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Thread: How long does it take to train an Army?

  1. #1
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default How long does it take to train an Army?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ...I've observed discussions about this where people refrained about an oh-so-good U.S.-trained Georgian brigade.
    One brigade does not an Army make -- and it probably has no control over the Politicians...
    Well, maybe we should create a thread to identify the armies that were trained by the U.S. military and didn't afterward suck asap?
    I've got difficulties to remember any.
    Try South Korea in particular but also El Salvador and the Philippines. For that matter, the Viet Namese weren't great, cultural thing -- but they weren't that bad, they were able to beat the North but that's hard to do with no ammo or fuel. Politicians again...

    Yet again you let your desire to snipe cause you to display either a lack of knowledge or outright bias.

    P.S.
    Refrained in the way you used it means to avoid, not to sing.

  2. #2
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    One brigade does not an Army make -- and it probably has no control over the Politicians...Try South Korea in particular but also El Salvador and the Philippines. For that matter, the Viet Namese weren't great, cultural thing -- but they weren't that bad, they were able to beat the North but that's hard to do with no ammo or fuel. Politicians again...

    Yet again you let your desire to snipe cause you to display either a lack of knowledge or outright bias.
    Iraq (5 years and still not capable enough for troop withdrawals),
    Afghanistan (6 years and deteriorating civil war situation),
    South Vietnam (clearly lost after about a decade of training by the U.S.),
    exile Cubans (Bay of Pigs),
    South Korea (which got OVERRUN in 1950 after being equipped & trained by the U.S. for several years)
    were not really encouraging examples.
    El Salvador's government forces weren't really competent either, the war lasted for twelve years and the standards of behaviour and discipline on the government side were much lesser than desirable.
    Philippines? You mean the army of such a big country finally taking control of a tiny island group was an achievement?

    Even a infantry-heavy, but competently executed assault of well-trained battalions should have gained 20-30 km ground in SO before the Russian advance guard arrived. There were many flanking opportunities through the forests.

    "Lack of knowledge", "bias"?
    How about not closing the eyes when I see unfavourable facts?

    The U.S. forces have failed to train foreign armies properly in time spans that were longer than the American Civil War or the First World War. That's outright failure.
    Such training missions should be expected to train foreign troops in a year up to junior NCO and in two years up to medium-rank officers. That's the speed of training demonstrated by national armies after mobilization.

    There's no such excuse like cultural problems. The South Vietnamese had the same culture as the North Vietnamese. It was not on part of the Vietnamese if a cultural problem was prohibiting a successful training.

    It's a joke that the occupiers still cannot be satisfied with the training standard of most Iraqi and Afghanistan units after 5-6 years.
    Imagine the U.S.Army had been ready to deploy to Europe in 1923 and 1948 for its participation in the European theatre of both world wars!

    And yes, I sniped at these training programs because reality and the expectations that some people expressed somewhere else were so far apart.
    Some equaled U.S. training with excellent competence. as if the Green Berets somehow handed out silver bullets. The experiences look differently.

    The problem is btw quite relevant for the small war topic in general.
    There's no way how to build nations during an armed conflict if your military needs a decade or more to properly train that nation's ground forces.

  3. #3
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default My, my, hit a nerve did we...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Iraq (5 years and still not capable enough for troop withdrawals)
    No surprise there; I've been saying ten years all along. Why would you think it would be less?
    Afghanistan (6 years and deteriorating civil war situation)
    Same answer -- I make that about 2012 or 2013.
    South Vietnam (clearly lost after about a decade of training by the U.S.)
    Lost yes -- but why; the Army and the AF performed well; they just ran out of ammo and fuel. You need to do more homework.
    exile Cubans (Bay of Pigs)
    Trained by the CIA, not the Armed forces -- they also performed well on a really stupid mission and the promised air support (by the US) was not provided (proving yet again tha politicians are quitters whne the cost goes up). Again, you need to do more research.
    South Korea (which got OVERRUN in 1950 after being equipped & trained by the U.S. for several years)
    So did the US army get overrun then and there initially. Again, your history's weak. Training pre-1950 was minimal to non-existent. It improved later and if you check out how the South Korean Army did in Viet Nam (quite well) or what it is today, it's as good as any in Asia.
    Even a infantry-heavy, but competently executed assault of well-trained battalions should have gained 20-30 km ground in SO before the Russian advance guard arrived. There were many flanking opportunities through the forests.
    Don't know, wasn't there -- and I'm rather leery of putting any stock in war second guessers who also haven't been there particularly if they're only fairly well read and ground combat inexpereinced.
    "Lack of knowledge", "bias"? How about not closing the eyes when I see unfavorable facts?
    Yes to both those things. I have no problem with unfavorable facts; I do have an objection to perceptions based on lack of information and statements made that evade reality or are generally out of context.
    The U.S. forces have failed to train foreign armies properly in time spans that were longer than the American Civil War or the First World War. That's outright failure. Such training missions should be expected to train foreign troops in a year up to junior NCO and in two years up to medium-rank officers. That's the speed of training demonstrated by national armies after mobilization.
    That is so ludicrous I'm not sure where to start. For openers, you're applying western standards of the late 20th Century to date to several nations who were not and are not today anywhere near that state of development. You're smarter than that.
    There's no such excuse like cultural problems. The South Vietnamese had the same culture as the North Vietnamese. It was not on part of the Vietnamese if a cultural problem was prohibiting a successful training.
    Not an excuse -- and the South Viet Namese did not and do not have the same culture as the North. Take a look at your internal Ossi situation for an example of cultural drift.
    It's a joke that the occupiers still cannot be satisfied with the training standard of most Iraqi and Afghanistan units after 5-6 years.
    Imagine the U.S.Army had been ready to deploy to Europe in 1923 and 1948 for its participation in the European theatre of both world wars!
    Uh, matter of fact we actually deployed in 1917 and 1942 -- how'd that work out for you? Again, you cannot conflate contemporary western nations with any of those others mentioned.
    And yes, I sniped at these training programs because reality and the expectations that some people expressed somewhere else were so far apart. Some equaled U.S. training with excellent competence. as if the Green Berets somehow handed out silver bullets. The experiences look differently.
    The 'experiences' aren't over yet.
    The problem is btw quite relevant for the small war topic in general. There's no way how to build nations during an armed conflict if your military needs a decade or more to properly train that nation's ground forces.
    Depends on where one starts and at what level the raw material happens to be...

