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Thread: Krepinevich's--"An Army at the Crossroads"

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Default Krepinevich's--"An Army at the Crossroads"

    What, then, should the Army do differently? How can it best prepare for irregular conflicts while still maintaining a dominant capability for high-end conventional warfare? The answer lies in developing and fielding a force fully capable of conducting and, if need be, surging for irregular warfare operations, in addition to its capability to conduct and surge for large-scale conventional operations. Should either form of conflict prove protracted, the other wing of the force could, over the course of the initial 12-15 month surge, undergo training and the appropriate force structure modifications to enable it to “swing in” behind the surge force to sustain operations.
    What would this dual surge force look like? First, fifteen Army IBCTs and fifteen Army National Guard IBCTs would be converted to SC BCTs. With a 3:1 rotation base, this would allow for seven and a half SC BCTs to be fielded on a sustained basis, serving as the Army’s phase 0 forward presence forces. It would also provide a pool of thirty brigades to draw upon should major stability operations contingency require a surge of forces.
    The report's link: http://www.csbaonline.org/4Publicati...At_The_Cro.pdf

    Best,
    Kreker

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Interesting. Not very but mildly...

    As has been said, an assumption is the mother of all foul ups and here are three of them early on in the monograph:
    "The United States currently faces three major strategic challenges that will dominate its defense policy over the next decade or longer: defeating Islamist terrorist groups, hedging against the rise of a hostile and more openly confrontational China, and preparing for a world in which there are more nuclear-armed regional powers."
    The first two are questionable at best while the third is correct.

    Why war? Is there perhaps a better way? That is not to preclude military action; it does raise the question of what kind of action, when and where. I think those things need to be considered. No sense in a war if it can be preempted and stopped before it starts. Why do we have to accord the opponent the right to initiate action?

    Is China confrontational or just single mindedly pursuing its interests? I doubt the author can answer that question, I certainly can't and suspect no one outside the politburo in Beijing can answer it...

    This statement:
    "For a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of preparing for both irregular and conventional conflicts, the Army has continued to place its institutional center of gravity squarely in the area of conventional warfare.
    is I believe incorrect on two levels; such preparation need not be difficult; the simple fact is that we have not done it, preferring to keep our world War I and II Draft-filled Army training and personnel models instead of adapting to the professional force that we have. I also question the use of the tag line 'center of gravity' in this context and I'm not at all sure the Army has done what he suggests. Too early to tell, I think.

    While the monograph proposes some fixes to those things, I doubt it's sweeping enough to make much -- enough -- difference.

    The idea of 'Security Cooperation Brigade Combat Teams (SC BCTs)' is not a good one. We cannot afford the specialization suggested and to train to a specific capability is to insure that capability is employed. That is breeding a self fulfilling prophecy...

    A prophecy that will consign us into a series of conflicts of a type wherein our very strength is an impediment and that plays to the opponents strengths. This is smart?

    In discussing personnel strenghs and problems, this statement is made with respect to Viet Nam:
    "itself compelled to adopt accelerated promotions to fill shortages in the NCO ranks. The widespread promotion of enlisted soldiers (sometimes referred to as “shake-and-bake” sergeants) unprepared to handle NCO responsibilities played a major role in the breakdown in order, discipline, and unit effectiveness during that war."
    It is partly true -- it need not have been, had the training on those NCO Candidate been better (not longer, just better) it might well not have been true.

    Point is, the monograph equates that to today's rapid promotions and the shortfall in NCOs -- and I suggest that by extension, it could apply to Officers. Part of the problem then and now was that the perception of need; i.e. one MUST have a CPT and a SFC to fill spaces designated for a CPT and a SFC; drove and drives too many actions. The real issues are (1) the level of competence at which the task must be performed; and (2) the competence of the individual selected to do that job and (3) the appropriateness AND thoroughness of the training for the job. We do not do that at well. His or her rank is immaterial. Or should be. In an Army that is over Officered and which has experienced significant NCO grade creep, raw numbers and ranks do NOT tell the whole story. Far from it.

    In addressing the future, FM 3-0 Operations is cited:

    "For maximum effectiveness, stability and civil support tasks require dedicated training, similar to training for offensive and defensive tasks. Likewise, forces involved in protracted stability or civil support operations require intensive training to regain proficiency in offensive or defensive tasks before engaging in large-scale combat operations."

    I think two points in that statement require considerable thought. Is 'maximum effectiveness' truly achievable? Far more importantly, is it necessary (and sustainable given US unit rotation policies and necessities)? The second issue is 'intensive training.' I submit that IF we did a far better job of training new entrants in all ranks using outcome based training instead of the archaic standards based system system we now use, 'intensive' would be an unnecessary word. I mention this to point out that the current Army techniques of mellifluous as opposed to dry military-speak invite using the Army's apparent rhetoric against the institution.

