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Thread: Ill Informed Blog Post at AM on Advisors

  1. #41
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Umm, well, Yes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Since Riley is a FORSCOM post and 1/1 is a FORSCOM unit, FORSCOM gets to write the task list.
    That tells me what is happening as did Hacksaw (so I knew that); my question was why is it happening. The fact that the 1st ID, a nominal FORSCOM organization is doing the training is not remotely germane to the development of the task list for elements bound for a theater, those are a GCC call and FORSCOM has no business complicating the issue by adding their thoughts (and CYA concerns). Doctrinally, FORSCOM just has no business sticking their nose into it (nor much reason for existing IMO and based on long experience with them -- but that's another thread)
    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.
    Bureaucracy in action. My sympathy to all involved -- and that's not a snark, it's a serious dose of real sympathy...

    Edited to add: Since 1/1 is doing the training, they have every right to tamper with the task list but FORSCOM should have auth dir coord w/CentCom for that adjustment. Oh, wait...
    Last edited by Ken White; 06-11-2008 at 07:16 PM. Reason: Addendum

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    Ken

    FORSCOM became the force provider for ALL Army units a few years ago, and that's why they are so involved in the process. Doesn't matter what kind of unit - outside of the SOF community.

    That task list is not just FORSOM, it also eminates from CENTCOM, ARCENT/3rdArmy, HQDA and TRADOC. All of that kluged together has made for an exceptionally painful DMETL.

    The best quote of the conference was from an 06 from HQDA :"Are we really this ####ing stupid?" Uh, yes, we are.
    "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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  3. #43
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Sigh

    Thanks for the expansion. Er, that is thank you . The apparent facts of the expansion don't fill me with glee...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Ken

    FORSCOM became the force provider for ALL Army units a few years ago, and that's why they are so involved in the process. Doesn't matter what kind of unit - outside of the SOF community.
    They've always been the big Daddy for everyone that wasn't totally stovepiped -- that's not new. What apparently is new is that a 4-button Hq is getting down in the weeds; even under the weeds for either justification, covering or meddling purposes Whatever happened to delegating authority? Trusting subordinates? Deconfliction of tangled responsibilities?

    All of Which leads to your very apt quote:
    The best quote of the conference was from an 06 from HQDA :"Are we really this ####ing stupid?" Uh, yes, we are.
    Sigh, again. This is all a plot to make my gray hair go away so I look like Tom and Steve...

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Thanks for the expansion. Er, that is thank you . The apparent facts of the expansion don't fill me with glee...They've always been the big Daddy for everyone that wasn't totally stovepiped -- that's not new. What apparently is new is that a 4-button Hq is getting down in the weeds; even under the weeds for either justification, covering or meddling purposes Whatever happened to delegating authority? Trusting subordinates? Deconfliction of tangled responsibilities?

    All of Which leads to your very apt quote:Sigh, again. This is all a plot to make my gray hair go away so I look like Tom and Steve...
    My ages past experience with Farcecom was always that their 4 button needed to meddle in what were more properly the affairs of division and bde commanders. But that was back in the days when Fort McPherson held sway over the CONUS portions of REFORGER and chopped on every OPLAN/CONPLAN TPFDDL.
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  5. #45
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Remember those days.

    Reforger TPFDs were always a political monster for a lot of reasons. However, it wasn't the 4-buttons (well, not most of them anyway; Palastra was a busy guy...) that were the meddlers -- it was the huge number of civilians on the staff, a number of whom saw Job Security as their primary mission. Obviously that's gotten worse. So much for cutting Hq size...

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    The biggest problem with FORSCOM is that they continually look to overextend their authority - my MACOM has gotten into serious knock down drag out JAG infested fights over some issues. Add in what Ken has said - they have a Corps worth of retired 05's who are more concerned about doing business the way it's all been instead of letting the young guys run the show. It's awfully painful doing business with them because all these retired 05's think they have more collective knowledge on war than Alexander the Great, Napolean and Genghis Khan. The GS 14-15 positions down there should be nuked from orbit, just to be sure.

