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

  1. #21
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    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.
    Hmmm, I would have phrased that somewhat differently - it took years before enough British officers of the Old School were killed off so that we could show them at Vimy how to actually fight in that environment . Then again, I am biased .
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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hmmm, I would have phrased that somewhat differently - it took years before enough British officers of the Old School were killed off so that we could show them at Vimy how to actually fight in that environment . Then again, I am biased .
    Been told the truth hurts, but man that takes the cake
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  3. #23
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hey Ron,

    Just another example of organizational culture change through natural selection . As to my bias, outside of being Canadian, my great-Uncle fought in most of the major battles on the Western Front in WW I, including Vimy, and had some very pointed things to say about "Red Tabs" and the best way to deal with them (his suggestion was personal inspection tours of no-man's land...).
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Hmmm, I would have phrased that somewhat differently - it took years before enough British officers of the Old School were killed off so that we could show them at Vimy how to actually fight in that environment . Then again, I am biased .
    Well almost. Who was actually commanding Battalions in 1918, as opposed to 1914? (So think, 2004-2008) In 1918, Battalion Commanders were mostly junior officers, soldiers and Corporals from 1914, or even those who were still at school in 1914.

    That said, IIRC, a lot of Brigade and Divisional staffs were mostly unchanged, and Training was a Divisional responsibility.
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    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
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    Default We face political problems more than training problems.

    Gentlemen,

    Fuchs, is the problem really training at all, in some of the historical episodes you enumerated? Meaning, in the narrow sense of competently drilling troops on a parade ground, marching them to a rifle range, equipping them, etc.

    Take Iraq and Afghanistan, and our problems training national armies there. Is the problem we Americans have some kind of genetic predisposition to not knowing how to train foreign troops, or that there is no loyalty to a central government above the clan, region, tribe, or sect in the places we have tried to do it?

    To use a German example, consider the troubles with the Weimar Republic, the people who are really willing to fight--Freikorps or Spartacist League--they've got something else in mind if they are going to risk their necks. The Weimar government failed not because of inadequate training of the police and security forces, but something deeper.

    Our problem has more often than not been wading into places where we have tried to prop up governments that have serious political problems inside their own country.
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tacitus View Post
    Is the problem we Americans have some kind of genetic predisposition to not knowing how to train foreign troops, or that there is no loyalty to a central government above the clan, region, tribe, or sect in the places we have tried to do it?
    I suggest that the answer is not one or the other. If the US Army can't train a clan, region, tribe, or sect, then the methods need to be found to enable them to do so. Just because their belief system does not correlate with western values does not mean that are incapable of generating effective combat power if well trained and led.
    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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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I suggest that the answer is not one or the other. If the US Army can't train a clan, region, tribe, or sect, then the methods need to be found to enable them to do so. Just because their belief system does not correlate with western values does not mean that are incapable of generating effective combat power if well trained and led.
    Concur. Folks seem to forget that we did have a fair amount of success training Montagnard elements in Vietnam once we focused on basic skills. If Americans have a failing (and it's not genetic...it's more cultural) it's trying to do too much too soon. You can even find examples of this historically within our own training efforts (the Civil War springs to mind).

    I'd also argue that we were successful in training activities in Central America during the 1920s. Granted, we were propping up some questionable regimes, but the training seemed to work well enough.
    "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."
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    I would suggest using experienced US (or NATO, UN etc.) personnel embedded in an oversight role, such as the equivalents of IG or internal affairs to help vet out some of the "tribal" bias and to foster an environment of loyalty to the organization.
    Reed

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    Default The issue isn't training armies at all

    It's about developing the security environment, which includes developing all of the necessary security forces and the institutional/enterprise infrastructure. Without appropriate reforms throughout the security structure, training and equipping mean nothing.

    I would also note that leaving behind a bunch of trained and armed militias in places like Afghanistan isn't the best idea I've heard. Flash back to 1992, and that's about what we did. The results were less than desireable.

    On a positive note, South Korea was/is a success story in my book. 15 yr after the ceasefire, the ROK was able to secure its entire border with the exception of a narrow corridor in the 7ID/2ID sector, AND send two divisions to Vietnam! Now -- the rule of law/anti-corruption evolution took longer, but appears to be holding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    On a positive note, South Korea was/is a success story in my book. 15 yr after the ceasefire, the ROK was able to secure its entire border with the exception of a narrow corridor in the 7ID/2ID sector, AND send two divisions to Vietnam! Now -- the rule of law/anti-corruption evolution took longer, but appears to be holding.
    Moreover, one of those two ROK Divs - the Capitol ("Tiger") Division - had the highest "kill-ratio" of any conventional Allied unit of the Vietnam War. The NVA and VC were scared to death of the ROK Corps, and deliberately went out of their way to avoid them. Certainly there were cultural frictions between the US and the ROK Army, but in the Korean case, culture also tended to help more so than hinder the Koreans' assimilation of US training and TTP's. Great example - even if my treatment of it wasn't exactly in line with Old Eagle's original thrust.

  11. #31
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default Yep

    I heard some interesting stories from the ROK about that
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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    You're not trying to draw parallels between training the ROK army and the IA are you? Let's be honest. Not all foreign armies are equally trainable. Training Arab forces presents some very significant cultural obstacles that simply do not exist in Korea. I think that we are doing a decent job trainingthe IA/IP given what we have to work with (and around).

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's for sure.

    On top of that little problem, all countries and their amenability to building a security environment also differ. Not least of the problems in that sphere is acceptability of western norms...

