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Thread: McMaster on war (merged thread)

  1. #21
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK, BUT do you mean or elephant like capability? Do we want to maximise our elephants or merely replicate their effect, but using grey mice with big noses?
    No, I mean the FCS is based on a flawed premise. Not only that, it replicates nothing. It takes the Soldier out of the armored game and turns him into a technician. Hell, I can't even roll the damned vehicle with my head out of the hatch.

    In short, it's a piece of sh!t.
    Example is better than precept.

  2. #22
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Joe will figure out how to defeat that

    "Hell, I can't even roll the damned vehicle with my head out of the hatch."
    in less than three days.

    Not to worry. The budget cuts will thankfully kill it and we can spin off the good stuff. Works for me.

  3. #23
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default Brigadier General Selections for 2008

    Most had heard before, but I got the official memo today. This is a publically available announcement.

    I know two of them personally - COL MacFarland and COL Shields. COL McMaster is also on the list.



    Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced that the President nominated the Army Competitive Category colonels listed below for promotion to the rank of brigadier general.

    Name (Branch)
    Current Assignment

    Colonel Heidi V. Brown (AD)
    Effects Coordinator
    I Corps and Fort Lewis
    Fort Lewis, Washington 98433

    Colonel John A. Davis (30)
    En route to: Deputy Commander
    Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations Defense Information Systems Agency

    Colonel Edward P. Donnelly, Jr. (50)
    Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Army United States Army

    Colonel Karen E. Dyson (FI)
    Deputy Director for Army Budget
    Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management &
    Comptroller)

    Colonel Robert S. Ferrell (SC)
    En route to: Director
    Future Combat System Strategic Communications Army Capabilities Integration Center-Forward

    Colonel Stephen G. Fogarty (MI)
    Director of Intelligence, J-2
    United States Central Command


    Colonel Michael X. Garrett (IN)
    Enroute to: Senior Military Fellow
    Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

    Colonel Thomas A. Harvey (TC)
    Assistant Chief of Staff, C-4/J-4
    United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/ United States Forces Korea/ Deputy Commander (Support), Eighth United States Army/ Deputy Commander, United States Forces Korea (Advanced Element)

    Colonel Thomas A. Horlander (45)
    En route to: Director, Resource Management Installation Management Command


    Colonel Paul J. Lacamera (IN)
    United States Joint Special Operations Command Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28307

    Colonel Sean B. MacFarland (AR)
    Commander
    Joint Task Force North
    United States Northern Command


    Colonel Kevin W. Mangum (AV)
    Senior Commander, Fort Drum
    10th Mountain Division (Light) and Fort Drum

    Colonel Robert M. McCaleb (49)
    Deputy Director
    Program Analysis and Evaluation
    Officer of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8

    Colonel Colleen L. McGuire (MP)
    Director, Senior Leader Development
    Office of the Chief of Staff, Army


    Colonel Herbert R. McMaster, Jr. (AR)
    En route to: Director
    Concepts Development and Experimentation Army Capabilities Integration Center Unites States Army Training and Doctrine Command Fort Monroe, Virginia

    Colonel Austin S. Miller (IN)
    Deputy Director for Special Operations
    J-37, The Joint Staff


    Colonel John M. Murray (IN)
    Deputy Commander


    Colonel Richard P. Mustion (AG)
    Commander


    Colonel Camille M. Nichols (AC)
    Commander
    United States Army Expeditionary Contracting Command

    Colonel John R. O Connor (TC)
    Deputy Commander/Director of Operations Military Surface Deployment and Distribution

    Colonel Lawarren V. Patterson (SC)
    Chief
    Joint/Current Operations Division
    Office of the Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 Taylor Building

    Colonel Gustave F. Perna (OD)
    Commander
    Defense Supply Center Philadelphia

    Colonel Warren E. Phipps, Jr. (AV)
    Deputy Commander/Assistant Commandant
    United States Army Aviation Center

    Colonel Gregg C. Potter (MI)
    United States Army Intelligence and Security Command Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060

