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Thread: The UK in Afghanistan

  1. #701
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Less casualties? In which war did these tests take place?
    Note = "In terms of trials." Done using TESEX.

    ...and what's your issue? Why are you against something we know makes the guys better at their job?
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Note = "In terms of trials." Done using TESEX.

    ...and what's your issue? Why are you against something we know makes the guys better at their job?
    So the statement "Platoons equipped with PRR accomplished missions quicker and with less casualties" was arrived at through the results measured during training.

    As I have stated before there is of course some value in the PPR system but the problem is that it blocks off one ear to natural sounds and therefore effectively halves the aural situational awareness of soldiers. I agree with Fuchs that with the use of an earpiece which does not block natural sounds yet feeds in the PRR traffic is a relatively simple fix given todays available technology.

    We tried the radio earpiece for stick commanders back in 1976 (in Rhodesia) mainly to allow the commander to keep both hands on his weapon at all times. The push to talk pressel switch was built into the FN hand grip to be thumb operated.

    There were two problems, one the pressel switch was not robust enough and two, nobody found closing off one ear acceptable.

    You see Wilf you can catch soldiers who have seen little or no combat with the "smart" idea of closing off one ear but you don't catch the old and bold.

    Now because of the PRR the soldiers can't locate the "thump" and now need locating radar (at GBP10,000 a pop) to do what two ears can do pretty easily.

    We have discussed this before... people who have not seen significant combat should not be leading the design and implementation of equipment to be used by combat troops. This is just another good argument why not.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You see Wilf you can catch soldiers who have seen little or no combat with the "smart" idea of closing off one ear but you don't catch the old and bold.
    With respect, that's simplistic at best.
    a.) When hearing really matters, (very close country, or a rolling start line/ seeking contact, in a building) then the head set is a hindrance - so do not wear it. - Of note, most IDF squad leaders use handsets, not headsets, but that is to enable quick recovery of the radio and for other people to use.
    b.) I find it very hard to believe that most firing points are located by hearing. Echo alone can confound this. Flash, splash, and movement were what I was taught. Crack and thump was merely indicative of range, and useless in the case of multiple firing points.
    Any measurements as to human hearing accuracy? +/- 40' in bearing and +/- 200m in range at over 200m?
    We have discussed this before... people who have not seen significant combat should not be leading the design and implementation of equipment to be used by combat troops. This is just another good argument why not.
    Again, it's not that simple.
    a.) A great many very silly ideas have come from highly experienced combat veterans.
    b.) Of the 40-50 interviews I have conducted of combat veterans from Private to Colonel across at least 5 conflict and 4 armies, about 3 have generated actual useful insights, where men were able to make sensible observations about their experience, which would not have been blindly obvious to everyone. Men like Lionel Wigram or even Sidney Jary are incredibly rare.

    The reason why "Operational Analysis" exists is so as armies are not mislead by men's "combat experience." Memory is dynamic and highly unreliable. Ask any cop.

    Now, let me be clear. I am in no way discounting combat experience as the absolutely required empirical experience that informs how and why things should be done, but words cannot be taken on faith. Observations need testing, because they can quite often mislead unless subject to a high degree of rigour.
    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 Fuchs's Avatar
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    Let me contribute a (radio) chat-related thought:


    German soldiers appeared rather ill-disciplined to West Allies in 1944 because of their constant yelling and chatting in combat.
    It turned out that this near-permanent voice communication had a significant and advantageous psychological effect; it improved cohesion, cooperation and gave confidence (as long as the "right" messages were yelled).

    Individual radios offer this advantage even without giving away positions that easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Let me contribute a (radio) chat-related thought:


    German soldiers appeared rather ill-disciplined to West Allies in 1944 because of their constant yelling and chatting in combat.
    It turned out that this near-permanent voice communication had a significant and advantageous psychological effect; it improved cohesion, cooperation and gave confidence (as long as the "right" messages were yelled).

