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Thread: Training the Operational Staff

  1. #1
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    Default Training the Operational Staff

    Recent posts on various threads reminded me of the uselessness of much of the training that I received as the member of a three-star staff deploying to Afghanistan. So I thought it would be useful to start a thread on the subject of training the staff for COIN - what, if anything, has worked?

    Like most staffs, we prepared through cultural study, rewriting our SOPs to incorporate 'lessons learned', and a series of exercises culminating in a BCTP-like 'certfiying' exercise. Like many of you who have commented elsewhere, we found the training to be inadequate and fairly irrelevent, and faced a very steep learning curve once we had actually deployed. Here is why I think that was the case:

    1. The BCTP model - a two week intensive simulation involving the entire staff - works great for conventional warfighting. It is about the right time to fight a set-piece battle involving several phases, decision points, branches, and planning sequels. At the end you can judge success or failure by the change in the relative combat power of the two sides or the amount of terrain which changed hands. It doesn't work for COIN. The pace of counterinsurgency operations is so glacial, and the changes so miniscule (not to mention largely invisible) at the operational level that a two-week exercise consists mostly of running in place. As a result, you can't really judge whether you are doing the right things or doing things right. What you can do is see whether your headquarters processes are working, and this becomes the focus of your training.

    2. The exercises - both external and internal - were rich in military detail but very bare bones in anything else. There was no in-depth treatment of the economy, local politics, tribal relationships, drugs, international or non-governmental organizations. There were efforts to involve us in the 'soft' side of counterinsurgency, but the external training organization was ill-structured to do so. Those who were excellent trainers did not have the expertise required, and those who had the expertise were poor trainers.

    3. The pace of the exercises were all wrong. On the one hand you had too many 'major' events to deal with, in an effort to involve the generals and other decision makers; on the other, you didn't have the hundreds of 'minor' incidents that the staff found it had to monitor and respond to once we were actually deployed and in charge.

    4. We paid lip service to cultural, historic, and linguistic training, but its effectiveness was never tested. Some of it turned out to be wrong or oversimplified once we arrived in any case; more importantly, none of the staff was ever examined to see if the training had stuck. In other words, there was no evaluation phase for that particular aspect of training. As a result, the majority of the staff deployed without being able to differentiate between a Pashtun and a Hazara, without being able to speak even rudimentary Dari or Pahto, without being able to expain the structure of the national or provincial governments.

    All of this meant we were very well-trained on our internal processes - we had perfected our meeting agendas, our targeting schemes, our committee structures - but all adrift on what operational approach we should take. In other words, the three-star staff was trained on how to do things, but not on what things to do. As a result, despite a two-year trainup, we floundered on arrival for months. There has to be a better way.

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    Default Excuse what is probably ....

    a question whose answers everyone one else knows.

    When you say a "two-year trainup", was this a part-time effort for everyone - i.e., X hours per week on the trainup; and Y hours per week on "other stuff"; or was it a full-time effort for most everyone ?

    As a reader of this thread (surely not a contributor ), I need that for context. Thanx.

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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Civilian world training needed...

    Eden,

    The need for fighting skills on staff cannot be ignored or marginalized, but then neither can the need for populace based COIN skills.

    Large parts of COIN fights are populace based and thus it logically follows that consistent training experiences/personnel staffing solutions which acknowledge populace based concerns would be beneficial to operational staffs.

    Sometimes it appears that we favor the tried and true square peg/round hole approach for staffs rather than favoring solutions which have a higher probability of success of developing staff members for this type of fight.

    What percent of active duty staff personnel have spent time working at the city managers office, the water treatment plant, the wastewater treatment plant, the municipality office, the sheriff's department or the county judges office? Out of a 2 year train up is a 40 hour course of instruction on these civilian populace based concerns enough?

    Soldiers with professional experience in the concerns of a civilian populace are scattered across the active duty, national guard and reserve side of the force, however one finds a greater concentration in the national guard and reserve side of the house. Identifying and tracking soldiers with these skill sets is possible (ASI's).

