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

  1. #21
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    Default What Boot really wants

    My comments here are generally outside the bounds of this thread as it was established by Boot. My comments in no way take away from the thoughtful observations and comments by the experts and knowledgeable folks contributing to this thread.

    The Advisor capacity that Boot is trying to figure out is really not at all an end in itself. And the end in my mind for Boot is not a rebuilt foreign nation with strong internal defenses assisted by the American military and its advisor capacity; no, it is much less lofty than that.

    Instead the end for Boot with this Advisor capacity is American ground force military involvement in the world (read; lots of boots on the ground), primarily now in the middle east, on a never-ending, existential basis. Since I imagine Boot worries about folks like me in the Army wanting to take his service back to the early 80s trying to fight world war II all over again at the Fulda Gap (which of course I am not) which in turn in his mind would mean an American Army that is hunkered down on big bases in the United States waiting to fight the big one that in his mind will never come, he therefore wants to force the American Army into building an institutionally and long-term capacity for foreign internal defense advisory. In short the Advisors for Boot are the tip of the spear which are attractive to policy makers because they offer a seductive and quick solution but Boot really has on his mind the knowledge that once you put American Army (non SF) conventional advisors on the ground you must also bring many other troops behind them to provide support. Hence the goal that Boot is looking for to be permanent American ground force engagement on foreign lands; whether or not the advisors ever rebuild the foreign nation and its army is not what is really important, it is their presence on the ground that is.

    And by the way, Boot likes to throw the example of the Marines as another Boot named Max has often done in the past, to provide an example to the Army of how to do the Advisory mission and involve itself in Small Wars. Unfortunately what Boot does not tell us is the very mixed record the Marines have had in Small Wars, especially in Central America in the inter-war years; but again, considering Boot’s overall goal it doesn’t really matter how successful the Marines were during the Small Wars but the fact that they were present on the ground in a foreign land.

    And one final comment which is admittedly outside the established bounds of this thread. As we discuss the topic of how to create an advisor capacity we should always keep in mind what effect creating that capacity will have on an already severely atrophied American Army.

    Boot does not seemed to be too worried about the American Army fighting the "big one;" but I certainly do. And that worry ultimately is where the tension between me and Boot and the notion of an Advisory capacity lays.

    Instead of focusing on the Marines moving pack-mules over the mountains in Nicaragua in the 1930s perhaps we should be paying attention to what happened to Israel Army in Lebanon in Summer 2006.

    gentile

  2. #22
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default Gian...you lost me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    My comments here are generally outside the bounds of this thread as it was established by Boot. My comments in no way take away from the thoughtful observations and comments by the experts and knowledgeable folks contributing to this thread.

    The Advisor capacity that Boot is trying to figure out is really not at all an end in itself. And the end in my mind for Boot is not a rebuilt foreign nation with strong internal defenses assisted by the American military and its advisor capacity; no, it is much less lofty than that.

    Instead the end for Boot with this Advisor capacity is American ground force military involvement in the world (read; lots of boots on the ground), primarily now in the middle east, on a never-ending, existential basis. Since I imagine Boot worries about folks like me in the Army wanting to take his service back to the early 80s trying to fight world war II all over again at the Fulda Gap (which of course I am not) which in turn in his mind would mean an American Army that is hunkered down on big bases in the United States waiting to fight the big one that in his mind will never come, he therefore wants to force the American Army into building an institutionally and long-term capacity for foreign internal defense advisory. In short the Advisors for Boot are the tip of the spear which are attractive to policy makers because they offer a seductive and quick solution but Boot really has on his mind the knowledge that once you put American Army (non SF) conventional advisors on the ground you must also bring many other troops behind them to provide support. Hence the goal that Boot is looking for to be permanent American ground force engagement on foreign lands; whether or not the advisors ever rebuild the foreign nation and its army is not what is really important, it is their presence on the ground that is.

    And by the way, Boot likes to throw the example of the Marines as another Boot named Max has often done in the past, to provide an example to the Army of how to do the Advisory mission and involve itself in Small Wars. Unfortunately what Boot does not tell us is the very mixed record the Marines have had in Small Wars, especially in Central America in the inter-war years; but again, considering Boot’s overall goal it doesn’t really matter how successful the Marines were during the Small Wars but the fact that they were present on the ground in a foreign land.

