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Thread: JFQ - Point - Counterpoint - SWJ Early Exclusive

  1. #21
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    agree fully with Dave M's and Ken's comments on Rob T's excellent post that has been copied to this thread.

  2. #22
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    Posted by max161, What we need to be able to do is properly task organize to meet mission requirements. We need to conduct the proper and thorough mission assessment (which includes most importantly the requirements of the host nation) and then apply the right force (or combination of forces to accomplish the mission) Unfortunately this means being able to find the right people with the right skill sets and that could mean talking people from exist modular organizations.

    What should be considered when determining the force is the right combination of GPF and SOF. If we could break the rice bowls and understand what is required for the mission then we could properly task organize to accomplish the mission. We need a combination a great GPF and SOF and not one or the other. And as we look to the future I think we need to strongly consider that we will face the Hybrid Threats that Frank Hoffman has articulated so well. And to defend against those threats we will need a highly capable, agile and flexible combat force combined with the ability drawn from that force to advise and assist friends, partners, and allies against, subversion, terrorism, insurgency, lawlessness as well as external threats to a nation's sovereignty.
    I think max161's post was excellent and appropriate to this discussion. When you add comments to this discussion comments from the on going discussions on "how to win" focused on Bob Jone's article on "Population Focused Engagement" and discussions on how to address the problems in Afghanistan, I think we have developed a considerable amount of information, knowledge and ideas that can serve as a basis to seriously mature our initial ideas on how to improve our capacity to equip, train, advise, and assist partner nation security forces.

    One concern I have, and obviously it won't be addressed to any great length on the SWJ council, but where are the policy objectives, strategy, and campaign plans? If we simply (I know it isn't simple) develop a capacity to increase and improve our ability to build partner nation capacity, then we'll have a tool everyone wants to use because they'll think it is "the answer" to the problems we face, but we know the problems are much more complex than a lack of security forces capacity. As long as we keep in mind that our ability to develop better host nation security forces is inadequate to achieve "victory" (achieve policy objectives) without realistic policy objectives, strategies and campaign plans, then we're on track. If we think we can fix the "problem" by simply improving our capacity to equip, train, and advise friendly partner nation security forces, then I think we're far from solving the bigger problems at hand.

    Ken will scold me, but this is a Whole of Government problem, and it is a multinational problem/challenge. Department of Defense will get out in front of everyone else because we're a proactive organization that is less bureaucratic than the other government agencies (scary thought). In my opinion designating and manning a Combat Advisor Bde is re-designging the Army, and that is a major step, one that should not be taken until we determine (to the degree possible) our requirements based on policy. I stand by my argument that what we need in the short term is to resurrect something along the lines of the Institute of Military Assistance (IMA) to prepare hand selected officers and NCOs who been selected to serve as advisors for their duties. That is needed now, we already have a large pool of talented Officers and NCOs, they just need a top notch advisor school (center) where they can learn about where they're going, how the culture and other factors will impact their mission, suggestions on how to deal with it, etc. This Advisor center (can be joint, or one established for each service) can be manned by a combination of Active Duty and DoD civilians to serve as instructors and mentors and to provide a reach back facility to help those advisors forward. Imagine the goodness that could come from an official community of interest (WOG, international, academia, etc.) that an advisor could tap into for help. We would actually catch up to the information age. While the SWJ serves as a great model, I think we would have to narrow the participation down to trusted agents (in most cases).

    There are other ways to address this problem beyond building an Advisory Bde. In the long run, if we still think we need to go that way, we can readdress it.

  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No scold from me, I agree with your next to last paragraph.

    It is emphatically a whole government problem and in my opinion a long term strategic view that both parties in Congress essentially sign on to is needed. We effectively did this, by trial and error for the old Cold War. We should do something along the same line again -- except this time, please, let's avoid the idealistic thrust the Kennedy crowd cynically used to sell it. That foolishness kept us off track for years -- still does. It does not work. Pragmatic and achievable is good.

    Particularly achievable...

    An IMA is a good idea and I even know where it ought to be located -- though the shooters would probably get upset.

  4. #24
    Council Member ipopescu's Avatar
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    Bill wrote:
    One concern I have, and obviously it won't be addressed to any great length on the SWJ council, but where are the policy objectives, strategy, and campaign plans? If we simply (I know it isn't simple) develop a capacity to increase and improve our ability to build partner nation capacity, then we'll have a tool everyone wants to use because they'll think it is "the answer" to the problems we face, but we know the problems are much more complex than a lack of security forces capacity. As long as we keep in mind that our ability to develop better host nation security forces is inadequate to achieve "victory" (achieve policy objectives) without realistic policy objectives, strategies and campaign plans, then we're on track. If we think we can fix the "problem" by simply improving our capacity to equip, train, and advise friendly partner nation security forces, then I think we're far from solving the bigger problems at hand.
    Bill,
    These are the issues I was trying to get at in my earlier post on this thread.
    As far as I can tell, many current top officials involved in strategic planning reached the conclusion that the best way to fight al-Qaeda and other similar groups is to build up local allies capable to govern their territory decently and hunt down the bad guys, with American assistance when needed. This is the end-goal, or the "political objective" if you will, of the Long War. Or at least this is as close to a definition of "victory" as you can get. This is how this administration sees things, IMO. The Obama team may reach a different conclusion, we'll have to wait and see. Therefore, I see the development of better advising capabilities as being closely linked to this strategy. You are surely right that the problems weak states face are much larger than the lack of capable security forces, but as Ken wrote in his reply to me, sometimes a little bit of humility and realism about what may be possible is in order. The US won't be able to help them solve all their problems, but from the point of view of our national interests helping them in the security arena may be the most efficient investment.
    Best,
    Ionut
    Ionut C. Popescu
    Doctoral Student, Duke University - Political Science Department

  5. #25
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Never object to a stealing or copying a good idea! This comment with minor grammatical corrections is also added here from a previous post on the Blog.

