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Thread: Grand Strategy

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Grand Strategy

    Link to PPT on Grand Strategy at NDU early this year by Retired Colonel John Warden. Slap

    http://www.ndu.edu/inss/symposia/joi...Warden-PPT.pdf

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Two thoughts on this:

    1. The U.S. does not currently possess a "Grand Strategy," and that is an incredible obstacle to virtually everything we do as a nation. As many have said:"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

    2. This product by Warden, while interesting, shows the Cold War roots that most of us were grown from. It is far to "Threat-Centric." While there will always be threats, as Warden lays out, they are difficult to predict. Far better to base a Grand Strategy on understanding and shaping the environment to be favorable to ones own national interests, but doing so in a manner so as to not unneccessarily generate future threats as second and third order effects.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Two thoughts on this:

    1. The U.S. does not currently possess a "Grand Strategy," and that is an incredible obstacle to virtually everything we do as a nation. As many have said:"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."

    2. This product by Warden, while interesting, shows the Cold War roots that most of us were grown from. It is far to "Threat-Centric." While there will always be threats, as Warden lays out, they are difficult to predict. Far better to base a Grand Strategy on understanding and shaping the environment to be favorable to ones own national interests, but doing so in a manner so as to not unneccessarily generate future threats as second and third order effects.

    Hi Rob, I agree we do not have a Grand Strategy.

    2-what you (and others) call the "environment" is what Warden calls the Largest system you will operate in and he has and does have quite a bit to say about how important it is but nobody ever reports that fact...except me

    PS there is an article he wrote called "The Art of Targeting" that was published in a Foreign War Journal that shows just how current his thinking is...all with the same model he has had for years. I am trying to find an English translation of it...when I do I will post it.


    PPS (To All) when he (Warden) gave the above speech a vigorous debate followed between him and General Van Ripper before the moderator stopped it. He (Warden) would like to continue the debate with Van Ripper. How could we make this happen?? It would be a great SWC event in my humble opinion

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Ok Slap, I'll go through it again. I confess a bias to thinking that whenever an airforce officer puts an option on the table it will somehow work its way around to support buying more F-22s, or to call for "global strike" as the preferred COA for apprending one bad actor laying low in some sovereign nation. I keep trying to get over this, but everytime I get close to being cured I bump into a call for "Irregular warfare F-22s" or "Indirect Approach Global Strike" (ok, I haven't actually encountered that last one yet...)

    I'll look for the targeting piece.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Rob, while you are waiting read this one on how Warden was applied to Terrorism. Written some time ago but is still as valid today as then.
    PS he is not a big fan of the F-22....Big believer in Unmanned Air platforms. Big believer in Special Forces for COIN/CT Ops.

    [/url].http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/acsc/97-0393.pdf

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Rob, here it is folks. Go to the website below and click PDF file in English edition. It is free no cost. Enjoy


    http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Digital-L...06588&id=14518

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Ok Slap, I'll go through it again. I confess a bias to thinking that whenever an airforce officer puts an option on the table it will somehow work its way around to support buying more F-22s, or to call for "global strike" as the preferred COA for apprending one bad actor laying low in some sovereign nation. I keep trying to get over this, but everytime I get close to being cured I bump into a call for "Irregular warfare F-22s" or "Indirect Approach Global Strike" (ok, I haven't actually encountered that last one yet...)
    There's a lot of that going around

    The cliff-notes version of why many in the Air Force consider the F-22 so important is because air supremacy is viewed as the enabler for everything else the AF does, particularly the BAI role. There is, obviously, AF culture to consider, but I think that factor is overemphasized by many AF critics.

    As for the Warden/Pape debate, it strikes me as quite similar to the so-called Gentile-Nagle debate. I see the idea that there is some kind of a zero-sum choice to be a false one. The Air Force needs a balanced capability to conduct strategic missions as well as direct support to ground forces. Like anything else, what capabilities are needed and when are situational. The price of diversity is that one is likely to find that some of your military capabilities are not useful for a particular conflict.

    PS: Thanks for the links, Slap, good stuff to archive!

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    I once mentioned in passing that I was unconvinced by the idea that "strategic bombing" had a strategic effect. I was prepared to counter arguments about the effect of bombing on Germany and Japan in WWII and North Vietnam in that conflict.

    I was given a hypothetical about the awesome persuasive ability of an airstrike to effect the decision making of a dictator. But there is no need for hypotheticals there. We have bombed a number of dictators and I am hard pressed to think of a single case where it had the desired effect. Not unless backed by Soldiers and Marines.

