught
    .

    That's correct. A good concept. The basic explanation why OBE did not markedly improve public education is that the system was unwilling to invest resources in training prospective teachers to be able to execute in the classroom the "outcomes" that the system allegedly demanded.

    By and large, for reasons of economy, the system's decision makers refused to acknowledge a massive personnel mismatch between instruction and instructors - which is why your son or daughter might be getting history lessons from a basketball coach or mathematics from an English Lit or Special Ed. major. A mismatch that by and large continues to this day though the problem has, in the last few years, at least been grudgingly recognized.

    If the military intends to appropriate OBE for training soldiers they'd best make certain that their instructors have walked the walk - be it COIN, or leading an armored unit, civil affairs or whatever the "outcome" is supposed to be.

  7. #27
    Council Member ipopescu's Avatar
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    Default Army transformation/modularity and COIN

    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?
    Ken,
    That's obviously a larger discussion, but, to simplify, what I had in mind when writing that is that to the best of my understanding the process of army transformation/"modularity" has been initiated to improve the army's conduct of high-tech ("network-centric") conventional warfare, but now it is also being sold as the solution for irregular warfare/COIN. It may be true, but I still wonder whether that's the case.
    In particular, I wonder how much civil affairs/state-building expertise you can embed in a full-spectrum BCT (I think that's one of Nagl's arguments for the specialized training corps also), whether the number of BCTs that the army plans on having is large enough to sustain long-term COIN campaigns, and at a more fundemental level I wonder if stability and reconstruction operations really are on that spectrum that people talk about, or are just fundementally different and require an inter-agency centered approach in which something like the PRT would be the main "unit-of-action" and the military as a whole would have a limited role. I am far from having a definitive opinion on this last issue in particular, so I'm sorry if it sounds too vague or doesn't make much sense.
    Best,
    Ionut
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

  8. #28
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good point, Zenpundit

    Quote Originally Posted by zenpundit View Post
    ...
    If the military intends to appropriate OBE for training soldiers they'd best make certain that their instructors have walked the walk - be it COIN, or leading an armored unit, civil affairs or whatever the "outcome" is supposed to be.
    It appears they have, at least to an extent. The current knotty problem in implementing the process is just what you describe. There's a lot of experience and talent out there, a tremendous number of young and sharp NCOs who know how to do it -- the issue is to get them to be able to train others how to do it as well or better.

    It's pretty well realized that the old Task, Condition and Standards approach is too slow, cumbersome and flawed (as many of us tried to tell the civilian educators who pushed it on the Army back in the 70s) and so a search for new methodologies (perhaps a return to what's proven to work -- that would be novel...) is underway. We can only hope

  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think the issue is far more complex than you seem

    Quote Originally Posted by ipopescu View Post
    That's obviously a larger discussion, but, to simplify, what I had in mind when writing that is that to the best of my understanding the process of army transformation/"modularity" has been initiated to improve the army's conduct of high-tech ("network-centric") conventional warfare, but now it is also being sold as the solution for irregular warfare/COIN. It may be true, but I still wonder whether that's the case.
    to realize. At the same time, it's more simple than you say. Modularity is by nature a flexible approach to building things, thus, by design, the BCT approach was to allow for flexibility in the construction of force structures to tailor them for specific -- and different types of -- missions. All modules have a basic building block and that of the BCT is the Battalion / Squadron. The design goal is to allow a BCT to exercise command or control of from two to a half dozen Bn/Sqn size units; a way to assist in achieving that flattened control pyramid is the network centric bit -- which applies to any type of war; high or low tech.
    In particular, I wonder how much civil affairs/state-building expertise you can embed in a full-spectrum BCT (I think that's one of Nagl's arguments for the specialized training corps also)...
    As much as you want. An Infantry BCT could have its Support Battalion, its Cavalry Sqn (A reconnaissance, sureveillance and target acquisition organization), its two organic or assigned Infantry Bns plus another temporarily attached. To that combat power could be added a Civil Affairs Company, a Military Police company and an Engineer company plus a Detachment from a Military Intelligence Brigade attached to the BCTs organic MI crew. The key thing to recall is that the BCT is the basic combat unit but all those supporting arms and services are being reorganized also to allow such tailoring to a BCT as needed. Obviously, the tailoring differs significantly for COIN ops versus full scale conventional combat (when the Infantry BCT might pick up an entire Artillery Battalion and a Tank Battalion). That's pretty simplistic but that's the essence.