    Colonel Nancy L. Price (AC)
    Deputy Program Manager
    Future Combat System Brigade Combat Team Program Integration (Network/Complementary Programs) Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

    Colonel Edward M. Reeder, Jr. (SF)
    Executive Officer to the Commander
    United States Special Operations Command
    MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

    Colonel Ross E. Ridge (FA)
    Chief of Staff, Strategic Effects
    Multi-National Forces- Iraq
    OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, Iraq

    Colonel Jess A. Scarbrough (AC)
    Assistant Deputy for Acquistion and Systems Management Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology)

    Colonel Michael H. Shields (IN)
    Assistant Deputy Director
    Politico-Military (Europe and Africa Affairs), J-5 The Joint Staff

    Colonel Jefforey A. Smith (IN)
    Assistant Division Commander (Support)
    10th Mountain Division (Light)/
    Multi-National Division - Center

    Colonel Leslie C. Smith (CM)
    Commandant
    United States Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School/ Deputy Commander, Material and Technology United States Army Maneuver Support Center

    Colonel Jeffrey J. Snow (IN)
    Commander
    20th Support Command (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive)


    Colonel Kurt S. Story (40)
    Deputy Commander (Operations)
    United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command/ United States Army Forces Strategic Command

    Colonel Kenneth E. Tovo (SF)
    Deputy Commander
    Special Operations Command Europe
    United States European Command


    Colonel Stephen J. Townsend (IN)
    Executive Officer to the Commander
    United States Central Command


    Colonel John Uberti (FA)
    Commander
    Installation Management Command
    Korea Region


    Colonel Thomas S. Vandal (FA)
    Deputy Commander (Maneuver)
    3d Infantry Division (Mechanized)
    Fort Stewart, Georgia

    Colonel Bryan G. Watson (EN)
    Chief of Staff
    1st Armored Division

    Colonel John F. Wharton (QM)
    Deputy Commander
    United States Army Field Support Command with duty as Commander, Army Materiel Command Forward-Southwest Asia/G-4, United States Army Central

    Colonel Mark W. Yenter (EN)
    Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7 United States Army

    *********************************************

    Last edited by Cavguy; 07-15-2008 at 06:54 PM.
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  4. #24
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default Part 2

    The board composition and stats:

    The Selection Board consisted of the following general officers (all grades and assignments shown are as of the convening date of the board):


    General David H. Petraeus, Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, Iraq

    General Charles C. Campbell, Commanding General, United States Army Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia

    Lieutenant General Peter W. Chiarelli, Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC

    Lieutenant General Ann E. Dunwoody, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, United States Army, Washington, DC

    Lieutenant General Benjamin C. Freakley, Commanding General, United States Army Accessions Command/Deputy Commanding General for Initial Military Training United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia

    Lieutenant General John F. Kimmons, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, United States Army, Washington, DC

    Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal, Commander, Joint Special Operations Command/ Commander, Joint Special Operations Command Forward, United States Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

    Lieutenant General Stephen M. Speakes, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, United States Army, Washington, DC

    Lieutenant General David P. Valcourt, Commanding General, Eighth United States Army/Chief of Staff, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea

    Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp, Jr., Chief of Engineers/Commanding General, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC

    Major General Sean J. Byrne, Commanding General, United States Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, Virginia

    Major General Randal R. Castro, Deputy Director, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    Major General Bernard S. Champoux, Deputy Commander, Security International Security Assistance Force, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistan

    Major General Anthony A. Cucolo III, Chief of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Army, Washington, DC

    Major General Robert P. Lennox, Commanding General, United States Army Air Defense Artillery Center and Fort Bliss, Fort Bliss, Texas

    Major General John F. Mulholland, Jr., Commander, Special Operations Command Central, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

    Major General Roger A. Nadeau, Commanding General, United States Army Test and Evaluation Command, Alexandria, Virginia

    Major General Virgil L. Packett II, Commanding General, United States Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker, Fort Rucker, Alabama

