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Thread: Ill Informed Blog Post at AM on Advisors

  1. #21
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Tom
    Good points. I think what needs to be got at is that this and many issues like it are beyond ascribing a temporary value to in terms we are generally comfortable with. ...

    We could be discussing any aspect of DOTMLPF, but we also need to consider the broader USG, and even the US Codes and authorization that allow us to be flexible for long term efforts that change over time through interaction. 1206 and 1207 are examples of authorizations that need to be followed up on and considered in light of what we are trying to accomplish. Without some of the external DoD changes, we'll wind up with capabilities that are hard to employ because of shortfalls and self imposed constraints.

    Best, Rob
    Agree with all and going back to what prompted this thread in the first place--fixation on movement to Polk as a source of problems--is classic angels on a pinhead analysis. The issue is much larger than do we stay at Riley or do we go to Polk. It is a fundamental question of strategy and the objective of that strategy and the means to achieve it. Right now and for the foreseeable future 2 brigade equivalents of trained and competent advisors are in my estimation much more important than 2 BCTs. That reality is so apparent and so distasteful to many who had rather have the 2 BCTs.

    Best

    Tom

  2. #22
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Thumbs up A few thoughts on MiTTs and ETTs

    I had the fortune (misfortune) to be a part of the initial planning for consolidating MiTT training at Riley (previously it was scattered and REALLY bad). A few thoughts and background on the common points/questions running through this thread:

    1. Advisor vs Soldier Skills... Lots of factors, but two are most significant... Army G1 convinced G3 and FORSCOM that PERSTEMPO would only allow for a 60 day training window. I am not casting aspersions... people of this particular rank and skill set are in very short supply and demand is high, we can quibble over whether we ought to train to time or standard but that is part of the calculation. Second, there is a list a mile long of MNF-I, MNC-I, CFC-A, and FORSCOM pre-deployment training that is mandated. If you want a mix for dissatisfaction... mix 60 days + basic soldier skills + experienced soldiers = training dissatisfaction. In fact, what I've heard anecdotally is that 60 days is too much (of course this is based on concurrent training content).

    2. Sorry Tom, but I don't think the decision to move the MiTT training to Polk was not as rigorously examined as you are under the impression. More of a knee jerk if you asked my impression. A lot of conjecture is mostly what I have to back that up, so it doesn't merit mention in this forum... but I will say this. The decision to move the training was made before the decision as to whether it was a "relatively" permanent requirement and who ought to be the Army proponent. The synergy of combining the training was pretty much debunked by the responsible TRADOC organization, and if TRADOC were to be named Army lead (makes sense) then I don't think it would have moved it to Polk. Better options such as Knox. No this was a FORSCOM initiative that was pushed very rigorously to make training space for BCTs that will be fielded in the next few years, and my darker angels say to try and force big Army to move the mission to TRADOC.

    3. The lack of qualified instructors is an institutional failure. That mechanism was supposed to be in place, but it appears no one wants to tell a returning advisor... "sorry, I know you should go to ILE (or CCC or wherever) but the Army needs you to do this mission for 12-18 months." I understand the desire to give folks who have done a tough mission well, a break, but if you serve long enough we all have taken one for the good of the service.

    So in the end... the move to Polk might have some political overtones and was most likely not that well considered or sequenced with other linked decisions, but it was not empire building by the folks at Polk.

    MiTT/ETT Training is what it is because we have convinced ourselves that PERSTEMPO will only allow 60 days training; that we can't trust parent units to maintain individual soldier skills; and the personel system seems unwilling to deliver bad news

    and....

    Security Force Assistance has a new Joint Proponent SOCOM. Good news... DoD actually named a proponent ... Bad News... Indicates a leaning towards pidgeon holing the capability in SOF and oh by the waywhat does a proponent do???? DOTMLPF requirements determination and capabilities development. Is SOCOM really suitted institutionally and culturally to do capability development for GPF???? Argghh, me thinks not. Sorry Old Eagle, Rob, and Tom... I think the wind direction wrt SFA is blowing us away from port.

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  3. #23
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Argghh, me thinks not. Sorry Old Eagle, Rob, and Tom... I think the wind direction wrt SFA is blowing us away from port.
    No need to be sorry. You are only confirming what I just said: that the real discussion should not be on where the training is but its objectives and all things that flow from those objectives.

    I am aware of the desires for the additional BCTs but I also was aware of leadership efforts to leverage bringing the TT program here. It was not a pure FORSCOM decision. I would not call it a knee jerk as it was hotly debated.