    FORSCOM also delegates to 1st Army a lot...and that is the textbook example of a command that has become a wasteland of personnel...some of the people there...I have to stop.
    "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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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Back on topic - Kip has posted his fourth and most critical essay of our advisor efforts:

    This is the last of a four-part series on the Army's advisor training efforts.

    Are you deaf? Limp? Ancient (mostly our National Guard brethren)?

    After climbing a flight of stairs, do you most resemble a hyperventilating pumpkin?

    Can't fire your weapon? Can't learn a language? Think that Blue Force Tracker is a Ticketmaster promotion for the Blue Man Group?

    Fired from your last company command for drunk driving?

    Believe that preaching Christ to your Muslim counterparts is the surest way to salvation?

    Great, because the US Army has a job for you that you literally can't fail--training at the Fort Riley Training Mission to be an advisor.

    You can fail Airborne school. You can fail Ranger school. You can fail Sapper school. But the Army's number one mission--our efforts to develop security forces capable of providing security and stability to the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan--no matter what you do, no matter how terrible you are going to be as an advisor, you simply can't fail the training.
    I think the veiled insults (and I don't think he is characterizing all advisors this way - only that we aren't rigorous in our selection process) detract from some valid points in the whole series:

    We have stated that the advisor effort is a priority. Our actions as an Army have not matched our words.

    - The training mission is not manned by sufficent numbers of qualified personnel. LTC Nagl stated earlier that 13 of 96 trainers in his BN have previous advisor experience. That's about 15%. We can't do better than that after thousands have completed MiTT duty?
    - There has been little if any vetting of who is assigned as an advisor. Having a pulse and are deployable are about the only two standards. We send USAF and USN personnel to advise Iraqi infantry.
    - There has been no credible effort (other than board instructions) to reward advisorary duty. While it won't HURT you to be an advisor, there is no incentive to be one. Not making the assignment KD for officers reinforces the perception of advisor duty as something that isn't for the up and coming.
    - The assignment of SFA back into the SOCOM arena (vice JFCOM) and the rejection of TMAAG convey that the Army does not see advisory capacity as a core function, but an ancillary function to be performed by BCT's and generating force augmentees sent to advisor training at Polk when needed.

    I think Kip is somewhat off-base in his worries about Polk - families will move where they are assigned. JRTC has no shortage of qualified, high-speed OC's, despite its location. I also believe it will be relatively simple to adapt JRTC to advisor training. I do agree there will be a flash to bang delay for facility usage - but remember - 2ACR was there until a few years ago - no unit has replaced them yet (as I understand). So there is excess capacity.

    Like many things, the rhetoric regarding advisor efforts says one things, our actions have conveyed the exact opposite regarding the mission. Kip does have a point - if this is our main effort, it certainly isn't weighted as such, so let's stop pretending it is.
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Like many things, the rhetoric regarding advisor efforts says one things, our actions have conveyed the exact opposite regarding the mission. Kip does have a point - if this is our main effort, it certainly isn't weighted as such, so let's stop pretending it is.
    No disagreement there whatsoever. Goes back to question 1: the SecDef says it is a priority but the services are not making it so.

    Dr. Kalev "Gunner" Sepp quite rightly point out that a mark of success in his COIN Best Practices article was putting quality folks in the program. I think we do for the most part but we then add the fillers. The fillers are like the proverbial bad apples. They taint the effort.

    Again I agree, Hacksaw essentially said the same thing as did John Nagl. My last NCO Tony Hoh tells me the same thing.

    This all goes back to the basic questions of what war we care about and what is next. I will say that whatever happens to the Advisory Effort so will happen to the effort to keep COIN capabilities in the kitbag for later use.

    See:
    The Challenge of Adaptation: The US Army in the Aftermath of Conflict, 1953-2000.

