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Thread: Contractors Doing Combat Service Support is a Bad, Bad Idea

  1. #41
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default To amplify what Tom said, Abrams came back

    from Viet Nam and as CofSA almost immediately set out to move the bulk of the CS/CSS to the Guard and Reserve for two reason. First, to insure that no future President could go to war without calling up the RC and secondly, to put those kinds of unit -- even then having problems recruiting -- in the RC where they could better recruit and could allow unit members to work in their trade in civilian life as well as in training, thus enhancing their skills if they needed to be called up. To that end, some thought was put into what units went where in an attempt to locate units where there were likely locally required skills that would enhance the effectiveness of the unit.

    Unfortunately, in the 80s, politics took over and two things happened. first, the ArNG got agreement to take over all CA units in the RC (bad decision on the part of DA) and the USAR picked up the majority of the CSS (read: all that the ArNG did not want) while both components shared CS elements. There was also some movement of unit locations based on politics and not on what native to the area skill pools might contain. Both of these actions were detrimental (IMO) to the concept, to the Army and to the RC.

    Come Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Vouno tried to go to war without calling up the RC CS/CSS pool -- he couldn't do it. He and Benny Peay tried every trick in the book and couldn't make it work so the CS/CSS package had to be called up, thus units tabbed Capstone to VII and XVIII Corps had to be activated. Third Army's down trace was mostly RC, they had to be called up. Congress also insisted on ArNG Brigades being called up and sent (they paid for 'em and they and the Guard wanted to put 'em to work). So three Bdes were activated over loud protests from DA. The DA plan was to stall and not deploy them in order to justify a couple of full up, all AC deployable Corps so they decided the RC refresher training would entail a trip to the NTC. One Bde, the 48th from GA, went through that and completed it just about the time of the ceasefire in Kuwait. It never got certified for deployment by DA (a statutory requirement) on the basis "the war's over..." Fun and games the DA way...

    Come this one, Tom's got it right plus the need for for more troops due to a rotation policy drove the deployment of ArNG Bdes -- all of whom have done pretty good. 278th from TN did exceptionally well.

    There are a number of lessons in this for many, from Congress to DA to the RC to Defense contractors. Let's see how smart everyone is...

  2. #42
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Totally true...

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Could not agree more that keeping contractor logistics support (CLS) out of fielded systems is a desired end state. However, with the trend these days going to ever more COTS procurement as a way to do rapid fielding to bridge perceived capability shortfalls, we are more and more stuck on the CLS horns with the systems we are currently fielding.
    Sadly true, in fact -- but that's the Army's fault for just reacting and not thinking ahead. That and skewed priorities that put big ticket items ahead of must have items of little glamor. Yes, I'm aware that the US Congress is a BIG part of that problem, as is DoD and our civilian 'leadership' (scare quotes advised on that one).

    Still, the capability to plan ahead, to rationalize and procure the right things has always existed -- the Army has not been willing to put the energy into doing that. That's a senior leadership failure. They are the Stewards of the Institution in their view and I submit they have not done a particularly good job. I'll fault all of the services for being a tad arrogant and not explaining what they need and why they need it very well -- sadly because I think in many cases, they don't know. However, I also believe they've all been guilty of not really thinking ahead and getting a really good handle on their own roles and missions. I am fully aware that is very easy for me to say when I have no responsibility but there was a time when I did have a little and I think I exercised that better than I see with respect to rational and sensible efforts to prepare for combat -- because that is really what it's all about.

    It will come as no surprise to many that I blame a lack of common sense and full training in the basics, the personnel system and DOPMA for much of this...
    The institutional training base is not geared up to provide the kind of rapid response needed to produce uniformed maintainers to sustain equipment fielded using rapid fielding initiative processes (but I think ken and I have had these discussions about the "issues" in the military, at least TRADOC, training design and development process before ).
    True, it is not -- nor do I think it should necessarily be. A better process would be to more carefully select what is bought and buy stuff that is low maintenance; LRUs, swapouts, reliability requirements and so forth. Add to that better and more comprehensive training of new entrants, Officer and Enlisted to include maintenance at above the 'call a mechanic' level and life could be better.

    Personally, I'm not giving the Army a bye on any of that -- nor am I holding my breath on any of it....