    Major General Edgar E. Stanton III, Director for Army Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller), Washington, DC

    Major General Peter M. Vangjel, Commanding General ,United States Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill, Fort Sill, Oklahoma

    Major General Dennis L. Via, Commanding General, United States Army Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command and Fort Monmouth, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey

    The following statistical data applies to the nominees as of the day of
    selection:

    AGE AT SELECTION
    YOUNGEST: 44 YEARS, 2 MONTHS
    AVERAGE: 48 YEARS, 1 MONTH
    OLDEST: 54 YEARS, 3 MONTHS

    TIME IN GRADE
    LEAST: 1 YEAR, 11 MONTHS
    AVERAGE: 4 YEARS, 0 MONTHS
    MOST: 6 YEARS, 2 MONTHS

    YEARS OF COMMISSIONED SERVICE
    LEAST: 21 YEARS, 9 MONTHS
    AVERAGE: 25 YEARS, 5 MONTHS
    MOST: 29 YEARS, 4 MONTH

    YEAR GROUP
    MOST RECENT: 1986
    PREDOMINANT: 1982
    EARLIEST: 1978
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  5. #25
    Council Member jkm_101_fso's Avatar
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    Default Who made BG after 21 years?

    Glad to see COLs McMaster and McFarland on the list; certainly well deserved.

    Does anyone know the answer to my title question?
    Sir, what the hell are we doing?

  6. #26
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default MacFarland and McMaster to Get First Star

    Heroes of Ramadi, Tal Afar to Get First Star by Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes.

    Army Cols. Sean B. MacFarland and H.R. McMaster Jr. have been selected for brigadier general pending Senate confirmation, officials said.

    MacFarland was commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in May 2006 when the unit was sent to Ramadi, then one of the worst places in Iraq for US troops.

    During his tenure in Ramadi, MacFarland’s troops worked with local tribes and established combat outposts to take the initiative away from the insurgents...

    McMaster, then commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, ordered his troops to treat detainees humanely, reached out to local Sunni Arabs to separate them from the insurgents, and he established patrol bases throughout the city, The Washington Post reported in 2006.

    In late 2005, he launched Operation Restore Rights to take back the city from insurgents.

    By the time the unit left in early 2006, the mayor of Tal Afar wrote a letter to the commander of US troops in Iraq praising the regiment...
    Last edited by SWJED; 07-15-2008 at 10:14 PM.

  7. #27
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Very glad to hear it

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    It would seem they deserve it
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

  8. #28
    Council Member Team Infidel's Avatar
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    Great to see COL (P) Davis on there. IO Warrior..

  9. #29
    Council Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Sweet. I remember first reading about McMaster in Tom Clancy's account of the Battle of 73 Easting, when he was a troop commander. Fast forward several years later when I'm reading George Packer's "The Lesson of Tal Afar" during my COIN research, and I see the same name pop up along with nothing but accolades for his leadership and initiative. I can't say I've read "Dereliction of Duty" yet, though. Still, it's encouraging to see officers of his calibre staying in the Army for the long haul.

  10. #30
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Certain Victory Vignette

    McMaster in Tom Clancy's account of the Battle of 73 Easting,
    See also Certain Victory

    By late afternoon on February 26, Captain H. R. McMaster had been at war for 72 hours. His tank, Eagle 66, led a nine-tank formation as it moved across the featureless Iraqi plain like a squadron of miniature warships gliding through a glass-calm sea. Inside the steel body of Eagle 66, three other soldiers peered intently into a swirling sandstorm searching for the lead tanks of the Iraqi Tawakalna Division.

    Isolated in the driver's compartment in front, Specialist Christopher "Skog" Hedenskog lay supine on his "lazy boy" couch. Skog's greatest fear was that his tank, the one that carried the troop commander, might stumble over a mine and miss the war. As he peered intently ahead, he nudged his T-bar left and right to steer smoothly around every piece of suspicious metal or slight imperfection in the ground ahead.

