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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    We see the same sort of process happening in some respects. However, as in N Ireland, I suspect that what we will see as Afghanistan enters drawdown is that many of the missions currently undertaken by regular soldiers will be once more undertaken by Special Forces. This is simply because that as 2015 approaches political appetite for risk will sharply decrease.
    Simply the problem in using the rotated line regiments for such work is that they are not there long enough to get fed into the type of operations carefully and then to allow them to grow and flourish. Its the 'C' word again (continuity) and it is that which will keep the SAS busy doing basic infantry work or force the Brits to suck in another Para Bn into the 'Black Army'.

    Properly trained troops can take on that task, but the added value is in the backroom functions and processes that the SF have. if we resourced and trained everyone to the same level as the SF then we might not need the SF so much, but part of the reason they are so effective is because they are so well resourced and certainly the UK cannot afford to resource everyone the same.
    Ah the backroom boys... I have heard a cynic refer to them (not me this time) as being like a baby... self focussed, demands attention, eats a lot, makes a lot of noise, grows fast... and produces piles of shyte in return.

    I think you want to research special forces training a little. I would suggest that training on specialist equipment and special drills is first class. I would look into how much standard infantry tactical training a person who joined as a corporal (for example) and who is now a sergeant has had since joining. Do they send people to the Infantry Battle School in Brecon for example?

    Maybe its time to be more specific on what their tasks are to be. Strategic stuff at short notice (like targeting in Libya) rather than a standard infantry tasks such as an airborne raid (day or night). Once the relevant tasks have been defined then you force them to share the kit. Might have to fire a few officers to force sanity onto the current situation.

    If any of this work is too much for any of the existing regiments I guess it makes the decision on which to disband a lot easier.

    As for night ops it - there are advantages and disadvantages to operating at night.
    Appreciated, but many of the disadvantages are as a result of legacy issues caused by bad decision making back then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    A fun article about the raid on Saint-Francis—which ended up going almost as badly for Rogers’s men as it did for the Abenakis—should anyone be interested.
    There is an old saying 'it all comes out in the wash'.

    We used radio intercepts to confirm the results of our actions into Mozambique and Zambia. We used to get accurate casualty figures that way.

    Accurate post combat reporting is very difficult and I often recall when my sergeant and I had beers with the troopies after a good days work. Every time when we left he would, 'I don't know about you, sir, but in the contact I was in we only killed 20 gooks, but it seems the one our troopies were in they killed over a hundred.' Troopies will be troopies, they are like fishermen.

  3. #103
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    Default Messy either way!

    Red Rat,

    Agreed on a number of your points. In spite of the nosebleeds, the cheap seats sometimes offer a different perspective which of course can come in handy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Not only is the societal and social contruct different, it is based on a different style of logic and a different cocept of time. It is not just that we do things differently, we do things differently because we are fundamentally different.
    To judge from the results, there has got to be a better way than the path we presently find ourselves upon.

    Here are some of the places that I am looking (and ideas are always welcome):

    • How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers, NY


    • A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, 2000, Cambridge University Press


    • Inside Rebellion, Jeremy M. Weinstein, 2007, Cambridge University Press


    • Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal, 1988, Princeton University Press


    • A History of Islamic Societies, Ira M. Lapidus, 2002, Cambridge University Press


    • The Financial Times Guide to Options, Lenny Jordan, 2011, Pearson Education LTD,


    Although the FT Guide is a bit tongue in cheek, I too am of the opinion that elements of the old 'business models' developed in that part of the world (I am thinking about Ottoman solutions of late) are far more appropriate/efficient/effective. However, as you wisely and succinctly point out:

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Working within their construct (likely to be impalatable at home as the public is only likely to understand it and less likely to accept it as many parts of their construct are taboo in our current societal construct (ie: patronage, treatment of women, use of violence).
    The current business model to realize 'Switzerland South' is ruinously inefficient and expensive in blood and treasure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Imposing our construct on them (unlikely to be acceptable to them, likely to be messy, unlikely to be acceptable to large parts of our liberal western society which dislikes imposing anything on anyone)
    ...and so we are left with:

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Messy either way!
    ...indeed.
    Sapere Aude

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    Beetle:

    I was interested in an NYT review by Rob't Kagan:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/bo...ok-review.html

    What interested me about it was how little people who claim to be in the know actually know about the things they jabber on about.

    US Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War as proof and models for US nation-building? Either someone took a hit of acid when they read a brief Wiki on this, or they are just poorly informed.

    US Reconstruction in the South was, perhaps a better model of what we actually did in the South (punative, victors and spoils, repressive) contributed to the lack of modern economic development in the south until well into the 20th Century when Councils of 100 and Economic Development/Infrastructure/Education finally started to take hold to bring the south into a normalized relationship with the rest of the US.

    The real history of the Marshall Plan begins with the initial punative allied effort to completely dismantle Germany's industrial capability and return it to an agrarian and pastoral area no longer capable of war. It only changed later, when faced with the reality of the millions who would die or be dispossessed by this approach, riveted attention on the need for a new plan.