    But again that is beside the point. Until we make a decision to commit to it we will continue to have much disgruntlement down range and issues that flow from that friction. Overall I am fearful you are correct on the wind direction.

    Tom

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I am aware of the desires for the additional BCTs but I also was aware of leadership efforts to leverage bringing the TT program here. It was not a pure FORSCOM decision. I would not call it a knee jerk as it was hotly debated.
    I saw most of the DP briefs that came out of the work group on where it would rest and why. They were of course .ppt deep and without the value of context from participating. However, Tom makes a great observation above. Moving the mission outside of a purely FORSCOM locale to a shared TRADOC and FORSCOM venue has some real value

    - it puts us in a better position to close the instituional loop
    - it puts it a location where Advisro training can be integrated with units conducting their pre deployment MREs- perhaps even allowing som initial coordination that might better acheive unity of effort. It would also expose commanders and TTs to some of the frictions each other encounter before they head out the door. Everything from sustainment, to QRF.
    - if done right (and I have every reason to beleive the JRTC folks will do just that) it will help get after expectations management.
    - in terms of resources it places far more then we'll see at any purely FORSCOM post - no matter how good home station is I've never seen the avialabity of resources or quality of training you find at a CTC.
    -it may have changed, but my experience at JRTC was more focused on people then my experience at NTC - so while the physical terrain may favor NTC, the human terrain I think favors JRTC
    - In late 03 and early 04 I did NTC and JRTC almost back to back with 1/25th. JRTC provided a more rich experience in a number of relevant ways. NTC had its pluses as well, but looking back I favor the JRTC. While JRTC may have lots of scrub pine and forests, consider what the effects are on command. low visibility, poor comms, cover and concealment for ambushes etc. offer similiar challenges to those of built up areas in terms of fog and friction.
    -we say it'll be hard to get quality folks to move down there, but let me ask what is one of the most sought after jobs for post company command? Its an OC at the CTCs. Where do most of your foot and motorized IN, as well as a growing number of other combat arms officers and SNCOs? JRTC. The question is not the location its relevancy. Make serving as an advisor instructor as valuable as an OC and they will go.

    Best, Rob

  5. #25
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default In Response...

    Rob, I hesitate to respond only because I know I lack the interest and time to engage in this topic with any greater detail, but some of the points you make are echoes of those ppt slides and are somewhat debatable. So in the interest of the rigorous debate that this forum encourages...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I saw most of the DP briefs that came out of the work group on where it would rest and why. They were of course .ppt deep and without the value of context from participating. However, Tom makes a great observation above. Moving the mission outside of a purely FORSCOM locale to a shared TRADOC and FORSCOM venue has some real value

    - it puts us in a better position to close the instituional loop
    Not so much... don't see how the move to Polk in any way enhances institutional support and development of advisor capability. Mission still belongs to FORSCOM and TRADOC remains in supporting train-the-trainer role for new cadre (upon request)
    - it puts it a location where Advisro training can be integrated with units conducting their pre deployment MREs- perhaps even allowing som initial coordination that might better acheive unity of effort. It would also expose commanders and TTs to some of the frictions each other encounter before they head out the door. Everything from sustainment, to QRF.
    This has some temporal value, in that a team (a small proportion of the total) get to "play" in the box with a BCT. That said the MiTT will know virtually nothing about what a MiTT really does -- hence BCT might learn wrong lessons. Value for MiTTs marginal same can be said for BCTs. Not to mention what about when IZ and AFG spool down, over the long term these are two separate activities competing for the same training space. Does Polk have the most to spare in the long run???
    - if done right (and I have every reason to beleive the JRTC folks will do just that) it will help get after expectations management.
    Just not sure, who's expectations? BCTs, MiTT members, DA Staff, press?? Why do we assume that Polk will somehow attract a qualified cadre?
    - in terms of resources it places far more then we'll see at any purely FORSCOM post - no matter how good home station is I've never seen the avialabity of resources or quality of training you find at a CTC.
    OK, but... what is it that we think is missing from the MiTT training today? My impression is that the shortcomings are more in line with language, culture, negotiatio/influence, nuts and bolts of how to teach and influence as opposed to a good training environment
    -it may have changed, but my experience at JRTC was more focused on people then my experience at NTC - so while the physical terrain may favor NTC, the human terrain I think favors JRTC
    Here we agree, at least partially... the shortfalls in advisor training have little to do with climatology or terrain... and everything to do with mindset and development of the skills mentioned above. Heck we can acclimate a team in theater. Knox is looking better
    - In late 03 and early 04 I did NTC and JRTC almost back to back with 1/25th. JRTC provided a more rich experience in a number of relevant ways. NTC had its pluses as well, but looking back I favor the JRTC. While JRTC may have lots of scrub pine and forests, consider what the effects are on command. low visibility, poor comms, cover and concealment for ambushes etc. offer similiar challenges to those of built up areas in terms of fog and friction.
    Again the shortfall isn't experience in a CTC rotation. OK JRTC gives better MRE just not pertinent to the topic
    -we say it'll be hard to get quality folks to move down there, but let me ask what is one of the most sought after jobs for post company command? Its an OC at the CTCs. Where do most of your foot and motorized IN, as well as a growing number of other combat arms officers and SNCOs? JRTC. The question is not the location its relevancy. Make serving as an advisor instructor as valuable as an OC and they will go.
    Agreed, but here is a caveat... this issue was identified early in the process by senior personnel. The question was whether to give key developmental credit to MiTT participation. The worry was whether it would be more of a deterent to the best volunteering since it would limit chances to get S3 XO time. Hence decision made to give credit but not consider KD for assignment purposes. Mixed message... Answer might be Advisor OC gets big ups in board deliberations, but Soldiers won't believe until they see the trends in board results (4 year lag). Only viable means to remedy in the interim is for assignment officers to play the bad guy in the near-term


