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Thread: Winning the War in Afghanistan

  1. #81
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    Default Strategic, Operational, Tactical, ......

    Posted by BW, any metric you can measure change in within a 4-year period IS NOT STRATEGIC.
    I would like to see some examples of strategic metrics that don't change within 4 years. I think you are referring to the metric, not the content.

    For example, the cost of oil is a strategic metric, but it changes daily (the price of oil impacts almost everything else such as food prices, ability to sustain economic growth, political stability, etc., and of course all these factors impact international relationships).

    If the argument is to develop the strategy first (and associated metrics), and then determine how you're going to actualize it (operational and tactical approaches and associaed metrics), then I agree.

  2. #82
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking Metrics. Metrical or the other metrical...

    I'll go a step further than Bob's World. Strategy does not lend itself to metrics.

    Metrics of many types -- oil prices, tonnages, number of personnel or opposing organizations, availability of food, miles or efforts passed and hundreds more -- affect strategies but the strategy itself is rarely amenable to measurement other than subjectively. Metrics can be applied to Operational and Tactical efforts and they may or may not indicate anything of value pertaining to the mission.

    I have watched attempts to apply metrics to strategy and to warfare for a number of years. If anyone can provide me with truly useful metrics in an all encompassing sense of indicating results at the strategic, operational or tactical levels, I'll be most appreciative.

  3. #83
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3) and metrics….

    Like many, 98% of my experience has been at the tactical level and as far as I know the rest was at an operational level...my armchair is also far, far away from Afghanistan...but I'll take a crack at this one nonetheless.

    In our SWJ thread entitled Interagency Assessment of Afghanistan Police we covered a lot of ground and perhaps we can pick out some tactical, operational, and strategic metrics.

    Tactical Metrics:

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Mr. Mohammad had no rank, no money for food and not enough clothing or gear to operate in cold weather. Two of his six trucks were broken. The ammunition the Pentagon provided him came in cardboard boxes that immediately crumbled, exposing cartridges to the elements on his storeroom’s dirty floor.
    Operational Metrics:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    As an aside, I'd suggest that given what I know of Afghanistan, they'd be better off with one National Gendarmerie and having the normal police functions at Province and city level -- but that's in the too hard box at this time.
    Strategic Metrics

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    The strategy of the major U.S. and British military offensive in Afghanistan's Helmand province aimed at wresting it from the Taliban is based on bringing back Afghan army and police to maintain permanent control of the population, so the foreign forces can move on to another insurgent stronghold.
    Robert Kaplan covered this in the Atlantic: Saving Afghanistan

    While the coalition builds an army from the top down, they hope to improve security in the countryside from the bottom up through the Afghan Public Protection Program or AP3. As described by American Brig. Gen. Mark Milley, the AP3 recruits, trains, and arms locals across tribal and ethnic lines, making them answerable to provincial governors who are, in turn, appointed by the democratically elected president.
    And I linked to a cost estimate of the security strategy from Foreign Affairs

    Afghanistan needs larger and more effective security forces, but it also needs to be able to sustain those security forces. A decree signed by President Karzai in December 2002 would have capped the Afghan National Army at 70,000 troops (it had reached 66,000 by mid-2008). U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has since announced a plan to increase that number to 122,000, as well as add 82,000 police, for a total of 204,000 in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Such increases, however, would require additional international trainers and mentors -- which are, quite simply, not available in the foreseeable future -- and maintaining such a force would far exceed the means of such a destitute country. Current estimates of the annual cost are around $2.5 billion for the army and $1 billion for the police. Last year, the Afghan government collected about 7 percent of a licit GDP estimated at $9.6 billion in revenue -- about $670 million. Thus, even if Afghanistan's economy experienced uninterrupted real growth of 9 percent per year, and if revenue extraction nearly doubled, to 12 percent (both unrealistic forecasts), in ten years the total domestic revenue of the Afghan government would be about $2.5 billion a year. Projected pipelines and mines might add $500 million toward the end of this period. In short, the army and the police alone would cost significantly more than Afghanistan's total revenue.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 08-23-2009 at 12:28 AM.
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  4. #84
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default This is an excellent question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I would like to see some examples of strategic metrics that don't change within 4 years. I think you are referring to the metric, not the content.