    In both Japan and particularly Germany you had a skilled and educated society, similar in many ways to our own (or like Japan, looking for a better model), and a high degree, from inception, of collaboration between US occupiers and indigenous local community and business leaders.

    The above paragraph's opportunities, I believe, existed much more in Iraq than we initially understood, and possibly in Afghanistan, but we missed every boat that sailed bye, whether by hubris, ego or distraction.

    I really wish that, at some point, these military think tankers actually took the time to understand how real nations and regions work, before they throw all the soup knives and tea cups around in support of Nation-building. It really misses the whole point of why, when not properly targeted, our valuable resources get mis-deployed, mis-applied, and mis-successful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    The real history of the Marshall Plan begins with the initial punative allied effort to completely dismantle Germany's industrial capability and return it to an agrarian and pastoral area no longer capable of war. It only changed later, when faced with the reality of the millions who would die or be dispossessed by this approach, riveted attention on the need for a new plan.
    To be fair, the Morgenthau plan was long dead when Marshall plan began to include Germany (it was meant for Europe at first, and most of the recipients did recover worse than Germany did).

    It's notable that it did only kick in when Germany was already in a strong upswing and it was overall smaller than reparations in the opposite direction.

    The greatest influence of the U.S. on German recovery was (unthinkable today, but true: ) its insistence on rationing (almost an outright planning economy) that was torn down (in part with legal tricks) by the German economy minister Ludwig Ehrhard during the '49-'53 period.

    Yeah, take this: The U.S. was the force for planning economy, and a German politician with strong social motives was the model capitalist in the 'German economic miracle'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Here are some of the places that I am looking (and ideas are always welcome):

    • How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers, NY


    • A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, 2000, Cambridge University Press


    • Inside Rebellion, Jeremy M. Weinstein, 2007, Cambridge University Press


    • Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal, 1988, Princeton University Press


    • A History of Islamic Societies, Ira M. Lapidus, 2002, Cambridge University Press


    • The Financial Times Guide to Options, Lenny Jordan, 2011, Pearson Education LTD,


    Although the FT Guide is a bit tongue in cheek,
    Bugger! More books for my reading list
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Simply the problem in using the rotated line regiments for such work is that they are not there long enough to get fed into the type of operations carefully and then to allow them to grow and flourish. Its the 'C' word again (continuity) and it is that which will keep the SAS busy doing basic infantry work or force the Brits to suck in another Para Bn into the 'Black Army'.
    I think I am following your thought here in that if there was more continuity there would be better preparation and therefore less Risk? That is not my experience of it. In N Ireland tasks which were line infantry tasks were given to Special Forces because sensitivities and therefore (political) Risk increased. The risk was mitigated by the use of SF. No matter how well trained the line infantry are if the operation is sensitive and carries strategic or operational risk then it will be allocated to the SF - that is what they are there for (a strategic asset for strategic tasks).


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I think you want to research special forces training a little. I would suggest that training on specialist equipment and special drills is first class.
    It is. The SF is a higher grade of soldier - no doubt about it. Like any unit that has gone through a demanding selection process you will get a higher grade soldier. They also tend to be experienced soldiers when they join. This, plus the extensive and intensive training and specialist equipment they receive makes them a highly capable asset. We can and do offer aspects of what used to be SF training and equipment to line infantry now, but that still will not give us the calibre of soldier, nor the level of training that the SF have.


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Maybe its time to be more specific on what their tasks are to be. Strategic stuff at short notice (like targeting in Libya) rather than a standard infantry tasks such as an airborne raid (day or night). Once the relevant tasks have been defined then you force them to share the kit.
    As a strategic asset they get used on strategic tasks. What that means in the ground I do not know less that they get used for High Value Targets. If I said anything else it would be pure speculation!!
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    I really wish that, at some point, these military think tankers actually took the time to understand how real nations and regions work, before they throw all the soup knives and tea cups around in support of Nation-building. It really misses the whole point of why, when not properly targeted, our valuable resources get mis-deployed, mis-applied, and mis-successful.
    I think that the problem is that they are military think tankers and lack a broad perspective? Certainly my experience of the UK military is that there is depressingly little cross fertilisation amongst the social sciences when it comes to the application of force and the consequences thereof (and I regard military studies as a social science). Clausewitz (a leading military theorist that some will have heard of...) was widely read in the fields of science and arts and social sciences. SurferBeetle's post below (127036) is a good example of a highly relevant reading list for operational and strategic level planners; but with very little about military theory in it.

    Originally Posted by Surferbeetle
    Here are some of the places that I am looking (and ideas are always welcome):

    How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers, NY
    A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, 2000, Cambridge University Press
    Inside Rebellion, Jeremy M. Weinstein, 2007, Cambridge University Press
    Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal, 1988, Princeton University Press
    A History of Islamic Societies, Ira M. Lapidus, 2002, Cambridge University Press
    The Financial Times Guide to Options, Lenny Jordan, 2011, Pearson Education LTD,
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Rat:

    Absolutely agree: Military is a social science.

    Beetle, however, will tell you that social sciences are influenced by hard technical sciences too---finance, engineering, economic geography, systems operations, logistics.