    And one final comment which is admittedly outside the established bounds of this thread. As we discuss the topic of how to create an advisor capacity we should always keep in mind what effect creating that capacity will have on an already severely atrophied American Army.

    Boot does not seemed to be too worried about the American Army fighting the "big one;" but I certainly do. And that worry ultimately is where the tension between me and Boot and the notion of an Advisory capacity lays.

    Instead of focusing on the Marines moving pack-mules over the mountains in Nicaragua in the 1930s perhaps we should be paying attention to what happened to Israel Army in Lebanon in Summer 2006.

    gentile
    But I will try to respond...

    1) Actually in my mind the role of an advisory force isn't to bring in bigger forces but to enable that HNSF to do for themselves in the long run, rather than American forces being tied up. Persistent engagement. Tip of the spear, not sure. One thing I realized after the Berlin Wall came down was that the world just became a much more scarier place, with lots of brush fires, somewhat what the world was like pre-WWII or even WWI.
    2) No again I don't advocate larger forces...your second paragraph...really lost me, but No I don't want to be engaged in these forever wars by putting boots on the ground. That certainly isn't anything I would advocate. The last thing I want is my children and grandchildren dealing with a problem that should have been handled in my lifetime.
    3) I agree that the Army is severely strained as is the Marine Corps. I wondered about why we were drawing down our armed forces after the Cold War when the world just got that much more complicated and thought it very premature to do so without some deep analysis.

    Lastly,
    No I don't have a secondary agenda here. Not at all. IF I knew more about what the Army has done wrt to small wars, then I would cite more. This ISN'T about the Army or Marine Corps. I simply cite what I do know. Wrt mixed results during the Banana Wars, well if I were in the Army I would do the right thing and analyze what the Marine Corps did right and wrong and not try to make the same mistakes and that could be said about many organizations SF or not.
    In fact the US Army vs. the Indian nations out in the western US after the Civil War could perhaps be the longest COIN operation our nation has ever conducted. I am suprised no one has (that I know of) done an analysis of the Indian campaigns.
    Let me STRESS this isn't about whether Marines should be doing this or not, this is about should conventional forces be doing this or not. Right now both Soldiers and Marines engaged in COIN some are mixed teams. SO if its here to stay, what is the best way to do it? SF can't do it all, they are simply not big enough whether it be Marines, Army, Navy or Air Force SF.
    Please do not put words in my mouth or try to find some secondary agenda. If you want to continue this dialog off line, feel free to PM me. Btw, my handle is simply coincidental I had no idea Max Boot is a Marine (former).

  3. #23
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Speak to ideas

    I am not weighing in on the discussion here as it is flowing nicely. But I would add a caution on tone. Speaking toward a council member as if he is a training aid to make your points is skating on thin ice. If you have a point of issue or order with someone's ideas. speak to those ideas and not about the person.

    thank you

    Tom

  4. #24
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    Hacksaw said:

    I get it Rob, decision made, time to move on... OK, but the question remains what does this decision signal... I thought those were valid discussion points on this panel. Putting this back into its "old bin" does not signal a change in approach, a recognition of the mission's importance from a GPF perspective...
    bold emphasis added by Rob

    Absolutely these are valid discussion points!

    One of the points I was trying to get after in the last post is that there would be drawbacks to any of the likely proponents. If it had gone to Suffolk it would have been competing with allot of other stuff, and may have gotten lost. This is not a dig on JFCOM, they have a full plate and are doing some outstanding work in many other areas. Even though they are not the proponent, I imagine SOCOM realizes the role JFCOM needs to play, and so does SO/LIC. If it had gone to the Army, there might have been resistance the other way - besides the tough choices it must make with regards to being the Land Power capable of sustained campaigns, its also wrestling with it what it means to place Stability Operations on par with Offense and Defense. With the tasks before them, I'm not sure the timing would line up right.

    I don't know ADM Olson, but he did decide he would support SFA and that it needed proponency. To me there is goodness in that alone because I believe personality matters. I also have reason to believe that SOCOM understands the scope of SFA as a concept, and that they recognize that to make it viable they cannot go it alone - its going to require JIIM participation, and just having proponency does not guarantee that everyone will fall in line.

