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Thread: TRADOC Losing Its Edge?

  1. #41
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    OK - I fianlly got the link to work. I think its a combination and depends upon a point of view. I think it is also indicative of the stresses on the force. Its a good interview with LTG Barno, and he brings up some very important points.

    Best, Rob

  2. #42
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default "Hollow Army"

    What Gen. Barno is saying is reminiscent of what Chief of Staff Gen. "Shy" Meyer was saying about the "Hollow Army" after the Vietnam War. Granted, today's problems are different, but the operational tempo is wearing the institution out.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    From Lt. Gen. David Barno quoted in today's Best Defense blog by Tom Ricks:

    I recently heard a senior Army leader describe assignments in the institutional Army as 'taking a knee' -- an astonishing put down reflective of this troubling shift in the Army culture. Remember -- this is the part of the Army that has responsibility for the doctrine, education, training and leader development upon which the successes of recent years were built. Many talented officers now avoid these key jobs, and civilian contractors are often taking their place -- to include a number of instructors at the Army's command and staff college, for example.
    If TRADOC has responsibility for training and leader development, then that is a problem.

    "Taking a knee" generally refers to taking a breather. "Tapping out" would be the proper phrase for quitting. I don't know how it can be considered a "put down" to consider a non-operational assignment to be "taking a knee." It's just an acknowledgment that the tempo in operational assignments is far more intense than a non-deployable position.

  4. #44
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    Default TRADOC contractors are essential, like it or not

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    If TRADOC has responsibility for training and leader development, then that is a problem.

    "Taking a knee" generally refers to taking a breather. "Tapping out" would be the proper phrase for quitting. I don't know how it can be considered a "put down" to consider a non-operational assignment to be "taking a knee." It's just an acknowledgment that the tempo in operational assignments is far more intense than a non-deployable position.
    Several points:

    * Many Soldiers have earned "taking a knee" given repeated combat deployments in austere and dangerous conditions away from their families
    * Using TRADOC contractors frees Soldiers for resetting TOE units so their expertise is best applied in units preparing for combat while still "taking a knee" stateside with their families
    * TRADOC contractors are a necessity because the Army deploys more often and for longer durations than any other service...which might, IMO, indicate an unbalanced distribution of service personnel if some branches can deploy 4-7 months while the Army is deploying 12-15 months....with a year break in between.
    * TRADOC contractors often are less expensive than military personnel and develop writing and research expertise that are lost when Soldiers learn a TRADOC job and then leave it
    * TRADOC contractors provide institutional memory without the cost of extra permanent civil service personnel who we complement by working programs for several years and then moving on to other programs without the billet still being there

    As part of an Army-contractor team, for the past 8 years I have written doctrine, worked FCS task analysis and training, and currently we are conducting doctrine and tactics training for a new Army system. The Army is getting it's money's worth from company team members who work TRADOC-related jobs, just as it does for our company's government and private sector clients. Our extensive experience working for TRADOC coupled with past military experience, gives us some unique capabilities and perspectives.

    True military personnel could do the same thing, but some of the drudgery associated with technical requirements for doctrine writing and lesson plan development are the intellectual equivalent of KP. We long ago decided contractors could accomplish KP and other dull work to spare Soldiers from such duties. It's all the worse if Soldiers perform such dull duties and it does not help their careers much in the process.

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    Just to be clear, I wasn't concerned about civilian contractors in TRADOC. My concern is that TRADOC (regardless of whom it is composed of) is purported to have "responsibility for training and leader development." That is the job of the chain of command within units, not the faculty at some place where we send people on TDY. Yeah, I get it, OBC, Career Cource, CGSC, etc. Basically "here's a course in the stuff that you learned in your last duty assignment - you should have done it this way. Oh and here's an introduction to some other new thing. Enjoy the weekend."

  6. #46
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Today's installment in the Tom Ricks series is not about TRADOC--rather, it's an essay by a captain on what he thinks the future Army should be like. He wants one force for conducting COIN and stability operations and another for conventional fighting. Some guys were saying that before 9/11 and it didn't happen then; due to financial constraints I doubt that it ever will. Click on the link below to view the article.

    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts...m_the_pentagon

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Just to be clear, I wasn't concerned about civilian contractors in TRADOC. My concern is that TRADOC (regardless of whom it is composed of) is purported to have "responsibility for training and leader development." That is the job of the chain of command within units, not the faculty at some place where we send people on TDY. Yeah, I get it, OBC, Career Cource, CGSC, etc. Basically "here's a course in the stuff that you learned in your last duty assignment - you should have done it this way. Oh and here's an introduction to some other new thing. Enjoy the weekend."
    But until we get stable unit chains of command (regimental-type system, anyone?) I don't think you're going to see this happen. One of the unfortunate results of the massive rotation system is the need for external education programs, since you can't necessarily count on a stable chain of command to pass along lessons and educate new leaders on the way of doing things. It also might come from the compulsive desire for "standard solutions."