    The idea of an Advisory Corps is a non-starter, the Army cannot afford it. It would eat up the senior leadership of three to five BCTs and the rotational aspect would take a couple of more. It also is not necessary. What IS required is a permanent and structured series of courses to train those who get tasked for advisory duty -- and, ideally, an accelerated immersive language course.
    ...whether the number of BCTs that the army plans on having is large enough to sustain long-term COIN campaigns, and at a more fundemental level I wonder if stability and reconstruction operations really are on that spectrum that people talk about, or are just fundementally different and require an inter-agency centered approach in which something like the PRT would be the main "unit-of-action" and the military as a whole would have a limited role...
    That's way too open ended to address here. The standard 'military' answer is "It depends on the situation." That is NOT a fob-off, it is a very true statement; every war is different; pretty much the only thing they have in common is that somebody's going to get hurt. To fight a war, you have to tailor your effort for THAT war. The Army has been drug, kicking and screaming, objecting mightily to address that long standing shortfall. Whether the Army realizes it or not, it owes Pete Schoomaker a big debt.

    I'd also suggest that, after an admittedly slow start, Bush and Rice have drug or are dragging the rest of the Federal government into play and the nation will owe them for that.

  10. #30
    Council Member ipopescu's Avatar
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    Default Thank you for the detailed answer

    Ken,
    Your answer on the modularity issue was illuminating.

    That's way too open ended to address here. The standard 'military' answer is "It depends on the situation." That is NOT a fob-off, it is a very true statement; every war is different; pretty much the only thing they have in common is that somebody's going to get hurt. To fight a war, you have to tailor your effort for THAT war. The Army has been drug, kicking and screaming, objecting mightily to address that long standing shortfall. Whether the Army realizes it or not, it owes Pete Schoomaker a big debt.

    I'd also suggest that, after an admittedly slow start, Bush and Rice have drug or are dragging the rest of the Federal government into play and the nation will owe them for that.
    I fully agree, and I hope some of the efforts for adopting a "whole of government " approach to such missions on the civilian side will be continued by the next administration.
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

  11. #31
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I hope so as well. However,

    Quote Originally Posted by ipopescu View Post
    ...I fully agree, and I hope some of the efforts for adopting a "whole of government " approach to such missions on the civilian side will be continued by the next administration.
    the trend for each new Administration to totally disavow the policies and practices of its predecessor, prevalent in all cases, exacerbated if there's a party change, don't bode well.

    That may be particularly true if the new Admin believes in catering to the Unions; the AFGE and its clones are very much into turf battles and 'a better life' concerns for their members and are opposed to the government being able to order its employees to do much of anything -- much less go to a combat zone. We'll see.

  12. #32
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    Surferbeetle wrote:

    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.
    Hi Surferbeetle,

    Some older and wiser heads have attempted, not without some success, on these boards to reign in my impetuousity and drill through my thick-headedness. Nevertheless, after having witnessed something approaching a near-meltdown of portions of the Canadian Army during the '90s, whenever similar matters arise, my spider-sense tingles. And the politicians only added to the problems. When an Army (or a Marine Corps) begins to vote with its feet, even if it's just by baby steps for the moment, and the reasons for that vote have yet to be disposed of, there is a real cause for concern. If, as in the Canadian Army in the 90's, the experienced NCO's (and many of the more gifted officers - I can recall one whose departure to run the family business at the time was a real shock in the Regiment) decide that the institution itself is either incapable or unwilling, or both, to get a grip, then something like the worst-case scenario that some of us "younger" posters have been drawing is possible.

    When the services respond to said problem by trying to throw money at it (re-up bonuses, etc.), knowing full well (or at least they should know) that most of the troops don't do it for the money in the first place, then the problem is not minor, and the institutions themselves are systemically predisposed to mishandling the problem in the first place. Admittedly, not all the factors (especially the military committments in the first place) are in their hands. But if the (so far) main response to the retention problem has been to hand out wads of cash and to promote just about everyone who stays in, if that displays most of the extent to which the services are capable of responding, then there could be real trouble down the road within the next year or two. If the US is able to pull roughly 2/3rds of its troops out of Iraq within the next two or three years, it may be able to dodge the worst of it. If not, two or three years from now, things may start getting really ugly.

    Cavguy wrote:

    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.
    Cavguy's right; GPF, not "Multi-Purpose Forces", or either specialized or "tiered" force structures are the "best" (or least worst) way to go for making up the bulk of most Armies. Whether that is fighting it out WWIII-style, keeping the peace, or engaging in nasty small wars, Units and Formations that are broad in their capabilities, and do not sacrifice too much to specialize in one thing or the other, are best able to adapt themselves to the circumstances peculiar to each different war and setting. The specialists are there to focus on, well, their specialities, and not to have to break themselves down and completely rebuild themselves in a new image to fit unanticipated or dramatically changed circumstances.