    Staff Sergeant Craig Koch, the gunner, sat in the right of the turret, wedged between the gently moving gyro-stabilized gun and a densely packed jumble of white boxes and black telescopes illuminated periodically by blinking red, white, yellow, and green computer lights. The sandstorm, which limited visibility to 900 meters, made Koch very tense. He knew that in a tank battle, victory goes to the gunner who sees the other guy first.

    Koch pressed his head tightly against the vinyl rest of his thermal-imaging sight, his right hand gently turning the " Cadillac" handgrips left and right to maintain a constant, rhythmic slewing motion of the turret. His left hand nervously flipped the toggle that changed his sight picture from 3 to 10 power and back and forth between a "black hot" and "white hot" thermal image. He strained to discern from the desert horizon any telltale point of light that would be his first indication of Iraqi armor.

    ...The shooting war began for Eagle 66 at 1618 hours and lasted exactly seven seconds. As he crested a slight rise, Koch spotted not one, but eight thermal hot spots. He could only make out a series of thin lines through his sight because an earthen berm masked the image of each Iraqi tank. Eagle 66 was loaded with a high-explosive antitank round, or HEAT, not the optimum choice for taking on the Soviet-made T-72 tanks. Should Koch's first shot hit the berm, the HEAT round would explode harmlessly. Koch screamed, "Tanks, direct front." McMaster spotted the tanks. "Fire, fire sabot," he yelled as he kicked up the metal seat and dropped inside to look through his own thermal imager. McMaster's clipped command was a code that automatically launched his three crew mates into a well-rehearsed sequence of individual actions. To Jeff Taylor,"Fire, fire sabot" meant that once the loaded HEAT round was gone, he must reload sabot, known to tankers in the desert as the "silver bullet."

  11. #31
    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Default Indeed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    Still, it's encouraging to see officers of his calibre staying in the Army for the long haul.
    ...as he is enroute to be the Director, Concept Development & Experimentation, ARCIC, and his perchant for 'net-centric warfare'.

    See his CSL paper:
    http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usacsl/...ons/S03-03.pdf

    Kreker

  12. #32
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    Default 'LEARNING FROM CONTEMPORARY CONFLICTS-H. R. McMaster

    LEARNING FROM CONTEMPORARY CONFLICTS

    TO PREPARE FOR FUTURE WAR

    by H. R. McMaster

    War is the final auditor of military institutions.
    Contemporary conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq
    create an urgent need for feedback based on actual
    experience. Analysis of the present combined with an
    understanding of history should help us improve dramatically
    the quality of our thinking about war. Understanding the
    continuities as well as changes in the character of armed
    conflict will help us make wise decisions about force
    structure, develop relevant joint force capabilities, and
    refine officer education and the organization, training, and
    the equipping of our forces.

    Rest of the essay - http://www.west-point.org/publicatio...rFutureWar.txt

  13. #33
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Thumbs up A read well worth it, and for follow on consideration

    Some of the ideas (among quite a few) worth bringing out to the SWC and discussing are:

    In Dunlap's construct, war could once again be made simple, fast, inexpensive, and efficient by divorcing military operations from policy or limiting the application of military force to targets capable of "projecting power."
    Divorced from its political context, the problem of future war could be solved by America's "asymmetric advantages."[2] The argument has appeal, in part, because it defines war as we might prefer it to be.
    Promising simplicity overtly, or tacitly by omission in order to serve parochial interests castrates the Civ/Mil discussion when it matters most - that is when the object of policy seems most irresistible and the uniformed leaders must articulate risk in the face of appetite. If there is the false promise of simplicity and efficiency and low risk, then there is little good argument as to why the use of military force to achieve the objective might produce undesirable or unintended risk and consequence.

    As such, those who might try and argue caution or upset the status quo for more resources, or a change in approach will have a hard time communicating their reason. Basically the discussion was shaped by our actions and promises, and any voice in the institution which challenges those assumptions by laying out unattractive options (scope of commitment) will have an uphill battle if the institution has compromised its integrity at the expense of its responsibilities. To paint a picture of the nature of war as other then it is may be the worst of betrayals.