    The USAF and the USN have a strong role to play in SFA (as it is not only FID, but SA and SC). Assisting foreign security forces (sea, air and land) to extend the reach and governance of their HN, or to create regional capacity is going to require not only SOF and Ground GPF assistance, but will require air and naval FSF assistance. Some places cannot be reached otherwise, or cannot be reached in a manner that provides the HN or Regional Force some mixture of sustainability, economy, effectiveness and persistence. Road networks and supporting infrastructure for moving ground forces to where some of the enemy operates is not always available, in fact they may select it as a result. Many HNs are unable to extend governance beyond their cities, and even this is in question now as population #s increasingly migrate in to cities and overwhelm existing FSFs. Many are threated by regional and international threats - consider the increasing nexus between various groups and entities in the ME, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.

    In order to increase HN capacity in many places will require an increase in their very limited air and sea capabilities (which in some cases do not exist), as well as their land and SOF capabilities. Our enemies are increasingly exploiting these spaces and the adjacent commons for a number of reasons. Their effects are not just limited to effecting a specific HN, but impact us and our allies in a number of ways. So as an Army type, when I say I worry about service culture attitudes, I actually worry less about the Army and Marines then about the Air Force and the Navy (and yes the Coast Guard) - again, its not a lick on them, we ask a great deal of them, but they need to understand they have a piece of this - SOF and the ground services can't do it alone. So far they have only marginally engaged in the conversation - there are some within both services who understand the role they should play.

    We do agree on allot, especially the fear that because of service cultures and competing priorities it will not get the attention it requires. However, I empathize with the services in trying to sort out priorities at this time - its just tough to do. I'm not sure there is an optimal answer given the conditions - the letter I sent Neil on "the King & I" about the state of Army FA by three former BCT CDRs makes some good points - and achieving balance right now is not really on the table - the number of missions and the supporting force structure are not there yet, and will not be so for probably 2-3 years - we'll probably meet in the middle with a filling out of BCTs and a decreased presence in Iraq (however - its certainly possible that those forces will be committed elsewhere to meet policy ends or unexpected crises.)

    I think what matters most at this point is bringing the proponent together with the palyers (and convincing the players that they are such), this would include the non-DoD parts of the JIIM. The other part of that is getting the policy makers across the board to understand that although it seems to reside in one place, it impacts policy across the board - this has always been tough because people default to what they own, or what they perceive as clearly in their lanes. As such both the instructions that go forward to the proponent, and the actions that it generate matter. It is going to be hard - it would be no matter who got it - because you can't always guarantee that just because one person or group recognizes the need for cooperation, the rest will see the same, or provide significant resources (time, money, men, grey matter) to make it happen.

    I think you are absolutely right to bring it up - if we discuss it in the open like this it gets more folks thinking about it.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 04-25-2008 at 12:51 PM.

  5. #25
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Some problems are best solved without outside help

    Quote Originally Posted by Boot View Post
    One thing I realized after the Berlin Wall came down was that the world just became a much more scarier place, with lots of brush fires, somewhat what the world was like pre-WWII or even WWI. .
    At the risk of derailing this thread, I feel compelled to address Boot's comment above. I will say upfront that I think my remarks are germane to the overall topic. I think they highlight a fundamental sssumption that seems to underlay the idea that America's military should be doing SAF/FID missions. I propose that until this normative assumption is fully debated and resolved to the extent that we can clarify what our national goals are in conducting SAF/FID, we cannot effectively move to the next step of deciding what type of forces to employ to achieve those goals.

    I suspect that what really happened in America, post-Wall destruction, is a shift of awareness. I suspect that the world is not all that much scarier. We just have had the opportunity to shift our focus away from a monolithic enemy--sort of a "road to Damascus" moment--and to see that a whole lot of folks around the world are pretty busy shooting each other up on a pretty routine basis. Being the good, paternalistic folks with a missionary zeal that we Americans are, we seem to feel the need to try to keep these folks from blowing each other away by meddling in their internal affairs. This is, to some degree, I suspect the same spirit that motivated the Monroe and Truman Doctrines. (It is also reflective of what is happpening in Texas with regard to the intervention with the FLDS, IMHO--but that is another thread not germane to SWC/SWJ).