    Best, Rob
    OK let the idea assassination begin....

    However, all those reasons you sited Rob were the ones used in the senior deliberations and I just don't think they hold water.

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  6. #26
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Hacksaw,

    I did forget to add one other. My understanding was that FT Polk stepped up to the plate. While it could be argued that something new or a new twist on something special would have scratched the itch 'mo better' - other's involved may either have not wanted to force the issue, or would not have given it the attention it deserves. I'll attempt to stay with our format here

    Not so much... don't see how the move to Polk in any way enhances institutional support and development of advisor capability. Mission still belongs to FORSCOM and TRADOC remains in supporting train-the-trainer role for new cadre (upon request)
    My guess is that even though FORSCOM is in the lead in terms of resourcing advisors, the training will be taken under the wing of TRADOC. Fort Polk is not in the business of letting units fail, and as a command they can focus on training requirements where FORSCOM's focus is on meeting numbers. There is a different in philosophy in the 2 commands. I beleive that what is written on paper will be subsumed by the creative folks down there. There will undoubtedly be some hiccups, but I think Polk will resolve them quicker based on their history of doing so.

    I think one of the great things about how JRTC is laid out in terms of closing the loop is the frequency and levels it touches by virtue of the cycles of rotation. Many have done advisory duty now and they are often resident inside these BCTs. Many never get asked detailed questions and so we never get the full value of their experience. If I go out and collect on SFA related stuff I have a good frame of ref. from whch to ask my questions, when other collection efforts go out they foucs on what is important to them. They may ask the questions I send with them, but they lack the background or desire to explore the responses to get at what really matters. If you give the mission to somebody with the resources so you marry up responsibility and capability we'll get more complete feeds back into DOTMLPF.

    This has some temporal value, in that a team (a small proportion of the total) get to "play" in the box with a BCT. That said the MiTT will know virtually nothing about what a MiTT really does -- hence BCT might learn wrong lessons. Value for MiTTs marginal same can be said for BCTs. Not to mention what about when IZ and AFG spool down, over the long term these are two separate activities competing for the same training space. Does Polk have the most to spare in the long run???
    I'll let Tom answer the 2nd Point, but you could make the same point in a different manner with regard to any FORSCOM post. The key is instituionalization wherever it goes. I think the value to the BCT and the TT depends on how the leadership understands its mission. It may also depend on how much the BCT itself is providing in terms of TTs out of hide. No easy answers, still comes down to leadership.

    Just not sure, who's expectations? BCTs, MiTT members, DA Staff, press?? Why do we assume that Polk will somehow attract a qualified cadre?
    Could they do worse then the numbers we've seen so far? That is not a slap at Riley - it gets after the braoder problem of how we show value to the mission and the individual. If the assignment as TT instructor is rated as high as CTC OC, and if the post invests in making it attractive to families (like Fort Leavenworth) then word will get out.