    Dave is on target again. BZ.

    The Advisor Corps is a very bad idea.

    He mentioned one item that triggered several recollections:I can recall numerous occasions while advising two separate and quite different host nations seeing their Officers seek the advice of those Advisers with recent experience regardless of rank while merely politely listening to those with cultural credibility and affinity, strong language skills and equal or greater rank and no recent combat, command or leadership experience. They very much preferred to socialize with the latter -- but they listened to the former...
    Isn't Nagl's concept of an advisor corps *NOT* a career field/functional area, but a BCT advisory group assignment for 2-3 years at some point in the mix?

    Would be like O/C duty, AC/RC, etc, not an advisor corps where one goes into and never comes out.

    Most people tend to be arguing against the career field approach. That's not what Nagl wrote in his proposal.

    I argue the worst thing he did to his argument is call it a "Corps", like acquisition or such. It is really an advisor unit, where people are assigned for limited duration.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
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  6. #26
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    Default Humility or Arrogance?

    Posted by Ionut,

    As far as I can tell, many current top officials involved in strategic planning reached the conclusion that the best way to fight al-Qaeda and other similar groups is to build up local allies capable to govern their territory decently and hunt down the bad guys, with American assistance when needed. This is the end-goal, or the "political objective" if you will, of the Long War.
    From where I sit, I agree, this seems to be sum of the grand plan.

    Ken wrote in his reply to me, sometimes a little bit of humility and realism about what may be possible is in order. The US won't be able to help them solve all their problems, but from the point of view of our national interests helping them in the security arena may be the most efficient investment.
    Is it doable? Certainly, but this entire plan is based on the assumption that the local allies will act in our interest. Without mentioning specific countries and instances, there are a few (if not several) cases where the ally won't act, because they believe acting will make the situation worse for them. In some situations they are probably correct, any host nation security force activity against their own people that can be spun to be in the interests of the U.S. by our foes could easily inflame local passions in a way that is not desirable to our or the region's best interests. It is also based on the assumption that better security forces will solve the problem, but I made my case on that already.

    My argument is not against building partnership capacity, by all means we should pursue this, but it shouldn't be a cookie cutter approach based on the Cold War or Iraq/Afghanistan model. What type of capacity does the host nation need to address the threats it is dealing with? Let's assume we helped the host nation develop elite commando and infantry units, but their laws prevented these forces from operating within their borders unless their was a national emergency? Let's also assume the threat is an underground organization, a shadowy organization forcused on propaganda, subversion, terrorism, fund raising (legal and illegal), etc. Unless we allow them to get to the point of a war of movement, which means we're going to wait until the nation collapses or is near collapse, then an argument could be made that there will be very little work for a Bde's worth of combat advisors after OIF and OEF-A. Instead the host nation will probably need more assistance with their MOI security forces (police and intelligence organizations) from a security perspective. However, they may also need assistance with legal reform, economic development, information operations, and other areas to enable them to extend good governance to their people. However, back to the military. I recall individuals from the Air Force complaining about their lack of participation in the process, yet tactical air lift, intelligence support, and in some limited cases fire power support is critical to the host nation, so field your advisors to fill this gap. The same can be said for the Navy regarding littoral and brown water areas.

    If we think every conflict is going to look like Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, and Iraq, then a large combat arms advisory capacity will be needed. If we hope to get in front of the problem, before it gets to the point that host nation armie will be involved in combat in their country, then we probably want to focus on their MOI versus their MOD, with the caveat that every situation will be different, and we shouldn't do anything without conducting a detailed assessment of the problem first. Then as max161 proposed, determine what military forces are needed and I would add what interagency, contractor, and partner nation personnel are needed. To put the icing on the cake, appoint one person in charge of all it and...., O.K., I know that is a bridge too far. Disunity of command and effort is apparently a new principle of war.

    Posted by Cavguy,
    Isn't Nagl's concept of an advisor corps *NOT* a career field/functional area, but a BCT advisory group assignment for 2-3 years at some point in the mix?
    I think you're right, but based on how quickly officers are promoted now, what does a three year assignment mean to their career cycle? What key developmental job(s) will they miss? What I haven't seen to date is the advantages of forming a BCT's worth of advisors, what do you think they are?
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 11-16-2008 at 08:45 AM. Reason: grammar

  7. #27
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post

    I argue the worst thing he did to his (NAGL) argument is call it a "Corps", like acquisition or such. It is really an advisor unit, where people are assigned for limited duration.
    Concur. The problem I have with the Advisor Corps is that it is a Hammer to crack a very small nut. Force Generation is not rocket science, and I would figure that about 650 of the right men, could probably do the whole "Advisor" thing world wide.

