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Thread: Show of f?rce

  1. #1
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default Show of f?rce

    I'm just curious:

    Does anybody else believe that the so-called "show of force" deserve to be called "show of farce"?

    The more I learn about show of force examples the more I've got the feeling that they're a kind of expression of failure.


    "Break the enemy's will" is fine, but does it make sense on that level? With a show?

    Let me try an analogy:
    Burglars loot a house. The police gets dispatched to drive by with police sirens.
    ?!?

  2. #2
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Farce. It looks like desperation, confusion, and impotence to me.

    Example 1: Report of squad-sized element of Taliban maneuvering towards ANSF/ISAF outpost.
    - Show of farce: Launch 120mm illumination rounds at two hour intervals throughout night.
    - Outcome: Taliban know that the outpost has a mortar, hang back for a day, then attack the following night when the mortar is gone. Squad-sized element of Taliban remains undeterred, local ANSF demoralized.

    Example 2: ISAF MRAP struck by IED when exfilling from overnight VPB. MRAP disabled, narrow road causes entire patrol to be immobilized.
    - Show of farce: Launch one illumination round after 20 minutes of deliberation.
    - Outcome: Taliban know that ISAF launches illumination rounds when they feel vulnerable and cannot find a target.
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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  3. #3
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    Following the large scale Taleban attacks on Lashkar Gah in Oct 08 the coalition insisted on flying unbelievably noisy jets over the city at unsocial hours in an attempt to show force. It was ludicrous. The first time it happened it was three o clock in the morning. The noise was phenomenal and woke me, also very nearly causing me to defecate into my trousers. The impact on the generally friendly resdients of Lashkar Gah cannot possibly have been positive. As a colleague of mine said 'we might as well put white sheets over our heads and go from house to house shouting 'boo' at people.'

  4. #4
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default The power of jet noise

    Quote Originally Posted by Woland View Post
    Following the large scale Taleban attacks on Lashkar Gah in Oct 08 the coalition insisted on flying unbelievably noisy jets over the city at unsocial hours in an attempt to show force. It was ludicrous. The first time it happened it was three o clock in the morning. The noise was phenomenal and woke me, also very nearly causing me to defecate into my trousers. The impact on the generally friendly resdients of Lashkar Gah cannot possibly have been positive. As a colleague of mine said 'we might as well put white sheets over our heads and go from house to house shouting 'boo' at people.'
    The pointy nose plane guys are big believers in the power of jet noise. On about Sept 12th or 13th 2001 the Air Guard was flying cap over Portland to protect the populace from potential follow-on terrorist attacks. One two plane team decided that doing a low level pass over the downtown area would provide tremendous comfort to officer workers who had just had seared into their minds the vision of the twin towers collapse...

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

  5. #5
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    It's useful in the short term.

    On the night before we started moving in concrete barriers to reinforce polling stations in preparation for the vote on the Constitution, our entire company drove around the city for 30 minutes in platoon sized patrols for three reasons: clear the routes in preparation for lightly armored vehicles that would enter the city the next day, retrieve covert 3-man OPs that were arrayed around the city and replace them with others, and a large show of force to reinforce the perception that security would be significantly ramped up during the vote.

    Routes for each platoon were selected in such a way so if you were sitting in your house, anywhere in the city, you heard loud tracked vehicles rumbling around in seemingly in every which direction. One technique that we used for insertion/extraction of OPs was for a platoon to do a short halt, dismount all of the squads, and flood the area with so many Soldiers that the people couldn't keep track. In the choas, one team would extract and another would insert in a different location and nobody would notice - they'd just see Soldiers swarming in every which direction and then leave. After all insertions/extractions, patrols were timed to link up near the main supply route into our city and move as a company back to the patrol base.

    Almost everyone in the city saw and heard significant activity for 30 minutes and could only guess at what was going on, as it was pitch dark. Many witnessed the dismounted choas during OP swap-outs and, again, could only guess. Most of the city was within earshot of tracked vehicles rumbling down the main route into the city and, again, could only guess what on Earth so many vehicles were doing entering the city.

    Afterwards, each of our OPs gave several reports of "people acting weird" as curfew was lifted and cars full of "military-aged males" leaving the city. IEDs, mortars, and half-assed SA/RPG ambushes were a near daily occurrence, but we didn't have any IEDs or contact for 5 days, which was fine with us while we escorted thin-skinned vehicles and non-combat arms Soldiers throughout the city for the next week.

    It's not 100% conclusive, but if there was no causal relationship, then it was one hell of a coincidence.

  6. #6
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Farce or Theatre

    Many years ago, before the advent on ANPR technology, we'd set up highly visible VCPs on suburban roads, the "bad guys" would evade the VCP and turn onto the next side road - where the real VCP was. After awhile this didn't work so well and eventually we discovered the "normal" people just saw lots of activity, thought it was an accident and took the next turn.

    There are a few who advocate "theatrical policing". Uniform officers stop a pedestrian with a large bag, look inside and discover crowbar - arrest him, drive off and release "suspect" out of sight. Same with vehicle stops. Senior officers just didn't see the idea's value.
    davidbfpo

  7. #7
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Default

    I didn't mean so much the show in itself as the show of force as the preferred option if TB were detected and pretty much identified, but ROE and superiors didn't allow lethal force.

    In other words; a show of force tells them "we would want to beat you up, but mommy forbids it".

  8. #8
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Default

    Having a fighter/attack jet make a low level, high speed pass when troops were in contact yet conditions didn't allow a bomb drop was effective for us in Al Anbar 06. It often convinced the enemy to break contact.

    So it's not always ineffective. However, I have never seen random artillery missions produce results other than a) piss people off, and b) confuse them.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  9. #9
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    Default

    I agree with Cavguy. A "show of force" mission is useful in some specific circumstances. Like any tactic, it isn't universally useful.

    It's also not possible to tell if a "show of force" has any effect when it's used preemptively, which is sometimes the case.

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