    OK, but... what is it that we think is missing from the MiTT training today? My impression is that the shortcomings are more in line with language, culture, negotiatio/influence, nuts and bolts of how to teach and influence as opposed to a good training environment
    It still comes down to resources for training. These resources are mostly people focused. In this case the justification to hire more qualified people, spend more money on education, do more practical applications, etc. while including that these personnel and facilities issues are dual use since its at the CTC. It would probably be unwise to assume that existing facilities and numbers of training personnel that make up the JRTC training infrastructure are adequate - I'd be willing to bet that JRTC has already done a detailed assessment that tells the Big A "here is what it will cost to do this right" - the question is will a combination of green, purple and inter-agency monies foot the bill for what right looks like, and how do we show sustained value to that customer base?

    Here we agree, at least partially... the shortfalls in advisor training have little to do with climatology or terrain... and everything to do with mindset and development of the skills mentioned above. Heck we can acclimate a team in theater. Knox is looking better
    While Knox might fit my own long(er) range plans I'd not step foot in the place for the next 5 - 7 years as the dust settles from the HRC move. That place will be a booming little Alexandria without a supporting road network - however it is close to Bardstown and good bourbon.

    Again the shortfall isn't experience in a CTC rotation. OK JRTC gives better MRE just not pertinent to the topic
    I differ. I think it is pertinent. The systems they've established to suppor the MRE can be applied to prepping advisors. Even BCTP is down range right now collecting on BTT experiences in the field to help an upcoming DIV with a CPX that focuses the DIV HQs on how better to support existing missions and conditions. Its hard for any FORSCOM post or unit to acheive that kind of scale or flexibility - they are not well resourced with the personnel to do so and meet their other requirements. VTCs can only get you so far.

    Agreed, but here is a caveat... this issue was identified early in the process by senior personnel. The question was whether to give key developmental credit to MiTT participation. The worry was whether it would be more of a deterent to the best volunteering since it would limit chances to get S3 XO time. Hence decision made to give credit but not consider KD for assignment purposes. Mixed message... Answer might be Advisor OC gets big ups in board deliberations, but Soldiers won't believe until they see the trends in board results (4 year lag). Only viable means to remedy in the interim is for assignment officers to play the bad guy in the near-term
    I think you have got the crux of it - to show real value our actions must reflect it.

    Ultmately the perfect answer may just not be feasible, but I still beleive JRTC is a step in a better direction. SFA may be further from the port we thought it should go, but does not mean its not headed for the right one. Our understanding of what is both right and possible may make the destination different then we'd anticipated. What would be great is if we could figure out how to help Polk become better prepared to do what needs to be done not only for the Army, but for the broader Joint and Inter-Agency community who need a home for our advisory efforts.

    Best, Rob

  7. #27
    Registered User John Nagl's Avatar
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    Default SFA: Enduring Mission--Need for Enduring Answers

    A fascinating discussion of the Security Forces Assistance Mission, to which I'd like to contribute a few facts and opinions.

    First, and most important, is the question of whether this is an enduring mission. The Secretary of Defense certainly thought it was at the AUSA Conference last October: "Arguably, the most important military component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries." He also doesn't (or at least didn't, back on October 10th), think that we have it quite right yet: "How the Army should be organized and prepared for this advisory role remains an open question, and will require innovative and forward thinking.”

    Second is the nature and quality of the training for MTT teams here at Fort Riley. This is improving, due in no small part to the fact that the number of former advisors assigned to do the training continues to increase; my battalion of 96 now has 13 former advisors assigned, many in the critically important field grade/company commander/first sergeant roles. Not where we need to be, yet, but moving in the right direction. Similarly, the nascent doctrine for GPF engaging in SFA, now being written by the Air Land Sea folks, is also an important institutional adaptation to the wars we're fighting.

    Some good news. However, advisors continue to wonder how the mission they're executing--the enabler of our exit strategy in two wars--will be rewarded by the Army. There are moves in the direction of an advisor Additional Skill Identifer, which would obviously be helpful in tracking this skill set for the Long War, and toward granting KD credit for those who successfully lead TT teams--but there are more incentives that could be offered to increase the desire of our best and brightest to volunteer for this mission, in my eyes at least the most important we're doing as an Army.

    As for where we conduct SFA training, that is perhaps less important than any of the other elements of DOTMLPF. Most important is that the Army embrace the necessity to view the combat advisory mission holistically, from Doctrine through Facilities, and within the context of a broader DoD and USG advisory perspective. "Innovative and forward thinking" on this critical mission remains necessary--as does execution of decisions on DOTMLPF.