    IMO, anyhow.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    "Taking a knee" generally refers to taking a breather. "Tapping out" would be the proper phrase for quitting. I don't know how it can be considered a "put down" to consider a non-operational assignment to be "taking a knee." It's just an acknowledgment that the tempo in operational assignments is far more intense than a non-deployable position.
    I don't know. During my year in TRADOC I thought the tempo was much higher than it was when I was deployed. I mean, much of my 'operational' time was taken up in sitting around, waiting, watching turbaned men lounging around mud buildings, trying to stay awake, chatting, etc. Yeah, the days were long and no days off, and every now and then somebody tried to kill me. But high optempo?

    I'm pretty sure I spent more time engaged in actual work behind a desk at Fort Knox then I did in Afghanistan. I imagine there are some 'take a knee' type jobs out there, somewhere...but there aren't many.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Yeah, the days were long and no days off, and every now and then somebody tried to kill me. But high optempo?

    I'm pretty sure I spent more time engaged in actual work behind a desk at Fort Knox then I did in Afghanistan.
    I'm not sure how to square your insights with your question.

    Long days + no days off + less time with family < shorter days + days off + more time with family?

    I guess the work behind the desk sucks a lot more. But I'm thinking that being able to take frequent showers, getting to eat real food, having a somewhat more normal sleep schedule, actually getting some days off, and having more predictable hours has got to more than offset the added mental strain.

  10. #50
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    Default Sort of agree with both Schmedlap and Eden

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I'm not sure how to square your insights with your question.

    Long days + no days off + less time with family < shorter days + days off + more time with family?

    I guess the work behind the desk sucks a lot more. But I'm thinking that being able to take frequent showers, getting to eat real food, having a somewhat more normal sleep schedule, actually getting some days off, and having more predictable hours has got to more than offset the added mental strain.
    I didn't much like my unaccompanied year flying in the Sinai, so can't imagine repeat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    On the other hand, in a TRADOC environment, it's stressful making major revisions to 20 collective tasks followed by development of nearly 700 slides and 200 pages of lesson plans for training within a six month period.

    There are things learned from both a TDA and TOE assignments.

  11. #51
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default Preparing for Different Operational Scenarios

    It might be worth asking our friends in the British Army how they grew accustomed to training for vastly different operational scenarios from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s. During that period it had battalions conducting counterterrorist operations in Northern Ireland as well as having forces prepared for conventional warfare in Germany. Although counterterrorism isn't the same thing as counterinsurgency, the Bloody Sunday episode taught the COIN lesson of not gratuitously offending a major part of the local population. The British experience appears to have some similarity to what the U.S. is facing today.

  12. #52
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    Default Learning from Ulster

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    It might be worth asking our friends in the British Army how they grew accustomed to training for vastly different operational scenarios from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s....The British experience appears to have some similarity to what the U.S. is facing today.
    Pete,

    Some of your points are covered in other threads such: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=3576 and http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=897 Try the RFI thread ans search there.

    The British Army presence eventually took a fixed shape, with garrison units serving an accompanied tour (3yrs plus), rotations for short tours (IIRC called roulement invariably from Germany), specialists and a large locally recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). There were training facilities in the UK, Germany and elsewhere. It took time to get this machine "well oiled", not only over tactics, evidence-gathering. surveillance and dealing with the media.

    The first thread links to a reflective paper on "lessons learned": http://www.patfinucanecentre.org/misc/opbanner.pdf (ignore the link title it is a British Army paper that is in the public domain). Hopefully that will help.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-19-2009 at 06:03 PM. Reason: Slow building with links
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  13. #53
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    It might be worth asking our friends in the British Army how they grew accustomed to training for vastly different operational scenarios from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s. During that period it had battalions conducting counterterrorist operations in Northern Ireland as well as having forces prepared for conventional warfare in Germany.
    Exactly. - and it shows the lie to the hoary old "COIN is Special" punt that the WOW-COIN generation bye into.

    Although counterterrorism isn't the same thing as counterinsurgency, the Bloody Sunday episode taught the COIN lesson of not gratuitously offending a major part of the local population. The British experience appears to have some similarity to what the U.S. is facing today.
    a.) Why differentiate between so-called COIN and CT? Why make a problem out of something that does not exist. The Brits never saw a difference, nor did the Rhodesians.

    b.) Bloody Sunday taught no lessons at all to the British Army, except that you should follow the training and the ROE = Don't do stupid things. - and that isn't a lesson. The British Army was far better prepared for Operations in Ulster than the US was for Iraq. We had two generations of soldiers who had fought irregular warfare, and serving officers who wrote on the subject - and it still took us 7-8 years to get it right, because warfare is generally pretty context specific.
    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

  14. #54
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default COIN, Counterterrorism and Conventional Ops

    Thank you for the British points of view. My main line of inquiry is not on the history of the troubles in Ulster, but rather how a military organization adapts to having different types of tactics, techniques, and procedures for different kinds of conflicts. The question has a lot of relevance for the doctrine and force structure of the U.S. Army, and I'm not sure that vague statements about "the full spectrum of operations" really have much practical use. Although I'm all for developing doctrine and tactics and teaching it in our schools, there is a limit to what school solutions can do.