    I might also be wrong to assume that the "Advisor" model from Iraq and Afghanistan is the one that is going to work, next time around.
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  8. #28
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default FAOs

    With all due repsect to our great FAOs out there one of the drawbacks (to the Army program) is the single tracking of FAOs from Captain onward. While this is great for personnel management, career development, and education, the loss of "operational" FAOs (those who rotate between operational and FAO assignments) means we are going to have future attaches and security assistance officers who know the FAO and Security Assistance business inside and out (read foreign military sales, etc) but who have no real credibility with their military host nation partners because they have not been in an operational assignment (combat or not) since they were Captains. Our "adviser corps" will be the same way.
    With all respect Dave, you may be right on advisors but you are dead wrong on this one. Most "operational FAOs" who worked 3rd world were paper FAOs and lacked any indepth understanding of their regions. You don't get credibility as a FAO because you were an S3 in a line battalion; you get it because you develop the rapport necessary to do the job. I met any number of those "operational FAOs" and either had to help them learn or sent them packing. As for operational jobs as a FAO, if you look for them you can develop a different type of credibility, one based on real world operational experience. That is one of the reasons I went to Lebanon. Point of fact, some of the best FAOs I worked with over the years were AG officers who wanted to break out of the mold that the personnel system has trapped them in. For the most part they did quite well.

    I have heard your argument going back well before we went to the current system. I saw an memo sent from FAO Proponent Office to the then DCSOPs LTG Reimer and CSA GEN Vuono. Reimer wrote on it--"this is a great memo". It was but it was pure Kool Aid because it assumed most FAOs were combat arms and would be given an opportunity to compete more or less on an even footing. The reality was that at least for the 3rd world programs, FAOs who like me got started early got sucked in early and regardless of dual track memos ended up single track. I was somewhat unique because I earned two ASIs. I was also one of the two FAOS that GEN Sullivan cited in his memo in late 94-early 95 when he ordered DCSOPS to fix the program because too many FAOs were dropping like flies through promotion boards.

    Finally note that in my counter-argument I have used 3rd world FAOs; I believe that the the European and the Soviet progarms were very much like you espouse and worked quite well, at least up until the Balkans begain to unravel and the Wall came down. Old Eagle ws was a Euro guy and got to command. What I would leave you with is the suggestion that there are varying degrees of truth. Advisors maybe a bad idea as a pemanent entity. That depends on how you define advisor just as how you define FAO. What we do not have right now as best I can tell is a selection process beyond having a pulse.

    Regards,

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 11-16-2008 at 10:33 AM.

  9. #29
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    One thing that I've learned is each problem set is different. The conditions which give rise to the policy OBJ that generates military objectives are different (as is the question who should be in the lead and when). The competing objectives by the interested parties, stakeholders and participants (to include what else we have going on in the world) are different, and will continue to change over time as interaction occurs. Some of this guides initial time lines and commitment of means and ways to secure an end.

    The desires I've seen expressed by the institutions can be summed up by, "tell me "how much" of this and that “how much” applies to the requirement writ large, and we'll generate it for you (or at least consider it)." The desire for a "hard" identification of "steady state demand signal" is the wrong question to be asking with regard to the capability to build capacity because it is at odds with reality, and because I don't think we need to paint ourselves into a corner. Some of these are collective capabilities, but many are individual capabilities – the key is to understand when you need which one and how much. Somebody raised the issue of what is "the new steady state" on a thread – I think it depends on the policy objective and our attraction to it. When the call is out for 30K worth of advisors to somewhere - that becomes the new addition to steady state, and when that drops off, so does the steady state number (related is the question of what support is required for the new increase?). Steady State then is subjective to conditions, and conditions change.

    As such you have a going in position that is based on what you'd like to do; what you can afford and support; what you can offload to other partners and not put your objective at too much risk; and what the environment (HN Govt, HN population, other partners and participants) will tolerate. This position gets renegotiated continuously (and/or reassessed), but is affected by what occurs on the ground, as well as new objectives in existing or new places. Its worth pointing out the loop here of how what is possible on the ground is also subject to the capabilities generated to support it.

    It is one of the reasons that looking at a particular problem in isolation of the other problems you have leads you to assign a specific quality and quantity value and then try and apply it across the board. My luck (if you want to call it that) has placed me in considering similar problems in different places at the same time. It is hard for me to consider any one of them in isolation. Once you do the math, and realize that everybody assumes they get everything they are asking for, you quickly run into a physics problem.

    We assume that the best capable, and best suited capability to an objective and set of conditions will be available for our problem. This could be SF, a type of BDE, a type of aircraft, ship, a civilian or multinational capability etc. and because we only see our problem we assume we get what we ask for. The reality is that the problem does not go away, but the "more suitable" capability may be engaged elsewhere, and a substitute must be found, or risk accepted at some or all levels. While it is useful to look at some problems in isolation to focus our attention and to explore the quality of discreet capabilities, its hard to use it consider where our gaps really are because it creates a bias in assuming we always have what our mental exercises tell us we did.

    What I've started doing when advising on these various efforts is look at the objectives and conditions and outline the functional requirements. This is based on; our desire and attraction and the numbers associated with the environment (e.g. the number the HN security sector must produce and sustain across it scope to meet the objective). This produces a guideline for establishing a ratio - i.e. a BDE level organization can provide this much support to this many sub units such as ODAs, BNS or individually augmented teams of a composition and disposition based on operational conditions, and for this many number of BDEs under these conditions, X amount of CS and CSS will be required. It could also go the other way - and a collective organization such as a SC MAGTF or ODA becomes the complete answer, or only requires minimal support. It is objective and condition driven, and one size does not fit all as such. You are just looking for the best range of solutions.