    Individual radios offer this advantage even without giving away positions that easily.
    Close contact situations certainly allow you to hear what the enemy is saying and allow him to hear what you are saying. The Brit system works on control and it is about who says and needs to say what and when. The system does not allow for feel good shouting and whooping (although from YouTube that seems to be creeping in). So one needs to ask the Brits why when they have this fancy piece of equipment the PRR is everyone shouting in a contact? Well I asked a current SF sergeant-major in who I met in November in the UK. He says there is too much dependency on the PRR and in contact everyone is listening in to what is being said and not getting on with their job and when combat orders are issued there is too much delay caused by "say again, over" and " so and so did you copy?"

    From my experience it was the stick commanders (fire-team upwards) who did most of the shouting and a review of casualty rates does not indicate that they were personally in greater danger of attracting enemy fire than others. Maybe just alerted the enemy to their location which their firing would have done anyway. The training remains the same, in that you change your firing position every so often to avoid drawing fire by staying in one place, so with a commander who has to use his voice.

    Heard some smart guy on the other side of the bushes shout "prepare to advance" one day and he threw a grenade which bounced away off a tree. Told my gunner to rip it and the 50 rounds that went down dampened their enthusiasm for the assault. Seemed like a gutsy guy though, pity in some ways we had to shoot him. They gave away their intentions.

    The simple point I'm trying to make is that the sacrifice of hearing in one ear with the subsequent loss of directional location is too high a price to pay for the benefits the PRR brings. Get a proper ear-piece and it all changes. It obviously wasn't thought thorough properly at the outset.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    With respect, that's simplistic at best.
    You can't brush simple fact off so easily. Remember how they sold the pea-shooter to the US military? It was sold on a lie, that this "jack the giant killer" would dismember the enemy due to this incredible round that it fired. Oh yes, and the weapon was light and the ammo was light... you know the story because the same crap (almost verbatim) was sold to the Brit squaddie.

    So I say again you can sell a crock to recruits and inexperienced soldiers but not to seasoned veterans.

    a.) When hearing really matters, (very close country, or a rolling start line/ seeking contact, in a building) then the head set is a hindrance - so do not wear it. - Of note, most IDF squad leaders use handsets, not headsets, but that is to enable quick recovery of the radio and for other people to use.
    Well it doesn't seem to be designed as an on-off system what with the head straps etc and in any event when its off where do you put it?

    Yes, now ask the IDF squad leaders why they prefer not to close off one ear. Then figure that at night it is better to use (with squelch turned on) a series of clicks on the pressell switch (push to talk) to communicate while on patrol than to talk or even whisper. (one click= no, two clicks= yes, and three clicks = I'm going to talk now - suppress your ear-piece if necessary).

    b.) I find it very hard to believe that most firing points are located by hearing. Echo alone can confound this. Flash, splash, and movement were what I was taught. Crack and thump was merely indicative of range, and useless in the case of multiple firing points.
    Any measurements as to human hearing accuracy? +/- 40' in bearing and +/- 200m in range at over 200m?
    OK so you checked out Section Battle Drill No.3:

    Section Battle Drill 3 — Locating the Enemy
    0138. Failure to locate the enemy may prevent the section from moving without suffering heavy casualties. It could lead rapidly to loss of initiative by the section and the
    halting of the platoon advance. There are three stages to this drill:
    a. Observation. Look in the area from which the thump came. The time
    between the crack and the thump gives a clue to the range, each second representing 600 metres. Look for movement, smoke, radio antennas or anything
    unusual. If nothing is seen after about thirty seconds or so, it is unlikely that the
    enemy will be located by observation.
    b. Fire. The section commander should give a fire control order to two riflemen to fire shots into likely cover. The rest of the section should keep a careful
    watch on their arcs of observation. If there is no answering fire, the section
    commander should try some other likely target.
    c. Movement. If there is still no reaction by the enemy, as a last resort the
    section commander should instruct two men or a fire team to get up and double about ten metres to different cover. He might do this again if no fire is drawn
    the first time; a man getting up and dashing ten metres is a very hard target to
    hit. If there is still no enemy reaction, the section can be deemed to be out of
    contact, so the section commander must consider continuing the advance cautiously, with a fire team in position to provide covering fire.
    But you need to read that in conjunction with what I posted in #650 above