  8. #28
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    As for where we conduct SFA training, that is perhaps less important than any of the other elements of DOTMLPF. Most important is that the Army embrace the necessity to view the combat advisory mission holistically, from Doctrine through Facilities, and within the context of a broader DoD and USG advisory perspective. "Innovative and forward thinking" on this critical mission remains necessary--as does execution of decisions on DOTMLPF.
    Thanks, John! Agree 110%.

    I am aware of what the SecDef said--we need to keep pushing to make that happen. Then again, this SecDef is not into idle pronouncements

    Some good news. However, advisors continue to wonder how the mission they're executing--the enabler of our exit strategy in two wars--will be rewarded by the Army. There are moves in the direction of an advisor Additional Skill Identifer, which would obviously be helpful in tracking this skill set for the Long War, and toward granting KD credit for those who successfully lead TT teams--but there are more incentives that could be offered to increase the desire of our best and brightest to volunteer for this mission, in my eyes at least the most important we're doing as an Army.
    That is indeed good news and yes I too believe more incentives are necessary.

    Keep posting!

    Tom

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    John,

    You're absolutely right about the DOTLM-PF solution requirements. I think that folks have focused on the T piece because that's where the tactical gains can be made. The other pieces require longer term solutions. I get the feeling that in Big Army, the thought was to have you & Jeff make this "problem" go away.

    Now, the real challenge will be to make as many advances as possible in the other areas -- SFA doctrine, organization?, leader development, and as you stress, personnel.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Close down the Hoffman Building...

    for openers.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John Nagl View Post
    First, and most important, is the question of whether this is an enduring mission. The Secretary of Defense certainly thought it was at the AUSA Conference last October: "Arguably, the most important military component in the War on Terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries." He also doesn't (or at least didn't, back on October 10th), think that we have it quite right yet: "How the Army should be organized and prepared for this advisory role remains an open question, and will require innovative and forward thinking.”
    I have to agree that this is, in many ways, the crucial question from which everything else flows. One of the key things that has bothered me about the entire DOTLM-PF effort is that it has been applied, in many cases, in a "one size fits all" model (OSFA), although that has been changing.

    Part of the reason why I think this is the crucial question does not have to do with training per se but, rather, with motivations and underlying assumptions of the OSFA model. I think Dave Kilcullen captured this nicely in his Anatomy of a Tribal Revolt blog essay when he said

    The other implication is that, to be perfectly honest, the pattern we are seeing runs somewhat counter to what we expected in the “surge”, and therefore lies well outside the “benchmarks”. The original concept was that we (the Coalition and the Iraqi government) would create security, which would in turn create space for a “grand bargain” at the national level. Instead, we are seeing the exact opposite: a series of local political deals has displaced extremists, resulting in a major improvement in security at the local level, and the national government is jumping on board with the program. Instead of coalition-led top-down reconciliation, this is Iraqi-led, bottom-up, based on civil society rather than national politics. And oddly enough, it seems to be working so far.
    To my mind, this brings up a couple of key questions relating to the entire advising effort:
    1. What, exactly, are "they" being advised about, and
    2. Who should be advising whom?
    These, IMO, get to some really core questions about curriculum, expectations, etc. For example, it strikes me that one of the core skills an advisor needs is the ability to critically determine the organizational culture of a HN force. Rob has talked about this in a number of threads (hat tip especially to the stuff about NCOs and charismatic leadership of officers ).

    The "Who should be advising whom" question is, in some ways, even more important, especially if the rhetoric surrounding the relationship talks about "partners", etc. At the simple level, would you go to a friends house and criticize his interior decorating, cooking arrangements, food, how his kds act, etc.? I doubt it (I hope not, 'cause if you would, I'm not inviting YU over for dinner !). Why should the same thing be done in a military setting? This simplest way to avoid this is to have your advisors trained, in part, by their hosts on how to act, what to expect, etc., as part of their training program.
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    Default Marct

    1. The mission is enduring for a whole host of reasons that we can discuss later.

    2. You assume that the only method of providing advice and other assistance is quasi adversarial. I would LOVE to have Rachel Ray over to show me how to enhance my culinary skills, especially if she brought an industrial strength kitchen to work in.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Old Eagle,

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    1. The mission is enduring for a whole host of reasons that we can discuss later.
    I agree, and it would make a good thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    2. You assume that the only method of providing advice and other assistance is quasi adversarial. I would LOVE to have Rachel Ray over to show me how to enhance my culinary skills, especially if she brought an industrial strength kitchen to work in.
    Hmm, I wouldn't say that my assumption was that it is "quasi-adversarial". I would characterize my assumption more along the lines of it being assumed that the US has the "answers" - ask your example shows . That being said, however, I think that is a problematic assumption - "ethnocentric" to use the verbiage of others.