    Again what Clausewitz outlined as the first and most important duty of the statesman is also applicable to the CDR and his staff as they should be informing that decision. If you decide you really want to do something, and you really want or need to do it faster rather then slower there are requirements to do so -the first being to decide if the costs (commitment of your resources, unintended consequences, etc.) you have outlined are worth the effort either now or later.

    Even this cannot be seen in isolation, but must be considered against the other functions outlined in the broader USG and MNP campaign required to address those conditions which introduced military forces in the first place and move it back to a point where "more" normal means and ways can be resumed or applied. Doing this allows you to mentally build your footprint and consider supporting requirements in the HQs, and in other LOEs (Army) /LLOOS (Joint) required to achieve some measure of unity of effort against the back drop of what is tolerable -and then assess risk. I think this is better than a journey of self discovery which has historically led us to a "wall of band-aids" approach sprinkled with a "how did we forget to add 1 of those" mentality, followed by a "quick, get me 5 of them !".

    This is 60-70% theoretical design approach (at best) because it cannot capture what will occur once you begin operations - this is why Clausewitz drew a line between the value of theory and battlefield. You can however use real life to provide feedback on your theory (something both CACD and ODP encourage) and continually reassess the competing interests to re-frame your problem, and your requirements.

    What you wind up with is a set of functions you can start to assign values to based on what you know is available, and/or what you believe is/will be available over time. I think this will help us look at the generation of capabilities differently - particularly with high end capabilities requiring advanced experience, education, training and perhaps rank such as the ministerial and institutional levels. If for example the optimal capability is engaged elsewhere in something that only they can do (or that we are unwilling to accept risk in), then the most suitable substitute must be found to address that function.

    Once you get all the functional requirements laid out, you can start considering what are the support requirements to operationalize and sustain it, or where you must take risks because you (and none of your partners) simply cannot fill all those requirements. What you may (at least I have) outline for your requirements is a mixture of capabilities some of which come in a collective package, and some of which must be "made to order", or cobbled together in ad-hoc fashion - or if you prefer task organized at the individual level based on their individual qualities.

    One key to making this work is that you have to be able to identify what your requirements really are to make your objectives more feasible, and you have to be able to reach through your entire inventory of people to identify who best matches the requirements associated with that function. This is why (OE chime in anytime) the "P" in DOTMLPF is so critical - if you do not find better ways of assessing, tracking and retaining these skills you are constraining yourself to a "see a hole - fill a hole" approach which leaves it up to luck to get more right than wrong.

    A second key is developing the organizational and strategic flexibility to make explicit what we implicitly already know, and that is that based on conditions what works in one place may require adaptation or something all together new in another. This is a cultural problem and while it can be addressed some in our DOTMLPF framework, it requires that unequal dialogue with civilian leadership and the courage to continuously make hard choices and risk acceptance.

    The third key is a holistic DOTMLPF approach. All of these DOTMLPF wheels are interconnected. You turn one and you knowingly or unknowingly turn another. I've already mentioned the "P", but the others are also important - but I'd make a case that in this case the "M", "F" and the "O" will shake out after we get the "P", "T", the "L" with its silent "E" (something we should emphasize here), and the "D" more right. These are the things that will help us better realize our objectives in interactive, complex environments (which in truth they all are but which are emphasized to those who see them differently), will reduce risk, and will facilitate achieving unity of effort with our range of partners.

    Well it is Sunday, and I have to help get our brood of 5 ready for church

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-16-2008 at 03:22 PM.

  10. #30
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default True.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Isn't Nagl's concept of an advisor corps *NOT* a career field/functional area, but a BCT advisory group assignment for 2-3 years at some point in the mix?

    Would be like O/C duty, AC/RC, etc, not an advisor corps where one goes into and never comes out.

    Most people tend to be arguing against the career field approach. That's not what Nagl wrote in his proposal.

    I argue the worst thing he did to his argument is call it a "Corps", like acquisition or such. It is really an advisor unit, where people are assigned for limited duration.
    on all counts. He didn't mean a career field and I didn't assume that.

    With respect to the cycling (and due to specialty and rank mismatches), that's why I said it would take six BCTs worth of people to support four BCTs tabbed as Advisers -- and that is probably a conservative estimate on my part. I also believe that the ability to fill those advisory units with 'recently experienced' guys and gals on a HRC rotational plan will be questionable.

    Of course, I think anything HRC is associated with is questionable...

    My biggest concerns with the whole idea have always been:

    It's not affordable.

    There is no proven need (this is the critical issue; there is an assumed need -- not the same thing at all).

    Advising is not that difficult but not all can do it well (round pegs in square holes again);an ad-hoc system is more than adequate -- we've proved that in three wars.

    It will be a distraction form the Army's business -- which is warfighting. FID must be a national, whole government effort and forcing the Army to do the 'adviser' bit is to give the rest of government an out to supporting such effort; will give the Army a flaky justification for funds and other things that will need to be used to continue the justification -- thus, their existence will support a 'strategy' that may be not only unnecessary but undesirable, it will in fact force such a 'strategy' choice. That is putting the cart before the Billy goat...

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    I have been reading/watching this debate the past couple months (crusaders vs conservatives) and problem with the original piece was that it made both sides all or nothing. COL Gentile wants a force that trains for HIC but is cabable of shifting to LIC. LTC Nagl predicts LIC as likely in the near future, so he wants the Army to build an "Advisor Corps" to focus on preventing/assisting in future fights, while the rest of the Army trains as needed.