    You really need to read this up in:
    D/HQDT/18/28/63 -- Army Code No. 71717
    Infantry Training
    Volume I
    Skill at Arms
    (Individual Training)
    Pamphlet No. 2
    Fieldcraft, Battle Lessons and Exercises

    You see the problem as I see it that the fieldcraft aspects of training are seen to be the domain of NCOs and therefore beneath the Brit officer and there lies the problem.

    To understand combat at section and platoon levels one must study minor tactics together with contributing Fieldcraft lessons and training. With training in the location of the thump or thumps together with why things are seen - Lesson 5, (SSTSSM) one produces a rounded soldier. As my Sergeant-Major instructor used to tell us. "Soldiers like birds can't fly on one wing they need to be comprehensively trained in all aspects of minor tactics and fieldcraft (bushcraft)."

    Then again one can't command a company or more if one does not understand how the battle is being or is going to be fought at section/platoon levels.

    Again, it's not that simple.
    a.) A great many very silly ideas have come from highly experienced combat veterans.
    None nearly as stupid as those dreamed up by those who have only played soldiers.

    b.) Of the 40-50 interviews I have conducted of combat veterans from Private to Colonel across at least 5 conflict and 4 armies, about 3 have generated actual useful insights, where men were able to make sensible observations about their experience, which would not have been blindly obvious to everyone. Men like Lionel Wigram or even Sidney Jary are incredibly rare.
    Volume interviews is not the trick. In a battalion of 40 odd officers there are probably 5 really smart ones. Focus on those. For the rest what you learn is how much of the training they received does not get properly put into practice. (That in itself is interesting)

    (This is why I maintain for non-conventional Afghanistan type warfare you give 6 platoons each to the top company commanders and give platoons to only the best young officers (rule of thumb - one per 3 platoon company - and let staff sergeants run the other platoons.)

    The reason why "Operational Analysis" exists is so as armies are not mislead by men's "combat experience." Memory is dynamic and highly unreliable. Ask any cop.
    The danger surely on the other side of the spectrum is that some peace time soldiers who fail to grasp the simple dynamics of combat will build an army unsuited to combat.

    Now, let me be clear. I am in no way discounting combat experience as the absolutely required empirical experience that informs how and why things should be done, but words cannot be taken on faith. Observations need testing, because they can quite often mislead unless subject to a high degree of rigour.
    By combat experience I am not talking about the odd angry shot but more comprehensive all round experience. And not in the hands of one man who may have been in the right place at the right time.

    I am talking about finding some officers out of the top 10% who have the prerequisite combat experience. Then you must throw into this mix input from SNCOs on the same basis.
    Last edited by JMA; 01-17-2011 at 08:27 PM.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    He says there is too much dependency on the PRR and in contact everyone is listening in to what is being said and not getting on with their job and when combat orders are issued there is too much delay caused by "say again, over" and " so and so did you copy?"
    That's a very subjective opinion, but if true, strongly implies there is a training problem with regard to PRR.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You can't brush simple fact off so easily. Remember how they sold the pea-shooter to the US military?
    ...and a Pea-shooter a great many combat veterans have no issue with. What's your point?

    Well it doesn't seem to be designed as an on-off system what with the head straps etc and in any event when its off where do you put it?
    Spend some time with it and you'll see it can rigged to work in a variety of ways. Could a better system fielded. Sure as hell. That doesn't make the PRR useless.