    How consistently and closely do we integrate civilian personnel with civilian skills into the military planning process at BCT or BN level or even lower?

    On the solutions continuum should we stick to the extremes and focus on teaching military planning skills to those who have populace based skills or teaching populace based skills to those with military planning skills?

    Perhaps instead we need to consistently examine staff composition with an eye towards increasing the ratios of various population based skills on staff. Two solutions to consider:

    1) Reviewing/increasing the number of soldiers on operational staffs who have relevant ASI's for the COIN fight at the BCT and BN level (and lower).
    2) Reviewing/increasing the number of civilians who are integrated into BCT and BN (and lower) staff's.

    Regards,

    Steve
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 06-17-2009 at 06:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    a question whose answers everyone one else knows.

    When you say a "two-year trainup", was this a part-time effort for everyone - i.e., X hours per week on the trainup; and Y hours per week on "other stuff"; or was it a full-time effort for most everyone ?

    As a reader of this thread (surely not a contributor ), I need that for context. Thanx.
    I would chart it as a rapidly ascending curve, with the x-axis representing percentage of time spent specifically preparing for deployment. My planning cell was mostly fully engaged almost from the start, with the rest of the headquarters gradually being drawn in.

    But, as with every large headquarters, there is always a large slice of your time that must be spent on housekeeping details, taskers to support other units, and things like equipment checks and individual training that don't directly support training in staff skills. You actually never spend more than fifty percent of your time training as a staff until the very end of the train-up.

    One decision that was probably a mistake in retrospect involved our big annual CPX with subordinate units. We had one scheduled at about the nine-month mark (i.e., fifteen months shy of deployment). Traditionally it was a conventional scenario, and it was decided to keep that conventional focus rather than try to make it an Afghan-based scenario. Why?

    1. Our subordinate units, with only one or two exceptions, were not deploying with us.

    2. Deployment schedules were in flux, and we might not have gone, or might have gone later, so no sense in leaning too far forward in the foxhole.

    3. It would have been very hard to put together a completely new scenario in time for the exercise.

    4. The staff skills honed in a conventional exercise would be just as valuable to us in Afghanistan.

    As I said, it was a mistake. It contributed to our concentration on process rather than on product, but never underestimate the inertia of a large organization.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    What percent of active duty staff personnel have spent time working at the city managers office, the water treatment plant, the wastewater treatment plant, the municipality office, the sheriff's department or the county judges office? Out of a 2 year train up is a 40 hour course of instruction on these civilian populace based concerns enough?

    Soldiers with professional experience in the concerns of a civilian populace are scattered across the active duty, national guard and reserve side of the force, however one finds a greater concentration in the national guard and reserve side of the house. Identifying and tracking soldiers with these skill sets is possible (ASI's).
    Excellent suggestion. I know that we did have a robust and very competent engineer staff, and a less robust and less competent civil affairs staff. I can't vouch for their previous experience in the areas you mentioned, but I do know there were no '40 hour courses of instruction' offered on any of those subjects.

    I am talking about division and corps staffs, the operational level (at least in COIN) staffs that form the kernel of Combined/Joint staffs during deployments. These are structured for conventional warfighting, and must be augmented to obtain the kind of skill sets useful in (I'm holding my nose here) poulace-centered operations. This is a problem for several reasons:

    1. They are not, in fact, very common in the military, especially at the field grade level.
    2. It takes a long time to grow a competent field grade staff officer. You can't just pluck someone from a city manager's office and expect him to be able to add value in the rarefied air of a three- or four-star headquarters. Thus it is rare to find someone with a specialist skill set who is also able to influence planning or decision making at the operational level.
    3. Most of these specialists, while excellent engineers, city planners, or policemen, know squat about warfighting or counterinsurgency.
    4. Augmentees, by definition, show up too late in the process of preparing for deployment.

