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Thread: Security Force Assistance: Roles and Missions for SOF and Conventional Forces

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  1. #1
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default Security Force Assistance: Roles and Missions for SOF and Conventional Forces

    I have read the discussions on this board wrt who should be conducting COIN and FID to a lesser degree; Should it be conventional forces?, SF? who is SF and who isn't? etc...what really constitutes an "SF" or "SOF" mission.
    I have read on other sites how some in the Army SF community feel about organizations like MARSOC or anyone else who would venture into that realm.
    I am reading Max Boot's "Savage Wars of Peace" and its VERY clear that we have waged small wars and sorts of irregular warfare since our conception as a country. Certainly the Marine Corps has played a prominent role in many of these incursions be it a day or a year long. It is also clear that until recent history we haven't had a professional force dedicated to COIN/UW/FID.
    I would also say while the Naval services where pursuing those “Savage Wars of Peace”, the Army from 1865 to the late 19th Century waged its own form of COIN against the native American tribes out west.
    Recently with the advent of MCTAG in the Marine Corps, that is a conventional advisor unit, and of course MARSOC's MSOAG, here we have two organizations that will focus on advising. I don’t speak for either organization but it is also clear that some don’t like this within the SF community.

    http://www.veteransofspecialforces.o...ditorials.html

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/200...c-forms-mctag/

    In MCTAG's case I believe they will be dedicated to FID and that alone. They are not and don't intend to be special forces or conduct UW missions, which brings me to, what constitutes UW or a special forces mission?
    The men who conduct it (sorry ladies) or the mission itself?
    If you say its the men who conduct it, then when someone other than SF conducts a mission that the men of SF normally do, and successfully pull that mission off, then what does that make those conventional Soldiers and Marines? If a SF Soldier conducts a more conventional mission, then what does that make them? Highly trained conventional Soldiers?
    I believe the lines have really blurred in the last few years. Is it the way that SF thinks and goes about their mission planning? Is it the SFAS (MARSOC runs a RSAS that is pretty much the same). Doing these type of selection courses qualify an individual for further screening and selection in these organizations but don’t constitute automatic entry, it is a long process. I will say that this process does a good job of screening out and preparing an individual for this type of duty. I would say maturity being one of the traits that the screening process successfully screens for.
    One only has to look at the TT's in Iraq and Afghanistan to see Soldiers and Marines conducting a form of FID or poor man's SF team as my Army counterpart liked to call them.
    So;

    -There is a history of the Marine Corps and conventional Army conducting UW/COIN/FID.
    -TT’s in Iraq and Afghanistan do this now.
    -Currently there are organizations that have formed or is forming that will conduct UW/FID/COIN within the Marine Corps (not sure what the Army is doing).
    -Both are VERY small organizations compared to SFG’s. MCTAG is strictly conventional advising teams. It is a VERY small organization.
    -SF types (not all) seem to be very apprehensive about this (I understand this)and unwilling to accept what is happening (I could be wrong but this is based on what I have read and heard)
    -The “Long War” is here to stay and as Max Boot’s book points out, has always been here. History didn’t start at the end of WW II.