    Just too damned complicated to reduce down to anthropology and tribal connections (who the same rules also apply to) or military think tankers.

    I actually think stuff could be a whole lot easier than is sometimes made out by them---problem in Uganda: go kill the bad guy every decade or so then come home. Locals will go forward (or not). No need for a major new military industrial or foreign aid program.

    Fuchs: Right. Sorry to have truncated much of that history. Didn't want to bog it down too much with the details of actual histories that are actually opposite of common myths.

    Same with the carpetbaggers that descended on the US south when reconstruction began (Galbriath and the KRG Oil Deals?), or the imposition of some very tough customers to administer US re construction on the post Civil War South.

    The famous Plessey v. Ferguson case in US law (for JMA's sake) is ripe with implications of how, in many ways, local resentment against reconstruction created almost a boomerang effect by 1890s where locals were tightening up on racial restrictions in places like New Orleans where it was not as explicit as before (a train marked for whites and coloreds where society mulattos like Plessey in New Orleans had not seen such restrictions). They challenged it, and ended up in front of some of the meanest cusses ever in the Supreme Court, and ended up with a national policy of separate but equal. Thurgood Marshal spent a lifetime trying to unravel the threads of Plessey---really a rebound of Reconstruction in so many ways.

    Martin Luther King has a statue on the Mall now, and Thurgood Marshall has an airport named after him in Maryland where he was not even allowed to attend a white law school. Times change, but history provides important lessons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    To judge from the results, there has got to be a better way than the path we presently find ourselves upon.

    Here are some of the places that I am looking (and ideas are always welcome):

    • How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer, 2004, Harper Collins Publishers, NY


    • A History of Iraq, Charles Tripp, 2000, Cambridge University Press


    • Inside Rebellion, Jeremy M. Weinstein, 2007, Cambridge University Press


    • Strong Societies and Weak States, Joel S. Migdal, 1988, Princeton University Press


    • A History of Islamic Societies, Ira M. Lapidus, 2002, Cambridge University Press


    • The Financial Times Guide to Options, Lenny Jordan, 2011, Pearson Education LTD,

    Are you sure you are looking in the right places?

    The people who got 'you' into this mess were never qualified to make the decisions in the first place. You elected one or two of them and then they brought in their cronies, acolytes, sycophants, hangers-on and groupies so what did you really expect?

  11. #111
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    Gentlemen, I apologize for being a bit slow on my responses, but I appreciate the conversation. - Steve

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    I really wish that, at some point, these military think tankers actually took the time to understand how real nations and regions work, before they throw all the soup knives and tea cups around in support of Nation-building. It really misses the whole point of why, when not properly targeted, our valuable resources get mis-deployed, mis-applied, and mis-successful.
    STP,

    'Reconstruction' is a tough problem to work on, whether at home, abroad during peacetime, or during war. Mike in Hilo recommended a book the other day entitled Pacification: The Struggle for Vietnam's Hearts and Minds, by Richard A. Hunt. Although a bit dry sometimes, it nonetheless does a very good job of describing the organizational friction present in how we do things in this arena. It hurts to see that we are fighting some of the same battles today that we did then. I continue to wonder why we haven't reorganized our 'reconstruction' approach/line of operation to a whole of government one, civilian led.

    The greatest influence of the U.S. on German recovery was (unthinkable today, but true: ) its insistence on rationing (almost an outright planning economy) that was torn down (in part with legal tricks) by the German economy minister Ludwig Ehrhard during the '49-'53 period.

    Yeah, take this: The U.S. was the force for planning economy, and a German politician with strong social motives was the model capitalist in the 'German economic miracle'.
    Fuchs,

    Those were interesting times and I would appreciate a reference, German is fine, if you have one to offer?

    Are you sure you are looking in the right places?

    The people who got 'you' into this mess were never qualified to make the decisions in the first place. You elected one or two of them and then they brought in their cronies, acolytes, sycophants, hangers-on and groupies so what did you really expect?
    JMA,

    We went to Afghanistan and Iraq for what I see to be solid reasons. With respect to these two operations I grumble about organization, execution, cost, and outcomes.

    It has been my experience, at home and abroad, that technocrats and politicians are generally two different demographics. With respect to the political class I recognize that they run multiple calculus equations several times a time a day in order to determine which way the wind is blowing, who (and how many) they can sway to their side, and what they can influence (get away with) today.

    As to where I am looking for ideas, I don't claim to have a silver bullet, and recommendations are always welcome...
    Sapere Aude

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    Fuchs,

    Those were interesting times and I would appreciate a reference, German is fine, if you have one to offer?
    From the master himself:
    http://oron.com/ch90a12v103w/11.wmv.part2.rar.html

    From a wannabe-master:
    http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot....hall-plan.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
    JMA,

    We went to Afghanistan and Iraq for what I see to be solid reasons. With respect to these two operations I grumble about organization, execution, cost, and outcomes.

    It has been my experience, at home and abroad, that technocrats and politicians are generally two different demographics. With respect to the political class I recognize that they run multiple calculus equations several times a time a day in order to determine which way the wind is blowing, who (and how many) they can sway to their side, and what they can influence (get away with) today.