    I submit that performing SAFD/FID missions generally are not the kinds of things that are crucial to the nation's continued existence/territorial integrity/political sovereignty and, as a result, are not obligatory actions on America's part. We should continue to train our forces to have a general advising/training/nation-building capability more like the crowd control and infrastructure rebuilding efforts we demonstrate in the wake of a natural disaster like Katrina or the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Our SAF/FID posture should be predicated on an invitation from a host country and should be tailored to repond to the request for assistance from that country. If the request is for something other than what we would deploy at home as a response to a natural or humanitarian disaster, it would probably be in America's best interest to decline, while advising other potential "invitees" to keep their hands off the problem as well.

    To bring this back to Boot's point--if the world today really is "a much more scarier place" I suspect America has itself to blame--for poking its nose in business where America does not belong.

  6. #26
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    Default Scarier or not...

    The fact of the matter is that it is in our own self interest to develop the security forces of other states and organizations.

    1 -- The U.S. military is unlikely to grow significantly in the near future, therefore the only way we are going to be successful is to be able to partner with security forces that are at a level of development where they can be true partners. PfP in the new democracies of central Europe was a major tool in developing our new NATO allies, as an example.

    2 -- The only way to succeed against highly networked non-state adversaries is, as RAND's Dave Ockmanek reminds us, to be everywhere, all the time through our partners.

    3 -- In order to prevent long-term U.S. BOG, our partners need to be able to take care of their own security. That capability will not spring magically from the earth; it needs to be developed.

    4 -- There are places/missions we need others to handle, especially PKO in far-flung regions with no direct impact on U.S. interests. These capabilities will also not develop magically on their own.

    In short, there are huge requirements to assist other security forces in order to secure our own interests. It's not meddling or self-aggrandizement, it's a requirement, and it ain't going away.

  7. #27
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default I step down from the soap box

    I concede that my point has been heard and acknowledged by my friends in JCISFA. No doubt they understand the pitfalls. However, this warrants continued monitoring.

    Gian -- I used your name in vain -- because I do think of you as the wild-eyed prophet screaming from the bluffs over looking the Hudson. You are not alone, but I think there is a middle ground. Nor am I advocating an advisor corps like my Sosh brother, but...

    I think we as a nation have little choice but to transition to the strategic defensive... As you so rightly state our conventional posture right now consists of a bunch of broken equipment, tired personnel, and young leaders not really experienced in full-spectrum operations...

    So what does that mean for national security in general and the military in particular... IMO it calls for an economy of force approach (heavy on SFA) to build partner capacity to govern inside their borders, while we re-build the materiel and grey matter capacity to fulfill the security responsibilities outlined by wm (secure our borders, etc).

    Tom--If I am one whom broke the truce so to speak--then I apologize to all. I rarely use bold text for obvious reasons, but got quite frustrated with myself that I had so poorly communicated the gist of my thoughts.

    My head is both bloodied and bowed

    Gian--see you on the high ground

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  8. #28
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default

    At the risk of the stating the obvious, I think it's worth pointing out that the only reason why US SOF forces are associated with training and FID is a confluence of circumstances from the Cold War. - EG: SF used to train Guerillas, based on WW2 experience.

    I cannot see anyone wanting to "train Guerillas" these days, but the need to train and sustain large numbers of security forces is a definite plus, but I cannot see any logical reason why this would be associated with SF/SOCOM, apart from the accidents of history.

    Yes, I can see how one can make a very solid case (languages, skills etc) but the ability to train is inherent to a professional military. All officers and NCO's are, or should be trainers - in an ideal world, capable of training Indigenous forces for the equivalent role.

    The reality is that culture and human needs, undermines this. But be aware the British Army went around the world, raising generally limited successful clones of themselves (India, Jordan, Pakistan etc) - and USSF themselves could be said to be descended from a British Army trained Unit!!

    ...however, if you just adopt the colour of the beret (Canadian Rifle Green) and not the mess silver, traditions and mess kit, it isn't quite going to be the same thing!
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  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Agreed. However, that accident of history

    and confluence of circumstances is where we are. As we all know bureaucracies in democracies are loth to give up roles and missions because thsoe mean money and power, so we're stuck with that.

    In an ideal world it would be an Army mission (purely on a size, location and capacity basis), it is not but it is critical that the Army not try to fob it off as they did once before and as the many Gian supporters in high places would like to do. Those folks were wrong before and they would be wrong again.

    Shame the good guys -- much less the bad guys -- won't play the way we want them too...