    The current ad hoc system for advisor mission largely takes pre-command CPTs, pre-KD MAJs, and senior NCO's with dwell time, gives them check the block training, and sends them off to "advise." As stated above, the 3 year rotation takes them out if the loop for 3 yrs, but this current system takes them away for 1.5 years, and other than experience and lessons learned, puts them behind their peers waiting for command, KD, or PLT SGT/1SG. At least the corps could focus training and resources, and allow broader training/expertise to develop.

    As for colonels debating over which force structure Army we should have, isn't this a lot like 2 LTs arguing over what the BDE MRX should entail. Its an important debate and good/realistic ideas come up, but Higher is still going to issue a plan and say "execute" regardless of voices from below. Our senior civilian and generals need to decide kind of Army/military they want, what they want it to do, and what structure it needs.

    Once they make that decision, though; the Army should do the opposite because that will probably be closer to reality.

  12. #32
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Other cogent comments from several:

    Bill Moore said:
    "If we think every conflict is going to look like Vietnam, El Salvador, Afghanistan, and Iraq, then a large combat arms advisory capacity will be needed."
    Maybe we should consider the fact that in El Salvador, there was no large combat arms advisory presence and that in Iraq, we literally (and unnecessarily IMO) created the need for one...

    Wilf said:
    "I(t) might also be wrong to assume that the "Advisor" model from Iraq and Afghanistan is the one that is going to work, next time around."
    True and I'd add; Beware of self-fulfilling prophecies, it's wrong to assume too much as you then tend to work or try to make the assumption come true...

    Tom Odom said:
    "With all respect Dave, you may be right on advisors but you are dead wrong on this one. Most "operational FAOs" who worked 3rd world were paper FAOs and lacked any indepth understanding of their regions. You don't get credibility as a FAO because you were an S3 in a line battalion; you get it because you develop the rapport necessary to do the job."
    My observation in several of those nations is that Tom's correct. Many seem to presume that the best advisers would be FAOs. I don't think that's right, the two jobs have quite different requirements and goals. A good adviser does need some language and cultural knowledge and skill; he does not need the in-depth knowledge and FAO should possess.

    An adviser in the military sense provides advice on TTP, Admin-Log, operations and such to foreign forces. The FAO OTOH is an adviser to the USG (who, unfortunately, rarely listen to the people they've spent millions training and educating ). Two very different jobs requiring different skill sets.

    Rob Thornton said:
    "My luck (if you want to call it that ) has placed me in considering similar problems in different places at the same time. It is hard for me to consider any one of them in isolation. Once you do the math, and realize that everybody assumes they get everything they are asking for, you quickly run into a physics problem.
    Ain't that the truth! It is, however, the American way. Self confidence is good; self esteem -- which we seem to be fixed on nowadays -- is not the same thing and it can lead you into traps. To wit; assuming you can do anything and everything and that all that needs to be accomplished. I suggest all three assumptions can lead you astray -- and that's where we, as a nation, are.

    The Armed Forces can and should be an example to the society from which they come. They can aid in restoring a little appreciation for common sense and reality into our national psyche. I'm not sure they can do that if they're going to succumb to the "we can and should do it all and everything needs to be done" meme themselves.

    With particular emphasis on 'everything needs to be done [by us]...'

  13. #33
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    General Casey in the upcoming JFQ issue: (sorry no link yet)

    Quote Originally Posted by General Casey
    We also asked ourselves if we really
    think we’re going to build another country’s
    army and police forces and ministries from
    the ground up any time soon. And the answer
    was, probably not. We’ve got several chal-
    lenges: we’ve got to set ourselves up to do Iraq
    and Afghanistan for the long haul, and then
    figure out how we augment Special Forces
    to do the other engagement that we need.
    That’s kind of the direction we’re going. In
    the interim, we have a training center for
    transition teams that we’re going to continue
    to run, it’s going to move down to Fort Polk,
    out of Fort Riley, and we’re going to have a
    brigade dedicated to doing nothing but train-
    ing transition teams. So we’ll continue to do
    that for a while.

    I just came back from Afghanistan, and
    more and more I’m hearing Soldiers on the
    ground say that the partnerships—matching
    an Afghani battalion up with a coalition
    battalion or a coalition company—is having
    a greater impact on the indigenous forces
    than the transition teams.
    We may not need
    as many transition teams; just aligning them
    with the coalition forces may be a better way
    to go. In Iraq we had both; we had transition
    teams and partnership, and that seemed to
    work. So I think you may see how transi-
    tion teams are evolving a little bit in Iraq
    and Afghanistan, and we’re working with
    the theater to see what the best way to go is.
    But at least in Iraq, and to some extent in
    Afghanistan, the proficiency of indigenous
    forces is getting to where they don’t need to
    have somebody with them every day; they
    can operate side by side. So I think it’s going
    to evolve a little bit, but I’m not exactly sure
    how it’s going to go
    Interesting excerpt of a larger section highlighting his views (elsewhere he states SF is his advisor corps and that they might can be augmented by GPF in certain situations).