    All in all, the monograph is quite questionable. Given the comparison of its prescriptions to those recently seen here in the briefing prepared by COL Macgregor; I'd support the latter as more realistic and more visionary.

    An added note. The monograph quotes these issues as being noted in the 90s and dictating the need for 'transformation:'

    > Operations will shift from linear to nonlinear;
    > Forces will operate much more dispersed;
    > Operations will be conducted at a much higher tempo, leading to greater reliance on speed in mobilizing, deploying, and conducting combat operations;
    > Advanced information technologies will allow ground forces to form networks, enabling them to violate the principle of mass to better protect themselves by dispersion, while losing little of their ability to coordinate or mass combat capability;
    > Although close combat will remain a key element in land warfare, advanced information capabilities and munitions will enable ground forces to conduct decisive engagements at far greater ranges than has historically been the case;
    > Adversaries who cannot compete effectively in open battle will gravitate toward combat in complex terrain (urban areas in particular);
    > Operations will be much more dependent on maritime and air forces for their success
    than has been the case — in short, land warfare will become even more of a
    joint endeavor than it is today; and
    > The spectrum of land warfare will become blurred, with various forms of warfare merging, requiring unprecedented levels of flexibility from land forces.


    All probably true. I was fascinated with the similarity of those points to the ones cited by the Army in 1955 to explain why it needed to reorganize into the Pentomic structure; an organization that was ahead of its time -- and which was consigned to an early (and undeserved ) grave mostly because it was different and demanded too much of senior people. Secondarily because Congress couldn't understand and didn't like it...
    Last edited by Ken White; 11-21-2008 at 04:58 AM. Reason: Typo

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    All probably true. I was fascinated with the similarity of those points to the ones cited by the Army in 1955 to explain why it needed to reorganize into the Pentomic structure; an organization that was ahead of its time -- and which was consigned to an early (and undeserved ) grave mostly because it was different and demanded too much of senior people. Secondarily because Congress couldn't understand and didn't like it...
    While I was born in the 50s, I did study the pentomic Army in the 70s as a cadet.

    I have pondered this one as well but with one caveat: we seem to accept the dictum "linear operations are a thing of the past" as a an unquestioned truth. And because of that truth, our derived assumptions also go unquestioned. I agree that operations will be less linear and more toward the non-linear model advocated. But in cases where terrain and geo-political factors dictate, linear is not dead. At the small unit level, they will persist out of pure need.

    I guess what I am saying is that like most debates--conventional versus irregular or airpower versus reality (sometimes I cannot help myself)--there a a large middle ground where "truths" are but partially true.

    Tom

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    > Operations will shift from linear to nonlinear;
    > Forces will operate much more dispersed;
    > Operations will be conducted at a much higher tempo, leading to greater reliance on speed in mobilizing, deploying, and conducting combat operations;
    > Advanced information technologies will allow ground forces to form networks, enabling them to violate the principle of mass to better protect themselves by dispersion, while losing little of their ability to coordinate or mass combat capability;
    > Although close combat will remain a key element in land warfare, advanced information capabilities and munitions will enable ground forces to conduct decisive engagements at far greater ranges than has historically been the case;
    > Adversaries who cannot compete effectively in open battle will gravitate toward combat in complex terrain (urban areas in particular);
    > Operations will be much more dependent on maritime and air forces for their success
    than has been the case — in short, land warfare will become even more of a
    joint endeavor than it is today; and
    > The spectrum of land warfare will become blurred, with various forms of warfare merging, requiring unprecedented levels of flexibility from land forces.


    All probably true.
    They might be true, but actually most of them are poorly supported opinions and bumper stickers. For example operations today are not at a faster tempo and detection ranges are still pretty much what they were in 1944.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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

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    Default Amen

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    I have pondered this one as well but with one caveat: we seem to accept the dictum "linear operations are a thing of the past" as a an unquestioned truth. And because of that truth, our derived assumptions also go unquestioned. I agree that operations will be less linear and more toward the non-linear model advocated. But in cases where terrain and geo-political factors dictate, linear is not dead. At the small unit level, they will persist out of pure need.
    As long as units still need beans, bullets, and bottled water we still will be fighting on linear battlefields. Not WWI, certainly; not continuous lines, probably. But we still have to stake out certain areas where the enemy can't influence the flow of logistical assets. Witness the current angst about the Khyber Highway.

    At least until we perfect teleportation.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default They ARE true, Wilf.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    They might be true, but actually most of them are poorly supported opinions and bumper stickers. For example operations today are not at a faster tempo and detection ranges are still pretty much what they were in 1944.
    They are also opinions and candidates for Bumper stickerdom. It is possible to be all of those things at once...