    How you guys coming with your Police training in Afghanistan? Aren't you the lead on that? Voluntarily picked up the mission in 2003 IIRC. As good as you are, I'm sure that's miles ahead of the training of the Afghan National Army.

    Oh wait, I forgot. LINK-- a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Guess who had to pick up the pieces LINK.

    Some things aren't nearly as easy out on the ground as they are sitting at a keyboard -- and that includes advancing 20-30km against even spotty resistance from locals.

  4. #4
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    No surprise there; I've been saying ten years all along. Why would you think it would be less?
    Because I'm not used to U.S.forces slowness in such affairs, obviously.

    Lost yes -- but why; the Army and the AF performed well; they just ran out of ammo and fuel.
    Considering the minimalist logistics of he NVA in that war, I fail to see ana argument.


    You need to do more homework.Trained by the CIA, not the Armed forces
    OK, keep that out of the list. I do somehow doubt that the CIA trainers who taught the use of A-26 (or maybe B-26 at that time) had no previous military experience, though.

    they also performed well on a really stupid mission and the promised air support (by the US) was not provided (proving yet again tha politicians are quitters whne the cost goes up).
    "doing well" would have been to break through and switch to guerilla mode. To surrender in few days is not to do well.

    Again, you need to do more research.So did the US army get overrun then and there initially. Again, your history's weak. Training pre-1950 was minimal to non-existent.
    There was training, and they used U.S.equipment. Period. The U.S.Army embarassing itself in the same theatre doesn't really help.

    It improved later and if you check out how the South Korean Army did in Viet Nam (quite well) or what it is today, it's as good as any in Asia.
    It did well in killing, I know. A quarter century after the training started. Not impressive. And today's quality - two generations after the initial training - should not be credited to the U.S..
    We don't credit the French for today's U.S.Army even though they taught it modern warfare in 1916/1917, do we?
    By the way; check what I wrote initially. I wrote

    "Well, maybe we should create a thread to identify the armies that were trained by the U.S. military and didn't afterward suck asap?"
    Don't ignore the "asap". It clearly indicates that my interest was on the close time period, not decades later.

    Yes to both those things. I have no problem with unfavorable facts; I do have an objection to perceptions based on lack of information and statements made that evade reality or are generally out of context.
    ...
    That is so ludicrous I'm not sure where to start. For openers, you're applying western standards of the late 20th Century to date to several nations who were not and are not today anywhere near that state of development.
    Actually, I don't. That's the failure of the U.S:Army, not mine.
    I expect trained forces to be combat ready and win against forces that are comparable at most.
    Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - not a single time did the foreign-trained state army face an enemy who had significantly better conditions , not a single time were late 20th century Western standards necessary to prevail.
    To win is not an invention of late 20th century.

    See - your point isn't existing. You''re evading historical reality here.
    You failed to tell a single army that did really well after U.S.training. Your examples were wrong, the Korean one being especially terrible.
    I listed several armies/countries that failed miserably after U.S.training.

    Not an excuse -- and the South Viet Namese did not and do not have the same culture as the North. Take a look at your internal Ossi situation for an example of cultural drift.
    Cultural drift? Come on. That's regional difference at most, not a cultural difference that would make one part militarily inferior.
    North and South Vietnam were separated for less than 20 years when Saigon fell, Eastern Germany existed for 50 years and failed to create greater cultural differences than exist between North and South Germany.