    Yes, now ask the IDF squad leaders why they prefer not to close off one ear. Then figure that at night it is better to use (with squelch turned on) a series of clicks on the pressell switch (push to talk) to communicate while on patrol than to talk or even whisper.
    The IDF do not issue a PRR. They want one.
    You see the problem as I see it that the fieldcraft aspects of training are seen to be the domain of NCOs and therefore beneath the Brit officer and there lies the problem.
    I know a great many officers who were, and are now concerned with minor tactics and I spend a great deal of time talking to them.
    Volume interviews is not the trick. In a battalion of 40 odd officers there are probably 5 really smart ones. Focus on those.
    ...and how pray do know which the "smart ones" are? You have to take men as you find them or they become available. References from others are usually worthless, because men's opinions as to who was and was not effective, does not translate into men able to make valid and useful observations.

    I spend my life looking for men who can effectively articulate useful insight from their combat experience, in that what they say can be turned into something solid and actionable. EG, it passes the "So what" test.

    If the sum total of what you are saying is that PRR needs a better headset and that's been being said for 8 years. If you wanna bitch about the kit, try PRC-354.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    That's a very subjective opinion, but if true, strongly implies there is a training problem with regard to PRR.
    Training problems seem to abound these days.

    ...and a Pea-shooter a great many combat veterans have no issue with. What's your point?
    ...and they probably don't know any better, poor souls. The point quite simply is that the little black rifle (that wouldn't shoot) and its magic bullet were introduced into the US military under a calculated lie and cost many lives in the process. The Brit and South African moves to 5.56 pea shooters were also frought with problems. My point is that someone should be held accountable for these actions which cost lives. Simple. And as much as people want to sweep it all under the carpet it will continue to emerge.

    Spend some time with it and you'll see it can rigged to work in a variety of ways. Could a better system fielded. Sure as hell. That doesn't make the PRR useless.
    I have merely pointed out that by closing off one ear negates the supposed benefits that accrue from having a chat line open at section level. It appears that little or no attempt has or is being made to fix the current problems... which would not have existed in the first place had combat experienced line infantry officers and SNCOs been involved in the development of the system.

    The IDF do not issue a PRR. They want one.
    I will be interesting to see if they take whats available now (and fatally flawed) or wait until the current problems have been addressed and the product has been refined.

    I know a great many officers who were, and are now concerned with minor tactics and I spend a great deal of time talking to them.
    Maybe... but my point was how many are able to marry the fieldcraft/bushcraft/woodcraft aspect together with the minor tactics. Ask them which aspect of fieldcraft training complements Section Battle Drill 3 — Locating the Enemy, if they don't know, just walk away.

    ...and how pray do know which the "smart ones" are? You have to take men as you find them or they become available. References from others are usually worthless, because men's opinions as to who was and was not effective, does not translate into men able to make valid and useful observations.
    It does not take long to figure out who the smart ones are. Ask a few questions to see what answers you get then "by their answers they will be known". My point is simple in that there is no point in speaking to the average and below officers (unless to make a comparison). You speak to the good officers and you get the correct answers but if you mix them up with the average ones then how do you know which is the correct answer?

    I spend my life looking for men who can effectively articulate useful insight from their combat experience, in that what they say can be turned into something solid and actionable. EG, it passes the "So what" test.
    And who is the judge that what they pass on is useful insight?

    If the sum total of what you are saying is that PRR needs a better headset and that's been being said for 8 years. If you wanna bitch about the kit, try PRC-354.
    I'm going beyond merely the short comings of a piece of kit to the process that led flawed weapons and equipment being introduced into the military in the first place.
    Last edited by JMA; 01-19-2011 at 10:07 AM.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default The "process" that leads to flawed weapons and equipment...