    As to where I am looking for ideas, I don't claim to have a silver bullet, and recommendations are always welcome...
    I appreciate your position but what I am saying is that it takes an officer 20 years before he is given command of 600 men (a battalion) whether in battle or not while the civilian politicians require no training or qualifications before committing 100,000 troops to places like Afghanistan. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the generals of today get there by being politically aware and tuned in and while they strut around like demigod peacocks in front of their troops they are little more than obsequious yes-men groveling before the politicians (and their hangers on) in the White House and Congress.

    The Brits have the same problem (as probably do most nations).

    If you want an example of the amateur hour decision making process you need look no further than the footage/photos/stories of the Obama led planning cycle leading up to the OBL hit. Pathetic. The politicians can be forgiven because they are elected but the senior military commanders can not. You could take five guys off your current Command and Staff Course and they would make a better plan with less fuss and bother... and then not have the spin doctors try and spin it into the greatest raid operation of this century and the making of this Presidency. The mind positively boggles.

    When a military operation turns out a cock-up an investigation follows and careers are (often justifiably) ruined. What, I ask you are the consequences for incompetence in political decision making?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    I think I am following your thought here in that if there was more continuity there would be better preparation and therefore less Risk? That is not my experience of it. In N Ireland tasks which were line infantry tasks were given to Special Forces because sensitivities and therefore (political) Risk increased. The risk was mitigated by the use of SF. No matter how well trained the line infantry are if the operation is sensitive and carries strategic or operational risk then it will be allocated to the SF - that is what they are there for (a strategic asset for strategic tasks).
    As stated before it was the caution bred in NI which emasculated and all but destroyed the Brit military as a fighting force.

    The SAS are able to take on these varied tasks because of the experience they have in doing all these tasks when they come up. Very experienced and competent soldiers but look again at Slim's comments on special forces and question why the cream of the military are being used on some of the basic - line infantry - type operations they are?

    I highlighted the last sentence of the Slim piece I quoted and quote it again because of how true it has turned out to be right now in 2011.

    The result of these methods was undoubtedly to lower the quality of the rest of the Army, especially the infantry, not only by skimming the cream off it, but by encouraging the idea that certain of the normal operations of war were so difficult that only specially equipped corps d’elite could be expected to undertake them.
    It is. The SF is a higher grade of soldier - no doubt about it. Like any unit that has gone through a demanding selection process you will get a higher grade soldier. They also tend to be experienced soldiers when they join. This, plus the extensive and intensive training and specialist equipment they receive makes them a highly capable asset. We can and do offer aspects of what used to be SF training and equipment to line infantry now, but that still will not give us the calibre of soldier, nor the level of training that the SF have.
    If you take a look at their organisation structure you will note that they are rank heavy as they have more officers and SNCOs in a troop than in a line infantry company (and not only for pay purposes). And as you rightly say they have longer service per man than in most line-infantry units but this should rather demand that they are only used on operations and tasks which are really strategic and/or are really beyond the ability of line infantry units.

    What is a strategic task? Surely a raid within the current AO is not really strategic? OBL's hit, yes, but a raid on your local common or garden variety Taliban leader, no.

    That said they really have to do these tasks don't they? Because of the 'short tours' and lack of continuity and experience in the rapidly rotated units the line units are really not up to the job are they? Read Slim again.

    So if a unit commander on a quick rotation were to form up and 'demand' that he be given such tasks when in his AO he quite rightly could be asked when he would be ready to assume such duties when effectively his unit will:

    ... spend two months learning the job, two months doing it and then two months counting the day until they go home for 'tea and medals'.

    As a strategic asset they get used on strategic tasks. What that means in the ground I do not know less that they get used for High Value Targets. If I said anything else it would be pure speculation!!
    Here we would need to define 'strategic' and also how 'high' are the Taliban leader 'high value targets' they take out.

    There is no secret that they have to do these tasks as there is plainly no one else to do them. My guess is that you will see the SFSG (special forces support group) continue to grow and grow as the comparatively few numbers of actual operators (not the parade ground strength) exhaust themselves doing all the work (they should be doing plus that which the line infantry should be doing in their respective AOs).

    The problem, this problem is a self inflicted wound.
    Last edited by JMA; 10-18-2011 at 10:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    As stated before it was the caution bred in NI which emasculated and all but destroyed the Brit military as a fighting force.
    The NI experience did not seem to hamper the UK in the Falklands, Gulf War 1 or Iraq 2003...


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The SAS are able to take on these varied tasks because of the experience they have in doing all these tasks when they come up. Very experienced and competent soldiers but look again at Slim's comments on special forces and question why the cream of the military are being used on some of the basic - line infantry - type operations they are?
    The SF take the cream, but they do not take all the cream. One of the problems they have had since 2005 is recruiting.