    I actually agree that embedding US units inside of host nation BN's is probably more effective than just TT's - it certainly helped in my AO, where my company lived with an IA battalion. You still need the TT's for the staff mentorship, but the combat part is better done by a combat unit.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Wink Okay, I type slowly...

    and patmc said:
    ... puts them behind their peers waiting for command, KD, or PLT SGT/1SG. At least the corps could focus training and resources, and allow broader training/expertise to develop.
    Aren't you attacking the symptom rather than the problem with that approach? That situation is caused by a totally dysfunctional Personnel system which most everyone (except the senior 41s and 42s) know needs to be radically changed. The most common complaint I here from serving folks of all ranks today is that system which the Army seems to exist to support rather than the opposite which should be the case.

    Also suggest that the corps focus would be a resource competitor which would either (a) be inadequately resourced and thus lead to ineffectiveness; or (b) become a resource hog and eat up funds better spent elsewhere. Which it would be is as much dependent upon the volume and persuasiveness of its proponents as it would on actual or even perceived need. I think you're also advocating 'broader training/expertise' which isn't required.
    As for colonels debating over which force structure Army we should have, isn't this a lot like 2 LTs arguing over what the BDE MRX should entail. Its an important debate and good/realistic ideas come up, but Higher is still going to issue a plan and say "execute" regardless of voices from below. Our senior civilian and generals need to decide kind of Army/military they want, what they want it to do, and what structure it needs.

    Once they make that decision, though; the Army should do the opposite because that will probably be closer to reality.
    Which is why all those Colonels and the rest of us lowlife peons are 'debating' future force structure; we all know your last paragraph is probably true...

  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I may have to revise my opinion upward...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Interesting excerpt of a larger section highlighting his views (elsewhere he states SF is his advisor corps and that they might can be augmented by GPF in certain situations).
    Entirely too sensible. Disapproved.
    I actually agree that embedding US units inside of host nation BN's is probably more effective than just TT's - it certainly helped in my AO, where my company lived with an IA battalion. You still need the TT's for the staff mentorship, but the combat part is better done by a combat unit.
    Yes!!!

    Kudos to the CofS and thank you for the post.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    and patmc said:Aren't you attacking the symptom rather than the problem with that approach? That situation is caused by a totally dysfunctional Personnel system which most everyone (except the senior 41s and 42s) know needs to be radically changed. The most common complaint I here from serving folks of all ranks today is that system which the Army seems to exist to support rather than the opposite which should be the case.

    Agree, but this goes beyond HRC and is a cultural thing. CPTs are expected to command. MAJs are expected to be S3's and XOs. SFCs are expected to be PLT SGT and 1SG as needed. CSA approved KD for MAJs on Transition Teams, but caveated it with, if they still want S3/XO time (aka real jobs), they will still get the opportunity (implying they still need these jobs, TT was basically a "broadening" experience). My old BN CDR, who I loved working for and deeply respected, commented on a recent CPT we received off a MiTT team. He said that the MiTT experience was great and a real challenge, but for real leadership experience, you still need to command. This mindset won't/can't be broken. The overwhelming majority of officers and NCOs are NOT volunteering for advisor missions. "If I wanted to, I would have gone to selection." is the common comment. Selfless service only drives so far, sadly. We don't want to be Courtney Massengales, but being "Sad" Sam Damon leaves us as tragic heroes. The Army is basically accepting risk that people are unhappy with these missions, and moving on. 5000 CPTs and MAJs short is not an alarm bell apparently.

    All that said, us peons will continue debating and saluting, because that is what we gladly do.

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It is a cultural thing -- but it is an acquired and not

    an embedded, desirable or required thing. The 'system' -- the personnel system, to be specific requires it thus it has become embedded and is seen as a norm. It is not.

    The OPA of 1947 drives the train; what made (a little) sense in 1947 was obsolete by 1967 and was glaringly out of touch by 1977 when work started on DOPMA which was enacted in 1981. Congress does not help with its insistence that everyone is equal, of same merit and that ALL 'deserve' promotion -- and thus they've forced DoD and the services into a crap shoot effort that encourages excessive, even cut throat, competition.

    DOPMA needs to go. The Personnel system needs radical surgery. We have a WW II and Draftee Army based personnel system for a 21st Century volunteer and quite professional force (well, okay -- but it could be...).

    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    Agree, but this goes beyond HRC and is a cultural thing. . . My old BN CDR, who I loved working for and deeply respected, commented on a recent CPT we received off a MiTT team. He said that the MiTT experience was great and a real challenge, but for real leadership experience, you still need to command. This mindset won't/can't be broken.
    Yes it can. However, to an extent, you're correct -- SOME people will always believe that. It was not that way fifty years ago; the majority then knew -- correctly -- and for the most part accepted that not all were good commanders and that some people shouldn't do that job. Many accepted that and did not aspire to command, they just wanted to do their job as well as they could. It is, as I said, an acquired habit. I'd also submit it is not at all helpful...
    The overwhelming majority of officers and NCOs are NOT volunteering for advisor missions. "If I wanted to, I would have gone to selection." is the common comment. Selfless service only drives so far, sadly. We don't want to be Courtney Massengales, but being "Sad" Sam Damon leaves us as tragic heroes. The Army is basically accepting risk that people are unhappy with these missions, and moving on.
    Not that simple on either end, I think. First, many people will not be un-PC and tell you but they simply do not want to work with other nation's forces (one can only eat so much lamb *); that has as much or more to do with not seeking the job as worry about the future. The 'system' is a handy thing for blame one would rather not take...

    * ME / SA Lamb beats NA / SEA Dog, trust me...