  10. #30
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    The fact of the matter is that it is in our own self interest to develop the security forces of other states and organizations.
    [SNIP]
    In short, there are huge requirements to assist other security forces in order to secure our own interests. It's not meddling or self-aggrandizement, it's a requirement, and it ain't going away.
    Please make the case for the necessity/causal linkage to American national self interest alleged in this post. The argument smacks of the same kind of "logic" that produced the domino theory as a justification for American involvement in SE Asia.

    Propping up a political entity that is unable to gain support (and, therefore, legitimacy) from the people that entity was intended to serve seems like a guaranteed way to keep the flames of discontent burning and probably spreading to other polities with nascent legitimacy issues.

    I suggest a review of a lesson to be learned from the prisoner's dilemma. It shows quite clearly that acting on a "lop-sided" perception of what is most in one's self interest turns out to yield what is least in one's self interest.

  11. #31
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question I think that comes back to one of our previous discussions

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Please make the case for the necessity/causal linkage to American national self interest alleged in this post. The argument smacks of the same kind of "logic" that produced the domino theory as a justification for American involvement in SE Asia.

    Propping up a political entity that is unable to gain support (and, therefore, legitimacy) from the people that entity was intended to serve seems like a guaranteed way to keep the flames of discontent burning and probably spreading to other polities with nascent legitimacy issues.

    I suggest a review of a lesson to be learned from the prisoner's dilemma. It shows quite clearly that acting on a "lop-sided" perception of what is most in one's self interest turns out to yield what is least in one's self interest.
    Who develops or determines decisions about how failed is failed enough that the international community has to act. Also in regard to determining why we should or shouldn't act I would think it should be just as important to identify why we shouldn't and be sure and provide best assessments of what that lack of action has brought about historically.

    Finally lets not forget to look at those elsewhere who choose to act in a manner which they see beneficial to their own agendas and figure out if the ultimate question isn't really, Is one form of society better than another, If so which.

    I think we could probably fill volumes with just these being discussed but all in all they seem to be the main points of contention throughout most of history.
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    Default

    I did not mean to use Boot's post as, to use Tom Odom's words, a "training aide." But after re-reading my response I can see how one might read it that way.

    I actually think that Boot's post represents an important underlying theme for the call for Advisory Corps that I wanted to get at and critique in this post. In no way did i want to cheapen what he said and call it an "agenda" but I can see how it might have come across that way.

    And to be honest I did make the false assumption about handle relationships which I now no wasnt there and because of that caused my post to be read the way it was.

    gian

  13. #33
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    Default wm -- points well taken

    In the past, the U.S. has had problems dealing with the SFA mission, and applying it where it really was important. A coupla us here are members of the "Pay any price, bear any burden" generation. De Oppresso Liber! Etc.

    1 -- Cold War engagement was just as much anti-Soviet as it was ever pro-U.S. Oops. Really hope that we have learned our lesson there.

    2 -- In the past, U.S. assistance tended to be mainly military, and often at the tactical level. This led to two problems: we made lower-ranking military organizations/personnel more capable than other govermental organizations. Several then felt the necessity to replace the governments they were supposed to be defending. Now, had the new governments been more responsible than those they replaced, it would be easier to turn a blind eye, but usually, one corrupt government replaced another. Oops. Secondly, we often left the newly trained militaries without sustaining institutions, so many turned into flash-in-the-pan efforts.

    The upshot of the above is that new engagement has to be targeted on the right countries. It needs to be "whole of government", so that it's not just mil-to-mil anymore. We need to actively instill and nurture basic values and institutions that increase the legitimacy of any government or organization we work with. This needs to go hand-in-hand with economic development in most areas.

    If we have to get involved in some country of region because of no lie, vital U.S. interests, it's best to do so early-on, by, with and through the nations involved. Add to that the fact that the external force cannot "win" COIN/FID/ETC. It is ONLY by building local forces that are competent, confident, capable and committed in support of legitimate authority.

    More later. I'm up to a body part in a crash mission. One Rob should be doing.

  14. #34
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Wayne,

    A few quick points on what OE said:

    1) not every where we do SFA is to prop up, or rebuild a failing government - sometimes it is about enhancing a state with the capability and capacity to govern itself, but with an eye to taking a more responsible and active regional role - building capacity for coalitions.