    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    If you take a look at their organisation structure you will note that they are rank heavy as they have more officers and SNCOs in a troop than in a line infantry company (and not only for pay purposes).
    I do not know enough about troop structure to comment. But I know that the Military Police have a heavier rank structure then a line infantry company. I think it depends on the level of independence you intend to give them. SF and RMP work in smaller discrete groupings, we do not expect our infantry to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    And as you rightly say they have longer service per man than in most line-infantry units but this should rather demand that they are only used on operations and tasks which are really strategic and/or are really beyond the ability of line infantry units.
    I suspect that the SF would say that they are only used on high end tasks. That is not to say that these are necessarily beyond the abilities of line infantry, certainly not appropriately trained infantry, but they are the high end tasks.


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    What is a strategic task? Surely a raid within the current AO is not really strategic? OBL's hit, yes, but a raid on your local common or garden variety Taliban leader, no.
    Depends on risk involved and effect achieved and must be placed within the campaign context. AT the moment the SF are being used to pursue a Counter-Terrorism campaign and the remainder a COIN campaign as part of an overarching campaign plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    That said they really have to do these tasks don't they? Because of the 'short tours' and lack of continuity and experience in the rapidly rotated units the line units are really not up to the job are they? Read Slim again.
    I disagree. My fundamental issue with short tours in a COIN context is that it does not allow the relationships to be built up and proper understanding to be gained. It is more inefficient then ineffective. Units deploying in to theatre are well equipped, trained and have a very good feel for the ground. They are not entering blind and they do have residual experience of the Theatre. Even 14 Army and Slimn rotated units in and out of the line.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    So if a unit commander on a quick rotation were to form up and 'demand' that he be given such tasks when in his AO he quite rightly could be asked when he would be ready to assume such duties when effectively his unit will:
    Except his unit will have been training for 9 months prior to deployment, will have pax in theatre on deployment (advance elements go 6-8 weeks ahead of main body) and the request will have been made 12 months in advance when unit tasks are allocated and CONOPS looked at.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    There is no secret that they have to do these tasks as there is plainly no one else to do them. My guess is that you will see the SFSG (special forces support group) continue to grow and grow as the comparatively few numbers of actual operators (not the parade ground strength) exhaust themselves doing all the work (they should be doing plus that which the line infantry should be doing in their respective AOs).
    If this was to happen it would have happened in 2004-2008 in Iraq; but it didn't. Line infantry were given the skill set (which until then only the SF had possessed) to enable them to carry out the tasks at the tactical level; they still retain this skill set and still carry out these tasks at a tactical level in Afghanistan. You seem to think that line infantry do not carry out tactical level raids, strikes, arrest operations etc - but they do.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    The NI experience did not seem to hamper the UK in the Falklands, Gulf War 1 or Iraq 2003...
    If you say so

    The SF take the cream, but they do not take all the cream. One of the problems they have had since 2005 is recruiting.
    There would have been a time when soldiers went in search of action and joined the SAS. From 2006 (or so) onwards they got action on their rotations with their respective units so that motivation would have fallen away.

    I agree that not all the cream goes to the SAS as they are really quite a small unit in terms of operators. There are soldiers who are excellent who are not suited to 'cloak and dagger' operations but excel in more conventional settings (like proven in the Falklands).

    I do not know enough about troop structure to comment. But I know that the Military Police have a heavier rank structure then a line infantry company. I think it depends on the level of independence you intend to give them. SF and RMP work in smaller discrete groupings, we do not expect our infantry to do so.
    You can take my word for it (with the exaggeration on the number of officers in an SAS troop) they are what we would term 'top-heavy' in terms of NCOs (which they will say is warranted by the work they do).

    Back to Sydney Jary (in 18 Platoon) who when sent on patrol would take his sgt, a corporal and if necessary a bren gun team. It is true that seldom a gash troopie would be taken on a recce, standing or fighting patrol when the numbers were small.

    But as we have seen the numbers for these Afghanistan ops are not always small (like at Wardak). It is these ops where larger numbers are employed that I question the use of the SAS in the role of bayonets.

    For example At Chimoio (Op Dingo) the SAS called up everyone they could to fill four Daks (96 men) and the RLI made up the numbers with 88 on the target by parachute or heliborne and a mortar section and others at the helicopter admin area (meaning effectively more RLI on the op than SAS). It had to be seen as a SAS op you see because they were in a pissing contest with the Selous Scouts (who had pulled off the wildly successful Nyadzonya raid where the first 1,000 kill count had been achieved) and they wanted to better it. It needs to be said that the SAS were well equipped for these operations but should they not have been locating targets for an Air Force / RLI strike-force to take out? And been concentrating (as they did later) on going after the external leadership in Lusaka and Maputo? The difference though was that unlike in Afghanistan there was a battalion of infantry who were permanently deployed on operations and probably more combat experienced than the SAS themselves - being the RLI.

    I suspect that the SF would say that they are only used on high end tasks. That is not to say that these are necessarily beyond the abilities of line infantry, certainly not appropriately trained infantry, but they are the high end tasks.
    They would say that wouldn't they (apologies to Mandy Rice Davies)

    Fish and chip units looking up at the SAS tend to be left in awe at whatever they do and hang onto every word they say. It is not for the SAS to decide what is a high end task (whatever that means) but rather to find itself tasked to carry out specific tasks... but then you will find they don't fall under the local Bde for operations.