  14. #34
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    Default Training Arab Armies

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    You're not trying to draw parallels between training the ROK army and the IA are you? Let's be honest. Not all foreign armies are equally trainable. Training Arab forces presents some very significant cultural obstacles that simply do not exist in Korea. I think that we are doing a decent job trainingthe IA/IP given what we have to work with (and around).
    Great point Uboat. I've never been stationed in Korea, but friends have told me the ROK was pretty squared away. Then again, they've been at it longer than the new IA. When I trained the IA, I had to remind myself daily what T.E. Lawrence said...

    "Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is."
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Not all foreign armies are equally trainable. Training Arab forces presents some very significant cultural obstacles that simply do not exist in Korea.
    I hear what you say and I partly of me agree with you. What I agree with is the "culture problem." What I have difficulty with is the idea that the "culture" is the problem.

    It seems to me that bad or incapable militaries suffer from common and usually crippling belief sets. Arabs serving in the Israeli Army (Druzim, Bedouin etc) have generally all been through the Israeli School system and generally have belief sets that do not hinder their understanding or execution of military skills - but they are still live well within an "Arab Culture," with all the wailing music, bad Egyptian movies and goat recipes that entails. Generally they are excellent and even unusually aggressive soldiers.

    As far as I can see the "crippling" beliefs are generally those associated with two areas. The first is self esteem, and social standing. The second is acceptance of empirical evidence and logic. Once you address those two issues in a way that says,

    A.) "You are no better than anyone else. You are judged and advanced by words and deeds alone."
    B.) "There is no other law than logic. G*d has no place in this."

    ...i think most of other problems go away, bezrat ha shem !
    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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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question What about the fact that

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I hear what you say and I partly of me agree with you. What I agree with is the "culture problem." What I have difficulty with is the idea that the "culture" is the problem.

    It seems to me that bad or incapable militaries suffer from common and usually crippling belief sets. Arabs serving in the Israeli Army (Druzim, Bedouin etc) have generally all been through the Israeli School system and generally have belief sets that do not hinder their understanding or execution of military skills - but they are still live well within an "Arab Culture," with all the wailing music, bad Egyptian movies and goat recipes that entails. Generally they are excellent and even unusually aggressive soldiers.

    As far as I can see the "crippling" beliefs are generally those associated with two areas. The first is self esteem, and social standing. The second is acceptance of empirical evidence and logic. Once you address those two issues in a way that says,

    A.) "You are no better than anyone else. You are judged and advanced by words and deeds alone."
    B.) "There is no other law than logic. G*d has no place in this."

    ...i think most of other problems go away, bezrat ha shem !
    The way those who oppose you view God, may very well have a lot to do with their logic?
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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    As far as I can see the "crippling" beliefs are generally those associated with two areas. The first is self esteem, and social standing. The second is acceptance of empirical evidence and logic. Once you address those two issues in a way that says,

    A.) "You are no better than anyone else. You are judged and advanced by words and deeds alone."
    B.) "There is no other law than logic. G*d has no place in this."
    While I agree with these two things being significant problems, both of which I have personally experienced, I would not say that they are the only crippling problems. But let's say for the sake of argument that these are the only two crippling problems in Iraq. How do you go about fixing them? I don't pretend to know anything about Israeli Arabs but I can make certain assumptions. One is that they do not live in an Arab culture, they live in an Arab sub-culture with in the greater Israel culture. That's an important distinction. That means that although they may be devout Muslims, and they may have tribal loyalties, that's all local. Once they leave their local communities to get jobs, go to school, join the Army etc. they have to leave that all behind and learn to live and function in Israeli culture. I don't know if Israeli Arabs have tribal sheiks but I do know that even if they do they do not hold anywhere near the power of tribal sheiks in an Arab country. Dealing with A.) should be pretty easy in the Israeli army because it is true. There are no tribes in Israeli culture and familial ties rarely get you anywhere. I would imagine that Arabs living in Israel learn this because they have to. The overriding culture in Israel is secular and egalitarian and anyone living in that society must, of needs, learn how to assimilate there. That isn't the case in Iraq. It's quite the opposite in fact. The overriding culture in Iraq is tribal and religion dominated. Tribal standing and familial relations get you everywhere in Iraq. Religion dominates nearly every aspect of life (more so in Shia than Sunni areas but it is there either way). We can create areas where A.) is true, a platoon here, a company there but ultimately any entities that we create will be subsumed by the greater Iraqi culture where tribal standing and familial relationships get you further than hard work. Getting rid of that attitude will require changing the entire society from the top down and the that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

    Arabs serving in the Israeli Army (Druzim, Bedouin etc) have generally all been through the Israeli School system and generally have belief sets that do not hinder their understanding or execution of military skills
    That's huge. If we could create and implement a western style education system in Iraq we could probably fix a lot of our problems (though certainly not all of them).

    SFC W

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    That's huge. If we could create and implement a western style education system in Iraq we could probably fix a lot of our problems (though certainly not all of them).

    SFC W
    Education as an intergal part of COIN? Sounds like a new thread.
    Who would best run oversite of the new education system instead of just pooring money into int?
    Reed

  19. #39
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    Default Pooring

    the humor of bad spelling. that would be pouring money into it btw.
    Reed

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    Default Ain't my department ..

    but the following may be of interest to some here

    US military trainers say Georgian troops weren't ready for war with more powerful Russia
    MATTI FRIEDMAN
    AP News
    Aug 18, 2008 14:28 EST

    U.S. military trainers the only American boots on the ground say the Georgian soldiers they knew who were sent to battle the Russians had fighting spirit but were not ready for war. .......
    http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=302938

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