    So, while it is better to have these guys than not to have them. I don't see them as a silver bullet. The bottom line is we have a system of preparing large headquarters for operations that is basically a carbon copy of the one we used in the 80's and 90's to prepare for conventional war, only with a different scenario and some cultural sensitivity training thrown in. It doesn't work very well. Moreover, our division/corps headquarters are structured for the wars we would prefer to fight, not the one's we are currently fighting, as SecDef might say. Thus we send them off to the combat zone as ad hoc organizations.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Couple of points occur to me reading this thread.

    a.) Staffs exist to enable Command. That's it. That is all they do. No Commander, no Staff. You don't need staff to support any activity you do not directly command.

    b.) Yes staffs are too big. They have been since about the 1950's. Most of what staffs do is utterly irrelevant, to the exercise of command.

    c.) Why should a staff for a so-called COIN operation be any different from one concerned with Combat Operations? Command is Command. All the military functions are the same.

    ...yes I know there are lots of human, social and plain ego stuff that gets in the way, but progress comes from realising it.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    I wonder whether the basic mistake was to send a staff for a three-star instead of sending a staff for an undersecretary of state who happened to have a three-star at his disposal.
    The latter would have looked like six uniforms and about two dozen white collars, of course.

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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default A shared sense of purpose...

    ...and enjoyment of the rapid pace of change are some of the constants I have noted across the RA, ARNG, USAR, and DAC/DON/DOS continuum. As you note however, many of our military structures are still Cold War based and warfighting excellence does vary by individual, fire-team, and unit.

    Staff work, although fun, can also be very challenging and unforgiving Nonetheless my guess is that there are city managers who would be able to fit in and contribute at the Corps or any other level. Dallas, for example, has a city manager who oversaw a FY 2007-2008 budget totaling $2.65 billion and oversees 13,000 employees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    I know that we did have a robust and very competent engineer staff, and a less robust and less competent civil affairs staff.
    Being a member of both of these communities (civil engineer & CA-bubba) I am pleased by our successes and troubled by our failures. I continue to fight the good fight to prepare my charges within my spheres of influence and hope to have a couple of years left in me to continue the task. In the meantime I appreciate the teamwork in fixing our shared issues and know that when my time comes to move on things will be in good hands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    I can't vouch for their previous experience in the areas you mentioned, but I do know there were no '40 hour courses of instruction' offered on any of those subjects.
    My G3 helped me to arrange for a slot at the 40 hour Civil Affairs Planners Course. The setting was superb, the USAF understands infrastructure even in Florida, and more importantly the team of instructors were superb as well (mostly Phd's with extensive DOD and overseas experience). I highly recommend the course as being beneficial to both CA and non CA troops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    I am talking about division and corps staffs, the operational level (at least in COIN) staffs that form the kernel of Combined/Joint staffs during deployments. These are structured for conventional warfighting, and must be augmented to obtain the kind of skill sets useful in (I'm holding my nose here) populace-centered operations. This is a problem for several reasons:

    1. They are not, in fact, very common in the military, especially at the field grade level.
    2. It takes a long time to grow a competent field grade staff officer. You can't just pluck someone from a city manager's office and expect him to be able to add value in the rarefied air of a three- or four-star headquarters. Thus it is rare to find someone with a specialist skill set who is also able to influence planning or decision making at the operational level.
    3. Most of these specialists, while excellent engineers, city planners, or policemen, know squat about warfighting or counterinsurgency.
    4. Augmentees, by definition, show up too late in the process of preparing for deployment.

    So, while it is better to have these guys than not to have them. I don't see them as a silver bullet. The bottom line is we have a system of preparing large headquarters for operations that is basically a carbon copy of the one we used in the 80's and 90's to prepare for conventional war, only with a different scenario and some cultural sensitivity training thrown in. It doesn't work very well. Moreover, our division/corps headquarters are structured for the wars we would prefer to fight, not the one's we are currently fighting, as SecDef might say. Thus we send them off to the combat zone as ad hoc organizations.
    Field grades do not grow on trees, but we have been making them for some time now (current promotion rates to the contrary) and people (military or civilian) are still trainable To echo your sentiment however, there are indeed no silver bullets and if this was an easy fix they would not hire us to solve the problem.

