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Thread: JFQ - Point - Counterpoint - SWJ Early Exclusive

  1. #41
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hi Sir,

    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 think the missions sets they have been assigned are the right ones, but the conditions drive the prioritization of missions and their availability to do other things. I guess then the question needs to be considered against the things we have them doing now, and in what proportion. This is dependent on a number of things and raises the question of which model we are looking at - the model that works in the conditions of OEF-P may not be the one that works best in OIF or OEF-A. The solution set for any of those may not be 1:1 applicable to a future requirements in another place given its requirements or the concomitant requirements elsewhere.

    Quick Anecdote:

    When I went to the ODA up on MAREZ and asked for some assistance in training some high end skills for the IA (CTR), they could not assist. They truly desired to, but there schedule was not their own - in fact even the BCT CDR had limited input - mostly coordination and benefit from the information they'd obtained and their assessment of their operations. The ODA did provide advice to us on how to do it, which was a great start, but their unique skill sets were being used in other areas.

    So while a force may have a range of skills, the conditions may require those skills and numbers to be concentrated on specific things that are critical to achieve an operational objective.

    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.
    You are absolutely correct - I did not mean to imply a we/they relationship, and would go further to say that we cannot afford one. What I am trying to say is that its not so much about having a special or general capability, its really about having the right capability in theright capacity when you need it ("right" being a substitute for good enough to achieve your objective(s)). I would say that in many cases the resources we put into force development are based on a solid understanding of the requirements, and that wherever possible we must maximize that wisdom - the problem occurs when we omit the possibility or probability that the better choice will not be available, and when we don't completely understand the requirements. This has proven to be a problem no matter if we are talking about civilian capability and capacity, or military. The answer I think is in a full spectrum approach that increases our flexibility and our options until we can either change the conditions some, or free up more specialized capability. We should not look at it as we/they, but as we/us.

    Best, Rob

  2. #42
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good fiction is sometimes too real...

    Quote Originally Posted by patmc View Post
    Understood and know its not personal, though that does not always make it a less bitter pill...
    True. Sometimes it even makes it worse...
    ...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!)
    True on the first. Excessive sensitivity on the part of those who would do so; wasn't meant that way as you determined. Good for you and thank you for not taking it as it wasn't meant.
    ...Hopefully recruiters are not telling people otherwise, though I suspect they may.
    Agree with the first portion of that paragraph. On that clause I left; me too. I suspect the good ones are not while the Courtney-like recruiters are doing so. The Courtneys are with us always...

    Like I said, it was good fiction...

  3. #43
    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Good anecdote; here are some stats for you

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post

    Quick Anecdote:

    When I went to the ODA up on MAREZ and asked for some assistance in training some high end skills for the IA (CTR), they could not assist. They truly desired to, but there schedule was not their own - in fact even the BCT CDR had limited input - mostly coordination and benefit from the information they'd obtained and their assessment of their operations. The ODA did provide advice to us on how to do it, which was a great start, but their unique skill sets were being used in other areas.

    So while a force may have a range of skills, the conditions may require those skills and numbers to be concentrated on specific things that are critical to achieve an operational objective.
    Rob,

    I understand you anecdote but I think you also know that is a snap shot in time. Let me run a few things by you. Right now we have 270 active fully mission capable ODAs in the force, another 18 just entered the force at IOC this summer and we will get another 18 every year through 2013.

    As we speak there are some 105 ODAs deployed around the world supporting 6 named operations including of course OIF and OEF. They are advising and assisting some 97 battalion size units (either combat infantry, special operations/commando or national level counter-terrorist forces) on a 24/7 basis These ODAs are doing 7 months in the box (in all 6 named operations) and pretty much 5 months out. In addition in FY 08 SF ODAs conducted 115 additional advise and assist missions anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks in duration around the world that were outside the named operations in more than 50 different countries. That doubles the number of battalion size units to some 200 units on an annual basis that are being advised and assisted. I would ask anyone to try to project a requirement greater than 200 battalions in a post Iraq and Afghanistan situation.

    I mention this because when people talk about "other missions" they usually confuse SF with other SOF elements. We have SEALs and Special Boat units, Special Operations Marines, Civil Affairs, PSYOP, Rangers, Air Commandos/Special Tactics/Combat Controllers, and of course special mission units. Like SF they all have unique and important missions and need to be employed within their capabilities for the right mission. Like GPF, there is no one size fits all and all units do not perform the same missions and it requires good mission analysis and thorough assessments to determine the right force for the mission. But SF's niche is "through, by, and with" indigenous forces, again whether in a UW role of a FID role and obviously the majority of missions are FID (whether we are fighting the GWOT or assisting a force in a direct action mission against a terrorist target, or advising a force in a counter-insurgency operation it is all FID - indirect, direct, or combat FID)

    Of course as we have discussed, SF cannot do it all nor does it have the skills needed to advise and assist in every area. This is why we need to apply the right force for the mission. Our friends, partners, and allies will also desire and need "full spectrum" assistance and we will need to apply personnel from across the force to advise and assist in a myriad of areas whether it is armor and artillery to intelligence and communications to logistics. And then there are the "enterprise" level advisers that may be required. The experts we need to conduct these missions will have to come from our units because that is where they ply their trade and gain their expertise.