    In the mean time we have acquired a large number of very expensive vehicles designed to drop bombs of authoritarian regimes.

    The reason that I bring this up in because the piece from Warden is a reinforcement of this thinking. Long wars may be undesirable, but the Second World War resulted in a decisive American victory, and the order that came from it has served the world well for the better part of a century.

    Specific issues:

    Consensus on Grand Strategy is a bit much to hope for.

    Short wars sound great, and don't always work out. We all know a good example, and many of you have been there in the last seven years.

    Lastly, the Air Force has an aging fleet of planes that may or may not be well suited to current and future conditions. As they replace them, there ought to be a strategy. There isn't. For instance, the money that is being spent on the new tanker could very well be spent on a new blended wing bomber that would reduce the need for tankers to the point that the demand for tankers would be around 10% of what it is now. Instead, the Air Force plans to purchase a large number of tankers to fuel planes that have been obsolescent since before their pilots were born.

    Similarly, the F35 program is supposed to complement the F22 with a cheaper "low-end" plane. The problem is that like most programs it is over budget. When all is said and done, it may be cheaper to buy F22s. Or even the F/A-18, perhaps even reviving the land based version that was canceled in the developmental stage.

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    Council Member CR6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post

    We have bombed a number of dictators and I am hard pressed to think of a single case where it had the desired effect.
    I'm interested in your perspective on Operation Allied Force.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good points. But...

    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    In the mean time we have acquired a large number of very expensive vehicles designed to drop bombs of authoritarian regimes.
    ??? Authoritarian Regime bombs are new to me...
    The reason that I bring this up in because the piece from Warden is a reinforcement of this thinking. Long wars may be undesirable, but the Second World War resulted in a decisive American victory, and the order that came from it has served the world well for the better part of a century.
    It wasn't that long, historically speaking and it arose from a uniques set of circumstances and thus, likely (but not undoubtedly) was an aberration -- as was the 'Cold War,' a fairly long war, an aberration...
    Consensus on Grand Strategy is a bit much to hope for.
    Agreed.
    Short wars sound great, and don't always work out. We all know a good example, and many of you have been there in the last seven years.
    Short wars ARE great. In order to insure a war is short, you have to do some serious thinking ahead of time (A trait that is not an American strong point) about what you want to accomplish. Short Wars are an achievable goal -- and relatively easily so at that -- but the civilian leadership of the nation and the military forces of the nation have to be in synch and capable of exercising the political will to keep it short and they must be willing to accept the fallout therefrom. That conundrum is what make wars more lengthy than they need to be.
    Lastly, the Air Force has an aging fleet of planes that may or may not be well suited to current and future conditions...
    Very true. I agree with you. Unfortunately, while you and I can do great things, the Air Force has to deal with Congress...
    Similarly, the F35 program is supposed to complement the F22 with a cheaper "low-end" plane. The problem is that like most programs it is over budget. When all is said and done, it may be cheaper to buy F22s. Or even the F/A-18, perhaps even reviving the land based version that was canceled in the developmental stage.
    Good idea. What do you then do with all the nations that signed on to the F-35 and sent money?

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    Ken, I'll clarify my thoughts later.

    I really should know better than to post that late on a Friday night...

    ETA:

    My point was that the USAF has created the idea that the application of precision force can effect mindset and sway opinions. Things like "shock and awe." But reality seems to fall far short.

    We have all of these bombers that the pilots say will enable them to end wars almost overnight, but I am hard pressed to call upon examples. Libya and Iraq certainly are not valid examples.

    As far as dropping bombs on authoritarian regimes, I refer to the idea that bombingt a dictator or his family is a good way to end a conflict. I received a PM from another member who is of the opinion that one such strike went wrong, when that dictator supplied terrorists in order to retaliate against an ally. It seems to be hard to hit them, for one thing. I can think of only one head of state that has been killed in an airstrike, and that was Allende in Chile.
    Last edited by SethB; 02-14-2009 at 10:15 PM.

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    Ken, a couple more things.

    Short wars are certainly great, second only to no war*, but some American wars suffer from incrementalism. They are entered into over time and by degrees. Similarly, it seems to be diffucult to prosecute a war when economy of force is taken to extremes.

    As for our allies, I don't have an answer. I'm glad that my thoughts on this matter are of so little consequence. It saves me the burden of deciding what to do with so many billions of dollars and the goodwill of our allies.