    You, Tom and Eden are all correct, linear is not dead. You are correct in that some or most tactical operations still equate to '44 norms -- but a few Chinook loads of folks can move fairly rapidly and operational and strategic times can be and have been compressed in some recent examples. Getting into Afghanistan initially for example...

    All of which ignores the point I was trying to make. Some 'truths,' opinions or bumper sticker slogans -- or simply some possibilities (which is what they really are) -- were voiced in the mid '50s and here we are OVER fifty years later and the armed forces of the United States have still not adapted to cope well with those possibilities.

    That may not bother you people but it bothers me.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    That may not bother you people but it bothers me.
    Oh, it bothers me. Especially when I start seeing the same mistakes being made by an institution in an historical pattern. Then it really bothers the hell out of me.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    You are correct in that some or most tactical operations still equate to '44 norms -- but a few Chinook loads of folks can move fairly rapidly and operational and strategic times can be and have been compressed in some recent examples. Getting into Afghanistan initially for example...
    I agree that Equipment capabilities are far greater than in 1944, but my point was that the earth is still the same size, and human beings have not got any more capable, either physically or cognitively.

    For example, staff planning cycles are now longer, convoy speeds are the same, as 1944. Today a UK Formation HQ can move once in 24 hours. In 1944 they moved once every few hours and could command on the move. IIRC OIF daily rates of advance were not that much greater than in some WW2 operations.

    People need as much sleep as they ever did, and this all of this conspires to erode the myth of increased tempo or the ability, let alone the need, to disperse over a greater distances. Logistics alone, prevents wider dispersion.

    I don't really worry about future warfare. I really worry about current military agendas, and the lack of rigour that those agendas are subject too. I guess we share the same concern.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    That may not bother you people but it bothers me.
    Ken, not saying it does not bother me. It does. What really bothers me is that we get so wrapped up in stacking angels on the head of a pin, the devil jabs us in the ass. By that I mean simply that regardless of "side", adherence to a theorectical framework or opposition to that theoretical framework becomes more important than really applying anything to reality until circumstances force us to do so.

    We were discussing Macgregor's concepts on another thread. You and I agree that some of what he offers has merit. The association of CDI came up and I went and read that paper. In it they used Macgregor's plan to take Baghdad using the same sort of organizations because he briefed it to SecDef Rumsfeld in the lead up to the war and then to GEN Franks at the direction of Rumsfeld. The CDI paper said the "plan was modified in unfortunate ways". Cobra II says that Franks agreed on the standing start and the saga of troop reductions under SecDef Rumsfeld's pressure is pretty well documented.

    I bring this up because Macgregor's plan was built around his battle group concept--at least according to Cobra II. Did he or Rumsfeld really expect the Army to modify its ground force structure on the very eve of a war? I see that as a case of pushing a theory well beyond the practical into the hysterical, never mind whether a 50K strong raid was feasable.

    Best

    Tom

  10. #10
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yes. However...

    Wilf said -- and I quote but have added Notes
    For example, staff planning cycles are now longer (1), convoy speeds are the same (2), as 1944. Today a UK Formation HQ can move once in 24 hours (3). In 1944 they moved once every few hours and could command on the move. IIRC OIF daily rates of advance were not that much greater than in some WW2 operations (4).
    All true; (1) Because the staffs are now too big and, if they emulate the US, place emphasis on form over function; (2) That depends on many thing but, while true in most cases need not affect many operations; (3) Size, again, form over function again, adding excessive caution and a series of things that cause us us not to push people nowadays (that may or may nor go in a real war); (4) True, some as you say -- but that's comparing one aberration to some others. All still ignoring the point; which you do address here:
    "...I really worry about current military agendas, and the lack of rigour that those agendas are subject too. I guess we share the same concern.
    I think so; in my case lack of rigor AND lack of effort bred by excessive caution and concern for the status quo -- and, yes, unknowledgable political interference.

    Tom should also note that last quoted comment of yours because I think it applies as well to his response:
    "...not saying it does not bother me. It does. What really bothers me is that we get so wrapped up in stacking angels on the head of a pin, the devil jabs us in the ass. By that I mean simply that regardless of "side", adherence to a theorectical framework or opposition to that theoretical framework becomes more important than really applying anything to reality until circumstances force us to do so. (emphasis add / kw)
    Which was and is my whole point

    Could it be that you two got wrapped up in stacking angels on the head of a pin...

    The issue is that elements of warfighting have changed in well envisioned and well documented ways, that we now have 'professional' forces which should be more, not less adadptable and yet we're still operating based on doctrine and techniques predicated large conscripted World War I and II Armies where mass was a key enabler on a forced linear battlefield (in many locations and in general, no universally by far).

    We do not have that mass today and linearity now tends to be localized and far from theater or large command wide.

    We need to adapt and our failure to do so prior to the need (and an urgent need at that) to do that is not wise.