    Moreover, efficiency in war means barely winning, and in war, barely winning is an ugly proposition.
    The complexity and uncertainty of war require decentralization and a certain degree of redundancy, concepts that cut against business's emphasis on control and efficiency.
    Forces ought to be designed explicitly to fight under conditions of uncertainty and to achieve effectiveness rather than efficiency. This will entail tolerating a higher degree of redundancy.
    Kind of brings out the iron calculus doesn't it? Means + Will = Resistance. There was also a point made that where possible resources should not drive strategy, but the reverse. I think there are at least three sides to this observation - first, do you have the resources available (or can they be made available) to make your preferred strategy feasible; second is the policy of such import that rather then piecemeal resources, you make them available up front thereby making your strategy both more effective, and creating the conditions to where the objective is realized sooner, and as such becomes more efficient in the long run; third - have you created an intellectual and political climate where the the first two points can be brought to light -i.e. if you create and breed a climate of apathy, that is likely what you will get.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 10-20-2008 at 11:22 PM. Reason: needed to add something

  14. #34
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    Interesting read and I agree with a lot, but I also have a few problems:

    First, "balanced joint forces" used three times in the piece:

    Post-9/11 experience highlights the enduring uncertainty of combat and the need for balanced air, ground, and maritime forces that can both project power from a distance and conduct operations on the ground to defeat the enemy and
    secure critical terrain.
    and

    In doing this, we must avoid viewing force design as a zero-sum game among the services. Precision strike, information, and surveillance technologies cannot substitute for balanced
    joint forces, but they are nonetheless vitally important.
    and

    The above factors militate for the development of balanced joint forces capable of operating against determined enemies that will attempt to evade and attack our technological advantages.
    What does "balanced" mean in real terms? He doesn't really explain. And similarly, in his conclusion:

    Forces ought to be designed explicitly to fight under conditions of uncertainty and to achieve effectiveness rather than efficiency.
    Fighting under conditions of uncertainty seems more like a mindset problem than a force structure problem to me, provided one has a full-spectrum force. His comments on uncertainty seems to argue for a full-spectrum force (something I support) - is that what he's calling for? I couldn't really tell.

    I also think his comments on RMA and transformation are a bit too critical and it seems he might want to throw the baby out with the bathwater in that regard:

    Our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the 2006 Lebanon war, provide strong warnings that we should abandon the orthodoxy
    of defense transformation and make appropriate adjustments to force structure and development.
    Although I agree the concepts of RMA and transformation were oversold as a grand-unified-theory of warfare, they should not be simply abandoned because they still have utility in certain kinds of conflict. RMA and transformation concepts should be kept in those areas where they work and discarded in those areas where they don't.

    That is why the U.S. Joint
    Force must expand its ability to deter, coerce, or defeat nations that either threaten U.S. vital interests or attack those vital interests through proxies.
    Personally, I see this more as a political problem than a force structure problem. Differences in force structure are not going to matter much in terms of deterring or coercing states that utilize proxies - it's ultimately political will to hold a state accountable for what proxies do that matters. History seems to show that such political will rarely exists which is why proxies are so effective.

    However, recent conventional combat experience also suggests that we should reject the notion that lightness, ease of deployment, and reduced logistical infrastructure are virtues in and of themselves. What a force is expected to achieve once it is deployed is far more important than how quickly it can be moved and how easily it can be sustained. As we endeavor to improve ground force capability, we must
    therefore increase airlift and sealift capabilities.
    I do think rapid deployability is a virtue which is why I agree with his call for more airlift and sealift capabilities. Regarding the second sentence, if a force can't be moved quickly enough to intervene in a timely manner then it won't be able to achieve anything at all - nor will it be able to achieve much without sustainment. And this contradicts what was earlier said regarding Tora Bora:

    At Tora Bora, for example, surveillance of the difficult terrain could not compensate for a lack of ground forces to cover exfiltration routes.
    He's right about surveillance, but the reason there was a lack of ground forces was the inability to rapidly deploy and sustain a more adequate force quickly. These limitations were what drove planners toward using locals as a proxy ground force. The recent combat experience of Afghanistan would therefore seem to argue for the opposite of what he suggests. Additionally, logistics continues to be a limiting factor for Afghan operations, so ISTM forces with reduced logistical infrastructure requirements are a virtue in that theater.