    The 'experiences' aren't over yet.
    Actually, lots of failures are over yet.

    How you guys coming with your Police training in Afghanistan? Aren't you the lead on that? Voluntarily picked up the mission in 2003 IIRC. As good as you are, I'm sure that's miles ahead of the training of the Afghan National Army.
    Decent success for Kabul, afaik. German-controlled regions are pretty good-looking on travel safety maps. But I mentioned the half-hearted political support before. Quantity of policemen is the issue.

    Oh wait, I forgot. LINK-- a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Guess who had to pick up the pieces LINK.
    A poor article, with factual errors. The location of German troops is wrong, for example. Most are at Kabul. The description of 41 police officers is badly misleading - much training of Afghan policemen happens outside of Afghanistan with additional personnel.
    You might note that Germany has responsibility for a specific region, and that region is almost calm today. I'm not sure - maybe it trained policemen for that region? And to lead an effort doesn't mean to do it alone, it doesn't even mean to have the greatest work share.
    Either way - it looks as if the German-trained policemen are somehow working in the calm regions, whereas the U.S.-trained border guards aren't a great success?

    Some things aren't nearly as easy out on the ground as they are sitting at a keyboard -- and that includes advancing 20-30km against even spotty resistance from locals.
    About 45,000 locals, that's at most 10,000 combattants plus 800 Russian peacekeepers. Most of these combattants were necessarily concentrated at settlements.The region is huge in comparison to its population.
    My comfortable keyboard position allows me to know that not some 'spotty resistance' would be the challenge, but the combination of mountains and forests.

    Uh, matter of fact we actually deployed in 1917 and 1942 -- how'd that work out for you? Again, you cannot conflate contemporary western nations with any of those others mentioned.
    It's not about nations, but about fighting. Any difficulties in overcoming the differences simply mean that the trainers failed - it's their job to overcome difficulties.
    If trainers need a decade during wartime to train an army as part of nation-building, then the conclusion should be that this unacceptable.
    Get better trainers or don't try to do nation-building in wartime.
    This is important.
    Get over the fact that this is criticism and see the relevance.
    It's not OK to say "we need ten years".
    Ten years break the budget. No sane politician would willingly involve his nation in an avoidable ten-year war. That's a no-plan.


    Ten years might be OK in peacetime, but it's not OK in wartime.
    A track record of inability to train a new foreign army to region-typical combat effectiveness in less than four years needs to have an impact on nation-building related foreign policy planning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's not OK to say "we need ten years".
    Ten years break the budget. No sane politician would willingly involve his nation in an avoidable ten-year war. That's a no-plan.
    Agreed, but throughout history thousands of leaders have been too stupid to realize that there's no such thing as a 100% guaranty that a war will be short. Millions of soldiers have tried their best to clean up the mess.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You'd think the if there is a

    god, he or she would spare the world the pain of theorists with no experience.

    Apparently not. Well, Fuchs, it seems to me you aren't used to anyones speed or slowness in the training of non-western Armies. You need to do much more research on Viet Nam if you're going to write about it -- minimalist and logistics with respect to North Viet Nam is an oxymoron. The Cuban fiasco CIA guys were a mixed bag, some had experience and some did not -- the real issue there was the promised Carrier Air support from the USS Essex which was not launched. Embarrassing ones self never helps, yet people just continue to do that...

    Here is a display of ignorance:
    Don't ignore the "asap". It clearly indicates that my interest was on the close time period, not decades later.
    An army formed from virtually nothing (Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq) is not going to be effective for at least a decade. Your time frame for the training of riflemen and junior leaders is correct for western nations -- those times need to be doubled for non-westerners for a variety of reasons; to train the all important logisticians and senior leaders takes at least a decade and usually longer. That, BTW, is with a war -- in peacetime it typically takes 20 to 30 years.
    See - your point isn't existing. You''re evading historical reality here. You failed to tell a single army that did really well after U.S.training. Your examples were wrong, the Korean one being especially terrible. I listed several armies/countries that failed miserably after U.S.training.
    No my examples are not wrong and you apparently missed the fact that I used the same nations you did; they just don't coincide with your 'reality.' You are the one subverting history. You're entitled to your beliefs but your examples all ignore history for the Fuchs summation. Sorry, don't agree at all.

    Thank you for acknowledging the cultural difference between Bayern and Niedersachsen. The N-S viet Namese cultural difference was far more significantthat the Buddhist and Catholic South would not throw lives at the issue; the nominally atheist North had no such compunctions, to them, to win at any cost was acceptable and they made no real effort to constrain casualties. THAT is a cultural difference of some import.