    Depends on risk involved and effect achieved and must be placed within the campaign context. AT the moment the SF are being used to pursue a Counter-Terrorism campaign and the remainder a COIN campaign as part of an overarching campaign plan.
    That risk word again. The question must be asked why the risk on carrying out these type of operations is so great that only the SAS can attempt them. I doubt it is based on operational complexity but rather more on unavailability of units capable of carrying out reasonably standard operations by day or night with the competence arising from experience.

    I disagree. My fundamental issue with short tours in a COIN context is that it does not allow the relationships to be built up and proper understanding to be gained. It is more inefficient then ineffective. Units deploying in to theatre are well equipped, trained and have a very good feel for the ground. They are not entering blind and they do have residual experience of the Theatre. Even 14 Army and Slimn rotated units in and out of the line.
    You are attempting to defend the indefensible now. Six months on operations every two years with personnel changes thrown in offers minimal continuity.

    Every level needs continuity. Currently with the short tours Brit forces are always playing catch-up to the Taliban (especially as it appears so few Taliban are being killed thesedays). It is quite possible that in years to come the Brit forces will be mentored by the ANA and not the other way around.

    Except his unit will have been training for 9 months prior to deployment, will have pax in theatre on deployment (advance elements go 6-8 weeks ahead of main body) and the request will have been made 12 months in advance when unit tasks are allocated and CONOPS looked at.
    Out of theatre training is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick but quite honestly pretty close to valueless especially if it requires the unit to deploy away from home base in the process. Advance parties during a two yearly six month rotation is like the man with one eye being king in the land of the blind. Better than a kick in the ass but not significant enough to allow the whole unit to hit the ground running on arrival in theatre.

    If this was to happen it would have happened in 2004-2008 in Iraq; but it didn't. Line infantry were given the skill set (which until then only the SF had possessed) to enable them to carry out the tasks at the tactical level; they still retain this skill set and still carry out these tasks at a tactical level in Afghanistan. You seem to think that line infantry do not carry out tactical level raids, strikes, arrest operations etc - but they do.
    You are starting to resort to jargon. There is no question that there is a weakness in operations at platoon level among Brit forces in Afghanistan as the majority lack the operational continuity and recent experience to acquit themselves with distinction. Their frame of reference is a comparison with other '6-month wonder units' and this is why they are in jaw dropping awe of what the SAS do. I am not going on about what they currently do but rather what the SAS currently do that they (the line infantry) should be doing as a standard part of a COIN company/platoon/section/fire-team skill set. You will never get the rotating line infantry up to the required standard as long as the tours are short.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    If you say so
    But as we have seen the numbers for these Afghanistan ops are not always small (like at Wardak). It is these ops where larger numbers are employed that I question the use of the SAS in the role of bayonets.
    But the SF raised this issue themselves in 2002 which resulted in the raising of the SFSG. The SFSG are not SF, but operate in direct support of and under command of the SF.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    It is not for the SAS to decide what is a high end task (whatever that means) but rather to find itself tasked to carry out specific tasks...
    Which is what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    That risk word again. The question must be asked why the risk on carrying out these type of operations is so great that only the SAS can attempt them. I doubt it is based on operational complexity but rather more on unavailability of units capable of carrying out reasonably standard operations by day or night with the competence arising from experience.
    No. Risk is not just risk to the soldiers carrying out the op, it is the impact of the op going right or wrong, the sensitivity of the operation, the sensitivity of the intelligence involved, the value of the target, the tempo of the operation and a multitude of other factors. Could other units do it if they had the competence arising from experience - quite possibly yes. But the other units are busy doing other things - not least of which is carrying out similar operations in size and complexity but against tactical level targets.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You are attempting to defend the indefensible now. Six months on operations every two years with personnel changes thrown in offers minimal continuity.
    Rabbit hole alert. We've both decided to agree that short tours are bad in the context of this type of campaign, disagree in parts as to the vaidity for the rationale that got us to there (I agree on the charge of militarism, but few others), disagree in places on the impact of it and what can be done about it.


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Every level needs continuity. Currently with the short tours Brit forces are always playing catch-up to the Taliban (especially as it appears so few Taliban are being killed thesedays).
    Hmm. Where is your evidence on this? In Helmand the evidence would tend to support the counter-proposition; the the Taleban are playing catch-up to ISAF at the tactical and operational level. They are heavily attrited, have comprehensively lost influence, lost control of ground, and their ability to prosecute successful attacks has declined markedly as well. We have now seen over 12 months of steady decline in violence in Helmand, no summer campaign season in the traditional sense and winter season which has seen ISAF move from consolidation to offence. Part of the reason that so few insurgents are being killed now is that there are far fewer of them left - attrition still plays a role in campaigning

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    You are starting to resort to jargon. There is no question that there is a weakness in operations at platoon level among Brit forces in Afghanistan as the majority lack the operational continuity and recent experience to acquit themselves with distinction.
    Every corporal (section commander) will have 12 months operational experience, in Iraq or Afghanistan, every sergeant 24-36. In terms of frontline experience that is a level of experience comparable to the 8th Army in 1944 or the Chindits in 1945, or indeed 14th Army in early 1945 (by the end of the war experience levels had dropped considerably as the government insisted on releasing soldiers for UK leave if they had been away from the UK for 5 or more years - that gutted entire officer and SNCO cohorts). Again, where is the proof for the weakness in platoon operations?

