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Thread: Plan,Organize and Train for SFA

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Plan,Organize and Train for SFA

    Given one of the question posed on the AAB thread by a SWJ Council member (JKM) I thought it might not be a bad idea to post a document I have been sending out to units inquiring how they should plan, organize, train and to their ability educate when preparing to support the development of FSF (Foreign Security Forces).

    This is rough document and I apologize for any grammatical or technical issues. I've gotten good feedback from units and others on it though. What we wanted to do is show how those planning tools we already use can be adapted to support SFA. This is a take on analytical planning methods such as the MDMP (Military Decision Making Process).

    There is a section on how to organize based on conditions and a section on how to look at your resources within your unit and identify those who might better serve as advisors than others, there is a section training, and there is a smaller section on education.

    There are now some good AARs floating around on those units who have been successful in these mission and if possible I'd recommend you get your hands on them - most however are in .ppt format and as such may lack the context that goes with briefing them. I welcome any feedback, and where possible we will roll it into the making of the guide I described on the Fundamentals of SFA thread in the "Working with Indigenous Forces" category here on the SWJ Discussion Board.

    As with all things if its useful use it, if not scrap it - or help inform what might be changed.

    Best Regards, Rob
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    Default Good Document, But...

    Rob,

    I read your document on how to Plan, Organize and Train for SFA, but I think you made a critical assumption that the BCT staff would only be conducting the SFA Mission and not full spectrum operations to include COIN operations.

    Your suggested staff organization and the development of external integration cells might impede the BCT's ability to conduct FSO. I would submit that the SFA BCT needs to maintain its combat force capability and continue to generate target sets. The continued targeting process may be used to generate confidence targets for the FSF or police forces by going after low-hanging fruit. Meanwhile, the BCT and SOF elements would retain the capability to conduct unilateral missions against HVTs. I am using the current state of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for my premise of unilateral missions.

    I enjoyed the article because it gives BCTs augmented for SFA a point of departure and I thank you for taking the time to write the article.

    MAJ Jason D. Adams

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default I know nothing but...

    Rob mate,

    As someone who is somewhat pre-occupied with force generation and force development issues the aspect of this paper that strike me between the eyes is, that it seems to view SFA as some type of distinct military activity, and not merely the conduct of normal military activity.

    Now this is how it appears to me. I may be wrong, but surely SFA should be a mere subset of the all the fundamental force generation and force development activities for the US Army?

    I understand the need to be sensitive to cultural impedimenta, but the British Empire went around the world training and raising some pretty good armies all based on how the British Army, was trained, equipped and organised. To my mind, the British saw little or no difference between training and raising local forces and their own. The Romans took a similar view.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default good points

    Hi guys ,
    Good comments. Again this is one of those things where conditions and objectives drive the requirements. This document was done up with the conditions in mind that unit was supporting the development of a FSF was the primary mission, and where constraints would impede their ability to do things unilaterally (and might even detract from the primary mission). Given the range of conditions a unit might support the development of a FSF (which change both by geography and over time) a unit needs to account for that.

    Will said:

    that it seems to view SFA as some type of distinct military activity, and not merely the conduct of normal military activity.

    Now this is how it appears to me. I may be wrong, but surely SFA should be a mere subset of the all the fundamental force generation and force development activities for the US Army?
    this s a good observation in that it really is about force generation, but it is about the force generation of someone else's (the FSF's) capability and capacity. In many cases the same types of things we do to generate our own forces applies as every security force does three fundamental things - they generate, they employ and they sustain - although the degree or effectiveness to which they do them may differ. There are some distinctions though which gets into the purposes to which we generate, employ and sustain security forces (consider military vs. police or other security forces), and there are some conditions of the specific environment which apply. Perhaps the biggest thing is the idea that you are not generating forces to achieve your ends, but supporting the generation, employment and sustainment of someone else's forces to an end which may not completely synch with yours. It may sound like a minor distinction, but it is a mind set shift.