    Part of it goes back to the reasons behind the mission. What is the goal and how is this going to be understood by various partners, both traditional (e.g. the UK, Oz, Canada, etc.) and non-traditional (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). I would suggest that mission clarity is crucial and, if the goal is to develop global partners to deter terrorist activity globally, then the implications of that need to be taken seriously, to whit, that US forces have as much top learn as HN forces, although ot necessarily in the same areas. If the goal, on the other hand, is to protect US interest globally and, especially, US corporate interests (e.g. cheap oil, favourable access to raw materials, etc.), then you are going to have a real problem (BTW, this is at the root of the accusations concerning the US building an "Empire").
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  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Interesting thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    ...Hmm, I wouldn't say that my assumption was that it is "quasi-adversarial". I would characterize my assumption more along the lines of it being assumed that the US has the "answers" - ask your example shows . That being said, however, I think that is a problematic assumption - "ethnocentric" to use the verbiage of others.
    Having been an Advisor in one ME and one Asian nation; I regrettably have to agree with that. We have a bad tendency to want others to do it our way. Egos...

    We really, really need to work on that aspect.
    Part of it goes back to the reasons behind the mission. What is the goal and how is this going to be understood by various partners, both traditional (e.g. the UK, Oz, Canada, etc.) and non-traditional (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). I would suggest that mission clarity is crucial and, if the goal is to develop global partners to deter terrorist activity globally, then the implications of that need to be taken seriously, to whit, that US forces have as much top learn as HN forces, although ot necessarily in the same areas. If the goal, on the other hand, is to protect US interest globally and, especially, US corporate interests (e.g. cheap oil, favourable access to raw materials, etc.), then you are going to have a real problem (BTW, this is at the root of the accusations concerning the US building an "Empire").
    Addressing the last first; true. We may well be acting primarily in our own interest but we have generally done a very poor job of elocuting the benefits to the broader world (particularly abysmally w/r to Iraq).

    On the to me more important point, anecdotal evidence follows:

    Two Viet Namese Company Commanders. Both had been to the USAIS Infantry Advance course. One liked Americans, the other did not and would reject much 'advice' on principle. Of the two, the latter was the better Commander and we learned more, tactically, from him than he did from us. The former tried to do what we 'advised' and couldn't adapt it to his METT-TC problems so he continually erred. "Be reasonable, do it my way" is not a good approach to advising. It does not have to be our way to work.

    ME Bde Commander schedule an attack in an exercise. Due to the ensuing three hour argument over who was going to lead the attack instigated by the Bde senior US advisor; they blew LD time and the attack because at US insistence, the wrong route and unit were chosen. That debacle ruined US cred for a bunch of people.

    Lastly, watching 8th ROK Div crossing a floating bridge across the Imjin to relieve 1st ROK in the DMZ, our ROK LnO, A Major who'd served in Viet Nam with the Capital Division asked me what I thought of the ROK Army. Said I thought they were very good (and I did). He said "Well, everything we do, you teach us to do. Why don't you do what you teach us?"

    I had no answer for that...

    Short version of all that -- Marc's correct and we have GOT to learn to tune our egos, our demands and our expectations to successfully advise others.

  15. #35
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Here I go again...

    I have avoided rejoining this thread because at some point it seems we evolve/devolve into an arcane discussion of semantics or we talk past each other.

    I did, however, want to reframe the question of what we should be training/teaching our advisors, and the implications of some of the choices that have been made.

    I will briefly recap some of considerations/constraints associated with the current advisor training mission (John Nagl correct me where I err).

    1. MiTT TNG MSN @ Riley has approx 2 months to assemble, form, equip, and train each advisor team. This is not much time regardless the focus of the POI. (Note: Why only 60 days is explained earlier in the thread, but just accept it as a constraint for this discussion.)