    For example, the cost of oil is a strategic metric, but it changes daily (the price of oil impacts almost everything else such as food prices, ability to sustain economic growth, political stability, etc., and of course all these factors impact international relationships).

    If the argument is to develop the strategy first (and associated metrics), and then determine how you're going to actualize it (operational and tactical approaches and associated metrics), then I agree.
    So, if the number one US Strategic objective is, say, "Secure the homeland,"
    and you are designing operations to deal with AQ. This means that any operational metric you have for AQ must be subordinate to any strategic metric you have for defending the homeland.

    What I see is a fixation on the operational metrics for defeating AQ, and because we have not adequately designated and prioritized strategic priorities for "securing the homeland" we end up pressing too hard for an intermediate objective and totally missing the fact that excessive pursuit of an operational objective may in fact be creating a strategic vulnerability.

    I will not say that one should never risk strategic defeat in pursuit of an operational or tactical victory; but I will say unequivocally that to do so must not only be knowingly, but also a CCIR that is laid on some 4-stars, or even the President's desk for decision first.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 08-23-2009 at 12:33 AM.
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  5. #85
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Surfer: Personal opinion, I'm not sure if there are any strategic objectives to pursue in Afghanistan. Pride is important, but pursuit of pride may well be what has led to the fall of many, but that is no reason to follow in their footsteps.

    You can't look at Afghanistan and derive strategic objectives. You must look at yourself and the entire globe, and then ask "is there anything in Afghanistan that contributes to my strategic priorities?"

    Never ask the guy in the fight what the most important objective is, because it will invariably be the guy he is fighting. Strategy must be derived by those removed from the current fight, otherwise it will likely be skewed more by "urgency" rather than "importance."

    Clearly the fight in Afghanistan is urgent. The strategic question should look to how important it is as well.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

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

  6. #86
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Hear ya...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Surfer: Personal opinion, I'm not sure if there are any strategic objectives to pursue in Afghanistan. Pride is important, but pursuit of pride may well be what has led to the fall of many, but that is no reason to follow in their footsteps.

    You can't look at Afghanistan and derive strategic objectives. You must look at yourself and the entire globe, and then ask "is there anything in Afghanistan that contributes to my strategic priorities?"

    Never ask the guy in the fight what the most important objective is, because it will invariably be the guy he is fighting. Strategy must be derived by those removed from the current fight, otherwise it will likely be skewed more by "urgency" rather than "importance."

    Clearly the fight in Afghanistan is urgent. The strategic question should look to how important it is as well.
    BW,

    Fair enough.

    I believe that you are correct in identifying the Pride/Honor/My-Word-is-My-Bond component and potential pitfalls...we have also discussed the effort assigned to the Democracy Strategy (Jeffersonian vs. Pragmatic versions) in other threads.

    Here is a view (and quick read) on Turkey: Crescent & Star - Turkey Between Two Worlds by Stephen Kinzer that might be of interest and which echos some of the Democracy Strategy efforts/costs/benefits that I believe are visible in the Afghanistan reporting we see...
    Sapere Aude

  7. #87
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default All neat, surferbeetle. However,

    Tactical Metrics:

    I said in that post that I was aware that many metrics can affect a sistuation at the strategic level (or any level for that matter). I fully acknowledge the quote you provide is a metric that affects the tactical situation however my request was for truly useful metrics in an all encompassing sense of indicating results at the strategic, operational or tactical levels.

    Operational Metrics:

    My comment above applies with respect to the Operational level as well.

    Strategic Metrics

    As it does to the Strategic level.

    Robert Kaplan covered this in the Atlantic: Saving Afghanistan

    And I linked to a cost estimate of the security strategy from Foreign Affairs
    Kaplan adds nothing. Regrettably, in my view your quote adds yet more data on the effects or on items that affect the war in Afghanistan -- but not an ounce of metrics indicating a result of tactical, operational or strategic action.