  3. #43
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default I agree, but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    ... That and skewed priorities that put big ticket items ahead of must have items of little glamor. ...

    ... However, I also believe they've all been guilty of not really thinking ahead and getting a really good handle on their own roles and missions. ...

    ... A better process would be to more carefully select what is bought and buy stuff that is low maintenance; LRUs, swapouts, reliability requirements and so forth. Add to that better and more comprehensive training of new entrants, Officer and Enlisted to include maintenance at above the 'call a mechanic' level and life could be better.
    When the Army moves to all the wonderful "net-centric" capabilities that are going to completely change the nature of war ...

    [/Sarcasm] Sorry.

    Whatever I think of it, and I personally believe it has been dramatically over sold, the Army is becoming increasingly information centric. The technical specialists necessary to keep those systems up and running, and especially to keep the bad guys from knocking them down, won't be in uniform. The sad truth is that once they're trained, they make way more as civilians. Which means they get out, go to the contractor, who puts them back in the same duty station as a civilian at 4 or 5 or more times as much pay. I really don't think that could be solved by making them officers, either.

    And that's just one area. That sad truth is that the technical sophistication of our systems are (and have been) at a level where the Army can't compete with the private sector for the expertise required to keep them going. CLS is here to stay.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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  4. #44
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Balance and moderation in all things...

    My mom told me. I think she was right and I think we've forgotten that...
    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Whatever I think of it, and I personally believe it has been dramatically over sold, the Army is becoming increasingly information centric.
    Too true -- and that has one driver. Over centralization.

    That, in turn is driven by the lack of willingness to trust subordinates induced by the experience in the last few years of Viet Nam where Bn Cdrs found out that instant NCOs and 2LTs were wonderfully willing and dedicated but didn't know much and required constant supervision. A partial solution to that is far better training and a better personnel system. Until those very significant problems are fixed, we will over rely on technology and pay the CLS price. Seems dumb to me but what do I know....
    And that's just one area. That sad truth is that the technical sophistication of our systems are (and have been) at a level where the Army can't compete with the private sector for the expertise required to keep them going. CLS is here to stay.
    IF we keep edging reliability and and simplicity out for sophistication -- which the industry wants to sell, it's got a bigger markup -- and if we keep insisting on trying to solve human problems with mo' better machinery...

    OTOH there may be other, less expensive and more reliable ways to do things.

    Not to mention that in my experience, reliance on electronic systems is dicey at best. They have the annoying habit of working well for months on end for unimportant things and then failing when you need them most...

  5. #45
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    OTOH there may be other, less expensive and more reliable ways to do things.

    Not to mention that in my experience, reliance on electronic systems is dicey at best. They have the annoying habit of working well for months on end for unimportant things and then failing when you need them most...
    I have this persistent vision of the next highly kinetic war beginning with a three or four day orgy of destruction of multi-million dollar systems ...

    ... followed by weeks, months and years of old fashioned infantry slug fest.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

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  6. #46
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Wink Remember what Einstein said

    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    I have this persistent vision of the next highly kinetic war beginning with a three or four day orgy of destruction of multi-million dollar systems ...

    ... followed by weeks, months and years of old fashioned infantry slug fest.
    Something to the effect of ( Not sure about wwIII, but WWIV ; sticks and stones)
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  7. #47
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yep. To both of you.

    We can't afford to fight $7M Tanks...

  8. #48
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    The technical specialists necessary to keep those systems up and running, and especially to keep the bad guys from knocking them down, won't be in uniform. The sad truth is that once they're trained, they make way more as civilians. Which means they get out, go to the contractor, who puts them back in the same duty station as a civilian at 4 or 5 or more times as much pay. I really don't think that could be solved by making them officers, either.

    And that's just one area. That sad truth is that the technical sophistication of our systems are (and have been) at a level where the Army can't compete with the private sector for the expertise required to keep them going. CLS is here to stay.

    Bingo. The Army already had that problem back in the 70's with the troops it spent 12-18 months training to maintain its SIGINT/EW systems. I/EW system maintainers left the schoolhouse for their first assignment with civilian job offers already in hand.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
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  9. #49
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Pardon the delay in responding. I was thinking.

    Schmedlap wrote:

    I understand the concern that an argument was put forth stating, basically, that if the contract were cancelled then troops would be without food. However, that is an exaggeration of a statement that was false to begin with. There would be a delay in transferring back from contractor-provided logistics to Army-provided, but the troops would not go hungry. They would simply eat MREs in the interim.