    I just offer this as food for thought.

    V/R

    Dave
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

  4. #44
    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Gen Casey and Advisers and SF

    This was just posted on SWJ and is from the January Joint Forces Quarterly.

    Hate to beat a dead horse but here is what the CSA has to say on the subject of advisers.

    Quote from GEN Casey:

    Now, there are some folks who say
    we need an advisor corps. I’d say we have
    an advisor corps; it’s called Special Forces.
    The question is how large of an effort do
    we need for training foreign armies. I got
    together with Jim Mattis [General James N.
    Mattis, USMC, commander, U.S. Joint Forces
    Command], Jim Conway [General James T.
    Conway, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps],
    and Eric Olson [Admiral Eric T. Olson,
    USN, commander, U.S. Special Operations
    Command]. We all sat down and said, “Okay,
    what do we really need here?” First, we all
    thought we needed to set ourselves up in Iraq
    and Afghanistan for the long haul because
    we’re going to be training the militaries and
    the police forces in Iraq and Afghanistan
    for a while. Then we thought that we could
    probably do the rest of the engagement with
    other militaries with Special Forces, and
    we’re growing a battalion each year over the
    next 5 years. There may be times when we
    need to have Special Forces teams augmented
    with conventional forces. For example, we
    can send a 10-man team out of a brigade
    headquarters, lash them up with an A-team,
    and they can assist in training with foreign
    brigades. But more and more, the people who
    need our help are not going to be in a position
    where they can be openly seen with American
    Soldiers running around the country. So
    we’re looking more toward the majority of
    this work being done by Special Forces, augmented,
    when they need to be, by regionally
    oriented conventional forces, which is something
    else the ARFORGEN model allows us
    to do.
    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 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.
    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.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

  5. #45
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think the issue in the minds of some may be

    the intrusion of DA msns for ODAs to the exclusion of the advise and train msn. Kicking in doors is more fun but most in the Groups know what their job is and are more than willing to do it. As you point out, they do not select their missions...

    Many in the Army do not understand that partial focus on DA is driven more by conventional force or major conventional headquarters shortfalls and misalignment / misassignments than by SOCOM or SF predilection. The recent diversion of an entire well trained and capable Abn BCT from one mission to another -- convoy guard on the MSR -- in Iraq literally as they deployed is an example and almost certainly meant a few Teams had to be retained for a necessary mission.

    We can all get perturbed by this or that imbalance or miscue but we also need to remember most everyone is doing their best with the hands dealt.

  6. #46
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    There may be times when we need to have Special Forces teams augmented with conventional forces. For example, we can send a 10-man team out of a brigade headquarters, lash them up with an A-team, and they can assist in training with foreign brigades.
    Maybe I'm misreading this, but it sounds like the GEN is recommending that we send a BCT to support the mission of an ODA/AOB. I'm not questioning the professionalism of any O-6, but the thought of a BDE Commander taking his lead from an O-3 or O-4 just doesn't sound like it's going to work. And even if an SF unit were attached to support the BCT (rather than vice versa), I think there is a significant failure to recognize just how differently the SF community goes about their intel collection and how important this is to their operations. Even if we are just talking about farming out an ODA to a BCT for them to strictly be advisors - this seems like it is going to result in the team being split among numerous locations; like it will just be a bunch of individuals or buddy teams who happen to have long tabs velcroed to their shoulders, but bringing with them none of the capabilities that would normally accompany them. That sounds like a significant dedication of assets for a comparatively small value added.

  7. #47
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I didn't take it that way, to me, a 10 man team

    out of a Bde Hq is just that, 10 bods -- rank not specified but probably including a couple of Troopies for dirty work and -- some staff trainers, NCOs and Ossifers under maybe a MAJ at most. That crew trains the staffs at Bn and Bde while the ODA concentrates on the troop level skills for the units in that HN Bde. Makes sense to me and that's been done long ago in a galaxy far away...

    (and my view is that the Bde HHC and staff are now more than big enough to spare that few folks with no significant impact on own ops)

    Can I please say A-Team insteada ODA; I'm old, okay...