  8. #88
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Questions. Serious ones, not idle...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    So, if the number one US Strategic objective is, say, "Secure the homeland,"... any operational metric you have for AQ must be subordinate to any strategic metric you have for defending the homeland.
    Desirable, yes. 'Must' possibly, in some cases even probably -- but not always. Not least because one can pursue multiple lines of operation in the process of attaining a strategic goal. Why must that be so?
    ...totally missing the fact that excessive pursuit of an operational objective may in fact be creating a strategic vulnerability.
    I don't really think anyone has 'missed' that issue and I'd also say that both Afghanistan and Iraq were strategic issues as well as operational issues. You may not agree with the strategy but that doesn't mean it was or is nonexistent. In any event, if not initially strategic, is either now a strategic issue?

    Second question on the topic; are we missing it or taking a calculated risk?
    I will not say that one should never risk strategic defeat in pursuit of an operational or tactical victory; but I will say unequivocally that to do so must not only be knowingly, but also a CCIR that is laid on some 4-stars, or even the President's desk for decision first.
    I would tend to go with the President's desk since we're talking national stuff here and I have no reason to believe nor an indication in any way that was not done. I also suggest that the document required in such a case is not only a CCIR, which is simply information on which to base a decision (but a fair CYA tool if the right people initial it...) but a NSPD (or a PPD, depending on which administration you're addressing), an action directive. Would that not be necessary?

  9. #89
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    If the foreign policy establishment is looking in one direction, it behooves someone to look in several others. Their track record isn't too good...
    Agreed. I do take note when they speak though, not for any inherent virtue in what is said, but because it can serve as a sort of turn signal... in this case, building a case for withdrawal regardless of whether objectives are achieved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Contrary to what Haas says, it was not necessary in the first place -- Foreign Policy errors led to the attack that led to Afghanistan -- but it is now necessary. So he has it exactly backwards.

    Haas says that the Korean War and the Persian Gulf war were wars of necessity. Went to the first, stepped back and allowed a son to go to the second -- neither was a war of necessity in any sense until we committed to them. Then they also became necessary. Same Son has also been to the current two and seems to think they were wars of choice that became necessary. As he said to me once "We either finish it now or we'll be back in ten years." I made much the same comment about the 1991 war -- pillars of the foreign policy establishment didn't agree...
    It is possible that a different set of policies might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, just as a different set might have avoided the choice to return to Iraq. Any time we discuss where the road not taken might have led we are on very speculative ground.

    Seems to me that we are defining objectives in Afghanistan by what we want to avoid, not by what we want to achieve. What we want to avoid is Omar and Osama strolling into Kabul hand in hand while the last helicopter leaves the embassy roof. What we want to achieve - in any sense that is both achievable and acceptable - is a lot less clear.

  10. #90
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yea, verily...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    ... in this case, building a case for withdrawal regardless of whether objectives are achieved.
    Almost certainly true and I agree they bear considerable watching for the predictive value. For the sake of foreign relations it would be nice if they were slightly less predictable...
    Any time we discuss where the road not taken might have led we are on very speculative ground.
    Certainly true. Yet patterns can be discerned. By others as well as by me or us.
    What we want to achieve - in any sense that is both achievable and acceptable - is a lot less clear.
    I'm not sure we ever knew -- other than W. who simply wanted to send a couple of messages and then I think got caught up in the moment and decided to hang around and 'fix' things.

  11. #91
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Marketing theory may have some answers…

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Tactical Metrics:

    I said in that post that I was aware that many metrics can affect a sistuation at the strategic level (or any level for that matter). I fully acknowledge the quote you provide is a metric that affects the tactical situation however my request was for truly useful metrics in an all encompassing sense of indicating results at the strategic, operational or tactical levels.
    There are always questions concerning the validity and or applicability of marketing/metrics methodologies…and that’s a good thing, because it leads to interesting conversations and highlights that there are always more than one way to skin a cat.