    No knock intended but FWIW, "Once an Eagle" was and is fiction. Good book but still fiction. I discovered the hard way that carrying and cherishing fictional ideals was not very beneficial to me or to things that needed to be done. There are plenty of real life examples for most things that carry far more weight -- and likelihood of occurring.

    Secondly, the Army has no choice but to send people to do -- nor is it terribly concerned about people being unhappy with -- those missions. The job is correctly seen as necessary; people are required to do the jobs; the Army knows no matter what it does, some people will always be made unhappy -- so the Army does the only logical thing and tells people to go forth and do great things. Little caring about about personal unhappiness. Remember that, it's sort of important.

    Back in the day I used to tell all the Lieutenants I met "The Army will use you until you're a spent bullet and then it'll throw you away like an old shoe. If you don't like that thought, you probably ought to look at other career options." That was an exaggeration but only slightly; it's broadly true and if one is not prepared to accept that; one will be disappointed.
    5000 CPTs and MAJs short is not an alarm bell apparently.
    Nah, it isn't.

    Most people leave the Army because it's not the challenge they expected; they're disappointed. The next biggest batch leave due to love, friend, family or other pressures to lead a 'normal' life. The Army really needs to fix both those problems and keep the good folks. Next, there are several reasons, one of which is those that leave due to upset at an impending tour or being dissed or stiffed by a senior -- and the Army's probably better off without them.

    The Army is vastly over officered partly to allow for just that shortage you cite. We've been there several times before and they learned. I knock HRC (with cause) but in fairness, they are severely constrained by the senior leadership of the Army who do not like change and even more so by the Congress and some really dumb laws. The DoD Dep and Under Secs on the ferris wheel of job rotations do not help. The folks at HRC aren't dumb. They're constained and, I think, a little selfish but they aren't dumb...
    All that said, us peons will continue debating and saluting, because that is what we gladly do.
    Of course. We expect no less; we give no less...

    "Once more, into the breach...Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood."
    Last edited by Ken White; 11-16-2008 at 10:49 PM. Reason: Forgotten asterisk, added

  18. #38
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Niel. good catch

    however lets play just a bit of devil's advocate to the piece you pasted from JFQ (understanding that there may be more context of course)

    We also asked ourselves if we really think we’re going to build another country’s army and police forces and ministries from the ground up any time soon. And the answer was, probably not.
    There are some interesting qualifiers in there, among them are the phrases
    from the ground up
    and
    anytime soon
    That leaves allot of room for policy (and politics) to create requirements that could tax our preferred "go to" bucket of capacity fairly quick. I'd also note that in the event we did find ourselves in a similar situation because we failed to anticipate there were alligators in the pool that we we were only dipping our toes in, you can still get eaten. That is less of a service decision, and more a course of idealistic policy, but the consequences are still real. As long as our policies provide the chance, and our strategic culture says we'll try to leave it better than we found it - my estimate is that it is as likely as unlikely we'll find ourselves in need of more capability and capcity then we'd assumed. While the uniformed side is pragmatic, our democracy is more subject to emotion (Dadgum Prussian sneak in there again) as it relates to fear, honor/prestige and interest (there, got the Greek guy too).

    We’ve got several challenges: we’ve got to set ourselves up to do Iraq and Afghanistan for the long haul, and then figure out how we augment Special Forces to do the other engagement that we need.
    I think wherever possible this is the way to go. But I am also convinced it is not always possible, and our exceptions tend to be really big ones that last for years not months - when we go big, we go really big. That means that if you are unprepared to go big and the conditions require it, you are now starting slower then you could have, and possibly creating additional risk to the policy objective. I think you can mitigate this risk some without reaching for the "O", and thus address the other risks that COL Gentile articulates well. We only have to do this smarter to do it better. We also have to account for the other things we would like Army SF to do for us. A SF soldier is a true investment, and the time and resources required to select, assess, train, educate and advance are commensurate. Like any high end capability, it is probably unwise to assume they will be available in the capacity required for every contingent need, or that given their range of specialization they can cover every need. However, for most needs this approach which also minimizes the footprint and burden is probably the best suited - we just need to understand when conditions require something different, and be able to generate those capabilities in a manner that makes a difference.

    That’s kind of the direction we’re going. In the interim, we have a training center for transition teams that we’re going to continue to run, it’s going to move down to Fort Polk, out of Fort Riley, and we’re going to have a brigade dedicated to doing nothing but training transition teams. So we’ll continue to do that for a while.
    Seem sensible and pragmatic to me, as well as a step up in resources. For the production of the bulk of advisory teams we say we currently need this is probably good enough, and does not overly jeopardize us in other areas. There are also some other initiatives out there that are helping collective units that are advising and partnering to better prepare.

    I just came back from Afghanistan, and more and more I’m hearing Soldiers on the ground say that the partnerships—matching an Afghani battalion up with a coalition battalion or a coalition company—is having a greater impact on the indigenous forces than the transition teams.
    I agree, the combination of advisor teams and "partner" units provides the most flexibility in meeting the development requirements in a way that not only builds better FSF CDRs and Staffs, but reaches down to the lowest soldier and shows them how they can make a difference. For our part, the IA BN we were with really took flight under this arrangement, and we started seeing the IA model themselves on our professionalism. However, I'm not sure its a blanket statement that they are having a greater impact - that in my mind is a subjective call based on METT-TC conditions and past efforts. Its also worth considering that a 1:1 ratio where we go may be both a logistics burden we can't overcome, and also intolerable to the HN, the population or both. Conditions matter, and no two are the same. While there are some things that can be extrapolated out of OEF and OIF experience, not all will be applicable to future requirements - one worth considering is the authority we have gotten used to in Iraq and Afghanistan would be very different in a set of conditions where there was an existing HN or regional authority that required our assistance on a large scale.