    Any FOB or other type of base in Iraq always has enough MREs to be a buffer against a stoppage in food flow. I know this because I have seen it occur. Certain FOBs have had their food supply cut short due to certain routes being shut down to logistics convoys. During those times, the FOBbits ate MREs. The issue is not that troops would go hungry. The issue is that they would be eating MREs. And if you do not cringe at the though of troops eating anything less than gourmet food prepared in a 4-star dining facility, 3 to 4 times per day, everyday, then you do not support the troops (that was sarcasm). That's right - there is a political angle.
    I did not mean to suggest that the contractor refusing to do his job meant that troops would starve. Rather, I do not think that folks with that sort of an attitude ought to be in the government contracting business. Alternately, I'm not sure that the government contracting model works because, at the end of the day, the profit motive is at odds with the needs of national security. There is a fundamental conflict between interests and objectives.

    As to the MRE point, it should be remembered that the MRE is not formulated for long-term consumption. It's a stop gap, it's a means to provide interim caloric and basic nutritive needs, but it is not an answer to the subsistence needs. On a less tangible basis, one could be concerned about the cohesion effect of constant MRE feeding -- the nature of the meal is such that it can tend to degrade the group dynamic by pushing people apart during an activity (feeding) that is most enhanced by the group. How we eat is as important as what we eat. (I am a believer in the small intangibles in the military effectiveness equation.)

    It would take a lot more explanation than is feasible here, but I think the biggest problem is the lack of balance. FOBs with steak and lobster and five flavors of ice cream contrasted with small units outside the FOB with very little is not a particularly good set up. If I were in charge of logistics, I would start with the pointy end and work my way back -- nobody gets steak and lobster until everyone can get a decent meal. For the guys at the very edge of that pointy end, the best answer is for military personnel to handle the food preparation.

    I do like your point about the "political issues." You've basically made the entire point of my dissertation, that the gastronomy for morale calculus is determined to a greater degree by the larger societal-cultural needs than the morale needs of the troops.

    Ken White wrote:

    Do not take umbrage but allow me to point out that your son is not a relatively mature 18 or 19 year old who volunteered to do a particular for remuneration. That guy volunteered to do a job that he thought he would like or at least tolerate for some reason.
    If that relatively mature 18 or 19 year old had learned the lesson earlier in life, that might not be the attitude. The point of childhood is to develop the skills and tools that will be necessary and useful for adult life.

    And I did not inadvertently -- or otherwise -- "malign" anyone. You all provided a set of facts regarding the average combat arms soldier. I drew a conclusion from those facts -- perhaps a harsh one, but certainly a defensible one. It may not be anything anyone wants to hear or contemplate, but I can't help that. If you want to change the facts that you assert, then I can arrive at a different conclusion. But if you provided that set of descriptors about a generic individual or group, I doubt anyone would come to a different conclusion. Let's not allow our thinking to be clouded by a false loyalty.

    For the record, I am just this harsh with my husband whenever he starts complaining when he shouldn't be. I'm blunt. Live with it. Learn to love it. I have no doubt it will prove valuable one day.

    ===

    As to my use of the Marine officer as an example... I am aware that the Marine Corps and the Army are different institutions and comparisons are made at one's peril. I was not comparing the institutions, I was comparing attributes of individuals. As such, I do think that if it's possible to achieve such an end with Marine Corps officers, there is certainly room to consider that it's possible to achieve the same thing with enlisted soldiers.

    As to how the A/B billet rotation works, I was not intending my idea to be an exact copy of how the Marine Corps runs it, but rather was suggesting a model from which to build a similar system with different specifics and ends.

    Finally, please remember that I did suggest that such a program would best work with new enlistees.

