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The Coalition Speaks Too often, coalition means them and US. Broaden our US-centricity view, and talk about working together.

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Old 11-23-2008   #1
SWJED
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Default Working with Other Nations' Militaries

Working with Other Nations' Militaries - Tom Ricks's Inbox, Washington Post

Quote:
Working with other nations' militaries is never easy. In an interview posted on an Army Web site, former British Army Brig. Ed Butler, who commanded British forces in southern Afghanistan in 2006, told a U.S. Army historian about his frustrations with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, who was the U.S. commander in Afghanistan at the time...
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Old 11-23-2008   #2
John T. Fishel
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Default Why am I always amazed

when I find that graduates of CGSC paid no attention to or did not comprehend their classes on multi-national (coalition) operations? Even worse when they are SAMSTERS as well.
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Old 11-23-2008   #3
Ken White
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Default Speaking of Afghanistan.

Ah, the arrogance of power...When will we learn?

OTOH, some things we learned the hard way, we seem to want to forget. Here's another furriner -- this time a Canadian -- who also correctly finds fault with us:

"UNITY OF COMMAND IN AFGHANISTAN:
A FORSAKEN PRINCIPLE OF WAR"
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Old 11-23-2008   #4
John T. Fishel
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Default At last, somebody

has observed (and written about) the obvious. So, who is in charge of US operations in Afghanistan - Banz Craddock, Dave Petraeus, or COMSOCOM? Or is it the American Ambassador -not, but should it be?

What both Afghanistan and Iraq have shown is that the UCP is not adequate. One solution would be to recognize that there are theaters that are carved out of a regional command, commanded by a four star, and that their commanders should be supported by the Regional Commands - a combatant command in all but name (and, perhaps, duration). Perhaps legislation would be required to give them all the authorities that the COCOMS currently have although there likely is a worl around.

Cheers

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Old 11-24-2008   #5
Eden
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Default Excellent document

Anyone interested in the history of the current fight in Afghanistan will definitely want to save this.

To be fair to MG Freakley, Mountain Thrust was a critical part of his overall campaign plan, the third in a sequenced series of operations. The arrival of several NATO contingents and the imminent expansion of ISAF complicated and constrained his tactical options. Whatever one might think of the efficacy of the US effort during that period, it is indisputible that the Americans were not able to conduct business as they would have wished.

Two other points to highlight.
First, the impact of differing national styles can be (and was) incredibly disruptive. The Brits and Canadians, for instance, held the quaint notion that commanders did not interfere two levels below them; definitely not a core belief of the 10th Mountain Division. For quite a while the allies considered the US as overbearing micromanagers, while the Americans thought of their comrades-in-arms as obstructive, timid, red-card flashers. Not conducive to close cooperation.
Second, how incredibly 'sticky' early deployments became. Once in place, it became almost impossible politically to leave any district capital or isolated outpost. If NATO were doing it over, they might reconsider the way they attempted to open new territories rather than concentrate in a single area. By going into Helmand, Kandahar, and Oruzgan they definitely became fixed in place - and would have been regardless of whether the Taliban chose to fix itself alongside them. The Taliban could have easily economized on their fixing forces and caused us even more trouble during the various battles around Kandahar. Luckily for us, they are even worse at the operational level than we are.
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Old 11-24-2008   #6
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Default To go only slightly off-thread,

Eden mentions an allied point in his truly excellent comment. This item struck me:
Quote:
"The Brits and Canadians, for instance, held the quaint notion that commanders did not interfere two levels below them; definitely not a core belief of the 10th Mountain Division. For quite a while the allies considered the US as overbearing micromanagers, while the Americans thought of their comrades-in-arms as obstructive, timid, red-card flashers. Not conducive to close cooperation."
It struck me because I saw the same thing during wars in Korea and in South East Asia and have seen it elsewhere.

I do not think the British and the Canadians have a "quaint notion." Recall that German Radios and signal procedures during WW II were designed to not allow netting or traffic more than two echelons below. There is a very good reason for that dictum, it is not at all quaint, it is solidly practical. We used to practice it but we sort of quit.

Not only our Allies consider US commanders to be overbearing micromanagers. I've heard the very same complaint from folks in the US Armed Forces -- all four of them -- in ranks ranging from new recruit to flag officers. I heard that complaint from 1949 (occasionally) until my second retirement in 1995 (frequently). I still hear it today from relatives, friends and acquaintances serving here and there. It is noteworthy that the complaints became more focused, plaintive and frequent in later years

I think there's a fire there with that much smoke...

My belief has been and is that a part of that over strong tendency to interfere -- and it is far too often if not always interference -- two and three echelons down is bred by the fact that our initial entry training and our NCO and Officer education is marginal and that literally forces commanders to micromanage. That is, we know that our subordinates do not know as much as they should so we have to 'help.' The British and the Canadians -- and the Germans -- train far more comprehensively than we do and thus they are more inclined to trust subordinates. Admittedly, one can go too far in this regard -- but we go too far in the opposite direction.

Aside from our marginal training, there are two other factors that cause our micromanaging; the first is that we do not adequately punish wrongdoing and over punish ignorance and minor errors. The 'zero defects' mentality is not helpful.

The second factor was that Viet Nam and the rotation of people caused Battalion Commanders in 1969-73 to have a lot of 2LTs and young NCOs who would do anything in the world -- but were very inexperienced, thus they did require a lot of overwatch (and I believe that error may be repeated currently if we aren't careful). This trend got embedded in the Army as those former LTC became General Officers in the 1990s.

Since it is patently impossible for anyone to be everywhere and given the potential in the future for greater dispersion and delegation, I believe we need to revise our practices -- I guarantee you that micromanagement will not be the norm in major combat operations, Commanders will have to trust their subordinates. I can most likely also guarantee that the habit of such poor performance and micromanagement if we do not purge it will initially cause more casualties than necessary.

Just as it did in the current two theaters a few years ago...
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