    *Where applicable.

    Also, I was thinking of another conundrum. When we choose to purchase 183 F22s and 200 F35s we may be making too small a purchase. Essentially, those numbers will be split up geographically, and then further split by the fact that not all will be capable of operations at the same time. So in one region there may be only a handful of fighters. The Chinese, according to a professor of mine, have around 5,000 aircraft. While only arounf 20% of them are modern, it would seem conceivable that they could sustain higher losses and still wear our forces down. This is the kind of thinking that the AF Officers in my family use to justify aggressive purchases of 5th generation fighters.
    Last edited by SethB; 02-14-2009 at 11:28 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Short wars ARE great. In order to insure a war is short, you have to do some serious thinking ahead of time (A trait that is not an American strong point) about what you want to accomplish. Short Wars are an achievable goal -- and relatively easily so at that -- but the civilian leadership of the nation and the military forces of the nation have to be in synch and capable of exercising the political will to keep it short and they must be willing to accept the fallout therefrom. That conundrum is what make wars more lengthy than they need to be.
    Ken, that is absolutely a critical point. Warden would give you a gold star

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    Quote Originally Posted by CR6 View Post
    I'm interested in your perspective on Operation Allied Force.

    I haven't forgotten to answer you!

    Based upon what I've read, and I claim no deep knowledge of the war, NATO sought to end genocide in Kosovo by forcing concessions on the part of Slobodan Milosevic.

    The air assault included strikes on three kinds of targets. Military targets, infrastructure, and senior leadership.

    It is my understanding that the initial BDA was overly optimistic, that NATO claimed to have destroyed far more military material than it actually did, and that there was a great deal of international outrage over the destruction of civilian infrastructure, something which we have done in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

    It has been my impression that grinding up military units is the most effective way of persuading the enemy. Attacks on infrastructure and leadership may be helpful where they decrease military effectiveness or raise the costs of resisting, but the costs from destroying things like power plants and transmission facilities are high, especially if we intend to hold the ground.

    Further, when the enemy is largely independent of things that can be attacked (like the Vietnamese during Linebacker II and, strangely enough, Germany during the 1940's) then attacks on infrastructure my be a waste of time, and an opportunity cost. I say Germany because the peak of their industrial output was at a time when they endured nightly air raids. Precision guided munitions may change the ability to hit the target, but the weak link, at least in the 1990s, seemed to be finding targets, especially when the enemy could and would mock up fake equipment to draw the US/NATO into wasting bombs on telephone poles.

    Lastly, I don't know how much of Milosevic's decision to concede was based on air attack vs. how much was based on Russian pressure, given the regions history.

    If you were there or know more about it, I would be glad to hear from you. My understanding of airpower is imperfect, to say the least!

    ETA: As always, someone else said it first and better. I agree with Pape:

    Robert Pape argues that many air power practitioners in the West have misunderstood the true value of precision-guided munitions (PGM) in the wake of Desert Storm. It is widely believed that PGMs enable the United States to win wars within just days, by targeting the enemy leadership. Robert Pape, however, argues that the true value of PGMs lies in the support of ground power. They have rendered joint operations between air and ground forces in conventional campaigns so much more effective that air power is now doing most of the work.
    Last edited by SethB; 02-15-2009 at 12:47 AM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the response.

    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    Short wars are certainly great, second only to no war*, but some American wars suffer from incrementalism. They are entered into over time and by degrees. Similarly, it seems to be diffucult to prosecute a war when economy of force is taken to extremes.
    No war is obviously the best solution but it'll unfortunately be some time before we get to that point. In the near term, that incrementalism you cite is a function of the political will. It is a militarily unsound methodology and almost no thinking military person would indulge, given the option. In our system, they are rarely given the option; the urge for the Politicians to try to play G. Clemenceau generally rules.. Most commonly (Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq) they make the error of trying to fight nicely as opposed to planning to be incremental (McNamara being a particularly ignorant exception). Can't do that, trying to do it easy invariably causes more casualties (to include civilians) and lengthens the war.