    2. Multiple sources (Theater and FORSCOM) provide authoritative guidance regarding directed/mandatory pre-deployment training requirements. Many tasks are basic Soldier skills. This is not inherently a bad thing since many MiTT members arrive at a low training level (the imbalance in training levels of incoming Soldiers creates risk and is being mitigated by including these tasks in each individuals pre-deployment training). Boring and redundant for some, critical for others

    3. This leaves very little time to conduct "higher order" advisor training such as coordinating for joint fires and other US/Coalition capabilities, as well as, improving language, culture, and negotiation/influence skills. Couple this with the fact that not everyone is predisposed (personality and biases) to performing the advisor mission. At one point there was supposed to be an exercise early in the program to aid in identifying the ill-suited. I'm really curious as to the how many (on average) are identified and removed from the mission based on unwillingness/inability to adapt to advisor role.

    4. John notes in an earlier post that his unit manning up to 13 MiTT alums out of 96 (an improvement but a far smaller % than was envisioned when FT Riley backbriefed its concept to FORSCOM in 2006).

    So what is the crux of this issue....

    Is it whether the mission is enduring?? The is an important question for the future, but in the short run I think we can surmise that actions to date indicate that MiTT is considered an economy of force mission (actions/resources speak louder than words).
    Sidebar: I certainly concur that the IW/COIN operational theme is the most likely ground force environment we can expect for the next 20 years and that SFA is a proactive tool in that environment, but I remain skeptical that we are heading in that direction when the most compelling evidence is based on an outgoing SecDef's public comments as opposed to program decisions. Moving MiTT training to FT Polk is not an indication of an enduring mission, its just a recognition that FT Riley was going to get crowded and a new location was needed to support other programatic decisions.

    Moving the mission to FT Polk to "leverage" "gain synergy" yada yada yada isn't significant either. If the training variable don't change, the outcomes are unlikely to improve.

    I propose the real issue involves the training variable/equation...

    60 training days +
    extensive mandated pre-deployment training tasks +
    shortage of experienced/qualified cadre =
    advisor force that is less than it could be if resource allocation reflected rhetoric regarding priorities.

    Then again... All the news I read reflects a significant improvement in IA and IP performance and proclamations of tne "near" strategic defeat of AQ in Iraq. Maybe what we are doing right now is perfectly adequate... if not perfect.

    By the way the answer is.... four (Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School)

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  16. #36
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Can anyone tell me to what extent the efforts of the two services in MTT training and execution are being coordinated, if at all? I'd be very curious to see a line by line comparison of how the Army and the Marine Corps are pursuing this mission, both in training and execution.

    Would guidance from the Army leadership similar to that of the CMC from November of last year help the TT effort? "THE WAR ON TERRORISM HAS SEEN THE GROWTH OF BILLETS TRADITIONALLY NOT FILLED BY MARINE OFFICERS (STAFF NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS FOR ENLISTED BOARDS). OFFICERS (SNCOS) ASSIGNED TO NATION BUILDING AND CRISIS OPERATIONS BILLETS ARE CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF OUR COUNTRY'S POLICIES. THE BOARD SHOULD BE ESPECIALLY DILIGENT IN WEIGHING THE QUALIFICATIONS OF OFFICERS (SNCOS) SERVING IN TRANSITION TEAMS (TT).... SERVICE IN THESE CRITICAL BILLETS SHOULD WEIGH EQUAL TO TRADITIONAL MARINE CORPS OFFICER (SNCO) BILLETS IN THE OPERATIONAL FORCES SUPPORTING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM DURING BOARD DELIBERATIONS."

    http://www.marines.mil/news/messages...SSAGES149.aspx

    As to the experience piece, when given a choice of deployments my husband chose a second MTT leadership tour to a staff job on a FOB. When they found out, about half of the guys who were with him last year volunteered to go back with him (all of those who were in Camp Pendleton and available to deploy), creating a core of experience that makes up half of the team. He was also able to select the personnel to make up the rest of the team. As for their training, the ATG (Advisory Training Group) gave him a tremendous amount of leeway to set up the team's preparation for the deployment and he ended up adding a few pieces that the set training did not include. He also was able to travel to their AOR ahead of time to check out the lay of the land (something he recommends highly) -- from this he found out that they would be working in a very different setting from the previous deployment, dealing with a piece of geography much larger than the several square mile piece of property they worked in Fallujah last year. Because of that, he modified the 29 Palms training piece, to include training that took advantage of that base's vast terrain to mimic what they'd be dealing with on this deployment. In the end, they were the first team that prevented the insurgent attack on the school opening that is one of the capstones in the pre-deployment training. I believe the ATG is watching this deployment to see what difference experience makes in the mission.