    Lets keep in mind the services we are targeting in our COIN/GWOT/OIF/OEF fight can be grouped in three main areas: security, economics, and governance. A way to analyze our effectiveness in these areas might include a marketing-style analysis of ‘three key environments’ (internal, customer, and external) at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

    An analysis of the internal environment of our organization could include:
    • Availability and deployment of human capital (demographic breakout)

    • Availability and capacity of equipment and technology

    • Availability of financial resources

    • Power struggles within the organization

    • Current marketing objectives and performance


    An analysis of the environment of our customer could include:
    • Customer demographic breakout?

    • Service/Product segment breakout?

    • What do our customers do with our products?

    • Where do our customers receive our products?

    • When do our customers receive our products?

    • How & why do our customers receive our products?

    • Why do potential customers not select our products?


    An analysis of the external environment in which our organization works:
    • Competitor’s demographic breakout?

    • Competitor’s product segment breakout?

    • Economic growth and stability?

    • Political trends?

    • Legal and regulatory issues?

    • Technological advancements?

    • Sociocultural trends?


    We could also hop in a HMMWV and go for a look-see to check the staffwork...
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  12. #92
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Or we could save some

    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    We could also hop in a HMMWV and go for a look-see to check the staffwork...
    fuel and hours of Power Point time by selecting the right people for the job, training them fairly well and telling them what's expected, letting them get on with it and accepting their reports without insisting on a lot of numbers that tell us many, many things -- but not simply how well or badly we're doing...

    That way we ignore all the staff work, concentrate on results -- sort of on the goals rather than getting mired in the processes -- and can take the HMMWV or a bird out just to tell 'em 'Good job!'

    Or we can continue to let the pipeline provide some right and some wrong people, marginally train them and produce a a lot of metrics to tell us what we're doing -- if not how we're doing...

    I did like your list, particularly these two:

    - Power struggles within the organization. From 'An analysis of the internal environment of our organization.' That one is sorta poignant...

    - Why do potential customers not select our products? From 'An analysis of the environment of our customer.' My suspicion is that religion and a different moral code may have a great deal to do with that. I'm sure we can quantify that in some fashion...

    This one drawn from 'An analysis of the external environment in which our organization works' I'll turn over to JMM:

    - Legal and regulatory issues? I know they apply to us, perhaps to some customers in some forms -- but I'm deeply suspicious that our competitors are not so bound....

  13. #93
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    I've held off comment on metrics because, while I believe you cannot improve what you cannot measure, choosing what to measure does to some extent define how you want to see the problem. Plus their are political aspects to the metrics used (obviously)

    Personally would focus on a reduction in violence as in a Lowering of the number of civilian dead, versus a counter of the numbers of attacks on ISAF Forces. The persistence of ISAF in theatre is a given, as is freedom of action to move anyway within A'Stan.

    Progress might be low/no dead civilians with no/low number of attacks. Failure might be any variation of the above.
    I suggest the test being, no attacks and dead = peace. High attacks and dead = not some thing good.
    Yes this defines the problem in military terms, because that is the nature of the problem.

    I'd also be a bit careful of defining TAC, OP and STRAT objectives, in terms of metrics. Point being that successful TAC actions are irrelevant unless, their "synergy" is felt at the operational level. Point being we have to move on from defining things as "Tactical success" when they produce no operational benefit. Irrelevant success is not success.
    I know this is VERY obvious, but I'm not comfortable with "tac success" being "success" unless it gets you somewhere.
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  14. #94
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I've held off comment on metrics because, while I believe you cannot improve what you cannot measure, choosing what to measure does to some extent define how you want to see the problem. Plus their are political aspects to the metrics used (obviously)
    Very much agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Personally would focus on a reduction in violence as in a Lowering of the number of civilian dead, versus a counter of the numbers of attacks on ISAF Forces. The persistence of ISAF in theatre is a given, as is freedom of action to move anyway within A'Stan.