    Regards,
    Jill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    As to the MRE point, it should be remembered that the MRE is not formulated for long-term consumption. It's a stop gap, it's a means to provide interim caloric and basic nutritive needs, but it is not an answer to the subsistence needs.
    In OIF I, we ate nothing but MREs, T-rations, and occasionally some food from local restaurants in Baghdad. In 12 months, during OIF III, at least 90% of my meals were MREs. The rest were a mix of T-rations (either mystery meat or General Tso's chicken) and an occasional brown-lettuce salad or a piece of rotten fruit. It was completely random in OIF V - MREs, occasional DFAC meal, eating with locals, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    On a less tangible basis, one could be concerned about the cohesion effect of constant MRE feeding -- the nature of the meal is such that it can tend to degrade the group dynamic by pushing people apart during an activity (feeding) that is most enhanced by the group. How we eat is as important as what we eat.
    We lived in pretty tight confines, so eating indoors did not push anyone apart. The same was true of eating in the back of a Bradley in the field - very tight confines. I suspect that the same is true on a FOB. Soldiers are going to eat their MRE in an air-conditioned hut or huddle together to take up refuge from the sun in whatever shade exists. The only time that I recall MRE consumption to be a solitary event was in Ranger School, when you moved toward the center of the patrol base to devour your meal while your buddy pulled security.

  11. #51
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    As to the MRE point, it should be remembered that the MRE is not formulated for long-term consumption. It's a stop gap, it's a means to provide interim caloric and basic nutritive needs, but it is not an answer to the subsistence needs. On a less tangible basis, one could be concerned about the cohesion effect of constant MRE feeding -- the nature of the meal is such that it can tend to degrade the group dynamic by pushing people apart during an activity (feeding) that is most enhanced by the group. How we eat is as important as what we eat. (I am a believer in the small intangibles in the military effectiveness equation.)
    Eating has always been a pretty social activity in the field army, going back quite a ways and no matter the type of rations. Old Army accounts stress small units (sets of four, platoons, squads) sharing food and cooking gear in the field. The transition to C-rats didn't change this dynamic much. If the tactical situation allowed the troops to get together to eat, they seem to have done so with great regularity. Ken and others could speak to actual field conditions in Vietnam, but most accounts I've read stress the "C-rat chef" in just about every small unit and the pooling of rations to make better (or at least more varied) meals out of the rations. This also tended to make units eat at more or less the same time (as allowed by the tactical situation). I'm not sure that this is necessarily recreated at the mess hall unless units march there in formation and eat in a similar manner. Again, based on anecdotal accounts (and plenty of civilian experience at campus dining facilities, which in some ways are mess halls....), an open mess tended to allow people to go in small groups based on friendship and not necessarily unit organization. You'd also get those who preferred to eat on their own and thus avoided the whole mess hall "experience."

    But, as with most things like this, YMMV.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  12. #52
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    We lived in pretty tight confines, so eating indoors did not push anyone apart. The same was true of eating in the back of a Bradley in the field - very tight confines. I suspect that the same is true on a FOB. Soldiers are going to eat their MRE in an air-conditioned hut or huddle together to take up refuge from the sun in whatever shade exists. The only time that I recall MRE consumption to be a solitary event was in Ranger School, when you moved toward the center of the patrol base to devour your meal while your buddy pulled security.
    Other people have noticed different effects in field exercises and deployments -- especially when compared with other feeding models (hot chow/tray rats).

    Again, I suggested that "one could be concerned..." with the second and third order ramifications of how things are done. Perhaps it didn't happen in your case. In has happened in others. It is something to consider, something to keep in mind, a possible tool to keep in one's kit -- that is, using how you feed to affect the demeanor of a unit. Furthermore it's not a one way proposition -- bringing people together is not always the objective, it may also useful to consider how to give people a chance to separate and go their own ways. It could be the one flap of that mythical butterfly's wing....

    Finally, that you ate MREs for a long period does not mean that this was how they were meant to be used or that they were, in fact, suitable to that usage.

    Regards,
    Jill

  13. #53
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Bring back the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    ...On a less tangible basis, one could be concerned about the cohesion effect of constant MRE feeding -- the nature of the meal is such that it can tend to degrade the group dynamic by pushing people apart during an activity (feeding) that is most enhanced by the group...
    Not generally correct. Sometimes providing security or other requirements can do that but a unit eating MREs is more inclined to grouping and cohesion than one using a mess hall where multiple units tend to intermingle and table size tends to disrupt cohesion.

    Added Comment:
    Finally, that you ate MREs for a long period does not mean that this was how they were meant to be used or that they were, in fact, suitable to that usage.
    Reality again intrudes. You are correct in what you say is the goal. The same was true of the old C Ration. However, most line units as opposed to CS and CSS units frequently exist or existed on one or the other for weeks at a time with only rare hot meals. IIRC, my record was 27 days without a hot meal and that was in the Corps. My Army max was about two weeks plus or minus a day or two. What should be and what is often differ...