    Your tap dancing on the Police mission in Afghanistan doesn't change the facts -- Germany got nailed for failing to produce. What you're missing is why that happened; it happened because a bunch of theoreticians with no experience predicted they could do something that, in the event, proved to be much more difficult than they expected. I submit this entire sub thread has consisted of you making precisely the same mistake. You don't know what you don't know. I spent many years training people from western armies; your assumptions are marginally applicable to them; I also spent two years advising a Middle Eastern Army. They have some strengths; they also have some weaknesses -- those weaknesses at least double if not triple the training time. That's reality.

    Your last two paragraphs aptly sum up your position -- This is the word according to Fuchs; ten years is "unacceptable." You even presume to state what politicians will accept and you cannot possibly predict that, every war, every situation is different. You can say that you don't accept it and that's fine, you cannot say what others may do (You also used the word sane with repect to Politicians but that's another thread...). As I've mentioned to you before, reality does not conform to your desires and thought processes. Your summation that ten years is not okay in wartime overlooks common sense and the reality on the ground.

    But hang on to your keyboard...

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Ken; you don't see the point.

    I don't care whether Germans can train quickly, Americans can train quickly or anybody could. Let's assume that to raise an Army as a foreigner up to regional standard (and no more is necessary) takes ten years in wartime (actually, I wonder why the other side is much quicker, but who cares as Western trainers are obviously not).

    The implication is that every conflict that cannot be ended before such an indigenous army has been raised would last for at least a decade.

    That's pretty much a guarantee for
    - a high rate of failure due to a lack of time for political, strategic and economic reasons
    and
    - a high rate of conflicts with excessive costs that turn a victory into a Pyrrhic victory

    That is important for
    - the governments that trust such support
    and
    - the governments that think about ordering such support
    and
    - the citizens of both states

    It's a very major issue, dwarfing such stuff like COIN manuals easily.

    To tell everyone that it takes a lot of time and be satisfied with that is not satisfactory imho. That's like working for a Pyrrhic victory.



    -----------------
    Cultural drift? Come on. That's regional difference at most, not a cultural difference that would make one part militarily inferior.
    North and South Vietnam were separated for less than 20 years when Saigon fell, Eastern Germany existed for 50 years and failed to create greater cultural differences than exist between North and South Germany.
    Thank you for acknowledging the cultural difference between Bayern and Niedersachsen.
    The cultural differences between Niedersachsen and Bayern are smaller than the cultural differences inside both states, even within their cities and even inside individual houses.


    Your whole response activity was quite obviously so fierce because I dared to criticize the U.S. armed services. In this forum. Sacrilege!

    It's quite funny; the harshest criticism of U.S.Armed forces is usually audible when no Americans who could jump into their 'sacrilege!' mode are close.
    British, Canadians, Australians, French, Germans, Scandinavians - it's really easy to find experienced people who have very U.S.-incompatible views. They're just not frank enough to tell about it in an English-language forum.
    Because it's quite pointless.

  8. #8
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No, you're the one missing several points

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Ken; you don't see the point.

    I don't care whether Germans can train quickly, Americans can train quickly or anybody could. Let's assume that to raise an Army as a foreigner up to regional standard (and no more is necessary) takes ten years in wartime (actually, I wonder why the other side is much quicker, but who cares as Western trainers are obviously not).
    That depends on many factors, not least the standard to which is aspired.
    The implication is that every conflict that cannot be ended before such an indigenous army has been raised would last for at least a decade.
    Totally wrong on several levels. Depends on the individual situation. An indigenous army may be in existence or one may not be necessary. Tweaking the basically good Army that the British left behind in all their former colonies would be a very short term effort; those of the French would take slightly longer; those with no such background (again, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq) would take considerably longer. Yes, I know Iraq was British trained and had an Army -- but some US idiot disbanded it so it had to start from scratch...
    That's pretty much a guarantee for - a high rate of failure due to a lack of time for political, strategic and economic reasons...
    Again, very much situation dependent
    and- a high rate of conflicts with excessive costs that turn a victory into a Pyrrhic victory
    Far from a given. Costs are relative (and we throw money away, it's an American thing...).
    That is important for
    - the governments that trust such support and - the governments that think about ordering such support and - the citizens of both states.
    I suspect it's far less important than you seem to think it is.
    To tell everyone that it takes a lot of time and be satisfied with that is not satisfactory imho. That's like working for a Pyrrhic victory.
    I didn't do that -- I did say the two current examples would take that much time due to several factors; I also pointed out that training the support folks (and getting the system operating) and the senior leaders can take up to 20 years in peacetime and that would be true more places than not.

    It's not a question of being satisfied, it is simply a question of what's achievable and realistic. As I pointed out, unrealistic expectations can be far more detrimental than more time than some impatient people would prefer. Politicians always want a quick and relatively painless fix; those are rare. As the old saw says, "You can have it quick, good and / or cheap; pick any two, you can never have all three."