    2) However, if its in a state where the enemy is considering for safehaven, or recruiting, or for any purpose that enhances his freedom of movement and resources, we need to place it in the context of priorities - as OE said, our efforts must be aimed where we get the most in return, but sometimes it might require thinkning in terms of preventing the enemy from getting returns. There are ends with regard to your own, with regard to your allies, and others, and ends with regard to your enemy.

    3) There are other reasons beyond the war against extremism to conduct SFA (remember its does not just touch FID, but SA and SC depending on why you are doing it and in support of what end - its a framework). If you are interested I can lay them out, but suffice to say, they have not changed all that much in a couple of thousand years.

    Now before OE tracks me down on my pass - prior to me taking off for Carlisle and UQ 08 for 2 weeks - I'm taking the family out for chow

    Best, Rob

  15. #35
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    Default If the strategy is flawed do we need the force structure?

    wm and W. Owen make excellent points. It is an assumption, and a weak assumption that enhancing our capacity to conduct FID/COIN on a larger scale than we do now will address our national security objectives. That assumption depends on the willingness of our pals to do our bidding. Most nations won't want to be perceived acting on behalf of another nation.

    What type of and what size (capacity) FID capability do we really need? To answer that we need to "clearly" articulate our national security objectives and strategy, conduct a realistic threat assessment (and realize it will probably be wrong, so be prepared to flex), then design the appropriate force structure across the government, not just within DoD. I do think DoD will need to increase their capacity to conduct FID, but perhaps it will not need to be as large as some of the proposals that have been floated. I think we must assume that we will still have to act unilaterally when we can't convince another nation to take care of problem that is a threat to our interests, so based on the emerging threats (new generation), what does this force structure need to look like?

    Personally, I think the threats tomorrow will continue to be diverse and we'll need a why range of capabilities in our military and equally important throughout our government. In a perfect world, we would have international capabilities (e.g. a functional UN).

  16. #36
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    1) not every where we do SFA is to prop up, or rebuild a failing government - . . .

    2) . . . our efforts must be aimed where we get the most in return, but sometimes it might require thinkning in terms of preventing the enemy from getting returns. There are ends with regard to your own, with regard to your allies, and others, and ends with regard to your enemy.

    3) There are other reasons beyond the war against extremism to conduct SFA . . .

    Now before OE tracks me down on my pass - prior to me taking off for Carlisle and UQ 08 for 2 weeks - I'm taking the family out for chow

    Best, Rob
    Rob,
    I concur with all three of your points as well as with the two points from OE's follow up post. However, I still want to caveat that agreement. And my caveat incorproates a point that Ron H made.

    We need to be sure that we are invited in for that SFA mission by someone that is an appropriate inviter. I am not sure, for example, that the invitation from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and concern about the safety of a few American med students at St Georges University, justified Urgent Fury, nor would it have justified dispatching SAF/IDAD/FID/SASO (pick your acronym de jour) team to prepare Dominica to be ready to repel an invasion by the Cuban-trained forces of Grenada.

    Hope the family feed and the TDY to Jim Thorpe land goes well.

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    At first this statement sounds just bone-dumb, as SFA/FID or whatever you want to call them missions are probably performed mostly for a political, rather than military effect. Of course a military effect is desired, but except in those situations where a friendly foreign government is clearly in danger of crumbling, the military results of these missions are beside the main point; that point being that the friendly government is reassured that Washington is behind it and that political ties are secure. After all, how many (public) SFA/FID missions have resulted in long-term military, leading to political, success? Probably not the overwhelming majority, to say the least.

    If this is the case, and I don't presume to know if it is, then as wm, Old Eagle, and Bill Moore are pointing out in one way or another, not only is the force structure and the "Strategy" that it is supposed to derive from out of whack, but SFA/FID as a tool of foreign policy is being overused, misused, or simply abused in lieu of having to make clear-sighted policy decisions. In short, the mission may be a crutch, both for the host nation, and for the US Government in so far as the sending of such a mission may well serve to disguise both the friendly government's unwillingness or utter inability to deal effectively with its own problems, as well as to let the US partially off the hook for putting real pressure on the host nation government to address the conditions that have led to its problems, by appearing to be doing something about it.