    Finally, I strongly agree with Ron's comments regarding the relationship between strategy and resources.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-21-2008 at 07:06 AM. Reason: Spacing in quotes

  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default "What the President really meant was..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    ...Fighting under conditions of uncertainty seems more like a mindset problem than a force structure problem to me, provided one has a full-spectrum force. His comments on uncertainty seems to argue for a full-spectrum force (something I support) - is that what he's calling for? I couldn't really tell.
    Can't answer for him but that's the way I took it.
    I also think his comments on RMA and transformation are a bit too critical and it seems he might want to throw the baby out with the bathwater in that regard...

    Although I agree the concepts of RMA and transformation were oversold as a grand-unified-theory of warfare, they should not be simply abandoned because they still have utility in certain kinds of conflict. RMA and transformation concepts should be kept in those areas where they work and discarded in those areas where they don't.
    I'm inclined to throw out the whole caboodle. I'm also curious. Where do you think they might work?
    Personally, I see this more as a political problem than a force structure problem. Differences in force structure are not going to matter much in terms of deterring or coercing states that utilize proxies - it's ultimately political will to hold a state accountable for what proxies do that matters. History seems to show that such political will rarely exists which is why proxies are so effective.
    True but force structure has a significant effect on what your forces can be successfully committed to do.
    He's right about surveillance, but the reason there was a lack of ground forces was the inability to rapidly deploy and sustain a more adequate force quickly. These limitations were what drove planners toward using locals as a proxy ground force.
    I think there's much more to it. Planning failures and command disconnects (regrettably to include some parochialism...) were also involved.
    Finally, I strongly agree with Ron's comments regarding the relationship between strategy and resources.
    True -- and that's why force structure has significant impact and that's why we must have full spectrum forces.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I'm also curious. Where do you think they might work?
    They seemed to work pretty well in phases I-III of OIF and even Col. McMaster concedes the point to some extent several times in his essay. One example:

    The major offensive operation that quickly toppled the Hussein regime in Iraq clearly demonstrated the possibilities associated with new technology, as well as the effects that improved speed, knowledge, and precision can have in the context of a large-scale offensive operation.
    However, the initial phases of the operation also revealed important continuities in warfare that lie beyond the reach of technology. Unconventional forces will continue to evade detection from even the most advanced surveillance capabilities. Moreover, what commanders most needed to know about enemy forces, such as their degree of competence and motivation, lay completely outside the reach of technology.
    I don't disagree at all with the above. However, in the end, Saddam's attempts at an unconventional strategy and use of unconventional forces to defend Iraq and his regime failed spectacularly. Col. McMaster is completely correct about the limits of surveillance and technology against unconventional forces, but they proved very useful against his conventional forces.

    True but force structure has a significant effect on what your forces can be successfully committed to do.
    Sure, but the case he points out was Iran - what force structure will help us coerce, deter them? One more focused on LIC/COIN or one more focused on HIC? Ironically, it was after what appeared to be the complete success of OIF in mid-2003 that Iran put forward a tentative offer for a grand rapprochement with the US.

    I think there's much more to it. Planning failures and command disconnects (regrettably to include some parochialism...) were also involved.
    Oh I agree - there is always more to the story and I agree with your points, but the fundamental problem of putting forces into and sustaining them in a landlocked country with no infrastructure remained. And of course there was the political pressure to act sooner which, IMO, also helped push the plan toward using locals.