    Rush the training and standup and the end result will be failure. Some countries are okay with that; we generally are not.
    Your whole response activity was quite obviously so fierce because I dared to criticize the U.S. armed services. In this forum. Sacrilege!
    Not at all. Totally incorrect. First, trust me; that wasn't fierce or even very pointed. I was chuckling the whole time I was typing (still am) because you're funny. My response was slightly pointed because as I told jmm above, your gratuitous and totally unnecessary comment:
    ""I've observed discussions about this where people refrained about an oh-so-good U.S.-trained Georgian brigade. Well, maybe we should create a thread to identify the armies that were trained by the U.S. military and didn't afterward suck asap?I've got difficulties to remember any.""
    was pointless except to make a supercilious and apparently uninformed comment based on your opinions designed to invite controversy. That may seem sensible to you, it does not to me. It is off thread, not germane and adds nothing to the topic being discussed; it is a casual tossed insult which calls your motives into question. You do that frequently. You may have noticed that many here do not respond to your digs; that's because they have work to do and don't give those things -- the digs, you're capable of excellent comment when you avoid the stupidity -- much credence. I OTOH respond to many of your little jibes; I do that because I'm retired and have time to waste and tilt at windmills I have, I'm sure, heard and seen far more serious slams against the US over the years than your little digs, so no sacrilege; just unnecessary, to little avail and of quite minor import.
    It's quite funny; the harshest criticism of U.S.Armed forces is usually audible when no Americans who could jump into their 'sacrilege!' mode are close. British, Canadians, Australians, French, Germans, Scandinavians - it's really easy to find experienced people who have very U.S.-incompatible views. They're just not frank enough to tell about it in an English-language forum. Because it's quite pointless.
    Yes, it is pointless (which, pun intended, was my point) -- and most of those you cite don't have a clue why it's pointless. I've heard and seen a lot of it for a great many years. I'd also suggest some, a few, don't do that in an English language forum because they're polite.

    Let me tell you, though, why it's pointless. Generally, the understanding of what they're criticizing is superficial or ill-informed (as was your comment I quoted here and a few others over the past weeks) and -- this is important -- we don't really care what you think but are willing to mention some things you might not have thought of. We can be polite also.

    Let me remind you that I said and meant that you are capable of very intelligent comment and you are a valuable contributor; yet, when you slide into egregious anti-American jibes just so you can say you did, you effectively lower the worth of your sensible efforts. Pity, that.

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Interesting points, Fuchs, especially since I trained 4 more of your lieutenants just last week.

    But then again, your Army has been fighting for an opportunity to hold our jock strap for quite a while.

    I can snipe too.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    You have to have an idea first. Training is the easy bit.

    The things that screw up and prevent good training and pretty easy to identify, with national culture and religion being the top of the ladder. And the top spot is probably cognitive dissonance, and traditional male culture - "Willy waving" as my wife calls it - Some "waving" is required, but it should not be the desired end state.

    For anyone really interested in case study, the Palmach pretty much ticks all the boxes. The South Koreans are also worth a look.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  11. #11
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    You have to have an idea first. Training is the easy bit.
    I'd add not only do you have to have the idea, the nation / army / people to be trained have to accept and buy into that idea -- totally. If they do not, there will be passive resistance that can take a long time and much effort to overcome.
    The things that screw up and prevent good training and pretty easy to identify, with national culture and religion being the top of the ladder. And the top spot is probably cognitive dissonance, and traditional male culture - "Willy waving" as my wife calls it - Some "waving" is required, but it should not be the desired end state.
    Too true. A good example is the Iranian Army -- and the Air force. They, as opposed to the Pasdaran / IRGC were well trained, fairly disciplined and quite effective forces during the Iran/Iraq War. Khomeini had to let some of the Shah's General out of jail to prevent a disaster (as my Son reminded me last night in phone conversation about another matter).

    The US Training of the Iranian Army started in WW II; it effectively took off as a real development and training mission in the late 40s. By the time I arrived there in 1969, the Army was basically operationally and tactically competent, however, the logistic and maintenance elements were still only marginal. The few remaining op / tactical problems and all the log problems were cultural (and educational, a subset of culture). While there was some effort to appoint people on the basis of merit, the class level and who one knew or was related to had far too much impact and degraded capability and even affected operations. I recall one Bde level exercise where an attack got delayed for three hours while the "honor" of which Battalion would lead was sorted out -- and social parameters of the three Bn Cdrs became the determinant, not location or capability.

    An additional and very significant impactor throughout the ME (and South Asia) is that the intrinsic politeness requires that subordinates tell seniors what they want to hear, not the truth of the situation -- thus, wrong impressions led and lead to bad tactical decisions. It takes years to break that habit (if, indeed, it can be done at all).
    The South Koreans are also worth a look.
    True, they're good and it took them almost fifteen years to break the class and face saving habits to become effective. Those habits weren't necessarily bad or wrong but they were and are different and they do impact military performance.