    I brought up this thread to my husband -- below is his take on the issues:

    "...but in the end the two main issues are improving MTT/ETT training overall, and improving the 'advisor corps' of at least the assignment and selection of personnel to be on the teams.

    "As for the training I think they hit on a key issue and that is experienced instructors. The services need to put particular effort into getting former advisors to be instructors. The advisor experience is unique, and there is almost no way to write it all down, or put it into a training plan. Not to mention instructor credibility. This last round of training (in 29 Palms) about half the instructors were former advisors. They had the credibility, knowledge and experience to make them effective instructors. The other half of the trainers always started out classes saying "well I haven't been an advisor, but I can still teach you x". Perhaps true, but that immediately made people pay less attention. Just the stories and nuances of the previous advisors provided a good deal of training, and I think that is key.

    "As for personnel assignment I am a big fan of making the advisor mission a standard length (3year) tour. Make advising their only mission, not the mission they have to perform while ripped away from some other billet. Three years gives you two training/deployment cycles (train 6 months, deploy 12). Plus you can use the people who are in their second 6 month training period to instruct the brand new guys. I agree that if the advisor mission is so key to success and is a long term mission then we need to treat it as such. Yes it may change the standard career paths, but who really has a standard career path now-a-days anyway. If the mission is important anyway then you need to change the institutional attitude that it is a sidetrack, and that is hard to do when most teams are put together ad hoc, and on a TAD basis. The Marine Corps is trying to eventually move to the standard advisor tour. They are standing up MCTAG (Marine Corps Tactical Advisor Group) or whatever they are calling it now, as a command and will send people there just like any other unit. Actually I think they will start running all advisor work through there next year. Given the current conflict, and the strong possibility that future conflicts may be somewhat similar, it only makes sense to institutionalize what has been called a critical factor in this fight."

    He also mentioned that he'd definitely want to spend what's left of his time at Pendleton after he gets back as an instructor for the ATG.

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Can I ask a really dumb question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    ...2. Multiple sources (Theater and FORSCOM) provide authoritative guidance regarding directed/mandatory pre-deployment training requirements. ...

    ... (an improvement but a far smaller % than was envisioned when FT Riley backbriefed its concept to FORSCOM in 2006).
    Why is FORSCOM involved?

    This from one with long (over 10 years) and intimate (too intimate) experience with that Hq...
    By the way the answer is.... four (Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School)
    Heh. I did know that...

  18. #38
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    Ken --

    FORSCOM, as the Army's force generation HQ, has the mission to provide trained and ready forces to the warfighting commands, so they write the standards.

    Jill --

    The Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance coordinates among all the various advisor training activities. In fact, they are developing an interactive webtool on their website that allows trainers at all sites to access curricula and classes from other training centers. Doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a major step in the right direction.

  19. #39
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Sorry to be obtuse, however, I still am confused

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Ken --
    FORSCOM, as the Army's force generation HQ, has the mission to provide trained and ready forces to the warfighting commands, so they write the standards..
    I'm aware of their mission and having participated directly for a lot of long hours in that force generation effort during Desert Shield and Storm know that then the gaining GCC provided the tasks and standards; FORSCOM merely executed. I know things change but one expects the changes to be progress, not regression.

    I understand FORSCOM involvement on location selection (though I question whether today with ACSIM there should be such a thing as a 'FORSCOM' or 'TRADOC' post...) and operational entity (as Riley/1 ID vs. JRTC) but other than as executor for templating TRADOC doctrine over CentCom requirements at unit level seems to me that their imposing standards is merely job justification???

    An added question. Even accepting FORSCOM standard setting for units, am I to understand that the Advisory Teams are considered FORSCOM elements until they chop over to CentCom? The Teams were the focus of my question, while I think the setting of standards is a bit much, I can understand some FORSCOM involvement with units in the generation and deployment process. I'm unsure what their relationship with the Teams happens to be.

    Sorry to be a pain, just trying to get a feel for what's happening.

  20. #40
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    Since Riley is a FORSCOM post and 1/1 is a FORSCOM unit, FORSCOM gets to write the task list.

    The tast list was just revised two weeks ago at a conference...it is going to be MUCH shorter from what I have heard. There was a roughly 65% growth in training tasks from OIF II to OIF whatever it is today (8-10?) and a lot of people were getting pissed off - the list kept growing and it almost never shortened. A lot of tasks were part of normal METL training anyway, so those were eliminated.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

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