    I think its worth considering the purposes to which the British and Romans supported the development of FSF. Was it with the intent that they would ultimately be mostly self sustaining and might be employed outside of their purview and to an end which they could not directly control, or were they developed to protect their direct interests, with the necessary controls and oversight built into the program? I think you raise a great point, and that the differences may have both a cultural distinction and a political one. Training indigenous armies to largely mirror your own is probably useful if you plan on controlling them and making use of them in other fights, but how effective is it if your objective is to make them more effective in their own environment?

    It is probably also worth exploring this question with respect to other security forces since we've found ourselves responsible for border forces, national police forces, regular police forces and one or two others - is their a danger modeling FSF development on yourself if your functions are distinct, either right now, or ultimately. There are no standard answers for the most part, conditions cause us to consider what is right at them moment, but we should have an idea of how these forces are intended to be employed as we support their development and as we seek to change the conditions. While conditions for example may call for a police force that is more paramilitary in for the moment based on the enemy, when the conditions change will that police force remain more paramilitary, or will it be able to adapt to a role more in keeping with regular policing? These are some of the questions that leaders supporting the development of FSF are faced with.

    abngriz95, good comments (and I'd like to emphasize them because they are important) - I guess I'd say its what you noted at the bottom, its a point of departure, and that is really how I hope planners and leaders will see it. Like anything else, we cannot and should not take templates and place them over our own unique conditions - we have to do the hard work of mission analysis that involves thinking hard about the range of possibilities, the nature of how the conditions will change requirements and then we have plan, organize and train accordingly. I see too many folks looking for the way, vs. a way which can be adapted, or simply used to stimulate thought.

    From my own experience I've noted when unit leaders missed critical opportunities when conditions changed either because they were not given the authority to reorganize and change their approach when they thought it a good idea, or because they were constrained by their processes and were only looking for those specific things which they had identified, not those things which actually occurred.

    JKM had asked the question on the AAB thread will units bring all their MTO&E with them, I would say when planners lay out the range of conditions they may encounter, and then leave some room for the unexpected, they will come up with a good answer for their commander. There may be constraints and directives, but as those appear a suitable alternative needs to be provided and available that supports both the primary mission set, and a range of other possibilities.


    I would submit that the SFA BCT needs to maintain its combat force capability and continue to generate target sets. The continued targeting process may be used to generate confidence targets for the FSF or police forces by going after low-hanging fruit. Meanwhile, the BCT and SOF elements would retain the capability to conduct unilateral missions against HVTs.
    I think our abilities to do targeting are a great thing and that where possible we should be integrated with the FSF who often have unique targeting capabilities of their own based on HUMINT, and supporting their development of their own processes which help them more effectively leverage those capabilities.

    I am using the current state of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for my premise of unilateral missions.
    Again, I'd like to emphasize that conditions are changing all the time, and the development of some FSF in a given are may be more advanced then others, and that the conditions in a given area may require more or less assistance in these areas than in others. This is where the assessment methodology is so critical (see the fundamentals thread in the working with indigenous forces area), conducting an organizational assessment and an environmental assessment allow you to look at the strengths and weaknesses of that FSF, and of that FSF in its operating environment. This allows you to consider how changing conditions may change the character of the FSF organization. These are not hard assessments, they are in fact the types of tools we use to see ourselves. These assessments should influence your planning and execution (the latter because the assessments should be continuous).

    One thing I did not mention in the document was the impact of FSF supporting institutions, or lack thereof. Ultimately this is where the sustainability of FSF comes from. We've got allot of work to do in this area, and that may be the next thing we work on after the HB/Guide I made mention of at the beginning of the two threads.

    There is also significant work to be done in the education, leader development and personnel practices that support the development of FSF. SFA I think is rooted in individual capability not, collective capability. The organization is just the framework on which to hang these capabilities and provide the enablers, support and sustainment functions which support the conditions and objectives. I don't think there is a one size fits all, and often trying to shoe horn a size 12 capability into a size 6 capability can result in making things worse - we have to be more flexible, and to do that will require more work inthe leader development and education areas. I was planning on starting up another thread on this on Monday - I think its the critical area for SFA, and may help us from looking for solutions based on how easy they are to program. The answer here is providing the "right sized" capability given the conditions and objectives.