    That means regular infantry and heavy armour, amongst other things, not "light infantry" who have to be extensively reinforced with heavy armour and equipment for quite a few missions or tasks; conversely, that may also mean that very armour-heavy armored units and formations may also have to become less specialized and more "general-purpose". Light Infantry are specialists, and they should be maintained and tasked as such, but they are not GPF. Nor are the HBCTs; even though they are quite a change in many ways from the older Armored Brigades, they still seem to carry over some of the assumptions that informed the old Armored Division and Brigade structures during the Cold War, such as they will not usually be used in close or open terrain (the Light Infantry were to do that - or the local German Territorial Army motorized infantry, and all with the assistance of the Wallmeisters).

    You can have equal amounts of armour and mech infantry in a Heavy BCT or HCAB, provided that you're not going to use them to fight through cities or close terrain. The Germans thought the same way in WWII, but still ended up having to commit entire panzer divisions and even corps in order to take or hold major cities (such as Kharkov) or fighting through mountainous terrain (Yugoslavia, the Carpathians). It worked, but the proportion of infantry to armour had to change dramatically: the Germans reckoned a rule of thumb of 2 infantry companies per tank company; on the Allied side, Patton himself came to the conclusion that 2 infantry battalions were required for each tank battalion just in armored divisions. The ETO General Board recommended 2 or 3 battalions of tanks per infantry division.

    Both "Light Infantry" and "Armored/Heavy" BCTs are more specialist than GPF, as are the SBCTs. In a way, the US Army has become an army of pseudo-specialist formations, and true GPF formations may have to be cobbled together ad hoc from elements drawn from two of the three standardized types of BCTs in order to produce a single GPF formation. Modularity is fine in theory, and the "plug n'play" sort that is used routinely in Iraq gets the job done apparently. It might not be so easy though, in a general war situation, especially when the battalions and squadrons being plugged and played may be coming not just from different BCTs, but different types that are used to different roles and different ways of fighting. Established and routine familiarity between units beats modularity any day.

    Light infantry and Heavy BCTS have their place, and even the SBCTs have proven most useful for COIN in Iraq. But neither of them are true GPF-type forces, not even the SBCTs. But the US Army is stuck with substantial numbers of all three. Not what the force structure could be. At least the Marines, in many ways, are rather closer to a GPF-type force structure despite being specialists themselves.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 04-14-2008 at 11:23 PM.

  13. #33
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Canadian Tanks Stomp Taliban

    From Wired's Danger Room

    Last summer Dutch heavy artillery helped repel a major Taliban assault in southern Afghanistan. Now a Canadian officer is preaching that tanks -- once thought all but useless in Afghanistan -- are also a great weapon for counter-insurgency fights. Paul McLeary says that Major Tervor Cadieu's article in The Canadian Army Journal is "a full frontal assault against those who donít think big guns and heavy weapons platforms have much of a place on the asymmetric battlefield":
    Sapere Aude

  14. #34
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Major Cadieu's article is available here. The Canadian Army Journal is available here.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Excellent article. It's worth a read, especially if you think recruiting more Afghan soldiers is the answer. At the very least, we're going to need to recruit a significant number of Afghan tankers and of course, give them tanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  16. #36
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It is a good article; however, I'm curious as to your rationale

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    Excellent article. It's worth a read, especially if you think recruiting more Afghan soldiers is the answer. /// At the very least, we're going to need to recruit a significant number of Afghan tankers and of course, give them tanks.(emphasis and divider slashes added / kw)
    for the two statements I placed in bold type?

  17. #37
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Force Education

    I am playing catch up on this thread, but one thing stands out in my mind. I think some of the problem with the COIN/UW education is the way the Army has split it's school houses. The SOF side has theirs and the conventional side has theirs. What if we had many of these advanced/professional development courses integrated? Many of these TTPs, lessons learned, experiences, etc...would be "cross pollinated" throughout the Army. Personally I get more from other soldiers experiences and techniques when attending professional development courses than I do from the curiculum. Just a thought and would like to know what others think?
    ODB

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    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  18. #38
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    Default Skill Sets Different

    Great thread!

    It is interesting to see the debate within the Army from the outside. I am curious, how much (if any) high intensity training does your average BCT get in between deployments to Iraq?

    I know for most of the Combat Air Forces the skill sets in "small wars" are completely different from the "big" ones. The focus on the current fight is leading to some strange things happening, where folks are practicing skills that are useful now but leave them totally unprepared to fulfill their supposed "big war" missions. The training for, and especially execution of these missions is completely different than that for a "big war".

    While I don't think the AF is near being broken like the Army, it definitely seems that the AF's "big war" skills have atrophied some.

    V/R,

    Cliff

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