    Progress might be low/no dead civilians with no/low number of attacks. Failure might be any variation of the above.
    I suggest the test being, no attacks and dead = peace. High attacks and dead = not some thing good.
    Yes this defines the problem in military terms, because that is the nature of the problem.
    Agree with much here as well, however I would add that in addition to the Security considerations the inseparably intertwined Economic and Governance considerations need to be acknowledged and addressed as well; Mr. Kaplan addresses this point more eloquently than can I:

    And yet set against this whole legacy is another tendency, equally as compelling. Throughout the mid-part of the 20th century, Afghanistan had a credible central government under King Zahir Shah that boasted many accomplishments from eradicating malaria to overseeing the construction of a ring road uniting the major cities. Following the chaos of the early- and mid-1990s that came with the collapse of the Soviet puppet regime of Mohammed Najibullah, Afghans yearned so much for a central government that they initially welcomed the tyranny of the Taliban. And today, all polls indicate that Afghans want strong national leadership emanating from Kabul. Indeed, there is a hue and cry for roads, wells, culverts, dams, and other infrastructure that can help with farming. The problem is that decades of strife, in which central authority went from monarchy to communism, to anarchy, to theocracy, to enfeebled democracy, have left tribal affiliations as the only constant.

    While the American-led NATO coalition is holed-up in a network of heavily fortified bases, surrounded by HESCO barriers and living off food supplied by Kellogg Brown and Root, the Taliban are masters of isolation, quick as they are to make deals with local tribes and to threaten villagers with hideous retribution through “night letters.” The population by all measures genuinely wants to be rid of the Taliban, even as Afghans are usually too afraid to cross them. The side that wins here will be the one that emerges in the eyes of the rural inhabitants as the strongest tribe—NATO or the Taliban and its affiliates.
    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I'd also be a bit careful of defining TAC, OP and STRAT objectives, in terms of metrics. Point being that successful TAC actions are irrelevant unless, their "synergy" is felt at the operational level. Point being we have to move on from defining things as "Tactical success" when they produce no operational benefit. Irrelevant success is not success.
    I know this is VERY obvious, but I'm not comfortable with "tac success" being "success" unless it gets you somewhere.
    We all dislike putting our heart and soul into efforts that do not move us towards where we need to be. Do you know of any case studies/historical vignettes worth sharing (I would imagine them to be CvC based ) that would exemplify this idealized nesting of tactical, operational, and strategic with regards to Afghanistan?

    By the way, I am still working my way through your recommendation: Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought by Michael I. Handel...I find it to be a good book. The Bob Dylan song that pops up when one does the abbreviated 'Masters of War' Google search is interesting as well The book was first published in 1992 and the song written in 1963 for those of you who enjoy chasing the dialectic metrics
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 08-23-2009 at 03:24 PM. Reason: clarity...
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  15. #95
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Seems to me I've heard that song before...

    From Surferbeetle's quote of Kaplan in the full post just prior to this from me:
    While the American-led NATO coalition is holed-up in a network of heavily fortified bases, surrounded by HESCO barriers and living off food supplied by Kellogg Brown and Root, the Taliban are masters of isolation, quick as they are to make deals with local tribes and to threaten villagers with hideous retribution through “night letters.”
    "Doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result..."

    For the record, I know some are getting out and about -- still, when they are out they're in large bodies and a lot of protective gear; when they aren't out, they're too comfortable and too expensively 'secure.' Won't work.

  16. #96
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Playing catch up

    Been out of the net for a while and catching up. I have had a thought swirling in my head for months now that I just could not pin down. I think I have finally pinned it down. This might not apply to just here but a very broad stroke across the board. In my own mind it all interlinks at various levels. Comfort vs basic needs. Risk acceptance vs adversion. Technology vs individual skills.

    First I want to address the creature comforts of deployments. The "Super FOBs". If we are trying to root out a problem how do we do it from the safety of a FOB? When we rely on creature comforts and safety through technology and structures how does one make a difference? Add in the sprinkle of big brains who think of some new way to measure what is happening and new fancy words for what we are doing and we get to where we are today...absolutely no where. Conventional thought of keeping statistics (how many IEDs went off this week) and how to prevent those attacks does not solve the problem. How about looking at why are those attacks happening? But when you only stay in one place and leave that place occasionally all you can do is attempt to counter those attacks and never get to the way are they happening. Give me enough ammo to protect myself, enough money to buy/secure my basic needs (water, food, shelter and yes that order) along with living off the populace/land and let me live in the little villages/towns. One who lives, sleeps, eats with the people will finally be able to influence the people. When you only show up once a week if that; how much are you truly learning about the people? influencing them? securing them? News flash it is war, risks have to be accepted.