    As to jargon sorry. Many of the tasks done by the SF early on in Iraq were done because the field army lacked the training to do them, especially in the area of house assault. This was a standard skillset in the US Army but an SF skillset in the British Army (SF did it as it was regarded as a Counter-Terrorism skillset). Now, like the US Army, it is a basic skillset that we all do.


    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Their frame of reference is a comparison with other '6-month wonder units' and this is why they are in jaw dropping awe of what the SAS do. I am not going on about what they currently do but rather what the SAS currently do that they (the line infantry) should be doing as a standard part of a COIN company/platoon/section/fire-team skill set. You will never get the rotating line infantry up to the required standard as long as the tours are short.
    But what are the SF doing that the line units aren't? In types of operation there is no difference that I can see.
    RR

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    But the SF raised this issue themselves in 2002 which resulted in the raising of the SFSG. The SFSG are not SF, but operate in direct support of and under command of the SF.
    Well I put it to you that when a given operation requires additional 'support' from non special forces then (in the context of Afghanistan) it ceases to be a 'special operation' commanded by the SAS (or what-have-you) and control should pass to the numerically predominant unit.

    We finally got to this in operations into Zambia against dug-in conventionally trained ZIPRA units. Command passed to the unit which had supplied the most troops being the RLI and those SAS involved were under command. Now compare that to Op Barras where the A Coy 1 Para (120-140 men with attachments) made up the numbers with the 60 man SAS squadron. (Understandably because at the time there was virtually no combat experience in the Para company and the reported average age was 19)

    Which is what happens.
    And with this we return to the problem of who other than the SAS to task for these ops. I have mentioned line infantry to illustrate a point but do acknowledge that there are two tiers involved here and that the Paras and the Royal Marines by virtue of their selection process place them at the head of the infantry list as first tier units being the obvious first choice for such tasks after the SAS (this said wondering why the SAS were considered for these non-recce and non-small team tasks in the first place).

    I will say again (at the risk of touching a nerve) that the use of the SAS (special forces) to carry out otherwise pretty standard infantry raid operations is a barometer as to the declining operational ability of line infantry units in the British army. As long as the SAS are the only real option for these tasks it remains a poor reflection on the rest of the army.

    Given that the Cold War period nonsense has been dropped from training (or should have been) I continue to wonder what these units do during the 18 months of 'real' soldiering between the 'distracting' tours in Afghanistan? Surely between guarding palaces and ceremonial duties and parades there is time to do some real training or is there no budget to fund anything other than merely going through the motions?

    No. Risk is not just risk to the soldiers carrying out the op, it is the impact of the op going right or wrong, the sensitivity of the operation, the sensitivity of the intelligence involved, the value of the target, the tempo of the operation and a multitude of other factors. Could other units do it if they had the competence arising from experience - quite possibly yes. But the other units are busy doing other things - not least of which is carrying out similar operations in size and complexity but against tactical level targets.
    What ops are you talking about? Some the locally deployed units seem to be able to do themselves but others seem to need the SAS with 1 Para (SFSG) support.

    We have turned full circle and back to unit operational capability and which units are capable of conducting certain types of operations. We get to another grey area now. A few years ago I suggested that for continuity purposes (for example) the Royal Marine Commandos (... note the word commando) be instructed to have a full strength commando (battalion) in Afghanistan (at all times) to be able to take on any commando type (specialized raiding tasks) as required. That's too simple a proposition and the Brits prefer to fiddle and fart around with short tours with long breaks with the subsequent serious negative operational outcomes.

    Rabbit hole alert. We've both decided to agree that short tours are bad in the context of this type of campaign, disagree in parts as to the vaidity for the rationale that got us to there (I agree on the charge of militarism, but few others), disagree in places on the impact of it and what can be done about it.
    Yes I know we can go on and on about this and I understand that for you to accept the catastrophic outcome of this approach on operational efficiency is difficult (to say the least) because that would indicate an acceptance that the Brit performance in Afghanistan has been sub-optimal (to say the least). Once again the ineptitude of Brit generals has been exposed and that I appreciate is humiliating and hard to bear.

    Hmm. Where is your evidence on this?
    I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours

    In Helmand the evidence would tend to support the counter-proposition; the the Taleban are playing catch-up to ISAF at the tactical and operational level. They are heavily attrited, have comprehensively lost influence, lost control of ground, and their ability to prosecute successful attacks has declined markedly as well. We have now seen over 12 months of steady decline in violence in Helmand, no summer campaign season in the traditional sense and winter season which has seen ISAF move from consolidation to offence. Part of the reason that so few insurgents are being killed now is that there are far fewer of them left - attrition still plays a role in campaigning
    No, the Taliban having absorbed the surge in troops into Helmand (from 9,500 to around 30,000) have reverted to type and are watching and planning and adapting (remember what Skeen wrote about them from experiences back then). When the 'poppy money' comes in this year being estimated at more than ever before they will be in a position to spend it wisely on operations producing the maximum psychological and propaganda effect (like the raid in Kabul and the Panjshir Valley attack). Remember they have the time.