    Thanks for tasking the time to read and comment, we should never quit learning, or avoid it because it does give us our preferred answers.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Rob,

    Did you send this to any SF units, or to USAJFKSWCS for comment? I only ask, because while this is "new" to much of the force, it really is bread and butter for the SF community.

    For those that see SFA as a means to develop Host Nation surrogates to do fighting so that we don't have to use Americans for the same, really miss the essence of this program.

    SFA will never achieve its full potential until it is enabled by two things:
    1. Authorities to train with both HN military and civilian law enforcement security forces (the current JCET and SMEE authorities are terribly limited on both counts);

    2. And a line of programmed, flexible, multi-year funding. (most current funding programs are rediculously rigid and are limited to a single budget year).

    Once we have those two enablers (which I see as the main point of SFA, creating a sub-category of FID that allows us to seek these new authorities and funding more suited for the nature of our post-cold war engagement with the security forces of other nations).

    Next is to understand the Primary Purpose of such Engagement. SFA in particular, and FID in general, are not intended to do what many mistakenly call the indirect approach, but is really merely developing capacity in others to go out and execute the direct approach. This is an ancillary benefit of such engagement.

    The training conducted and the skills produced are all well and good, and can be conducted in many cases far more effectively by conventional forces than by SOF. But the primary purpose is to gain access to a country and its security forces, and to build enduring relationships through persistent engagement. This is where SF excels. Until the conventional force is given back to the GCCs, and also put into a true regional orientation like our SF forces are, we will never be able to accomplish the primary purpose with them.

    Best case for employment would be to send out an SF ODA, aumented by a company or battalion of conventional forces (tailored to the mission at hand) to conduct SFA. The SF commander would remain focused on the strategic mission, the big picture; while the conventional commander would focus on the tactical mission at hand.

    This will require a major paradigm shift within the conventional force; but to be honest, it is this kind of paradigm shift that makes up the most important changes that the conventional force must adapt to in order to become more capable at what is being called "Irregular Warfare." The focus for IW impact has been on major equipment items, and changes of training. But it is this same inability to grasp the essence of what IW is all about that goes to why conventional forces aren't particularly suited to execute SFA by themselves. They focus on the wrong thing.

    An SF general and a Marine general got into a discussion about this on FID. The Marine general's position was that his men were fully qualified to go out into theater and conduct FID, even though they had no training or experience in FID itself (though were undeniably expert in the tasks that they were planning to go out and teach).

    "Fine," says the SF general, "and I'll send my guys out to conduct training on how to fly helicopters."

    "That's rediculous" retorts the Marine, "you have no training or experience in rotary-wing operations!"

    "Exactly." replies the SF general


    Point of this short (but true) exchange is this: SFA/FID aren't as easy as they look, and the most important skills and experience required aren't the ones being passed on.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "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)

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    Council Member Boot's Avatar
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    An SF general and a Marine general got into a discussion about this on FID. The Marine general's position was that his men were fully qualified to go out into theater and conduct FID, even though they had no training or experience in FID itself (though were undeniably expert in the tasks that they were planning to go out and teach).

    "Fine," says the SF general, "and I'll send my guys out to conduct training on how to fly helicopters."

    "That's rediculous" retorts the Marine, "you have no training or experience in rotary-wing operations!"

    "Exactly." replies the SF general
    You know the more I get into this, the more I realize how much SF types don't understand how Marines are developed and trained.
    I do know that a team of Marines has recently returned from SOUTHCOM AOR in which they were carrying out a true FID mission and weren't MARSOC.
    SF doesn't have a patent on this. Am I saying that a basically trained Marine can execute at the level an ODA team can? No. Am I saying that it does takes experience and maturity, some specialized training to execute a FID mission. Yes.
    One thing I have noticed is the SF types like to point to their way of doing things as the standard, one in which I don't necessarily disagree with, however to take the stance only ODA can do it, well is myopic at best. There are missions that do take detailed specialized training that are high end and really demand very highly trained people to do so.
    What puzzles me is this constant, well lets put an ODA team in the lead, because that's what they do. Well I would submit that just because you are an SF soldier, it doesn't mean that you are an effective advisor.
    As far as the GO illustration, the Marine is right, Marines have done this type of duty and are doing it as I type this. Are some better than others? Sure. Would it be beneficial to screen the members of the teams a little tighter and train them better, you bet, but its not like SF are the only force in this world he can do this. Using the helicopter example is poor at best, how do you get experience and training?
    I will remind you that we did write the Small Wars Manual, and refer you to the NY Times article on the 2 young Marines in Afghanistan. Would they benefit from better training before going to Afghanistan, sure, but it is what it is.
    Lastly why are we doing this? (GPF), because the SECDEF said so.