    Back to our regularly scheduled program:
    I do like your point about the "political issues." You've basically made the entire point of my dissertation, that the gastronomy for morale calculus is determined to a greater degree by the larger societal-cultural needs than the morale needs of the troops.
    I believe that's called reality? Having spent many days in the field in both the Marines and the Army when there were plenty of uniformed cooks; the lobster in the rear and the societal-cultural needs were a fact of life in Korea and elsewhere. "Suck it up" is not a new phrase (though it used to be "take two salt tablets..." ).
    If that relatively mature 18 or 19 year old had learned the lesson earlier in life, that might not be the attitude. The point of childhood is to develop the skills and tools that will be necessary and useful for adult life.
    Totally true. Every Mom is not a Jill and every Dad is not a Ken . The system has to live with what is, not with what we both agree should be.
    And I did not inadvertently -- or otherwise -- "malign" anyone. You all provided a set of facts regarding the average combat arms soldier. I drew a conclusion from those facts -- perhaps a harsh one, but certainly a defensible one. It may not be anything anyone wants to hear or contemplate, but I can't help that. If you want to change the facts that you assert, then I can arrive at a different conclusion. But if you provided that set of descriptors about a generic individual or group, I doubt anyone would come to a different conclusion. Let's not allow our thinking to be clouded by a false loyalty.
    No false loyalty to it, simply a question of knowing and understanding the demographic versus forming a conclusion about it based on the written word in a less than perfect communications venue. I would suggest you are judging a quite large group of people with little understanding of their motivation and rationale based on your perception of what should be as opposed to their knowledge of what is in the environment under discussion. I do not believe it's as simple as you would like.
    For the record, I am just this harsh with my husband whenever he starts complaining when he shouldn't be. I'm blunt. Live with it. Learn to love it. I have no doubt it will prove valuable one day.
    Blunt is good, got no problem with it at all. I didn't perceive your comment as harsh, idealistic, yes -- but not harsh. Many accuse me of being excessively frank, outspoken, opinionated and so forth; probably correctly and this is a forum that lends itself to misunderstanding -- so, IMO, blunt is good.

    However, I'd point out that you were the one complaining, not the rest of us -- we merely suggested a couple of counterpoints to your observations based on our experience that contravene or question your conclusions and a few of us asked for a realistic as opposed to an idealistic solution to the problems.

    Said problems being, simply (1) From where do we obtain the numbers of people required to do this considering (2) it's a volunteer force and not enough young people want to be cooks and (3) many -- not all -- who do join for combat jobs are quite unwilling to do logistic, maintenance, custodial and kitchen work. That may be sociologically and militarily undesirable but it is reality and will remain so short of an existential war and a draft.
    Last edited by Ken White; 06-24-2008 at 03:51 PM. Reason: Addendum

  14. #54
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    It would take a lot more explanation than is feasible here, but I think the biggest problem is the lack of balance. FOBs with steak and lobster and five flavors of ice cream contrasted with small units outside the FOB with very little is not a particularly good set up. If I were in charge of logistics, I would start with the pointy end and work my way back -- nobody gets steak and lobster until everyone can get a decent meal. For the guys at the very edge of that pointy end, the best answer is for military personnel to handle the food preparation.
    The issue is not that someone has made a decision to feed to feed the CSS guys before the CA guys. It is a matter space and facilities. The big dining facilities are on the FOBs because that is where there is space and facilities to put them. That also happens to be where the majority of the CSS guys are. Ergo, they get the good dining facilities. Those same FOBs have at least some CA guys and they eat at those same facilities. Many of the CA guys are not on the FOBs now, however. They are at smaller posts such as combat outposts and the like. Small posts like that have neither the room nor facilities for dining facilities. Often they barely have room for the troops that they house. That is just the reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    And I did not inadvertently -- or otherwise -- "malign" anyone. You all provided a set of facts regarding the average combat arms soldier. I drew a conclusion from those facts -- perhaps a harsh one, but certainly a defensible one. It may not be anything anyone wants to hear or contemplate, but I can't help that. If you want to change the facts that you assert, then I can arrive at a different conclusion. But if you provided that set of descriptors about a generic individual or group, I doubt anyone would come to a different conclusion. Let's not allow our thinking to be clouded by a false loyalty.
    I disagree completely. I think that you have drawn the conclusions that best fit your idea of how things should be. Comparing men who have voluntarily chosen to do the most demanding a dangerous jobs there are to petulant children is not "blunt," it's insulting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    As to my use of the Marine officer as an example... I am aware that the Marine Corps and the Army are different institutions and comparisons are made at one's peril. I was not comparing the institutions, I was comparing attributes of individuals. As such, I do think that if it's possible to achieve such an end with Marine Corps officers, there is certainly room to consider that it's possible to achieve the same thing with enlisted soldiers.