    A part of the problem with training of the ROK Army was that, of necessity, early training focused solely on defense, there was no offensive training as the concentration on the immediate need. Same thing occurred with the Georgians lately; all the training effort was aimed at preparing just three (out of twelve or so) Battalion combat teams for service in the COIN role; no offense / defense -- and no higher formation training at all; no log training to speak of. It is one thing to train people quickly to integrate into a functioning Army, a whole different game to grow that Army from scratch -- and the culture and willy waving (or its local equivalent) are the big problems.

    The Palmach is indeed an excellent example -- and it was mostly done internally with little exterior help (unless you count Orde Wingate ).
    Last edited by Ken White; 08-16-2008 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Typo, truncation

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Maybe in some cases you don't really need to train an army because a militia is all that you need?

    The Afghan government can be considered as one of several powers/civil war parties in the country. Why does it need a real army if terrain has been controlled effectively by more militia-like forces in AFG in the past?

    Why does nation-building need to build a Western-like nation, why not just build a region-typical nation that works?

    A perfect solution can prevent a timely good solution sometimes.


    I'm actually surprised that you think that a military culture can be changed in 15 years. At least in the case of present old officer/NCO corps I'd expect a generation (30 years).
    But breaking old patterns and re-building to a new products isn't necessarily what I understand as advisable form of army buildup in times of war. There's probably no time for that, as the war might be lost before the training is done.
    Who cares whether a unit discusses something irrelevant for three hours if its opponents aren't better?

  13. #13
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Which way are you going???

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Maybe in some cases you don't really need to train an army because a militia is all that you need?
    Of course -- however, real and perceived need can differ. Most Nations tend to want an Army. In every nation discussed in this thread, the real and perceived need coincided.
    The Afghan government can be considered as one of several powers/civil war parties in the country. Why does it need a real army if terrain has been controlled effectively by more militia-like forces in AFG in the past?
    You'd have to ask the Afghans themselves, not me. I rather suspect their answer would have something to do with British incursions (they have long memories) where the tribes were effective, the invasion by the USSR where they were also effective but took to long and too much damage was incurred and their concern for both Russian and Pakistani intentions added to the capability of modern weapons...
    Why does nation-building need to build a Western-like nation, why not just build a region-typical nation that works?
    I suspect the answer to that question is that everyone is not a Fuchs and they may have ideas that differ from yours. Fair rhetorical question but there is no answer.
    A perfect solution can prevent a timely good solution sometimes.
    Frequently. Yet another human foible.
    I'm actually surprised that you think that a military culture can be changed in 15 years...
    I don't. You did but now apparently don't. Here's what I said up thread:

    ""An army formed from virtually nothing (Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq) is not going to be effective for at least a decade. Your time frame for the training of riflemen and junior leaders is correct for western nations -- those times need to be doubled for non-westerners for a variety of reasons; to train the all important logisticians and senior leaders takes at least a decade and usually longer. That, BTW, is with a war -- in peacetime it typically takes 20 to 30 years.""

    You then disagreed saying:
    ... A quarter century after the training started. Not impressive
    Yet today you say:
    At least in the case of present old officer/NCO corps I'd expect a generation (30 years).
    You are priceless. As Schmedlap pointed out, you have a tendency to make an argument; have it countered and then you return and try to turn that counter argument back on the person who made the point in the first place. You really ought to look at that. Anyhow, on this topic, you need to make up your mind; is 25 years bad or is it possible, even necessary to do it in less time; you also earlier said:
    The U.S. forces have failed to train foreign armies properly in time spans that were longer than the American Civil War or the First World War. That's outright failure. Such training missions should be expected to train foreign troops in a year up to junior NCO and in two years up to medium-rank officers. That's the speed of training demonstrated by national armies after mobilization.
    And this:
    Ten years might be OK in peacetime, but it's not OK in wartime.
    If you can show me how wartime will significantly change a culture, we can agree -- until then, it looks like you're trying to have it both ways and are just arguing for the sake of arguing...

    You go on today to say:
    But breaking old patterns and re-building to a new products isn't necessarily what I understand as advisable form of army buildup in times of war. There's probably no time for that, as the war might be lost before the training is done.
    That is true, no question -- so one does what one has to as one understands the need at the time (and the real need may nor be clear until the benefit of hindsight is attained). You also said earlier:
    A track record of inability to train a new foreign army to region-typical combat effectiveness in less than four years needs to have an impact on nation-building related foreign policy planning.
    I disagree that it's a track record thing; it is -- as you now seem to acknowledge -- a systemic and cultural problem.

    However, I do agree that, knowing that, different policy options should be explored. That, however, is a quite different topic and thread.

    Lastly:
    Who cares whether a unit discusses something irrelevant for three hours if its opponents aren't better?
    Probably no one; then again, if they are even a little better, that's a different thing, isn't it...