    Boot

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Bob, Some good points,
    I did show it to several SF officers and NCOs - and you are right, in essence there is nothing new here - perhaps just some new applications by some folks that have not had to think of it as something they need to know. As a side note, war is ultimately about dealing with people (just a question of how you are dealing with them -coerce, compel, kill, aid, etc.), so the skills developed in SFA are I think fungible across warfare.

    We have one SF SNCO at JCISFA, and one SF 06 who did allot of his time doing FID. What I did try and do with this document is make it user friendly to the processes that are already in use by GPF. This is also why we chose the tools for assessment methodology (see the fundamentals of SFA doc) that uses things like the war fighting functions, METT-TC, PMESII and DOTMLPF to do the assessment, it may not be a perfect fit, but it at least provides a familiar framework for seeing ourselves that we can use to help us see the FSF, and ultimately help the FSF see themselves - e.g. it facilitates dialogue.

    On several of the other points, I think you are spot on, SFA needs to be seen in the context of policy OBJs - both those which are current, and those which may result from changes in conditions.

    I heard that a fairly senior OSD official recently made a remark that got everyone's attention in the room, it was to the effect of a review of the alignment of policies, programs, resources to achieve objectives - while that may sound like common sense, it was received as I understand it as a WARNO. After those things have been aligned, perhaps the rational to address the authorities piece can be put into context, until then it will be ad-hoc, subject to annual review (paragraph exceptions to statute), etc. I'd mention that there are good reasons why those authorities may exist as they are, and I'm not totally comfortable with accepting the consequences of a permanent realignment of those authorities. However, the objectives may call for a more flexible exception, or in fact may need to be fundamentally changed. I'm not confident that any other agency will have the wherewithal to take on these missions, neither in the near term, or in the long run. They may be able to contract them out, but we've seen there are down sides to that as well. Ultimately, I think our pocket book is going to get allot smaller, and additional force structure in the USG to do this may be wishful thinking. This said, DOD may be the only agency capable and with the capacity to do so on any sizable scale - but we better make darn sure that the objective is worth the effort, because developmental activities are generally long term affairs.

    As a side, I had the chance to listen to a former member of the HASC who asked the question of how we'll articulate how this matters to Congressional leaders who must in tun explain it their own political constituents, e.g. how does it get them re-elected? I think its an argument similar to that you made in that given the conditions we can use SFA to help partners (provided they are willing partners - which is a critical assumption) build security capacity such that they can extend security across their responsibilities, and possibly participate in solving regional issues as opposed to us having to intervene with U.S. forces to protect or advance U.S. interests. This should be a supporting part of a broader and more comprehensive effort by the USG and preferably with other partners, and it should support well articulated policy objectives both in a bilateral and regional sense or increased capabilities and capacities could have a destabilizing effect. I also mentioned that following a contingency, the risk of leaving a security vacuum exists, and building the security capacity of a legitimate authority helps secure the end game of the objective. There is also the issue of strengthening a given partner to offset a regional power which opposes U.S. interests. Ultimately the more effective we are in achieving our policy objectives, the more efficient we will be and the sooner the politicians can get back to focusing on the domestic issues which get them re-elected.