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Training problems seem to abound these days.
    Political correctness "abounds these days" -- and the fact that you and I despise that will not make it go away...
    It does not take long to figure out who the smart ones are... My point is simple in that there is no point in speaking to the average and below officers (unless to make a comparison)...
    That's quite true. Unfortunately, democratic nations have legislative bodies that are excessively concerned with the appearance of fairness and who therefor significantly constrain the ability of one to dispense with the marginal characters. Again, the fact that you and I -- plus many, many others -- despise the phenomenon will not correct the problem.
    I'm going beyond merely the short comings of a piece of kit to the process that led flawed weapons and equipment being introduced into the military in the first place.
    ...and to flawed policies in general is not really a flawed process. Rather it is flawed persons in positions to do harm, occasionally intentional, more often unintentionally -- or unthinkingly. Those people arrive in their positions due to a dangerously inappropriate sense of equality and the current climate of political accommodation. They often have overactive egos and little genuine concern for others. I suspect it will likely get worse before it gets better. Generally, real improvements occur only with major human cataclysms. Your formative experience was in such an event, many have not suffered through that. You and the others that have thus are a small minority in a world that is almost overwhelmingly entirely too complacent and comfortable. Sad but there it is...

    People are flawed and that isn't going to change, one can rail about it but one is not going to affect it much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Political correctness "abounds these days" -- and the fact that you and I despise that will not make it go away...
    If you don't mind, every now and then I will raise my voice in protest if for no other reason than to show that I refuse to go blindly along with the sheeple.

    That's quite true. Unfortunately, democratic nations have legislative bodies that are excessively concerned with the appearance of fairness and who therefor significantly constrain the ability of one to dispense with the marginal characters. Again, the fact that you and I -- plus many, many others -- despise the phenomenon will not correct the problem
    Well yes and it is beginning to tell in terms of quality and operational competence.

    My point on this to Wilf was that when speaking to officers, once you decide whether they first class officers who are followed with alacrity by their troops or on the other hand are followed purely out of curiosity, you are able to categorise their answers as either "a good officer will respond in this way while an loser will respond in this other way." This gives you basis to classify officers. This leads to the ability to ask an officer a few questions and establish very quickly what category he falls into.

    ....and to flawed policies in general is not really a flawed process. Rather it is flawed persons in positions to do harm, occasionally intentional, more often unintentionally -- or unthinkingly. Those people arrive in their positions due to a dangerously inappropriate sense of equality and the current climate of political accommodation. They often have overactive egos and little genuine concern for others. I suspect it will likely get worse before it gets better. Generally, real improvements occur only with major human cataclysms. Your formative experience was in such an event, many have not suffered through that. You and the others that have thus are a small minority in a world that is almost overwhelmingly entirely too complacent and comfortable. Sad but there it is...

    People are flawed and that isn't going to change, one can rail about it but one is not going to affect it much.
    Ken, you are too kind. I don't think one should allow those who have been party to actions which have damaged the service to get off lightly. Instead of being able to retire in relative comfort they should need to push trolleys at the local Walmart for their sins.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh..

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    If you don't mind, every now and then I will raise my voice in protest if for no other reason than to show that I refuse to go blindly along with the sheeple.
    Don't mind at all, do it myself -- I just try to not too often inflict a rant on those who are generally in agreement with me.
    Well yes and it is beginning to tell in terms of quality and operational competence.
    Beginning? Not in my observation. The net decline in tactical competence was apparent from 1949 when I started in this line of work and it has continued the broad downward trend, in spurts and peripatetic fashion since, with only occasional uplifts provided by the right person in the right place for a too brief period. Unfortunately, due to the effect of time, such persons are not permanent and when they leave a mediocrity or worse (that ridiculous "fairness" idea again. Warfare is never fair... ) often replaces them.

    The reason for that decline is simply that all Armies are reflection of the societies from which they spring. Thus, I think we are confronted with future continued decline unless and until a major event or series of them disrupts the trend.
    ... you are too kind. I don't think one should allow those who have been party to actions which have damaged the service to get off lightly. Instead of being able to retire in relative comfort they should need to push trolleys at the local Walmart for their sins.
    I totally agree, though I'd be a good bit more harsh than confining them to Walmart. However, little I say here is going to cause that to occur. I can comment -- and have often done so -- adversely on most such criminality and / or stupidity but I see no sense in beating it to death by excessive repetition here that will do little more than annoy others on the board.

    I also have discovered that if I get excessively irate and vehement in this medium, I tend to get spittle on my monitor and break keyboards by pounding them...