    Balancing the risks associated with the COIN fight is key and it's my belief that by closely examining staff composition from Corps to Company it is possible to identify where we can change the current ratios of kinetic to non-kinetic personnel without enlarging current staff sizes. At these key points we should seriously consider taking the time and making the added effort needed to integrate more COIN experts.

    This means actively tailoring units for the COIN fight just as we tailor Light and Heavy units for the conventional fight: specifically it means accepting an added level of risk and integrating more civilians and soldiers with needed COIN skills into the planning and execution of our COIN fights.

    Full spectrum to me means the Army can break and build, not just break.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 06-18-2009 at 07:11 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post

    a.) Staffs exist to enable Command. That's it. That is all they do. No Commander, no Staff. You don't need staff to support any activity you do not directly command.

    b.) Yes staffs are too big. They have been since about the 1950's. Most of what staffs do is utterly irrelevant, to the exercise of command.

    c.) Why should a staff for a so-called COIN operation be any different from one concerned with Combat Operations? Command is Command. All the military functions are the same.
    Hmmmm...I wish you were right. In the perfect world maybe, but in the real world, here is what staffs have become:

    a. Staffs used to enable command by gathering information; now they enable command by filtering it. This means that staffs increasingly do things that used to be strictly in the realm of the commander - a trend partly set off by the multiplication of assistand and deputy commanders you find in many headquarters. Moreover, in Afghanistan, anyway, you have staffs routinely supporting activities they do not directly command. We don't own the territory like we would in a conventional slugfest. Instead, we have to coordinate lots of different players, military and civilian, international and host country, who don't have the personnel or expertise to do their own staffwork. This is the cost of unity of effort vice unity of command.

    b. Right on.

    c. All I can say is that every staff I have seen overseeing unconventional operations looks considerably different from its normal conventional template. Is that because we have lost the bubble? Maybe, but my sense is that the staff functions vary considerably, if only in emphasis. The air defense staff is zeroed out, as are most of the field artillery staff. Long range planning cells wither away, while PA, CA, MP, and others balloon. Info ops cells, however they are structured, gain in influence and size. Liaison cells metastasize and include a whole new range of skill sets, and odd creatures appear like political advisers, red teams, and the like. And don't even get me started on lawyers. This is because, no matter how much we chant 'war is war', the tasks that staffs have to perform in the clash of modern armies are different than the tasks they have to perform in trying to secure an area from insurgents. So, the staff will inevitably mutate, because not only are the military tasks different, but there are a slew of non-military tasks added to the workload.

    And, as I have said, after a decade, we still do not prepare our staffs well to enter that environment.

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    Default III Corps Staff part 2

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    Retirement Service
    Officer Retirements
    DHR Admin operation
    DFR
    Supply
    Plans & Operations Chief
    Installation Postal
    Assistant
    Personnel Automation Branch Chief
    EMILPO/PAS Section
    EMILPO/PAS Section
    Force Integration
    Inst Reassign Process Brnch Chf
    Customer Svc
    Customer Svc
    Spec Mgt Cmd/Drill Sgt Records
    Officer Reassignments
    Non Div Reasgn
    Officer Reasgn
    Port Calls
    Passport/Dependent Travel
    Pers Processing Branch Chief
    Lead Supervisor
    In/Out Processing
    Inprocessing
    Personnal Processing Br
    Inprocessing Officer Personnel
    Inprocessing Medical Records
    Medical
    Personnel
    Soldier Service Center Front Desk
    ID Cards
    Central Clearance Section
    AG Orders (TDY)
    Orders
    Personnel Retention Brnch SGM
    Secretary
    Reserve Component SGM
    Reserve Component Proc
    In-Service Recruiter
    Career Counselor
    Retention Operation
    Retention Operation
    CAC
    Compassionate Reassignments
    Congressional Inquiries
    MMRB / Congressional Inquiries
    Awards
    Strength Management Branch Chief
    Strength Management
    CSM/SGM Assign/Mngt
    CSM/SGM Assign/Mngt
    NCOIC SMB
    Enlisted Distribution
    Enlisted Strength Account
    Personnel Section
    Clerk
    SMB
    SMB Enlisted
    Reaassignments Clerk
    Admin Svc Div Chief
    Casualty Operations Branch
    Ceremonies NCO
    Field Operations
    Personnel Action Branch
    RCSD Career Counselor
    Reenlistment
    Special Forces Recruiter
    Sponsorship
    Veterans Affairs Rep