    As to how the A/B billet rotation works, I was not intending my idea to be an exact copy of how the Marine Corps runs it, but rather was suggesting a model from which to build a similar system with different specifics and ends.
    I would also point out that you can't really make these kinds of comparisons between officers and enlisteds. Officers in the Army do similar rotations called branch detailing. That does not work for enlisted. As ken stated, officers are generalists. They are concerned with the employment of the unit as a whole. It is the enlisted who work the many parts that make up the whole that the Officers employ. I doubt very much that Marine Corps CSS units are staffed with 0300s on two year rotations. They are staffed with the guys who's career has been spent in that MOS. Just like the Army, or virtually any organization for that matter. Take the auto industry for example. You can take the manager for the welders and make him the manager for the electronics section and there will be a short adjustment period but he will pick it up fairly quickly. Management is management, to a degree. On the other hand, you are not going to take a a trained welder and throw him into the electronics section. He will have to be completely retrained, as will his replacement in the welding section, and he may have neither the interest nor aptitude for the job. This is an imperfect comparison but I think it illustrates the point well enough.

    SFC W

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    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    I disagree completely. I think that you have drawn the conclusions that best fit your idea of how things should be. Comparing men who have voluntarily chosen to do the most demanding a dangerous jobs there are to petulant children is not "blunt," it's insulting.
    Anybody who threatens to quit a job -- even the most heroic of jobs -- if they are asked to anything that exceeds their comfort zone is vulnerable to a degree criticism. If you think that is insulting, well I can't do anything about it. Go back and read the descriptions of the soldiers offered up as evidence for why such an idea as I presented would not work -- none of them are particularly flattering. Perhaps you could share the joy and direct some of your ire at those who wrote the unflattering comments to begin with. They were, after all, the sine qua non of my conclusions.

    Bottom line, "PFC Schmuckatelli will quit because he didn't sign up for that" is a bad argument against the idea, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that it does not reflect well upon PFC Schmuckatelli -- and I think this last part is important (hint -- that ought to suggest that I am not altogether keen to insult the good PFC to begin with). The bureaucratic, work specialization, and others are better. None of them are deal breakers, but they require additional thought.

    Regards,
    Jill

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Tell a cop that he has to spend two years stocking the shelves at Safeway or a firefighter that he has to spend two years as a frycook and you are going to get the same answer. For that matter, tell the average stockboy at that Safeway that he has to risk his life to spend two years arresting criminals or a frycook that he has to risk his life putting out fires and you will get a similar answer. Few people are suited to the types of jobs that CA entails and fewer still are willing to do them. I hardly think that it is unreasonable for those individuals to expect to be allowed to do those jobs. I would take a guy who wants to to the job over a guy who has been forced to do the job. This is precisely why the draft is a non-starter.

    SFC W

  17. #57
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    Default Back to my original question...

    OK, so how many cooks and other CSS folks you want to replace w/non-contractors does it take to sustain a force of 160k? Oh, and another 30k in OEF?

    Now where do they come from?

    1. Additional duty for each deployed unit. Just keep x% of your folks out of the fight to do sustainment activities. Been there, done that, and it hurt last time.

    2. Find that number of folks lounging around the States on "dwell time" and send them over. Make sure you plan for a rotation cycle.

    3. Replace the new BCTs coming into the force structure with CSS units. If we have held up under this PERSTEMPO so far, I'm sure we can do it for another decade or so.