    I am certainly not saying that SFA/FID is a wastefull or wasted effort; it is certainly beneficial and even necessary in some cases. But to the extent that it may be used more as a sort of "We're doing something about the problem" cover, when it may achieve little or nothing, the mission, and the force structure that performs it, may see either its capabilities squandered, or the force structure itself may be partially redundant.

    It is strange to see the US SF (as opposed to SOF) force structure in comparison to many others'; the "tiers" with SFOD-D and SEAL 6 at JSSOC making up the heart of Tier 1 (with more or less SAS-type capabilities) and US Army Special Forces, AF CCT, and now the Marine SF making up the "Tier II", is quite at odds with what many other countries have. Tier I units, more or less corresponding to an SAS-type capability, until recently have formed the bulk of most nations SF (as opposed to SOF), and Tier II units along Green Beret lines are in many cases either relatively new, or at least do not grossly outnumber the Tier I types. Offhand, it would seem that having two tiers of SF may be unnecessary and inefficient.

    Some of the roles and missions that Tier II SF can be performed adequately by regular forces or SOF that specialize in certain missions - in principle, at least, the formation of the SRR out of 14 Int Coy helped to relieve some of the burden on the SAS for strategic reconnaissance, and regular battalions are able to perform some of the SFA/FID mission either on their own or in cooperation with SF in a "low/high" sort of mix. In an ideal Army, there would be no "Tiers" of SF, just SAS-type units, and to the extent that other SOF exist, such as Commando Forces (Royal Mariones, Rangers, etc.) and specialists who do not require SF-level training to perform their roles properly (such as the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, Mobile Training Teams, etc.).

    As Wilf and Ken raised earlier, it seems that the Tier II organization is both driven by, and in turn helps to drive, a level of redundancy that is perhaps inefficient at best and a downright drain on resources at worst. That is not to say that SF are over-manned and over-resourced; they are not, but they are over-tasked, and to an extent that is unnecessary, perhaps wasteful, and even counter-productive in that the SFA/FID role becomes a sort of band-aid "solution" that fixes little but allows business to continue as usual. And so, in a roundabout way, this contributes to avoiding having to make unpleasant decisions about who to support, and by what means. Not to mention identifying needs and priorities and formulating a comprehensive strategy to go about meeting them.

  18. #38
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default Gian...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gian P Gentile View Post
    I did not mean to use Boot's post as, to use Tom Odom's words, a "training aide." But after re-reading my response I can see how one might read it that way.

    I actually think that Boot's post represents an important underlying theme for the call for Advisory Corps that I wanted to get at and critique in this post. In no way did i want to cheapen what he said and call it an "agenda" but I can see how it might have come across that way.

    And to be honest I did make the false assumption about handle relationships which I now no wasnt there and because of that caused my post to be read the way it was.

    gian
    Point taken.

  19. #39
    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    Default William...

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    At the risk of the stating the obvious, I think it's worth pointing out that the only reason why US SOF forces are associated with training and FID is a confluence of circumstances from the Cold War. - EG: SF used to train Guerillas, based on WW2 experience.

    I cannot see anyone wanting to "train Guerillas" these days, but the need to train and sustain large numbers of security forces is a definite plus, but I cannot see any logical reason why this would be associated with SF/SOCOM, apart from the accidents of history.

    Yes, I can see how one can make a very solid case (languages, skills etc) but the ability to train is inherent to a professional military. All officers and NCO's are, or should be trainers - in an ideal world, capable of training Indigenous forces for the equivalent role.

    The reality is that culture and human needs, undermines this. But be aware the British Army went around the world, raising generally limited successful clones of themselves (India, Jordan, Pakistan etc) - and USSF themselves could be said to be descended from a British Army trained Unit!!

    ...however, if you just adopt the colour of the beret (Canadian Rifle Green) and not the mess silver, traditions and mess kit, it isn't quite going to be the same thing!
    Great points; Really good analogy wrt to the British Army. I have to wonder if this those indigenous forces in the long run, had resentment for GB or supported them.
    An ancient example of someone who was trained by a standing Army was that came back to bite them was The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest which took place in the year 9 A.D. when Arminius, ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. Arminius had received a military education from Rome and had even been given the rank of Equestrian. How knew their culture and how the Romans operated. Just food for thought.

  20. #40
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Better to think of SFA as the Tool Box, or the Framework

    All good points - keep in mind that terms matter. Most of the discussion seems focused around FID, which in our mind we associate with an investment to bolster internal defense - and support a legitimate government against lawlessness, or subversion. This is absolutely an important mission.