    The reason I am showing this list of the III Corps staff is to point out just what we are talking about when we speak of Corps level staff in the U.S. Army. This is a huge monster that makes my head hurt just looking at it. You can tell that a lot of it's function is to filter and at tiems isolate a Commanding General. Not only that, it is a fine example fo staff bloat. Look at the list! We have assistants to assistant assistants in it. Some of it seems more appropriate for garrison staff than Corps staff, yet it is in there. Maybe it is just my dumb inner NCO speaking here but these staffs seem highly bloated and barely managable, let alone trainable.

    When I used to think of staff I thought more along the lines of the Battalion level, which is fairly big, but still managable. I think in such a large staff even the field grade officers get lost in the staff soup and it possibly leads to a mild form on staff neglect across the board at the corps level.



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    Last edited by Blackjack; 06-21-2009 at 01:43 AM.
    See things through the eyes of your enemy and you can defeat him.

  12. #12
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default You ain't seen nothing yet

    Wait until they are augmented for deployment

    Tom

  13. #13
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default

    Sorry I am tardy in reply. Lost the thread....

    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Hmmmm...I wish you were right. In the perfect world maybe, but in the real world, here is what staffs have become:
    I accept that. This is not to say that someone should not try and sort it out. Staffs now essentially resemble soldiers carrying traffic cones, instead of rifles, because they are cheaper and are less dangerous in training.

    a. Staffs used to enable command by gathering information; now they enable command by filtering it. This means that staffs increasingly do things that used to be strictly in the realm of the commander - a trend partly set off by the multiplication of assistand and deputy commanders you find in many headquarters.
    OK, but there why is it such a stretch to provide the commander with the information he needs to make effective decisions?

    c. All I can say is that every staff I have seen overseeing unconventional operations looks considerably different from its normal conventional template. Is that because we have lost the bubble?
    I suggest the bubble has been lost. There are some excellent articles in the British Army review based on a year long study of command and staffs, that essentially shows that modern staff are substantially self feeding processes, that "do stuff cos they do stuff."
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    There are some excellent articles in the British Army review based on a year long study of command and staffs, that essentially shows that modern staff are substantially self feeding processes, that "do stuff cos they do stuff."
    We call those self-licking ice cream cones in the Marines, and they somehow seem to excel at the self-licking part, but not before dripping all over everyone else and making a major mess.
    Last edited by jcustis; 06-22-2009 at 01:37 AM.

  15. #15
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default Really I am just a minnow

    Interesting thread. My perspective is as a senior staff (big fish) in a one star HQ (small pond) starting the long run up to deployment.

    As a HQ we constantly fight the friction of just being - and there is a lot of friction. Resources are very tight and we spend a lot of time trying to get resources and plan training in a very turbulent arena. When not doing this we are trying to:

    Understand what to do with all our new staff. The HQ has grown considerably in the last 2 - 4 years, but processes and procedures have not necessarily changed. Configuration in-theatre is very different to that out, we are now trying to mirror in theatre set-ups and TTPs as much as we can.

    Intellectually equip ourselves for the challenges ahead - lots of reading and study.

    Try and organise training for ourselves and our units that is appropriate to our next deployment, understanding that:

    We cannot create Afghanistan in NW Europe
    Our exercises are short
    The kit we have now is different from the kit we deploy with
    We will be considerably augmented when we deploy

    I think that our three biggest challenges as an HQ are:

    To understand COIN and the environment we will be operating in.
    To identify and develop best staff practice; working smart with the extra staff we have, not just adding extra staff process...
    To incorporate external agencies into our training as much as possible.

    We do this knowing that the staff we have now will not be the staff we deploy with and the situation will undoubtedly have changed again by the time we get there.