    Economy of force relies on many things, not least well trained and experienced troops. We have the most combat experienced Army outside of Africa but their experience is specific and their training is marginal, thus we are (for the most part, there are some exceptions) not prepared to execute economy of force missions of the type that can finish a short war successfully. Generally, for short; a large force is required. Economy of force missions generally are not conclusive and, if the troops get bogged down, can lead to lengthy combats . Iraq is an example though it is far more complex than that. It is also an example of Politicians trying to fight nicely...
    As for our allies, I don't have an answer.
    I'm afraid I do -- they'll win -- LM will scream bloody murder if DoD tries to axe that one.
    Also, I was thinking of another conundrum... The Chinese, according to a professor of mine, have around 5,000 aircraft.
    Meaningless. We have over 10,000. Important is what kind and what one can do with them. If I have 5,000 aircraft, can deploy 4,000 to operate against you, have a 60% operational rate and can mount two sorties a day with 80% assurance; that's 4K x 60% = 2,400 x 2 = 4,800 x 80% = 3,840 or about 4K sorties or strikes per day. If you have 10,000 aircraft but can deploy only 2,000 against me because the others are elsewhere and you have an 80% operational ready rate and can mount five sorties a day with 80% assurance (2K X 80% = 1,600 x 5 = 8,000 x 80% = 6,400 or about 6K sorties or strikes per day), you win -- and that doesn't even take quality of aircraft or training into account.
    While only arounf 20% of them are modern, it would seem conceivable that they could sustain higher losses and still wear our forces down. This is the kind of thinking that the AF Officers in my family use to justify aggressive purchases of 5th generation fighters.
    They've only got about a 50% OR. I'm familiar with all the justifications. I'm sure the AF folks in your family are also familiar with the thinking of Congress which can spoil anything...

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default If we are going to look back and blame others...

    I was as a Reservist involved in early on post Cold War War Plans and Wargamming as involved the Muslim world we are now fighting in.

    Ken White's comments are largely on target in that a token effort was set up to "study" potential hazards of emerging Muslim extremism, pure and simple, have no doubt, with only an 06 (my retired rank level) to head it up the "think tank" and very little staff and no budget nor "Hill" clout to speak of.

    As Ken says in many words, my two cents is thus abbreviated.

    It would be good if we in an unclassified manner could brain storm some proactive and constructive ways and means to help out, but now our entire military operating budget is caught up in the world economic crisis, too.

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    Default Libya 1986 - a strike that went wrong?

    Quote Originally Posted by SethB View Post
    As far as dropping bombs on authoritarian regimes, I refer to the idea that bombingt a dictator or his family is a good way to end a conflict. I received a PM from another member who is of the opinion that one such strike went wrong, when that dictator supplied terrorists in order to retaliate against an ally. It seems to be hard to hit them, for one thing. I can think of only one head of state that has been killed in an airstrike, and that was Allende in Chile.
    I PM'd Seth and used the example of the Libyan bombing in April 1986, Op El Dorado Canyon, as an airstrike that went wrong, which targetted Gadafy's home and other military facilities. I refer specifically to Libyan support for the Provisional IRA in Ireland, with explosives and weapons, that is widely acknowledged to have extended 'The Troubles' for years. I'm not dismissing Lockerbie and other actions. Only in December 2003 did Gadafy renounce WMD and make other changes to Libya's stance on many issues.

    davidbfpo

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    Default The Crony Attack of Operation Allied Force

    PDF file of Air Attack during Allied Force. One of the best explanations of the proper way to use a 5 rings analysis and use a Parallel attack to achieve your Objective.

    Entropy, Capstone manual for SBW reading list

    http://aupress.maxwell.af.mil/SAAS_T...rt/Tolbert.pdf
    Last edited by slapout9; 02-15-2009 at 04:32 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Link to PPT on Grand Strategy at NDU early this year by Retired Colonel John Warden. Slap

    http://www.ndu.edu/inss/symposia/joi...Warden-PPT.pdf

    I should have posted this at the start but I didn't here is the speech by Warden that goes with the PPT slide presentation. Expands on the slide presentation a great deal...should have posted it at the start but.......Slap

    http://www.ndu.edu/inss/symposia/joi..._Panel%203.pdf

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    Good evening everyone. This is a great topical area that warrants additional discussion. The lack of a "Grand Strategy" has been a strategic challenge since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The strategy I am referring to is that called "containment," which focused all elements of U.S. national power on to the U.S.S.R. and ultimately resulted in the collapse of a 40 plus year adversary. The challenge today is that we do not have a nation state to focus an overarching strategy on. The only exception to this would be the Peoples Republic of China. The current administration must develop a "Grand Strategy" so that all other strategies can be properly developed and implemented to meet the strategic challenges that face our great country.
    Last edited by Ken White; 02-19-2009 at 01:33 AM. Reason: Edited to remove Upper Case fo all text.

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