  8. #48
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Sir,

    As we speak there are some 105 ODAs deployed around the world supporting 6 named operations including of course OIF and OEF. They are advising and assisting some 97 battalion size units (either combat infantry, special operations/commando or national level counter-terrorist forces) on a 24/7 basis These ODAs are doing 7 months in the box (in all 6 named operations) and pretty much 5 months out. In addition in FY 08 SF ODAs conducted 115 additional advise and assist missions anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks in duration around the world that were outside the named operations in more than 50 different countries. That doubles the number of battalion size units to some 200 units on an annual basis that are being advised and assisted. I would ask anyone to try to project a requirement greater than 200 battalions in a post Iraq and Afghanistan situation.
    The numbers are a big help to some of the efforts we've been asked to consider. Some of these are only 3-5 years out so current commitments have to be considered against the likely balance available. Still, the projected net increase in those 3-5 years being 54-90 A-Teams (for Ken) at about a 6 month rotation (27-45) is a big help in making their desired end-state and time lines feasible . While there may be some places where a larger footprint is possible, there are also places where it is far harder to do, and less tolerable, even if the policy objective has decided its worth it. These numbers have the additional benefit of allowing focus on some areas and accepting risk in some of the peripheral areas we know we have to account for, but lack the capacity to do at that moment to do all things equally in the same manner.

    Looks like flexibility to me, and a reduction of risk across the board when employed smartly.

    Of course as we have discussed, SF cannot do it all nor does it have the skills needed to advise and assist in every area. This is why we need to apply the right force for the mission. Our friends, partners, and allies will also desire and need "full spectrum" assistance and we will need to apply personnel from across the force to advise and assist in a myriad of areas whether it is armor and artillery to intelligence and communications to logistics. And then there are the "enterprise" level advisers that may be required. The experts we need to conduct these missions will have to come from our units because that is where they ply their trade and gain their expertise.
    This second part is still a challenge and indicates the need for more consideration than just looking at our numbers. Let me qualify this upfront by saying nowhere in the CSA's interview did I hear him say that our problems are over, but that I did hear him say we have the means to restore balance and accept risk - which should be our goal. Having said that, broader DoD as it applies to the quote above needs to decide what, if any, DOTMLPF measures it needs to address in order to better support, or in some cases lead these efforts. This is not confined to the area of FID, or SFA, or COIN, but is also present in the discussion on BPC, and in the discussion on Stability and Reconstruction operations which have been assigned to State as the lead agency.

    I think DoD realizes this, as most everybody from the GCCs, the Functional Commands, the services and OSD are asking the questions and exploring the range of problem sets and potential answers. The process is helping us understand that there are no stock answers, but there are imperatives from which we can better consider the range of possible answers and perhaps get it more right in light of the conditions and accept risk smartly.

    Schmedlap's observation is worth discussing. I would not rule out that a BCT (or BCTs) could be put in support of an operation under a JSOTF. This is different than the point you raised about a BCT working for an ODA (or vice-cersa), but we continue to see increased understanding and appreciation between folks as the requirements generate overlap. That is not to say we will not have some personality issues, we always have - but having the right higher HQs given the conditions as an arbiter can usually fix that.

    In addition to being a force provider for certain skill sets, the BCT/BDE could also be doing a number of other things that a BCT (or like organization) does very well, and other types of units are not trained, manned or equipped to do.

    Best, Rob

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I would not rule out that a BCT (or BCTs) could be put in support of an operation under a JSOTF. This is different than the point you raised about a BCT working for an ODA (or vice-cersa), but we continue to see increased understanding and appreciation between folks as the requirements generate overlap.
    Something that I have not seen, but that I would like to see tried, is to have a couple infantry companies (perhaps two L/ABN/AASLT, one mech) OPCON to a JSOTF commander for him to use to augment large operations (such as an ODA advising a Bn of newly minted tribal security forces), use as a QRF, or otherwise C2 as he sees fit.

    What I have seen in the interaction between a JSOTF and a Division and Brigade is that the JSOTF is reluctant to share intelligence for a myriad of reasons - basically, it is half organizational dysfunctionality* and half OPSEC. Taking it a step further and subordinating a Div or Bde to a JSOTF just isn't going to go over well. And, in my opinion, matching up a JSOTF to a BDE is too high of a ratio of SF to CF. It will create too many idle infantrymen or too many cases of the two forces interfering with one another and certainly way too much duplication of effort among staffers who, for various reasons, may not be able to and, in some cases, should not be able to collaborate on everything. I see no way to completely integrate their operations due to the nature of some the activities of the JSOTF that need to be close hold - but if anyone has reason to disagree then please say so (no explanation needed).

    On the other hand, it seems very reasonable, to me, to have a few company commanders with TS clearances in on the JSOTF's daily commander's briefs and have a few infantry companies OPCON to the JSOTF CO in case he needs to hammer someone. Temporary TACON relationships already occur on a regular basis, but there is no habitual relationship so the close working relationship and trust doesn't form. And, with the temp. TACON relationships, there is also the constraint of not knowing whether you're even going to get that infantry platoon/company that would be "nice to have" for a mission 3 days from now.

    * - Not sure if that is a word, but my understanding is that you're allowed to make up words in discussions about military affairs.

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