  17. #37
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Forces ought to be designed explicitly to fight under conditions of uncertainty and to achieve effectiveness rather than efficiency. This will entail tolerating a higher degree of redundancy.
    I suspect that the above provides the meat of McMaster's article.
    I see his "conditions of uncertainty" as another way of describing risk. The level of risk is a factor of the degree of damage caused times the probability of occurence. Risk can be mitigated but it cannot be eliminated. Force design is (or ought to be) a function of trying to mitigate risk in the attainment of assigned missions. One way to mitigate risk is to overdesign for contingencies. This is what McMaster seems to espouse with his desire "to achieve effectiveness rather than efficiency." However, force developers must also recognize that not every mission has an equal probability of being assigned. So, the force structure must be such as to be able to handle the missions whose risk (consequences of failure times probability of occurence) is highest, within availalble resource constraints.

    The real issue is whether those who drive the budget process are willing to appropriate the funds needed to allow the military to mitigate a larger portion of the perceived risk. Dollars drive the procurement actions (to include military personnel and their training) that produce a balanced (or out of balance) joint force.

    In order to change the attitudes of those who approve budgets, the military needs to do a better job of identifying the spectrum of risk that various funding levels engender. As McMaster points out, the business notion of waste (as found in LEAN thinking) does not apply as directly to the military. A larger, balanced force structure inventory than immediately necessary (one that is able to handle more than just the short term, quick and dirty deployment, but not so large as to win WWIII within a week, a month, or perhaps even a year) is really a cost avoidance strategy, not waste. This is what needs to be made apparent to those who apportion Federal funding.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris

  18. #38
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yep...

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    ...I don't disagree at all with the above. However, in the end, Saddam's attempts at an unconventional strategy and use of unconventional forces to defend Iraq and his regime failed spectacularly.
    Did they? We're still there and I'm quite sure that was not the original US plan...
    Col. McMaster is completely correct about the limits of surveillance and technology against unconventional forces, but they proved very useful against his conventional forces.
    Well, I see no RMA invovled in any of that or Afghanistan -- or in Iran, come to that. Absolutely none. As for 'transformation' I see none, really; what I do see is technological progress at an accelerated rate (compared to historical change) being adapted -- and that not as well or as rapidly as I would wish. So I guess we have a definition discrepancy more than a disagreement.
    Sure, but the case he points out was Iran - what force structure will help us coerce, deter them? One more focused on LIC/COIN or one more focused on HIC?
    Any fight with Iran will absolutely require both and thus both capabilities would seem required to effectively deter.
    Ironically, it was after what appeared to be the complete success of OIF in mid-2003 that Iran put forward a tentative offer for a grand rapprochement with the US.
    One of many over the years. Having served in Iran long ago, i've watched it pretty closely over the years. They're as good as North Korea at playing the US and they constantly approach and scuttle away. They're good at it; haggling is national sport...
    ...And of course there was the political pressure to act sooner which, IMO, also helped push the plan toward using locals.
    Too true, that.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    So I guess we have a definition discrepancy more than a disagreement.
    Yes, I think you're right here. That's the trouble with so much Pentagon and think-tank speak.

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    Default Another Interesting Comment

    FCS, “Transformation” Wrong Path: Top Army Brain
    By Greg Grant Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 4:21 am
    Posted in Land, Policy

    Two distinct groups are emerging in the Army with quite different views on the nature of future wars the U.S. is likely to fight and the decisions the service should make about future force structure and weapons. The first group is the Title 10 side that urges the Army to embrace the troubled Future Combat Systems program and new operational concepts built around dominant battlefield intelligence. The other side is represented by officers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who think future wars will resemble the messy reality of the current ones.

    In a new paper, Army Col. H.R. McMaster, definitely a member of the messy war group, calls for abandoning so-called transformation, which is intellectually rooted in the idea of a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). McMaster, of 73 Easting and Tal Afar fame, is a highly influential soldier-scholar who is currently putting together a brain trust for Gen. David Petraeus to review U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Continuation at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2008/10/22/fc...op-army-brain/

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