    I have been toying with the thought for some time now that the more technology we add to the fight the worse are Soldiers skills get. My main example of this is shooting. If I can shoot with iron sights then when you give me optics my shooting should enhance. If I was a betting man, I'd bet most in service today could not shoot very well without optics. Another prime example is land navigation. Pretty much speaks for itself. Blue force trackers, the war TV (UAV), that leads to so much micro management that junior leaders today are afraid to make decisions. This leads into another interesting thought. With the communications capabilities in the world today, many are being brought up without the ability to make their own decisions. You have a question you pick up your cell phone and make a call to find out what to do, instead of using your decision making skills to come up with the answer. I have experienced this a lot lately with junior officers and NCO's. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this man's Army.

    The levels of approval to conduct operations these days can be directly linked to the above. If junior leaders are not given the opportunity to develop, then they cannot be intrusted to make the right decisions on the ground. I know how many will say "We allowed our leaders to make those decisions." I want those to take a hard look at what those decisions truly were. Were they learned responses or truly something different, something they came up with on their own? When Infantry 1SG's and below are wondering and asking how to train their Soldiers there is a huge problem. Then when you get them on the range to train them, they have been dictated from higher that they will learn with body armour on, even bigger issue. Yes I know I'm digressing....... sorry on a roll and finishing my final thoughts. I get these guys out on the range with more ammo than their yearly allotment only to find that they have been dictated by higher that they must train in body armor. Let me guess "Train like you fight" right? Wrong. When teaching fundamentals teach them with least amout of stress. Muscle memory takes 10,000 repetitions. Once you have the fundamentals down then add the stress of body armor. The key is to not let the body armor influence your fundamentals, not change your fundamentals to reflect wearing body armor. Unfortunately for these guys there "higher" leadership does not allow for individual thought and solutions.

    The last point I will make in regards to risk management. I get told the other day that for me to conduct a flat range my risk assessment has to be moderate. It has been determined by the CG that all flat ranges on post are a moderate risk level. So, me being me I ask one question. If the risk level has been determined why do I need to do a risk assessment? Is not the risk assessment for me to determine what the risk level is by identifying the risks, controls, and implementation? This all fosters junior leaders who cannot and will not make decisions for themselves.

    Again sorry for the rant, IMO all of these things with many others are linked into what is happening today or maybe I'm just too close minded to see the benefits of what is happening. Unfotunately learn early on; Keep it simple, stupid. Might just turn this into it's own thread; MODS if you think it wise feel free to do so.
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    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  17. #97
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    ODB,

    Given the problems you cite, and the general nature of COIN that requires decisions at the lowest level possible, I think new officers should commission at O4 or above, and as they gain experience, fill in the O1-O3 slots where the rubber really meets the road. Some might disagree, but given the absence of a strategic framework, I don't think junior officers could do much worse up there anyway.

    Whatcha think?
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  18. #98
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Before the Army got overly impressed with itself, back when one could try things

    without causing ulcers for worrywarts and CSMs, I used to have a "Fall Out One" day about once a quarter. The NCOs would be peons for the day and the Troops would take charge. I managed to convince most of my Platoon Leaders to go along with this, only had one who wouldn't go for it (OCS type who'd 'risen above' that ). Had two Co Cdrs and several 1SGs that were willing to play over the six years or so I was a PSG. You wouldn't believe how a CPT 18 years in the Army commanding his third company can screw with minds...

    Everyone learned a lot -- the troops who got to be 'in charge' learned it wasn't as easy as they thought and shared that knowledge with their fellow troopies. The Officers and NCOs got a reminder that life as Joe wasn't quite like their life. Did it in garrison occasionally but mostly in the field; it worked really well on exercises; that steepens the learning curve. Also provided some good entertainment on occasion.