    Thanks to the surge and with pockets full of money (thanks to the acceptance of the Afghan drug trade as being beyond the ability of ISAF and hangers-on to control) the Taliban will have to learn to operate more cleverly and have pots of money to do just that. Good for them, not so good for Karzai and ISAF.

    Every corporal (section commander) will have 12 months operational experience, in Iraq or Afghanistan, every sergeant 24-36. In terms of frontline experience that is a level of experience comparable to the 8th Army in 1944 or the Chindits in 1945, or indeed 14th Army in early 1945 (by the end of the war experience levels had dropped considerably as the government insisted on releasing soldiers for UK leave if they had been away from the UK for 5 or more years - that gutted entire officer and SNCO cohorts). Again, where is the proof for the weakness in platoon operations?
    Clutching at straws? I accept that having experienced NCOs in a platoon (with experienced officers at battalion level) looking after raw and inexperienced troops is way ahead of feeding in whole raw units into the field (read up on the Australian Forces on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea and the difference in performance between the 39th and 53rd battalions). I quote:

    “In August 1942 the 39th and 53rd Battalions of the Australian Militia, composed of 18 year old conscripts, collided with a Japanese brigade advancing south across Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Trail. The 53rd battalion turned and ran. The 39th battalion, which a few weeks earlier had received an influx of experienced officers and NCO’s, stood its ground and over the next month fought the Japanese to a standstill. This action is regarded as a test in laboratory conditions of the impact of leadership on fighting performance.” - Serve to Lead
    ... so as I say having experienced NCOs is better than deploying the blind school (apologies to the PC police) but nowhere near what can be classed as a lean, mean, fighting machine which is quite frankly what the spin doctors at the MoD want the country and the world to believe is happening. Pretty sad really.

    As to jargon sorry. Many of the tasks done by the SF early on in Iraq were done because the field army lacked the training to do them, especially in the area of house assault. This was a standard skillset in the US Army but an SF skillset in the British Army (SF did it as it was regarded as a Counter-Terrorism skillset). Now, like the US Army, it is a basic skillset that we all do.
    I wonder how many operational house assaults up to that point the SAS had done in combat up to that point? Or was it a case that the line-infantry had merely just gone through the motions during FIBUA (fighting in built up areas) training? And that out of the whole British Army at that time only a few hundred soldiers were considered capable of carrying out a house assault? So what, it should be asked, filled the year of these units if basic FIBUA training was not covered? I need to dig out my copy of the Brit Infantry Platoon in Battle and refresh myself on what is contained therein. I ask myself how long it would take to take sections through FIBUA house clearing training. Dangerous work, yes, rocket science, no.

    What else I wonder (of what I would consider to be basic soldiering skills) are not being covered these days in section and platoon training? In my own experience because of constant operations we battled to find the time required for training in aspects we did not do everyday. With 18 months between tours the Brit Army has no excuses.

    But what are the SF doing that the line units aren't? In types of operation there is no difference that I can see.
    Then why are the SAS still doing those types of operations?
    Last edited by JMA; 10-21-2011 at 01:02 AM.

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    Default British COIN Manual 2009

    Post Ten refers to the 2001 edition being updated and in May 2012 a link was found on the BBC News website to the 2009 edition, but has now disappeared.

    This was the link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/h...rmy_manual.pdf

    I did note the document has no official markers and was found on a BBC website, so I assumed it is for public use. Today May 12th 2012 a SWC member has drawn attention to the copyright notice, which also proclaims it was an official document and not for public use. Maybe someone noticed thirty months later it was in the public domain?

    Moderator's Note

    I found five separate threads in this arena and have merged them after a review. (Ends)
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-12-2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Add Note and updated may 12th 2012
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    Default Malaya & COIN

    Not to overlook the impact on British COIN of the Malayan experience, well explained IMO in this SWJ article:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...arts-and-minds

    With a comment added today that refers to an AFJ March 2011 'Slow learners: How Iraq and Afghanistan forced Britain to rethink COIN', which I don't think has been caught on SWC before and is very good:http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2011/11/6292362

    It ends with:
    The British military’s experience in contemporary COIN operations elicited an unfortunate smugness and complacency in an organization that thought that it “got it.” Successful experiences in the past gave it a false sense of security in its approaches to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it suffered the consequences. Officers within the organization identified these shortcomings, but also began to point out failures in adaptation, while the U.S. seemed to embrace change. Though the early misperceptions may have delayed the response, the British military — especially the Army — eventually experienced very similar dynamics as its U.S. counterpart in its approaches to counterinsurgency.
    With older threads Managing COIN: Lessons from Malaya:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2900
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-28-2012 at 07:56 PM.
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