    We may not need as many transition teams; just aligning them with the coalition forces may be a better way to go. In Iraq we had both; we had transition teams and partnership, and that seemed to work.
    We should always be looking for better ways to do business, and if that provides something successful then we should consider it. However, we also have to consider the quality of the relationship. A 1:1 relationship provides a lot of quality time, a 1:3 less so, and a 1:10 far less. However, if your BN relationship is with 10 FSF BNs that are really competent, committed, capable and confident, and are as such low maintenance, hen you have less of a problem. Conditions as context matter. As a friend of mine said, if they are at a point where the training wheels need to come off or your are holding them back, then get out of their way - the trick is knowing when they are ready and when they are likely to drive off a cliff - here having an embedded team provides some real insights. When they are ready, take off the wheels and focus on another BN or security service in your neighborhood.

    So I think you may see how transition teams are evolving a little bit in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we’re working with the theater to see what the best way to go is. But at least in Iraq, and to some extent in
    Afghanistan, the proficiency of indigenous forces is getting to where they don’t need to have somebody with them every day; they can operate side by side. So I think it’s going to evolve a little bit, but I’m not exactly sure
    how it’s going to go
    I think the conditions the Chief describes is what we want to see. I'd note that in both OIF and OEF our challenges extend beyond the military component of their security sectors. Our transition is therefore not limited to "us to them", but also includes us helping develop capacity in other areas, or facillitate that development in other areas if the objective and conditions require it.

    There is a great deal of interest in this not only in the services, but in DoD and the other agencies as we consider the question how do we do this better if we get told to again. Again the piece Niel pasted may have a greater context, but I'm not sure how much the 2008 NDS is going to change in substance. I'm looking at the GEF and and the GDF, seeing some of the thinking going on in the TCPs and they seem consistent with the 2008 NDS.

    Its worth finishing with the idea its always good to match the best capabilities at your disposal to the requirements at hand, but its also good to understand that best is a relative qualification in light of conditions and circumstance.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 11-16-2008 at 10:09 PM.

  19. #39
    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default What do we want SF to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    We also have to account for the other things we would like Army SF to do for us. A SF soldier is a true investment, and the time and resources required to select, assess, train, educate and advance are commensurate. Like any high end capability, it is probably unwise to assume they will be available in the capacity required for every contingent need, or that given their range of specialization they can cover every need.

    Best, Rob
    Rob,

    I am curious what are the other things we would like Army SF to do for us? Army SF is optimized to work, "through, by and with" indigenous forces either conducting Unconventional Warfare or Foreign Internal Defense (which of course includes COIN). What besides those two missions do we think we need Army SF to do.

    I do certainly wholeheartedly agree with the second part of your statement that SF will never have the capacity for every contingent need and in any case SF is not the right force for every contingent need. It is only one element of our great military and in the end the onus is on military commanders and staff to understand the operational environment, the strategic objectives to be accomplished, the capabilities of ALL its forces, and then design the campaign and employ the right combination of forces and resources to accomplish the mission.

    I know you did not at all mean this in your post, Rob, but I would like to say that all these discussions end up implying a "we-they" attitude and an apparent attempt to say one force is superior to another. Nothing could be further from the truth. We all have a job to do and we need to get on with business. Okay, one rant for today.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Default needs of the army

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Secondly, the Army has no choice but to send people to do -- nor is it terribly concerned about people being unhappy with -- those missions. The job is correctly seen as necessary; people are required to do the jobs; the Army knows no matter what it does, some people will always be made unhappy -- so the Army does the only logical thing and tells people to go forth and do great things. Little caring about about personal unhappiness. Remember that, it's sort of important.
    Understood and know its not personal, though that does not always make it a less bitter pill. It is a volunteer force, and a big one at that. We do the missions we get.

    No knock intended but FWIW, "Once an Eagle" was and is fiction. Good book but still fiction. I discovered the hard way that carrying and cherishing fictional ideals was not very beneficial to me or to things that needed to be done. There are plenty of real life examples for most things that carry far more weight -- and likelihood of occurring.
    As a cadet, I remember finding a General's list of advice for LTs. One of the items was "Be Sam Damon." Its nice to have heroes and ideals, but you do need to be realistic (and remember that even Sam did not always do the right thing). That said, I think being more Sam than Courtney doesn't hurt. Also, I know some people who would take your statement as a glove slap, but I'm not one of them though. (There is no Santa Clause!)

    Back in the day I used to tell all the Lieutenants I met "The Army will use you until you're a spent bullet and then it'll throw you away like an old shoe. If you don't like that thought, you probably ought to look at other career options." That was an exaggeration but only slightly; it's broadly true and if one is not prepared to accept that; one will be disappointed.Nah, it isn't.
    That was almost our XO's word for word guidance to the staff last year when he took over. He worked us long and hard, and it wasn't always fun, but we completed our missions and the unit ran well. One would hope that it is an exaggeration, but again, only a slight one. There is more concern for performance over satisfaction, because right now demands performance. We wear the same uniform because we are all replaceable. A good unit won't fall apart if one Soldier leaves. Again, its what comes with the job. Hopefully recruiters are not telling people otherwise, though I suspect they may.

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