    All of these things require a fairly pragmatic point of view, which is sometimes at odds with the desired efficiencies of the moment (as opposed to creating effective solutions) which characterize our political system (where you sit is where you stand -and our 2/4/8 year cycles). In sum I think we are going to have to work hard to convince (some of) our elected leaders that this is a useful capability to fund - it comes back to helping them understand how this keeps them elected (that is not bad, it just means they are doing the job they were elected to do). As I said earlier, I believe its enhancing to our other skills, as war is waged by people - which should make it easier to convince ourselves that these individual skills are worth while to cultivate.

    I think you make some good points about the capabilities in SF and the broader force, but I think there is room to grow on both sides. Many of these functional requirements are resident in one and not the other, and neither may not have sufficient capabilities and capacities in and of themselves. As such, the conditions and objectives should drive the requirements, and the capabilities should be tailored as such. This requires a degree of flexibility that may require us to leave our comfort zone, and recognize that although the organizations may feel ad-hoc (meaning they may not be standing organizations), they can be built around familiar designs, and based on DOTMLPF processes which produce the individual skills required to do this right. While some may argue that we are getting along fine in addressing this, I'd ask how do we know, and what are we basing our level of required effectiveness? How much of our perceived success is by virtue of mass and other conditions, and how much of it due to our effectiveness?

    I raised the issue on the thread about McChrystal being put in charge of Afghanistan if we are going to be able to provide him with the right capabilities in the right amounts to support his preferred operational approach, if not he may have to succeed in spite of our (big USG) support rather then being able to benefit from it. I'm just not sure we (big USG we) are willing to generate the right capabilities in sufficient capacities to do what may be required - I'm not sure we have even really decided how much the objective there is worth to us, or that we have the right objective in mind.

    Well I've departed a bit from the original thrust of the discussion and perhaps the issue is can we (and should we) generate the capabilities (this includes programs, policies and authorities as well as resources) needed by operational requirements to meet their requirements?

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-16-2009 at 05:49 PM.

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Well I've departed a bit from the original thrust of the discussion and perhaps the issue is can we (and should we) generate the capabilities (this includes programs, policies and authorities as well as resources) needed by operational requirements to meet their requirements?
    Hi Rob. I just had a chance to read both documents. Good work so far and good discussion here. I think you just addressed the two key questions (should we and can we), but for now we have to do it. As Boot says, the SECDEF says so.

    I'll submit one topic for discussion that may be helpful that was not quite addressed in your current draft.

    1. Relationship building. In my experience, the ability to build, develop, and foster relationships with FSF is the key to success. If it's done well, then other issues can fall to the wayside. Once you develop the relationships, the you can foster trust. Trust is a combat multiplier.

    If it's okay, I'd like to pass this on to a GPF unit that is prepping to do SFA to see if it is helpful for them. I can send feedback once they have a chance to absorb it.

    Also, from your standpoint, what is the difference between SFA, FID, and combat FID?

    v/r

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Rob mate,


    I understand the need to be sensitive to cultural impedimenta, but the British Empire went around the world training and raising some pretty good armies all based on how the British Army, was trained, equipped and organised. To my mind, the British saw little or no difference between training and raising local forces and their own. The Romans took a similar view.
    Wilf,
    Did the Brits or Romans raise forces to act independently or to supplement there own forces in a particular role? The weakness I see in US SFA is that we create "teeth" units that rely on American logistical, communication and fire support. We need to be able to create teams that can train to use indiginous resources or be prepared to shell out a lot more $$ in defense aid. I would opt for option one myself.
    Reed11b
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    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hey Mike - please feel free to pass along anything useful, I hope we'll have something a little better by about the end of June in one complete thought.

    Its interesting you bring up rapport and relationships, one thing we are trying to get across to unit commanders is that their advisors are are a primary means of influence and rapport building. I think trust comes from matching actions to narrative (doing what you say and being there when you are needed), and being able empathize or at least share and understand a perspective. It does not necessarily mean you have identical objectives, but that everyone should know where you basically stand and what your reactions will be.

    On the issue of my take on the differences between FID and SFA - I'll give you my take on SFA in that it is the capability to conduct the fundamental development tasks of OTERA (Organize, Train, Equip, Rebuild, Advise) for the purpose of building sustainable capability and capacity in FSF. The conditions and objectives may characterize it as FID or to some other policy end - as conditions and objectives change, then the characterization may change.