    4. Bring back the draft and plus up the armed forces to VN levels. Get back on a 3:1 rotation schedule.

  18. #58
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think you're missing a point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    Anybody who threatens to quit a job -- even the most heroic of jobs -- if they are asked to anything that exceeds their comfort zone is vulnerable to a degree criticism.
    That may be your opinion and you're certainly entitled to it. Others may not agree but that's really irrelevant in both cases. What's possibly relevant is that the issue isn't a comfort level on the part of those who want to do a particular thing, it's whether you can attract the numbers to do some things. As several stated above, we aren't doing too well at that in part because civilian industry pays better for the good stuff and not many really want to do the bad stuff.
    If you think that is insulting, well I can't do anything about it. Go back and read the descriptions of the soldiers offered up as evidence for why such an idea as I presented would not work -- none of them are particularly flattering. Perhaps you could share the joy and direct some of your ire at those who wrote the unflattering comments to begin with. They were, after all, the sine qua non of my conclusions.
    Unflattering? Unappealing to you perhaps but not necessarily unflattering, it's simply reality. Personally, I see nothing wrong in a person wanting to hew to a particular line of work -- because that's what's at issue. You see it as being a Marine -- he may see it as being a Grunt, period. I don't think either of you are wrong but you do have different perspectives and unlike you, he has to live with his.
    Bottom line, "PFC Schmuckatelli will quit because he didn't sign up for that" is a bad argument against the idea, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that it does not reflect well upon PFC Schmuckatelli -- and I think this last part is important (hint -- that ought to suggest that I am not altogether keen to insult the good PFC to begin with).
    Schmuckatelli will not quit -- he signed a contract and will do what he's told until his enlistment is up. The issue is not that, it's whether he will reenlist or not if you do that to him. You say he should or it will not reflect well on him. Frankly, I don't think he gives a hoot what others think. He's got to live with himself and by the time he comes up for reenlistment, he's old enough to have figured out that the opinions of others merit some consideration but cannot -- should not -- be a determinant for what he does.

    There are a lot of combat arms NCOs in both the Marines and the Army who are perfectly capable of getting a commission -- and they opt not to do so simply because they know they'd have to 'generalists' and do desk things (and social things, for some... ) -- and they'd really rather not. As mentioned above, many CSS guys get reclassified to the combat arms when numbers get tight, most adapt pretty well to that switch but that is not true in reverse. My guess is that a healthy majority of combat arms guys would not reenlist if they were to be reclassified or had to serve in CSS positions. I would not have and as a Navy junior, I got a reasonably good grounding in responsibilities and duties. People are different...

    None of which addresses the real issues -- raw numbers of persons available and the number who will enlist to do the CS/CSS jobs.

  19. #59
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Tell a cop that he has to spend two years stocking the shelves at Safeway or a firefighter that he has to spend two years as a frycook and you are going to get the same answer.

    Most California sheriffs offices required patrol to do 2 years in the jail before going to the street and then 1 year in five after that in the jail. Of course that was the late 80s early 90s.
    Sam Liles
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  20. #60
    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Tell a cop that he has to spend two years stocking the shelves at Safeway or a firefighter that he has to spend two years as a frycook and you are going to get the same answer. For that matter, tell the average stockboy at that Safeway that he has to risk his life to spend two years arresting criminals or a frycook that he has to risk his life putting out fires and you will get a similar answer. Few people are suited to the types of jobs that CA entails and fewer still are willing to do them. I hardly think that it is unreasonable for those individuals to expect to be allowed to do those jobs. I would take a guy who wants to to the job over a guy who has been forced to do the job. This is precisely why the draft is a non-starter.

    SFC W
    The better comparison is to how firefighters live while on duty: during that time they all take turns at the stove and the sink. None of them quit because that is part of their jobs and lives. In fact, as far as I can tell, they quite enjoy it -- it builds camaraderie amongst the personnel, they know the importance of a good meal, etc.

    I might also point out that, until recently, such self-support was the norm in the army. Troops arranged themselves in messes, were given food, and prepared it themselves. Again, from what I've read, most enjoyed this setup.

    The fact of the matter is that even for the trigger puller at the pointiest end today, most time is not spent engaged in combat. Most of the time is spent in a variety of tasks that are akin to housekeeping duties -- ie, not things for which anyone signed on the dotted line.

    Finally, if folks enlisted knowing that this was the set-up, their expectations would not be a problem.

    Regards,
    Jill

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