    I'm reminded of the observation of Sir Michael Howard in his essay "Military Science in an Age of Peace" in the Royal United Services Institute Journal of March 1974: "I am tempted indeed to declare dogmatically that whatever doctrine the armed forces are working on now, they have got it wrong. I am also tempted to declare that it does not matter that they have got it wrong. What does matter is their capacity to get it right quickly when the moment arrives."

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default You've posed a dichotomy...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    ...and I'm not sure that vague statements about "the full spectrum of operations" really have much practical use...
    There's nothing vague about full spectrum operations. That spectrum is well and adequately described and the training requirements for each part of the spectrum are known -- if not employed. Without full spectrum knowledge, the ability to do this:
    "What does matter is their capacity to get it right quickly when the moment arrives."
    will not be present. As the song says, you can't have one without the other.

    On another note, this statement is correct:
    Although I'm all for developing doctrine and tactics and teaching it in our schools, there is a limit to what school solutions can do.
    and illustrates why 'school solutions; should not exist in any way shape or form. The proper tactical or operational solution is one that works at that place and time -- all others are superfluous.

    The Tactics instructors at Leavenworth used to say:

    - "What we are going to teach you will work in gently rolling, unforested terrain on a mild and sunny June day against a peer enemy who uses conventional tactics and provided you have all your personnel and TOE equipment in combat ready status. If any of those conditions change, you will have to adapt..."

    Just so.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    My main line of inquiry is not on the history of the troubles in Ulster, but rather how a military organization adapts to having different types of tactics, techniques, and procedures for different kinds of conflicts. The question has a lot of relevance for the doctrine and force structure of the U.S. Army, and I'm not sure that vague statements about "the full spectrum of operations" really have much practical use.
    I don't want to sound "fly", but we really didn't think about it. There was Ulster and there was Germany. It really only became to a problem when lessons from one were miss-applied to another.

    EG: When I did my Close Reconnaissance Commanders Course in 1990, the course was intended to prepare close reconnaissance platoons for general war against the Russians. We spent most of the course learning skills only relevant to working in Ulster. Yes, we had a high degree of skills, but some were irrelevant in Germany, and skills essential for working in Germany (long range comms) got missed. What was all the more confusing is the Army ran a special Close Observation Course, just for operations in Ulster!!

    Basically, what I teach/write today is that you need regular warfare skills and irregular warfare skills. Some skills will be relevant to both and some will be specific to one or the other. If you have them all, this will not matter, and it can be done. You just have to do a couple of days in the classroom laying the ground work.
    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

  17. #57
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    Default Pointer

    Pete,

    The only book I can recall that addressed this issue was by a journalist, called Hamill, which appeared in the early 1980's; alas I'm not at home so cannot grab it and add the details - IIRC it is on one of the Ulster threads (found it): http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=897, when I listed most of my Ulster bookshelf.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-24-2009 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Add link
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  18. #58
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default What To Teach and How To Teach It

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    When I did my Close Reconnaissance Commanders Course in 1990, the course was intended to prepare close reconnaissance platoons for general war against the Russians. We spent most of the course learning skills only relevant to working in Ulster.
    William, you've described exactly the point I'm trying to make--rather than muddling through, at some point the Army and TRADOC have to decide what the proper mix should be for school instruction when it comes to high-intensity conventional warfare as opposed to unconventional fighting. I hesitate to say whether unconventional warfare should be called counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, irregular operations, or asymetrical warfare; what I mean are all the other graduations of the full spectrum that are less than the traditional Fulda Gap scenario. We've got to be able to be able to do all these types of warfare, and getting it right in the schoolhouse as opposed to letting things slide is our first step towards getting there.

    Without doubt unconventional warfare definitely needs to be taught, but Colonel Gian Gentile's statement in the Autumn 2009 issue of Parameters about my old branch of field artillery is a case in point: "In 2008, three U.S. Army colonels, all former brigade commanders in Iraq, told Army Chief of Staff General George Casey that after seven years of population-centric counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army's field artillery branch had lost the ability to fight and had become a "dead branch walking."

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That approach has not worked in the past, it won't work in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    ...at some point the Army and TRADOC have to decide what the proper mix should be for school instruction when it comes to high-intensity conventional warfare as opposed to unconventional fighting...
    You cannot 'mix' instruction for combat, all that does is confuse people and leave important things off the POI. We simply have to train people for combat in their MOS during institutional training -- that means a much more thorough grounding (and yes, more expensive and longer) in the basics of soldiering -- and units then have to provide the tailored approach for the specific mission set. This is not rocket science; we used to do it and did it fairly well until we lost our way during Viet Nam.

  20. #60
    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Default Lost Our Way in Vietnam?

    I don't see the Army as having lost its approach to training during or after Vietnam. The schools I went to during my service from 1977 to 1984 taught standard combined arms with an emphasis on armor and mechanized infantry. The airborne and air assault guys emphasized their own operational techniques. Those were the days when Bill DePuy and Don Starry ran TRADOC, the active defense and all that. With unconventional wars being our most likely challenge during the next several decades, I'm trying to understand how we should go about maintaining our core competencies in combined arms while we're simultaneously facing unconventional adversaries.

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