    Its worth considering that once a capability and capacity is built we may have little influence over how it is employed, so its a good idea to consider the developmental objectives in a broader sense then just a bilateral one.

    SFA ends when that desired capability or capacity is achieved, but if new capabilities or capacities are desired or required then the tasks of OTERA are undertaken again. I don't see them as competing or contradictory, but as complimentary. It simply provides us a framework to group these FSF development activities to achieve a policy end.

    Best, Rob

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default A different take on relative combat power

    One thing worth including in the document may be that of relative combat power, but with a twist on development. In one of the case study interviews the BSB SPO had referred to the transition teams as IBUs i.e. "Itty Bitty Units". At the time I had only thought of it in the context of his logistical problem and a concept of support for the outlying small units he had to sustain.

    Recently though it popped up in a different context, a CDR saw the advisor teams he inherited as a supply burden and did not see them as a tool of influence or as a means to support the development of the FSF. Basically what he saw was 11 guys who he had to be responsible for and who he did not fully understand how to employ.

    This got me thinking about how might a unit CDR "sees" his advisor teams. We have concepts for who "fights" what and for what is battle tracked - they are built around echelons. BDEs fight/employ & track companies, BNs fight/employ & track platoons and companies fight/employ & track squads and sections and while I know digital tracking allows a different perspective, in terms of admin such as senior rating, readiness, QTBs, etc. we are still conditioned to think along the two levels down model.

    While in terms of "combat power" or the ability to accomplish a tactical task like seize, clear, defend, an advisor team is something akin to a section or a squad, in terms of the adviosr team's potential to influence and develop a FSF it may be the most important unit in the BDE CDR's organization, and as such the selection criteria for his advisor teams based on individual capabilities may be the most important organizational decision the CDR makes. This requires the CDR have an understanding of the fundamentals of SFA, and at least wrt to the LOE that includes developing sustainable capability and capacity in the FSF, that mission success equates to that partner's ability to generate, employ and sustain.

    I think that until CDRs understand that, the advisor teams will often still be seen and resourced as something they "have to support" vs. "the organization that can best facillitate mission accomplishment" wrt to supporting the development of the FSF. This is true regardless I think no matter if a BDE falls in on advisor teams, or if it is organic to the BN. This is not a question of who owns what, but of relative value based on understanding the requirements of the mission. Providing guidance and action that clearly elevates the importance of the advisor team when conducting this mission to at least the level of the rifle/tank company/troop will probably help the CDR get the most out of his advisor elements. I know that in some cases CDRs have come to this conclusion in mid tour, but understanding it during planning, training and organization could put the unit on a better operational footing from day 1 in country.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-27-2009 at 01:11 PM. Reason: confusing typos in para 3 - victim of late night typing

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    Default You've sure stated the problem

    in such a way that it becomes clear why John Nagl came up with his notion of and advisor corps. That, IMO, is a bridge too far. So, the practical question is how we get the BDE commander to SEE his advisor teams as his primary maneuver force. My answer would be selection of the BDE commander.

    A commander of a BDE that will be employeing advisor teams should be selected individually from among the eleigibles by an interview with the senior operational commander. In Iraq, the interviews would have been conducted under my concept by Petraeus and Odierno with, my preference, Crocker participating. Send home the guys who don't pass and give them their brigades in some other environment - with a letter in their 201 file explaining that they showed no aptitude for the SFA mission.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Send home the guys who don't pass and give them their brigades in some other environment - with a letter in their 201 file explaining that they showed no aptitude for the SFA mission.
    You know, John, that sounds suspiciously close to a "selection by merit" argument - totally antithetical to the HR policies that bring stability to any Big Organization (i.e. Time Served). I mean, seriously, someone might think that One Size doesn't Fit All if this radical idea of yours caught on !