    For the forum;
    -These new organizations are here to stay, what is the best way for SF to handle it?
    Refuse to deal with them? Pretend like it ain’t happening?, Get on board and work with them, thereby assisting in the direction they go?, which if done right will only complement SF be it MARSOC(JMO).
    -What is the best way for new organizations (Army, Navy, USAF, Marines) to go about training these individuals and teams for this type duty. In MSOAG’s case, they have to meet the SOCOM standards, but what is the best way to train “conventional” forces? Don’t they deserve first class training to prepare them for this type duty?
    -I do advocate a screening process for these conventional advisors. We do it all the time in the Marine Corps for Recruiters and Drill Instructors and in the Drill Instructors case, they really weed out those who can’t cut it. I have often heard the term “Drill Instructor Mafia” used. Its almost like they are an elite force within the Marine Corps within that context. Although both Recruiter school and Drill Instructor school are very demanding, I would say Drill Instructors are better analogy because they are teachers, trainers and mentors. Believe it or not(Sorry GySgt Emery, don’t mean to shatter the myth). My point is that Drill Instructors are weeded out and have a course that does this. Plenty have been dropped, so it is possible for conventional advisor courses to do the same, different mindset but similar process.
    -Where is this leading, I will point out as I have before, that many of the Officers and SNCO’s in the Marine Corps who fought and won WW I and WW II cut their teeth in these “Savage Wars of Peace”. Lots of Marines made names for themselves during the Banana Wars (Chesty Puller).
    I don’t know where conventional advisors will lead and how history will look upon this, but I would love to hear others views, should conventional forces do this and move out into something that has for at least the last 40 years SF's province (as the SecDef pointed out), how do you do it and not just pay lip service and do it right?. From what I have read here there are many on this board with experience in many of these areas, love to see your views. I’ll button up now, helmet is on…

  2. #2
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    Default Winning wars isn't a competition between Services

    First -- it would have been helpful to have a more definitive thread title, but that's just me. The curiosity factor made me open the thread even against my better judgement.

    The "demand signal" for security force assistance activities will outstrip capacity, both SOF and conventional for the foreseeable future, so there's plenty of work to go around, as long as nobody gets "rice-bowl-itis".

    Future requirements will outstrip tactical capability. That simply means that the OD-A/OD-B skill sets can't cover the broad spectrum of required specialties. Building tactical expertise without development of infrastructure and institutions is insufficient. Additionally, development of non-military security forces lies outside the expertise of SF/MCSOAG except for highly focused CT forces.

    What will be required is a holistic approach across a huge number of Combat, combat support and combat service support specialties, from the ministerial level all the way to the individual soldier/policeman.

    If we start to do this right, maybe we can better prevent bad situations from developing rather than trying to respond to them once they're out of hand.

  3. #3
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Brilliant post.

    Thanks for capturing my 6,000 words in five concise paragraphs...

  4. #4
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Speaking of Better Judgement... Not

    Unless, I'm mistaken... SOF has been named the proponent for Security Force Assistance...

    God love the snake eaters, I'm not here to throw stones while I live in a glass house... but this is not a good outcome...

    As Old Eagle (isn't that a teenage clothing store) accurately states, the SFA demand signature will outpace SOF and current conventional capabilities alike for the foreseeable future. Burying proponency for this mission inside the SOF community will do nothing to remedy that situation

    The current projected order of magnitude demand can only lead you to the conclusion that efforts to increase advisory knowledge, skills and aptitude need to be added to core curriculum of all PME and exercised as a routine part of all unit METLs

    I wonder which newly assigned SF MAJ will have this additional duty added to his OER support form... because remember snake eaters are a T in advising, much the same way the 101st is a T in river crossing

    What if anything does this signal?? I can hear the armor of the 98th Kraznovian AR BDE over the next terrain feature.

    Live well and row (and develop a taste for rattler)
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  5. #5
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default The $1,000,000,000 questions

    I have been reading and rereading the post and linked articles since last night. I have decided any attempt on my part to add to or explain would be a pathetic attempt. Many of the answers to the questions are well above my pay grade and education level, but will continue to piece together a coherent boots on the ground perspective, utilizing as much common sense as possible based of experiences on both sides of the fence(conventional and SF). Quite possibly may just concede to the minds greater than mine.
    Last edited by ODB; 04-24-2008 at 04:15 PM.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  6. #6
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    Yes, but its not Army-SOF that has been listed as the Joint Proponent, it is SOCOM. There is some goodness in this - first among them - we now have a joint proponent, and its a proponent that wanted to do it.

    The important thing I think the services must keep in mind is that this does not absolve them from dealing with the problem just because we have a joint proponent, and that proponent is SOCOM. If we go down the road, of "whew, glad its not me", then we will not get this right.