    "Within the institutional Army, there were clear trends away from “subtheater” operations in the 1970s. Army Special Forces were reduced from 13,000 men in 1971 to 3,000 men in 1974. Counterinsurgency was also waning as part of the Army’s curriculum in the 1970s. At CGSC there were still forty hours of instruction on counterinsurgency as late as 1977, but this fell to eight hours two years later. The War College had dropped internal defense and development to two weeks instruction by 1972, and further reductions scaled even this limited instruction back to a mere two days by 1975. All this helps explain why little seems to have come of Laird’s suggestion for reorganizing part of the force for “sub-theater” operations."
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 06-13-2008 at 07:06 PM.

  9. #49
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hi Neil,

    - The assignment of SFA back into the SOCOM arena (vice JFCOM) and the rejection of TMAAG convey that the Army does not see advisory capacity as a core function, but an ancillary function to be performed by BCT's and generating force augmentees sent to advisor training at Polk when needed.
    I don’t think the requirement for a TMAAG like function has gone away -the experiments and exercises still show the need based on the limitations of approaches like "train and equip" to meet our FP objectives.

    Our increasingly better (yet admittedly sometimes painful and geologically slow) understanding of SFA recognizes that to assist a partner in achieving sustainable security, both reform and development may be required across the depth and breadth of the security sector. This includes those partner systems which it directly or indirectly interacts with such as its economy or political systems.

    The purposes to which SFA may be applied go beyond building the internal defense of a legitimate authority for the purpose of internal stability; they may apply to building exportable capacity in support of some regional objective. Its not just about states either, but organizations invested with authorities. It not just about DoD, but anyone assisting security forces in support of our FP.

    This gets to the issue of what the BCT (or like structure) can realistically achieve. Even if we invest a broader range of capabilities and capacities within a BCT structure there will still be limitations on what it can achieve. Every organization has limits and once it exceeds those, its functions are less effective.

    If during MA we get a BCT pregnant with the required amount and combination of BTTs, NPTTs, MiTTs, PTTs and an e PRT along with the supporting organizational infrastructure it will probably do pretty well at achieving tactical and operational objectives. This to some degree would be codifying what is working best right now in many cases. I think it would assist in synchronizing resources, rotations and train ups so that everybody has more of a shared vision and gets to better support and focus during the mission. You stand to get Unity of Command and better Unity of Effort. There are still warts on it, but I think it is “less” ad-hoc then what we started off doing, and provides the Army more flexibility in meeting the various demands by the GCCs. It is still a combination of individual augmentees and BCTs, but it is earlier on and builds a relationship between the TTs and BCT in CONUS as opposed to on the ground throughout the deployment.

    There is also the issue of how the Army assigns value – if the BCT is the Army’s defining organization and it assigns and supports a BCT for the express purpose of assisting security forces, then has it then placed value on that mission? Another way to approach it might be to say that BCTs are no longer going to be the premier organization, something new is and its functions will be X, Y and Z. What would that mean and what are the potential risks? Still another way would be to institute a parallel organization(s) of sufficient scale to meet the growing demand requirements and man it with people who have the correct attributes, traits and skills to be advisors – but many of whom are also the people we most value as leaders for companies, BNs, BCTs and DIVs, or other positions we’ve identified as being key to our own sustainability. It is also worth considering that not all of our SFA activities may be in the area of advising on counter-insurgency, we need full spectrum advisors for a number of reasons – ex. where will an advisor advising a FSF on employment of his artillery BN learn his technical specialties? Are there other threats out there that our partners believe they will have to confront outside of domestic security issues? Anyway, it is worth thinking about.