    Cheers,

    Marc
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    Posted by Boot,
    I do know that a team of Marines has recently returned from SOUTHCOM AOR in which they were carrying out a true FID mission and weren't MARSOC. SF doesn't have a patent on this.
    Boot, I don't think there are too many "experienced" SF guys who claims that SF has a patent on FID. Our unique capability is unconventional warfare, and that is why we're task organized the way we are. Of course every organization strives to stay relevant, so during the counterinsurgency era of the 60's SF also (along with the Marines, Big Army and the other services) focused heavily on FID. SF was unique in that its personnel knew how to fight as insurgents. SF generally had a better understanding of the counterinsurgent fight and what the centers of gravity were. They did not have a unique capability for training host nation forces, although I would argue their interpersonal and intercultural skills and maturity did make them a force of choice in many cases. I think you would agree there is a difference dynamic taking place when the host nation forces are interfacing with a mature Soldier who has been vetted for this type of work (and likes it), than when they're training up with a pick up team of young soldiers/marines who may not really care. I have seen this too many times, and like most failures in the military these were examples of leadership failures.

    Getting back to reality, anyone with some training can train host nation forces. It obviously makes more sense to train an experienced and technical expert on how to be a trainer, than sending a SF guy to armor or artillery school for example. However, all the training in the world can't make the trainer care about the host nation personnel. In my opinion, that is one of the biggest differences I see between SF and conventional forces. SF guys generaly care about their counterparts and that shows in so many ways, and that respect is returned in kind. Also, SF did produce the most relevant FID/COIN doctrine based on years of lessons learned while the services tended to ignore FID in the 80s and beyond, so there is a little rub when conventional folks "invented" something new without consulting those who already had a great depth of knowledge. Once again the arrogance of the big Army stroke again.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-27-2009 at 02:42 PM.

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    Default Duh

    Yeah, Marc, it is selection by merit (as BTW) is selection for command. But this command is a peculiar kind of job and any old COL who has been command selected may or may not have the aptitude to really work in SFA. As you well know, the BCT commander must interact with his HN counterpart. So, he's not just working with US forces but also with HN forces and his SFA teams are really the pointy end of his spear.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default

    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Yeah, Marc, it is selection by merit (as BTW) is selection for command. But this command is a peculiar kind of job and any old COL who has been command selected may or may not have the aptitude to really work in SFA. As you well know, the BCT commander must interact with his HN counterpart. So, he's not just working with US forces but also with HN forces and his SFA teams are really the pointy end of his spear.
    Sarcasm just doesn't come across well in online venues . Honestly, I think the process you outlined would work very nicely - I'm just not that sanguine about it ever getting past the bureaucratic mindset unless there was some way to institutionally "regularize" it (aka stick it in a box... maybe as an MOS or some such, but that gets us into other discussions...).

    I think Bill hit the nail on the head when he talked about SF guys "caring" about the people they work with. Obviously "empathy" and the ability to listen become crucial skills for any BCT/BDE commander in an SFA setting, but there is also another, probably more important, skill which might be called "cutting through the cultural c$@p" on both sides and getting to the lived reality core of the problem.

    Let me go back to something you said in the same post
    So, the practical question is how we get the BDE commander to SEE his advisor teams as his primary maneuver force. My answer would be selection of the BDE commander.
    It strikes me, possibly 'cause I'm working on that Shrivenham paper now, that there are two answers to this. One, which you suggest, which is careful selection of the commander. The other lies in reworking the rhetorical placement of advisor teams (BTW, Kilcullen does a good job of this in Accidental Guerillas (p 270-271) using a rhetoric of ROI). I'll admit, there are some serious dangers with that one as well .

    Okay, back to work...

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Default Marc--

    I really did catch the sarcasm. It's just that my wife came home with lunch and I ran off to eat. Crummy excuse but I sort of knew I was coming across too strong.

    I too think Bill has it right. That is one of the key things that makes SF institutionally the force of choice for advising. Not to say that there are not SF soldiers who would make lousy advisors and GPF soldiers and Marines who would/do make great ones. But instituionally, SF selects and self-selects people who tend to be empathic with other cultures. (I once saw a really funny pseudo recruiting post online for SF calling it "armed anthropology.")