    It is however a big step forward for us. We are now trying to do the same stuff (produce military effect), the same way (same terminology, same TTPs, same staff processes) in a different context (training not ops). Previously we prepped for ops, deployed, came back, learnt (but did not necessarily apply) lessons and then went back to fighting 3rd Shock Army for another 24 months until we had to start again

  16. #16
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default And...

    And I do think that in most HQs there are now too many staff, badly organised and poorly focused with the net result that HQs 'staff' but do not :
    effectively support units
    or
    enable commanders to command.

    Rant over!

  17. #17
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    I
    To understand COIN and the environment we will be operating in.
    To identify and develop best staff practice; working smart with the extra staff we have, not just adding extra staff process...
    To incorporate external agencies into our training as much as possible.
    Rat mate. Don't want to chuck a thundie in the mess, but could I sum up the above as, "trying to work out how a staff supports the commander in counter-insurgency operations?"

    Am I over simplifying the problem?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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

  18. #18
    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Default

    Here's an interesting little read on organisations and staffs. Also touches on 'self licking ice-cream cone' syndrome.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  19. #19
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Smile some good questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwigrunt View Post
    Here's an interesting little read on organisations and staffs. Also touches on 'self licking ice-cream cone' syndrome.
    I found myself thinking all cat in the hatish

    -----------
    There once was a man from nantucket
    Who kept him some water in a bucket
    For his garden you see
    was a pretty as could be
    As long as it had a little water

    In that area the rain
    Never dropped quite the same
    Sometimes little here
    Sometimes little there
    Ofttimes naught but suns rays were droppin

    So he kept the bucket filled
    Which he'd take up on the hill
    To water those plants he had planted

    Then along came some storms
    Some like hed never seen
    and them plants they was watered
    Yeah watered to well

    And then all heck broke loose when they
    started to swell
    so he got him a shovel
    and dug him a well

    then he dug a few trenches to run off the
    water
    It was raining so fast he got help from his
    daughter

    oh she had to miss school
    but that girl was no fool
    and she told him that he'd have to pay

    Well the storms disappeared and the rains
    went away
    But he still had the ditches and a daughter to
    pay

    But hey at least there'd still be food for the
    market

    --------------
    Sorry couldn't resist

    Seriously the topic of organizations and what they bring seems way too often to lead us to inquisitions which fail to remember what got us where we were in the first place

    Is there overkill sometimes yes,
    But in all truth quite often we have institutions which have become and are exceptionally capable of doing what they do but when something different comes around although they adjust as well as they can it is probably faster (a political bonus no doubt) to simply find a new group which can hit the ground running rather than work to get the old org in good enough shape to keep up.

    This works well because the new guys probably will catch up to the new adversary the question is what to do with them when they get them.

    The biggest personal problem I think I see with the question of why so many new things; is that they are so often replicas of something you had in the past and failed to keep around. Seems like that might at some point indicate that perhaps they need to be kept around in at least good enough shape to be brought back out when needed.

    Probably goes doubly for govt. How many new groups will have to be put together to even get close to the type of capabilities the nation had in years long gone.
    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

  20. #20
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Rat mate. Don't want to chuck a thundie in the mess, but could I sum up the above as, "trying to work out how a staff supports the commander in counter-insurgency operations?"

    Am I over simplifying the problem?
    I think that sums me up!

    Our Boss is quite clear on what he wants, however there is a lot of clutter. Just because we can communicate from the front line to No 10 Downing St it appears to be a growing trend to say that we should; in particular the ability of decision makers to make decisions at a lower level is increasingly erroded. We do not necessarily fight against this as hard as we should because we (the military) are a conservative organisation, like conformity and seem to have an increasing intolerance to risk. Therefore more staffing process shares the burden of military decision making, lessens risk and increases the number of staff required. More staff = more jobs = more prestige... Oh what a glorious war!
    Additionally because we (UK military) have a strong anti-intellectual bias and are not yet comfortable with COIN our officers tend to be more comfortable with process, so we end up with lots of process, this instead of going to first principles and developing a process that is fit for purpose - "supporting the commander in counter-insurgency operations".

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