    Seriously, don't think we're in disagreement, simply a matter of differing focus / focusses / focii. Or my poor ability in expressing my aims in writing

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    Has a study been completed that compares the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the 1st Marine Division as they fought their way to Baghdad in March, 2003 -

    Command and Control

    Equipment

    Transportation

    Tactics

    Effectiveness of Squads ( 2 Fireteams vs 3 fireteams)

    Logistics

    With 7 years of war in the mideast and the Hindu Kush
    are the lessons learned being applied to give the US a finer cutting edge?

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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Doctrine, Organization, & IW/COIN

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    The issue is that elements of warfighting have changed in well envisioned and well documented ways, that we now have 'professional' forces which should be more, not less adadptable and yet we're still operating based on doctrine and techniques predicated large conscripted World War I and II Armies where mass was a key enabler on a forced linear battlefield (in many locations and in general, no universally by far).
    David Maxwell provided a link to a RAND study (OP_200, Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence) on the influence of Military Structure on COIN Doctrine during 1960-1970 and 2003-2006 which echos this sentiment.

    This paper concludes, in fact, that a military organization's structure, philosophy, and preferences (grouped under the general rubric of "organizational culture") have a much greater influence on the conduct of operations than written doctrine.
    1st Marine Division's efforts during '03 are covered in "All Roads Lead to Baghdad, Army Special Operations Forces in Iraq" ISBN 13 978-0-16-0754364-0. The US Army's 'On Point' may have additional insights.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 12-26-2008 at 06:57 PM.
    Sapere Aude

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default In Re: RJ

    RJ...

    Think you have the wrong question... 4ID didn't fight up to Baghdad, they came later... 3ID and 101st did the OIF 1 fighting, 4ID convoyed up unless I'm mistaken, and if I am mistaken... that means they were firing up stuff they had no business shooting...

    Might also want to see Fiasco for some insight into 4ID

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    RJ...

    Think you have the wrong question... 4ID didn't fight up to Baghdad, they came later... 3ID and 101st did the OIF 1 fighting, 4ID convoyed up unless I'm mistaken, and if I am mistaken... that means they were firing up stuff they had no business shooting...

    Might also want to see Fiasco for some insight into 4ID

    Live well and row
    Hack,

    You are not mistaken. On Point covers 3ID in OIF 1 as does Cobra II. Fiasco hits 4ID leadership pretty hard. On Point II essentially begins with May 2003. I am not a big fan of On Point 1 or 2; they were written by comittee, based on agendas from a host of players, and the results show.

    Best

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    IIRC OIF daily rates of advance were not that much greater than in some WW2 operations.
    Is that an average daily rate in OIF I, compared to a few select examples in WWII? I only ask because we had some sandstorms that brought us to a standstill in OIF I and that could skew the numbers. On the non-sandstorm days, I suspect that our speed and low number of casualties (hostile, non-hostile, and civilian) would compare favorably.

    It is also noteworthy, in my opinion, that we kept on advancing quickly, over and over, not just thrusting forward quickly and then hanging out for a few days waiting for the supply lines to catch up. Our supply lines moved with us. I think a more interesting measure would be to compare how quickly the field trains moved in WWII versus OIF I.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    RJ...

    Think you have the wrong question... 4ID didn't fight up to Baghdad, they came later... 3ID and 101st did the OIF 1 fighting, 4ID convoyed up unless I'm mistaken, and if I am mistaken... that means they were firing up stuff they had no business shooting...

    Might also want to see Fiasco for some insight into 4ID
    Come on Hack, can you help an old Sams brother (and small group classmate) out?

    You are correct that 4ID didnt fight our way up like third ID, the marines, and the 101. We did convoy, although the BCT that I was XO for, 1st BCT, did a modified convoy tactical road march and movement to contact all in one since we thought there might be some contact on the way. In 1BCT we combat loaded tanks, bradleys, etc on the back of hets with crews on board.

    As an aside, what is often overlooked about 4ID was our quick, efficient, and effective combat loading of the entire division in a matter of weeks out of south texas ports in February 03. None of the other army divisions did anything like it in terms of time constraints and pressure to load correctly for operational movement across turkey and then into combat. Of course it all didnt turn out that way, but our out-load was in my mind well done.

    But back on point, the only thing I shot at on the way up was a pack of dogs that were coming at me in a group of palm trees where I was taking a leak; and it was a warning shot to boot.

    You really should move beyond the fabrication created by Ricks's book about 4ID of being the Westmoreland incarnate wanting to fight world war II all over again in the sunni triangle instead of the central highlands. That fabrication is just that, yet sadly it seems to have become conventional knowledge. I was there in Tikrit as BCT XO and we did some shooting but it was at sh...t bags who needed to be shot!!!

    So again, at least for old tail-gating sakes, can you help a brother out here and move past Ricks flawed portrait of 4ID in 03??

    gian

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