    What I was trying to get at with my notion of BCT command selection was that this approach might just be doable in terms of time and effectiveness. I should add that my semi-facetious conclusion was really focused on not harming the career of some very good and successful colonels even when they were being de-selected for this particular command. You and Rob, of course, understood all that because of your sheer collective brilliance. But to everybody else, I'm sure I was being terribly opaque to the point - or is it pint? - of being assinine.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default C'mon Bill...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I think you would agree there is a difference dynamic taking place when the host nation forces are interfacing with a mature Soldier who has been vetted for this type of work (and likes it),
    I wholeheartedly agree with that. I've also noticed a number of times that one can occasionally end up with someone who isn't all that mature and / or who doesn't like that kind of interface that much...
    ...However, all the training in the world can't make the trainer care about the host nation personnel. In my opinion, that is one of the biggest differences I see between SF and conventional forces. SF guys generaly care about their counterparts and that shows in so many ways, and that respect is returned in kind.
    I also agree with that -- generally. I'll also note that I've seen a number of 'conventional' guys who cared every bit as much and some SF guys who couldn't stand their counterparts...
    ... Also, SF did produce the most relevant FID/COIN doctrine based on years of lessons learned while the services tended to ignore FID in the 80s and beyond, so there is a little rub when conventional folks "invented" something new without consulting those who already had a great depth of knowledge. Once again the arrogance of the big Army stroke again.
    Agree; agree; disagree, disagree.

    The Army mostly screwed up big time on COIN and FID from '75 to '01, no question and they did so in spite of a number of of folks on SBH and throughout the Army who told them doing so was dumb. However, while SF did keep a light in the window -- they also got fragmented into non SF pursuits as well, all in quest of flags and spaces...

    IOW, what you said is correct but that's only part of the story.

    Who is it that you think is claiming they have "invented" something new without consulting those who had a great deal of knowledge?

    If you mean the 'arrogance' of ignoring UW / FID by the big Army folks; was it arrogance or a dumb attempt to influence national policy (to wit: to avoid the messy dirty, politically disadvantageous stuff that is COIN and FID. Those disadvantages apply regardless of who is the pratctitioner) that was bound to fail? If something else, what arrogance?

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    Default

    Most of us on this site won’t argue the point that SF, because they are trained to do FID and because they used to be able to practice during JCETs, have a corner on the advisory skill set. Got it. BUT their functional expertise (capability) and the size of the SF force (capacity) make it mandatory that big Army get involved in the game. So however much better the special guys are than the rest of us, is moot. The rest of us have to chip in and perform the SFA mission. Similarly, other expert capabilities – FAO, CA, etc – are excellent, but simply don’t have the capacity.

    Yeah, big Army shied away from FID after Vietnam, but little flames were still nurtured. John T and I took a trip down memory lane off line, recalling other notable efforts during the 80s and 90s.

    Now we all need to get serious about SFA and cooperate to succeed. Part of the reason we got to where we are in the movie is that we allowed walls to be built around little rice bowls, and now we’re paying the price. SF stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for FID and made it “special”. Big Army, for its part was pleased as punch to let that happen, so we could go off to the NTC and 2-up and 1-back ourselves to death. Similarly, security assistance and security cooperation were walled off, surrounded by a Byzantine bureaucracy and procedures that were aimed more at propagating more bureaucracy than accomplishing the mission on the ground.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan we were suddenly, but not surprisingly, confronted with SFA requirements that outstripped SF and SA cylinders of excellence. We simply need to do this better. Sooner rather than later. Hard to believe we’ve wasted this much time already.

    @ Bob – Yep need legal and programmatic changes to make longer term planning possible. Critical.

    @ Rob – I think that SFA will be politically sustainable if ‘splained correctly. The U.S. does not have a force large enough to protect ourselves unilaterally. By working by, with and through our partners, we can do a lot more with restricted resources. First, we have to help develop those partners. That was also kinda the tone of Nixon’s Guam Doctrine.

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    Default Memory lane is right!

    But, OE, that Guam doctrine thing really marks you as OLD.

    JohnT

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