    As OE mentioned, there is more work to go around then can possibly be met. Even if we establish priority to OIF and OEF, we quickly outstrip capacity and will for the next couple of years I think. If you start looking at all the other places we would like to conduct SFA in some form, you can see the need for the services to stay engaged and supportive of the joint proponent. They will provide the means appropriate to the level and type of assistance.

    Hacksaw is correct - we need to consider this from the complete DOTMLPF point of view, I think the Joint proponent understands that, and I think the services must each consider the DOTMLPF issues of the mission be they a ground service, sea service or air seervice. Ultimately, SFA is also a JIIM issue - and we should consider it based on ends and conditions in a holisitc manner.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 04-24-2008 at 06:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default

    Hacksaw captured my issue with SFA being at SOCOM - historically SOCOM doesn't talk or have any interest in assisting the GPF - and it allows the GPF to wash hands of it and place it back in that useful box of stuff we don't think we ought to do. Also the developers will all be SF types not familiar with the differences and needs of GPF units to conduct these types of ops and who don't have unlimited resources, training time priority, and no-limit IMPAC.

    1973-2003 all over again, my worst fear. Same with IW and COIN, which SOCOM might also get lead on. If it enters there, it is unlikely to remain a core competency in the GPF forces.

    I'm prepared to be proven wrong though.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  8. #8
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default Sorry...

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    First -- it would have been helpful to have a more definitive thread title, but that's just me. The curiosity factor made me open the thread even against my better judgement.

    The "demand signal" for security force assistance activities will outstrip capacity, both SOF and conventional for the foreseeable future, so there's plenty of work to go around, as long as nobody gets "rice-bowl-itis".

    Future requirements will outstrip tactical capability. That simply means that the OD-A/OD-B skill sets can't cover the broad spectrum of required specialties. Building tactical expertise without development of infrastructure and institutions is insufficient. Additionally, development of non-military security forces lies outside the expertise of SF/MCSOAG except for highly focused CT forces.

    What will be required is a holistic approach across a huge number of Combat, combat support and combat service support specialties, from the ministerial level all the way to the individual soldier/policeman.

    If we start to do this right, maybe we can better prevent bad situations from developing rather than trying to respond to them once they're out of hand.
    I wasn't sure of how to title this.

    Thanks MODS for framing this the way it needed to be framed.

  9. #9
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    First -- it would have been helpful to have a more definitive thread title, but that's just me. The curiosity factor made me open the thread even against my better judgement.

    The "demand signal" for security force assistance activities will outstrip capacity, both SOF and conventional for the foreseeable future, so there's plenty of work to go around, as long as nobody gets "rice-bowl-itis".

    Future requirements will outstrip tactical capability. That simply means that the OD-A/OD-B skill sets can't cover the broad spectrum of required specialties. Building tactical expertise without development of infrastructure and institutions is insufficient. Additionally, development of non-military security forces lies outside the expertise of SF/MCSOAG except for highly focused CT forces.

    What will be required is a holistic approach across a huge number of Combat, combat support and combat service support specialties, from the ministerial level all the way to the individual soldier/policeman.

    If we start to do this right, maybe we can better prevent bad situations from developing rather than trying to respond to them once they're out of hand.
    Old Eagle,
    I agree 100%. Winning wars is about winning wars or peace for that matter.
    To further add, what about an organization that has all services and is an operational unit?
    In MCTAG's (conventional advisor's) case, obviously the force structure will be what it is as laid out by the Marine Corps; What about having Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, who haved served as FAO's or adviors on the staff? or maybe mixed teams? I could see an SF Soldier or 2 in the "3" shop advising on how to put together a training plan and how to be advisors. The IAG in Iraq is already a mixed organization headed up by mostly staff from the 1st Infantry Division. Would the Army or Air Force (this already happens with Sailors) allow for theirs to be under a Marine organization that does this, that isn't a joint unit? I just throwing out ideas (officer bright ideas OBI's). Anyone want to be stationed in VaBeach?
    Last edited by Boot; 04-26-2008 at 05:06 AM.

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