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    My point on this to Wilf was that when speaking to officers, once you decide whether they first class officers who are followed with alacrity by their troops or on the other hand are followed purely out of curiosity, you are able to categorise their answers as either "a good officer will respond in this way while an loser will respond in this other way." This gives you basis to classify officers. This leads to the ability to ask an officer a few questions and establish very quickly what category he falls into.
    Well from experience to date I know it's not that simple.
    For example a man can be a highly effective leader in combat without providing any really useful insight.

    What such men can often provide is observation, but those observations have to be tested, held to rigour and placed in the context of when and where they were made.

    Myth, legend, personal reputations and agendas all muddy the water, which is why for example, it took nearly 20 years for some hard truths about the Falklands to come out. Sadly recounted combat experience is not as truthful as we all might hope.

    OP-35 SOG veterans can tell you about what worked in 1968, in jungle, during their operations. They can't tell you the value of persistent UAV coverage or how best to employ weapons mounted TI, unless they have had some useful exposure to the systems.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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

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    Default Asking the wrong questions

    Catching up on re-reading The Spectator and found this editorial:
    Our Afghanistan campaign is seen almost as an embarrassing remnant of the Blair era.

    In Afghanistan we are hearing the same sort of excuses that were used during the disgraceful retreat from Basra.....Now we are being told that we are ‘handing over to Afghans’ in Helmand. And indeed we have lined up a few Western-friendly governors. But the reality is that soldiers on the ground report that the Taleban have already appointed a series of ‘shadow governors’ who are preparing to take power when we leave in three years’ time.

    The battle will not be won or lost in Helmand, but in Whitehall. It was Blair who started the tradition of naming the fallen soldiers in Prime Minister’s Questions. The military loathe this, as it underlines the sense of defeat and failure. When Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith was commanding HM Forces in Helmand, he had this to say: ‘A steady drumbeat of casualties eats away at the stamina and resolve that the country needs to keep its nerve. The casualty rate is not high.’

    The official Afghanistan casualty rates up to October — 0.85 per cent — may be small by historic standards. During the second world war the casualty rate of troops was at 11 per cent. But has a British lack of tolerance for casualties stymied our counter-insurgency capabilities?
    Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/politics/...uestions.thtml

    There was an accompanying article, by a BBC journalist who had toured Helmand with the USMC:http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/al...od-price.thtml

    This ends with:
    Some Sangin Taleban are ‘irreconcilables’, hardliners sent from Pakistan. Most are local farmers, criminal gangs and drugs traffickers operating under a Taleban flag of convenience and the great hope is that these will be persuaded to switch sides. Is that a real possibility? If the marines can convince them that Nato will be the eventual winner of this contest, it might yet happen. But as one member of the ‘dark horse’ battalion said: ‘We cannot fight their war for ever.’
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    It is not the "steadydrum beat" of casualties, IMO that eats away at stamina, rather it is the ratio of number of casualties to how important the populace believes a cause to be. When the cause is great enough, no amount of casualties is to high. When the cause is small enough, no number of casualties, regardless of how low, is acceptable.

    People like to blame the populace's low tolerance for casualties on the people. "The people have become soft." Once again, as in so many things, government needs to man up and take responsibility for the fact that they have gotten the populace into a conflict that the populace does not believe to be worth fighting for. A metric on the quality of a policy is twisted into a metric on the fabric of the society.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (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)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    People like to blame the populace's low tolerance for casualties on the people. "The people have become soft."
    That could be, but when for domestic political purposes DoD decides force protection is a leading priority it defeats the purpose of sending forces into combat in the first place. You can have effective Infantry or you can have fail-safe force protection measures but you can't have them both at the same time.