    However, if you are working with a state or a regional organization to build capacity for other reasons - it starts to look different. Much if it depends upon the end you are trying to accomplish.

    Wayne:

    We need to be sure that we are invited in for that SFA mission by someone that is an appropriate inviter.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this statement. It is absolutely best when the HN or the regional organization comes forward to the Country Team or the GCC and says "can you provide some assistance". Part of what country teams and GCCs do is coordinate with HN leadership and the regional organization's members for just such purposes. Part of what we are saying is lets do this better then we are right now. Part of this has to do with a lack of capacity and partly a lack of capabilities, but there is also the issue of authorities. These are the types of issues we are trying to address by providing a broad, holistic framework that allows the various parts, be they FID, SC, SA, FMS, etc. to be brought into an integrated strategy that does not just look at problems from a binary perspective, but with regard to building regional capacity and stability as well. SFA is not a competitor to FID, SA or SC, its the toolbox that houses them so to speak. It provides the shell for the GCCs and above to think of policy and long term consequences with regards to the policy objectives they've been told to pursue.

    Much in the same vernacular as BPC - there is in large part the assumption that you have a partner to work with. If someone rejects assistance, its on them, however, if they are sinking into the muck of insurgency, transnational crime, or the aggression of a regional bully, their neighbors may recognize it and ask for help to avoid the same fate. Moreover, neighbors may come forward together, or be asked to participate together since neither may have sufficient ends unto itself, in order to benefit each other - the "Partnership for Peace" is one such effort.

    Their efforts also serve our ends in various ways since instability has a nasty way of spreading to places that do matter. These days, a terrorist that earns his spurs in a backwater locale, may himself become an exportable commodity - they are human capital. Further, the location may become a nexus for the importation, storage, refinement etc. of some nasty things. An example, even after we eventually have stopped conducting FID in Iraq - however long that may be, we will still be conducting SFA through SC, SA and FMS - its just a transition to another activity in order to reach the policy end. This is another reason why the broader policy offices in OSD and the rest of the IA are all players in SFA - before you can move forward in other areas you must have security with regards to internal and some degree of external - however, you can't always get to the former without the other elements of power playing key roles.

    Even when considering partners, you could quickly run out of resources - there are just that many who'd like us to assist them more from improving their ministerial level capacity to combined exercises, to educating their leaders at home or here, to purchasing better equipment and receiving training and support on it, to sharing intelligence, etc. We can't meet the demand when you consider it from a holistic perspective - we'd ever have enough force structure to do so and meet our own requirements. As such, we have to be somewhat pragmatic about who and what we commit to.

    Even if we were not heavily involved in OIF and OEF, we'd still be hard pressed to meet the demand if we let it be known we were "open and the shelfs were full, just come on in." I'm pretty sure the leadership understands that. We must be careful not to see this as a one size fits all sort of approach, and we must ask ourselves, "how does a particular effort support our policy objectives?" Then it must be held against the other efforts that also deserve our attention and prioritized in terms of time, units, money, etc. They are either pursued, scaled back, or put on hold - although if we do this right, we might have some regional organization with the ability and rationale to put forward their assistance over time - so as OE says, they can take care of it themselves.

    The basics of this we've been doing for a long time - what is perhaps new is that we are looking at it in a holistic manner (the tool box), that we see the requirement to reevaluate the risk of inaction differently, that the nature of this enemy under these conditions presents a different set of consequences, and that as such we will require more resources to carry this out. Those resources are different both in terms of some of the traditional roles and responsibilities within and outside the military, and in terms of what the broader inter-agency may need to accomplish in order to meet current and future security challenges. There just is not much low hanging fruit left.

    I also might add that one day we will probably find ourselves conducting SFA in a post conflict environment again. It might be after we closed the conflict, or it might be we were asked to assist after the belligerents had closed the conflict - and it was clearly in our interest to take the lead, as such the authorities are different, and so are the conditions.

    Again, think of SFA as a tool box vs. a tool. We have good doctrine and practices for some of the tools, but what we lack is the overarching framework that ties this all together so that it passes the CFAS test, and better helps us meet our long short and long term policy goals.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 04-26-2008 at 01:52 AM.

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