    What ever we do with regard to tactical level advising, it does not necessarily absolve us from the need of something like a TMAAG function which could coordinate and synchronize activities of “SFA focused” BCTs. Such an organization could also be used as the foundation to address requirements such as ministerial level advising. In that regard I think a TMAAG like organization could look allot like a 2 star CJIATF. This may not need to be a permanent organization, but it could be. By its nature such a CJIATF would probably a significant number of senior guys because experience and credibility usually happen over time. An O4 who tries to advise a cabinet minister is probably out of his depth – he just has not had the experiences of say a GO or senior GS or FS type. To do this more right, such an organization would need to first understand the requirements of the environment and then put together the right combination of talent and regional expertise. It might be a combination of USG core personnel and others – be they MNPs, MNCs, IOs, NGOs, contractors etc. We have stood up a broad range of JTFs based on the mission, recognizing the need for this type of SFA CJIAJTF would in itself be an institutionalizing measure.

    Much like the discussion surrounding facilities, this one is centered around organizations. Perfect may not be an option, better might be though. Perfect often means only doing one thing really well – there is balance to be had in there somewhere between doing only one thing really well, and doing too many things not good enough.

    With regards to the Joint proponent – I know we’ve gone down that road on other threads, but there would be issues with JFCOM as the proponent as well. That is not a lick against them, they do some great things, but when the decision left the DAWG and went to the tank I’ll bet there was probably an opportunity to contest it and some reasons not to. At this point it may be more useful to help it work better within the left and right limits that have been laid out – and figure out if there are ways to expand those limits some that are suitable, feasible and acceptable given the other things we have to do.

    We still have not crossed the ground on service proponents, and what the requirements for the Navy and USAF might be outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor have we really discussed the funding streams that allow us to organize, train, equip, rebuild and advise - that is a big deal because while 1206 and 1207 have provided allot of flexibility in OIF and OEF, they are not code but renewable paragraphs in the Defense Authroization Act designed to support OIF and OEF. In other words you could have a really cool tool set to go out and do SFA, but without the authorities to do those activities you might never get them out of the box - accept in an adhoc fashion.

    Best, Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Back on topic - Kip has posted his I do agree there will be a flash to bang delay for facility usage - but remember - 2ACR was there until a few years ago - no unit has replaced them yet (as I understand). So there is excess capacity.
    Didn't a brigade of 10th MTN move down there?
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevely View Post
    Didn't a brigade of 10th MTN move down there?

    Yeah about 5 years ago and went to OEF in piecemeal and is now deployed to OIF

    1st MEB is here as well and they just started deploying.

    There was a full division --a heavy one--for close to 20 years. Capacity is a red herring issue, especially when you are talking MiTT training.

    Tom

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    I gotta ask, just to throw it out there, Advisory Branch? Is there any other way to cement a capability in the long term, other than to develop an officer corps that will advocate on its behalf?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marauder Doc View Post
    I gotta ask, just to throw it out there, Advisory Branch? Is there any other way to cement a capability in the long term, other than to develop an officer corps that will advocate on its behalf?
    I can't speak as to how the US Forces as a whole view this, but from a UK informed perspective, why do you need it?

    The capability is theatre and operation specific. The UK forms British Army Advisory and Training Teams (BAATTs) as and when required. Works well with a long track record of historic success. Not perfect, but certainly fit for purpose. Every Army Officer and NCO is a de-facto instructor. Their job is to train their units.

    Now for those that go "oh but what about culture," what about it? Many cultures have things in their make-up that bar them from "best practice." These are generally well known, pretty well understood and not a mystery to get past.

    Moreover, to my mind you have an Advisory Corps. It's called Special Forces, and they should be the repository of things that go beyond the conventional understanding of the military instrument. That's why they are Special.
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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marauder Doc View Post
    I gotta ask, just to throw it out there, Advisory Branch? Is there any other way to cement a capability in the long term, other than to develop an officer corps that will advocate on its behalf?
    CA and MI have shown why this is a bad idea, I think.

    Advisor branch will become cliquish and exclusive and some of the most talented officers will be excluded from the mission, because they don't belong to the "club".

    The best CA and MI guys I've ever met didn't wear the brass on their collars, and can't really hold the billet officially because they aren't "branch" qualified.