  14. #14
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The Palmach is indeed an excellent example -- and it was mostly done internally with little exterior help (unless you count Orde Wingate ).
    Though Palmach was originally British trained they soon worked out a lot of minor tactics stuff didn't work, and that all methods had to be adapted to their terrain and mostly importantly their culture. - so first to go was the British class system. Formed in 1941, by 1948 they end up fighting at the Theatre level on 3 fronts, out numbered, and winning - using purely Israeli doctrine. Contrast that with the fiasco of 2006!

    Orde was a bit of an extreme character, a cousin of T.E. Lawrence, and a far more skilled soldier. There is a new and excellent Biography coming out by Simon Anglim, of which I have read a draft.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  15. #15
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Uhmm, you realize that changing a military culture and building a new army are two different activities?
    I was writing about changing how an army works/fights. That has always taken a long time because old superiors persist and retain old methods.
    To build a new army is a completely different affair, obviously.
    You arranged statements to create a contradiction although there was no connection.

    If you can show me how wartime will significantly change a culture, we can agree -- until then, it looks like you're trying to have it both ways and are just arguing for the sake of arguing...
    The thing that changes is the available time.
    If "culture" prevents the quick (few years) creation of effective armed forces, then this needs to be included as argument in the original decision-making whether to start/articipate in the conflict as a foreign power. I wrote that before.
    That is the key question; can it be done quickly or not. Such enterprises are usually (if not always) not acceptable if it takes 10 years.
    I don't care about the difficulties. Can it be done or not? That's what the politicians and the public need to know in advance.

    I see basically four possibilites:

    1)
    many years available (~peacetime) / training to high standards is desirable and possible
    2)
    few years available (~wartime or crisis) / training to high standards is desirable and possible in time, training to regional standards is possible in time
    3)
    few years available (~wartime or crisis) / training to high standards is not possible in time, training to regional standards is possible in time
    4)
    few years available (~wartime or crisis) / training to high standards is not possible in time, training to regional standards is not possible in time

    Option 4 pretty much means that the costs of warfare would be extreme - if not unbearable - for a foreign power that substitutes for the indigenous armed forces.
    I have an impression that option (2) was too often assumed to be true, that this assumption is the default assumption and that this has led to several failures in the past.


    Ken; the basic dispute here is between your "the job needs to be done" attitude and my "looks like some decisions were wrong" attitude.
    You pretty much insist that the time for mission accomplishment has to be granted.
    That ignores the often excessive price that needs to be paid to buy that time, and that some missions are simply not worth that price.


    Imagine this scenario:
    year 2002
    people argue for & against an invasion of Iraq
    contra party says it would lead to an insurgency
    majority is contra war now
    pro party says that SWC and others have developed great strategies to defeat the insurgency
    majority is pro war now
    contra party says that experts think that to defeat an insurgency requires a new Iraqia rmy and ten years of training
    case closed, invasion won't happen, nobody is willing to fight a 10 year war for the expected benefits

  16. #16
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Reminder: How long does it take to train an Army?

    I cannot comment as an expert, being a non-military observer; that aside my reading of a history article recently on the WW1 US Army illustrated the pain it underwent in France / Belgium. In WW1 it took a long time, at horrendous cost, for the British & Commenwealth armies in France to reach combat superiority - in which training was one factor.

    In my reading on WW2 the training pre-1939 and into the war of the German Army NCO and junior officers is highly rated (see Peter White's 'With The Jocks').

    Post-1945 history has plenty of examples IMHO where expatriate officered armies, or ex-colonial armies have failed or regressed to a mob, e.g. Nigerian Army when the Biafra War started.

    I don't know what the mixture is for success, although I'd hazard a list: fit commanders, able staff officers, excellent battalion level officers and NCOs. Resting on a base of willing and disciplined soldiers - who mindful of Ken & Tom - who are paid, supplied and cared for.

    Now back to my armchair or "bunker".

    davidbfpo

  17. #17
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Requirements subsumed by desires...

    A story older than recorded history.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Uhmm, you realize that changing a military culture and building a new army are two different activities?
    No, I realize that sometimes that is true but, far more often, the two actions have to go hand in hand. As I said at the start of the thread, you cannot use western norms in dealing with non-western nations. That was true in all of the examples you or I elected to use. West is west, east is east and never the twain shall meet and all that.
    I was writing about changing how an army works/fights. That has always taken a long time because old superiors persist and retain old methods. To build a new army is a completely different affair, obviously.
    True but every example you cited was just that, building a new Army. As I said, you can't have it both ways...
    You arranged statements to create a contradiction although there was no connection.
    Not so, I repeated them in sequence and in context.
    The thing that changes is the available time. If "culture" prevents the quick (few years) creation of effective armed forces, then this needs to be included as argument in the original decision-making whether to start/articipate in the conflict as a foreign power. I wrote that before.
    Yes you did -- and I agreed but pointed out that the policy argument is a different issue.
    ...I have an impression that option (2) was too often assumed to be true, that this assumption is the default assumption and that this has led to several failures in the past.
    We can agree on that.
    Ken; the basic dispute here is between your "the job needs to be done" attitude and my "looks like some decisions were wrong" attitude. You pretty much insist that the time for mission accomplishment has to be granted. That ignores the often excessive price that needs to be paid to buy that time, and that some missions are simply not worth that price.
    Yes and no. I agree with that premise as you just stated it except I do not insist the time has to be granted -- I insist that is the time required; the decision to grant that time is a policy decision. In all cases cited, that decision was made by or for the policymakers to do so.