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    Pete,

    No question the DoD policies are a pain. A mix of zero defects (no commander who wants to compete for the next level want to be asked "why didn't you do X" after some event, and have to answer "I considered it but dismissed it as not meeting the common sense test;" and also a reaction to the express discontent of the populace with casualties related to these operations. A collision of two bureaucratic responses.
    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)

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    If push comes to shove the American people would probably rather have a large number of casualties during a short period of time if it leads to success rather than low-intensity combat deployments lasting 10, 20 or 30 years. In a way the long-term COIN model of staying engaged forever is a good reason for not getting involved at all, with the possible exception of conducting severe punitive expeditions that send emphatic messages to the bad guys and also satisfy our need for revenge.

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    Default I think Pete has it right.

    There are a few Americans who will object to most any casualties, more who will object to those from any war or operation started by an Administration from the party opposed to the one they normally support and a roughly similar amount that fall into the category Bob's World cites, operations that drag on too long.

    However, I believe the majority of Americans have some sense and will accept casualties as long as they see a successful operation. It's not when the thing drags on that a great many cease to support, rather it's when the operations appear to be headed for failure

    Americans are quite willing to pay for success; they do not like to be billed for failures.

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    The Egypt thread brings another thought to mind -- ever since the Munich Massacre of 1972 there's been a tendency to use SF and some years later SOCOM assets for these small engagements around the world. The main idea seems to have been to send in our best guys -- small footprints, compartmented security clearances and force protection may have also been factors. SF and SOCOM are a lot of things but after all of the money spent on their training using them as garden-variety light infantry is wrong.

    The solution should be to train up our conventional infantry and restore an esprit de corps among them, not send in the special operators every time there's a problem. In a real war we'll need good line infantry units and it may be too late if we wait until that happens to develop them. We'll also need those Infantry NCOs to train the new guys in any future big war. Everyone who is or was SF or SOCOM was a leg at one time.
    Last edited by Pete; 02-08-2011 at 04:54 AM. Reason: Add part about Infantry NCOs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Well from experience to date I know it's not that simple.
    For example a man can be a highly effective leader in combat without providing any really useful insight.
    Selection of individuals to draw the lessons from is important.

    What such men can often provide is observation, but those observations have to be tested, held to rigour and placed in the context of when and where they were made.
    Yes, but... only people who have experienced significant combat in its different forms can provide such "educated" observations. And... combat veterans should be the people who draw these observations out of fellow combat veterans. Some can draw from their experiences and express themselves better than others.

    Myth, legend, personal reputations and agendas all muddy the water, which is why for example, it took nearly 20 years for some hard truths about the Falklands to come out. Sadly recounted combat experience is not as truthful as we all might hope.
    Yes and no, sometimes you need to get in at the debrief stage to make sure that the history does not get rewritten to make a more palatable presentation (or heap the blame on some now departed soul).

    OP-35 SOG veterans can tell you about what worked in 1968, in jungle, during their operations. They can't tell you the value of persistent UAV coverage or how best to employ weapons mounted TI, unless they have had some useful exposure to the systems.
    Quite honestly it goes much further than what may have worked in a certain war against a certain enemy at a certain time. Even a marginal level IQ troopie can state the obvious.

    I would suggest that one needs to find those who were more than just there... they are able to analyse the tactical evolution against the background of the doctrine and provide an intelligent argument as to whether the doctrine should be altered as a result of the experience or should it be viewed as a local aberration with no probable universal impact.

    This last weekend I met with 300 odd ex-RLI soldiers at an anniversary reunion and got to speak to many from generals down to troopies and need to say that it becomes obvious when you are speaking to those who were able to draw the lessons out of the war. Not so hard to recognize.

    As I stated early on in my time here how night vision equipment for ground and air would have revolutionised our operations (certainly the fire force) as our means to greatly improved observation and observation plans would have been massively enhanced. A UAV (by day and night) most certainly would have advantages and those who knew the limitations of old would now be able to apply the abilities afforded by UAVs to current war settings.

    I'll tell you something about UAVs... that such support for tactical efforts and patrols in a given local AO like for a company or a battalion must be flown and monitored at that level (not at the tasking HQ but at the operational field HQ)... and not from some airforce base in the USA or at formation HQ.

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