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default Must type fast to beat Ken....

    How about eliminating branches. I would in a heart beat. They serve little useful purpose and divert useful combined arms discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Moreover, to my mind you have an Advisory Corps. It's called Special Forces, and they should be the repository of things that go beyond the conventional understanding of the military instrument. That's why they are Special.
    This is true on paper, but in practice, MiTTs are still providing a bulk of the advising. My class will be receiving assignments in the next couple weeks, and results from last 2 classes indicate that, for MI at least, most of the Military Age Males will be advisors. The majority are not volunteering for this assignment, but its the number one need.

    Agree or disagree with LTC Nagl, but the Army is not formalizing MiTTs, and still running the advisor mission ad hoc. The new training site at Polk is an attempt to make the mission seem more permanent, even though CSA has stated he believed MiTTs should be a BCT mission. MAJs receive KD credit, but are told they still need to be an S3 or XO. CPTs receive KD credit, but are told, you still need to command, if you can get it (bc since you are KD, go be an OC).

    There are not enough SF teams to meet all the places they are needed. Adding the extra BNs will still not meet the need while we are in OIF and OEF. The peace dividend may give us a break, but if someone knows when that will be, please let me know. (January 20th, maybe?)
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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Just to clear misconceptions -

    I will reiterate that Nagl's proposal is not for an Advisor Corps like CA, FAO, etc., but three BCT's designed and manned specifically to advise. Soldiers would rotate in/out of these units in lifecycles - train, deploy, reset, just like regular BCT's. Advisors would get support structure, FRG's, team building prior to deployment (not the 60 days now), etc.

    I told him in a phone conversation a few weeks ago the worst thing he did to his case is call it a "Corps" because everyone assumes it's a branch/functional area rather than an assignment.

    So a "for example", Armor Officer MAJ Smith following ILE gets assigned to an advisor unit, takes a team, trains for ~ 1 year, deploys for a period of time (~ 1 year) advising a foreign force, and returns to home station. He then moves on to other assignments.

    Key to his plan is incentives - it would have to be rewarded as a job like O/C duty used to be.

    The army instead is essentially going to do a bastardized version of this - certain H/I/S BCTs will be told they are going to morph into advisors for a deployment, and then deploy to Polk for training, and then to theater. They will be augmented from the generating (read TRADOC) force.

    At least that's the plan.
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    Advisors need to bring subject matter expertise to the fight. Just because we haven't been able to get perfect match-ups for every MiTT position does not change the principle.

    Those experts can then be developed as advisors (or returned to other duties).

    As MG(Ret) Geoff Lambert so suscinctly put it, nobody wants a guy whose only expertise is giving advice.

  19. #59
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    Advisors need to bring subject matter expertise to the fight.... Those experts can then be developed as advisors (or returned to other duties)...nobody wants a guy whose only expertise is giving advice.
    A structured cyclic program as envisioned by Nagl would eat up three Bdes worth of Officers and senior NCOs for every 'Advisor Bn' it fields.

    I served as an advisor to two different foreign Armies and know dozens of Officers and NCOs who've done the same thing plus some with another Army or two under their belt. Most of us did that fairly successfully without any preparatory effort to speak of, certainly those that did got a minimal effort.

    After the Nagl proposal was publicized, I asked a number of them for their opinion -- not one agreed, nor did or do I. Advising is not easy but it isn't all that hard, either and ones effectiveness as an advisor is directly related to his currency and subject matter knowledges and abilities. Dedicated advisors even on a quasi-rotational basis are a terribly bad idea.

    The Marines have figured that out...

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    Gotta disagree with the "so easy a caveman could do it" position. There are a host of reasons why perfectly good officers and NCOs fail miserably when trying to advise others. Some of it has to do with the degree of sophistication required to shift from being a doer and a trainer to being an advisor, and some of it has to do with inter-cultural stuff.

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