    When LTG Walter Ulmer was the III Corps Cdr in '82-83, he caught both Divisions headed back in to garrison after a big exercise, told them to halt in place, bring all the Officers in to the Post theater for an Officers Call and that the NCOs were to bring in the units and commence accountability and cleanup routines. He did that ti make the point that those guys could be trusted. A Colonel who had participated in that as a Major told the tale to several people in 1993 stating that it had worked out well -- and a LTC and two CPTs who heard all said that no LTG would do that and that if one did, they'd refuse the order. Fascinating.

    Back to my PSG days, in almost seven years I had only five PLs, nine(?) (or none) for longer than six months. Ran a platoon as the APL in Viet Nam for seven months and at that time, there were seven other NCOs including two SSGs serving as acting PLs in the Bn; eight out of 19 Platoons and the S2 was an SFC -- did a good job but the MI guys hated him cause he'd consistently embarrass 'em. This stuff isn't rocket science...

    Long way of getting to the point that I think American Pride is on to something.

    And I can REALLY sympathize with ODB's rant...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-23-2009 at 08:42 PM. Reason: Query nine or none?

  19. #99
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    Default People back the winning horse..

    Some things I have trouble understanding:
    1. What the hell is the Quetta shura? If the US knows that taliban HQ is operating in Quetta, what is stopping them from doing something about it? If they dont think the shura is in quetta, then why keep up this charade?
    2. Many of my (leftwing) friends from Pakistan suspect that the US is actually trying to get the ISI to help them get out of Afghanistan without it being a PR disaster and is basically waiting for the ISI to make some sort of livable deal with the Taliban. And my Indian friends suspect that in return ISI gets to keep the kashmir jihad going. Is this conspiracy mongering or could it be true? If its not true, I suggest that the widespread existence of these theories is a sign that the US is not able to communicate effectively. If its true, then a lot of people are being killed for PR purposes, which seems immoral.
    3. Whats the plan?
    I think that the US is not winning in Afghanistan, not because the war is so "complex". Its because at one level its really simple. As Bin Laden said: people will bet on the stronger horse. In this case, far too many people are betting that the taliban will win. Unless there is a decisive change in that assessment, its a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may be that in war nobody will tell you their whole plan, but its also true that in this case not seeing a plan keeps a lot of fence-sitters on the fence. I look forward to being enlightened.

  20. #100
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Replies to Q1 & Q2

    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    Some things I have trouble understanding:
    1. What the hell is the Quetta shura? If the US knows that taliban HQ is operating in Quetta, what is stopping them from doing something about it? If they dont think the shura is in quetta, then why keep up this charade?
    The Quetta shura regularly features in open source meetings and is seen as a gathering in one city of many of the Taliban shura. The Pakistani's do not deny they live there, but strongly indicate there are no regular meetings and then fall silent. All the stranger as the Army Staff College is in Quetta, alongside being the local Army HQ and provincial capital.

    2. Many of my (leftwing) friends from Pakistan suspect that the US is actually trying to get the ISI to help them get out of Afghanistan without it being a PR disaster and is basically waiting for the ISI to make some sort of livable deal with the Taliban. And my Indian friends suspect that in return ISI gets to keep the kashmir jihad going. Is this conspiracy mongering or could it be true?
    Given the history of relations between Pakistan and USA I am not surprised at such views. Currently relations are better, but their precarious nature has not changed - a point covered in other threads. ISI is reportedly a different institution, less Islamic and less independent. Pakistanis often refer to the 'strategic depth" Afghanistan gives them (rather implausible to outsiders to be mild).

    The important point is that a few years ago, under Musharraf, IIRC after the Kargil crisis (another older thread), Pakistani stopped the bulk of cross-border activity. Who was the principal agent for this action? ISI. Some Kashmiri groups remain local and in supervised camps; others have moved away to fight elsewhere - notably LeT.

    If its not true, I suggest that the widespread existence of these theories is a sign that the US is not able to communicate effectively. If its true, then a lot of people are being killed for PR purposes, which seems immoral.
    Blaming the failure to communicate the "truth" on the USA, is far from accurate and not just a communication issue. Some people don't want their own "truths" disturbed, locally I'd say the supposed inevitability of Indian-Pakistani conflict is a bigger problem.

    Only a part answer and No.3 left well alone.

    davidbfpo

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