    My point with past (and present, including Georgia) examples you cited is that the policy argument is totally immaterial; those things are history. Whether they should have been done that way or not is another issue and one that IMO is irrelevant; they happened the way they did and we cannot undo them. We have agreed, in a fashion, that the time required to train a force to include necessary culture changes should unquestionably be a consideration. Whether it will be or not remains to be seen.
    Imagine this scenario:
    year 2002...
    . . .
    case closed, invasion won't happen, nobody is willing to fight a 10 year war for the expected benefits
    True, no doubt about that. That's why the issue was not discussed by the politicians and the media, most of whom did not know that -- and those who did didn't want to mention it. That's why Bill Clinton said we'd be in Bosnia (and Kosovo) for a year. Again, that's not a training time argument, that's a policy argument -- and on that we agree; it should be considered.

    However, I think that means we expect rational thought from Politicians -- an unlikely event...

  18. #18
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default One mustn't ignore the historical roots of an army

    The South Korean "Army" of 1950 had been trained and equipped as a para-military force to deal with the Communist guerillas that were operating in central South Korea. It was purposely not equipped with tanks in order to keep Rhee from attempting to invade the North. Also, in our political naiveté we failed to realize that the Soviets were training and arming the NKPA with heavy tanks. The South Koreans were not "routed" to the degree as some would like to think. They actually did a fairly admirable job, given the absence of tanks and anti-tank weapons, of slowing the NKPA advance, which allowed the US to build combat power on the Peninsula. Of course we took some body blows between Task Force Smith and the stabilization of the lines along the Naktong.

    On top of all that the South Koreans had no significant military traditions, having been under Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945. Their only military experience during that time was in guerilla actions against the occupation. The North actually had cadres who had been trained by both the Soviets and the ChiComs. As has been mentioned the ROKs performance in Vietnam was excellent.

    The South Vietnamese Army actually had to overcome their French training between partition in 1954 and 1960, when the US advisory effort began to increase. They performed very well thwarting the NVA Easter Offensive in 1972. But by 1975 we were no longer supplying the ARVN with adequate levels of supplies to stop the final invasion. Sort of the same situation the Wehrmacht was in 1945: plenty of fight but not enough fuel and ammo to keep fighting.

    We trained the Thai Army and they perform rather well in COIN. Not to be left out are the Japanese.
    Last edited by Umar Al-Mokhtār; 08-17-2008 at 01:16 AM.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

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    I don't get your argument here Fuchs. There is much more to making an Army than training and the most important factors are beyond the control of the trainer, no matter who that may be. Culture and training cannot be separated and culture is more important to the vast majority of people - when training and culture come into conflict, culture usually wins.

    Also, with regard to time required to train an Army, and to use an analogy, it seems to me you're argument is like complaining that the education system sucks because 12 year-olds have not yet graduated college.

    As for Germany in Afghanistan, two points. First, the German areas are peaceful because the Germans were given the most peaceful areas to begin with - the provinces north of the Hindu Kush. The relative calm there has much more to do with local conditions than superior skill by the Germans.

    Secondly, the Germans did fail in their police efforts, but they failed for the same reasons the US has "failed" to train an Army in six years. You can teach "Joe" Afghan all the law enforcement skills you want, but no amount of training is going to get Joe to think in terms of law enforcement the way we do - certainly not six weeks or a few months. Joe Afghan will take those police skills and use them to more effectively hound the enemies of his tribe or clan while protecting his own - in other words their concept of law enforcement, justice and the role of "police" in society are decidedly different than ours. That is a cultural thing and it's why German police training efforts failed.

    So Fuchs, training is not the problem. The US and Europeans can train like mofo's, but it's the trainee who ultimately gets to decide when, if, where and how to apply that training and a lot of that decisionmaking process comes from culture. If you can figure out a way to overcome those cultural barriers to create Armies and police forces in a few short years then write a paper and SWJ would probably publish it.
    Last edited by Entropy; 08-17-2008 at 04:35 AM.

  20. #20
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    We trained the Thai Army and they perform rather well in COIN.
    Having seen the RTA close to, I would not chalk this one up as a success. Yes, some units did well in Laos, but today that expertise in long gone - and it was not COIN- it was war fighting. Their COIN performance in the south of Thailand was/is utterly woeful.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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