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Strategic Compression The compression of roles and effects. The Strategic Corporal meets the "turn left" National Security Advisor.

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Old 04-13-2008   #41
slapout9
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I'd also argue that the Big W and Big B (Warden and Boyd) are not as useful for COIN as many might wish (and no...I'm not doggin' on you, Slap...). Actually, I'm not sure that they are especially useful in any limited war scenario. Elements of their theories and techniques certainly CAN be, but on the whole they tend to worry me in any situation that requires restraint and finesse.
Hi Steve,actually this may surprise you and a lot of other people. The first time I met Warden he told that he thought that a Guerrilla/Insurgency type war is the one situation where he did not think his theory would work He sees them largely as civil wars and we should not became involved in them except as an outside support such as Afghanistan against Russia or El Salvador type ops run by Special Forces.

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Old 04-13-2008   #42
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He sees them largely as civil wars and we should not became involved in them except as an outside support such as Afghanistan against Russia or El Salvador type ops run by Special Forces.
Generally, I would agree with that, but Afghanistan is the "duck bill platypus." Because we were attacked from there, we had to respond.

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To make the Jenga bit work you'd need to have someone sticking blocks back in toward the bottom from time to time.
I believe that is our official strategy. Officially, the Iraqis are making progress towards building the necessary blocks but the situation is still to fragile to make the replacement now.
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Old 04-13-2008   #43
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Hi Steve,actually this may surprise you and a lot of other people. The first time I met Warden he told that he thought that a Guerrilla/Insurgency type war is the one situation where he did not think his theory would work He sees them largely as civil wars and we should not became involved in them except as an outside support such as Afghanistan against Russia or El Salvador type ops run by Special Forces.
Sadly, things don't always work out the way folks might like...

Slap, I was never sure if Warden thought his theories would work in COIN or not. I tended to think not, simply because the AF as a whole doesn't really concern itself deeply with COIN, and he was an AF product. What tends to worry me is when other people get their hands on theories and start trying to apply them in places they might not work.

And RA, my comment was directed at the model...not what's happening in Iraq or elsewhere.
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Old 04-13-2008   #44
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Default Interesting thread...

Rank Amateur said, early on:
Quote:
"...In the real world, people on welfare don't start looking for jobs until the welfare is about to run out. I really think that the Sunni sheiks are smart enough to realize that as soon as there is reconciliation we're going to stop sending them US dollars."
He followed that later with:
Quote:
"Did Mr. Kilcullen offer a third option? Or are we stuck with two ineffective alternatives?"
My answer to both those is that Kilcullen didn't offer one but I will -- and it takes care of both your concerns. We're gonna be there for a long time.

WM said:
Quote:
"One thing I do not like about either metaphor is the pessimism that seems operative in each, reflected by the downward trend in each line. Another problem for me was much better put by Tom Odom’s metaphor. I can put this slide to a lot of different uses, not least of which is a mystical example to obfuscate what I took to be an obvious point. (Slapout MTV’s “All Along the Watchtower” link works here: “There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.”) Maybe Slapout MTV also needs a link to the Stone’s tune, “You can’t always get what you want.”"
Agreed, regardless of intent, the slide shows a negative trend line, psychologically (or common sense wise for those of us with no background in psych) a bad ploy.

Steve Blair said:
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"...Slap, I was never sure if Warden thought his theories would work in COIN or not. I tended to think not, simply because the AF as a whole doesn't really concern itself deeply with COIN, and he was an AF product. What tends to worry me is when other people get their hands on theories and start trying to apply them in places they might not work."
Emphasis added by me because I think that that is so-o-o important -- and so often ignored, usually to our detriment...

JCustis said:
Quote:
"I think he recognizes there is a time and place for large formations, but if they aren't being employed properly, the are just shooting our strategy in the foot. We did not have the aptitude, temperance, nor patience to do a good job in 2003-2005, regardless of how many boots we had on the ground. Tie this problem to the woefull reconstruction efforts during that period, and I can totally agree with you that the military was not in control of things in Iraq. Like John T. Fishel said, no matter of troops would have mattered with a crappy strategy.'
Yep; works for me...
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Old 04-13-2008   #45
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Default I give up

1. Smash the stop watch.

2. Set fire the wooden blocks of the Jinga thingy.

3. Go and find the chap who wrote "Knifing Soup on your Trousers" or what ever it was called, and ask him to knock up another slide that we can all understand.

Hope this helps!
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Old 04-13-2008   #46
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Default It doesn't help

it does you, your cause and discussion here more harm than good. You're a smart guy but others here are as well. You're entitled to state your opinions -- and if you'll recall, I'm more often in agreement with you than not -- but it not only is not necessary to deride others in so doing, it seems to me it's actually counterproductive.

You can do better.

I suggest your points 1 and 2 above were unnecessary and that your number 3 is awfully close to insulting a fellow council member about a book you acknowledge you haven't even read. What's the point of the post except to be snide and condescending? Is there one?
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Old 04-13-2008   #47
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Default I started to laugh at wilf's quip, then...

Ken jumped in and caught me laughing then whipped me back into professional shape. I need this every now and then as many out there probably know. I have been lost ever since I gave up command and no longer have the benefit of a CSM as battle-buddy and keeping his colonel straight.

But back to the thread; I wonder if Dave D might comment on whether or not Dr Kilkullen ever mentioned or was it discussed at this conference the deteriorating situation of the American Army to the point, if not already there, of breaking? We tend to treat the American Army (and marines?) in all of these analyses in a clinical manner; like they both are unaffected masses that will just keep happily rolling on with no effect at all on them.

(thanks ken, but wilf you did have me rolling)
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Old 04-13-2008   #48
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Default Wilf can be funny. Frequently is -- but

he sometimes pushes the envelope. I guess we all do on occasion. I just tend to encourage avoiding personalizing the argument and being too dismissive of the opinion of others. We all, me included, err on that occasionally. Not a good medium for that IMO.

I am not sharing my poncho liner -- you guys keep trying to hog the covers...

On a more serious note, Dave will have to speak to Dr. Kilcullen, of course. However I'd suggest the Army and Marines are far from unaffected but are also far from broken. I may be wrong but my sensing is that there'll be a slow drawdown for a couple or three years and then the residual force, maybe three BCTs (+), will be there for a long time. As in real long...

Thus I rather tranquilly await Iraqi restaurants on the streets of Barstow, the Springs, El Paso, Hinesville and Killeen (to go with the Afghan models in Clarksville, Jacksonville, Fayetteville and Watertown)...
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Old 04-13-2008   #49
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it does you, your cause and discussion here more harm than good. You're a smart guy but others here are as well. You're entitled to state your opinions -- and if you'll recall, I'm more often in agreement with you than not -- but it not only is not necessary to deride others in so doing, it seems to me it's actually counterproductive.

You can do better.

I suggest your points 1 and 2 above were unnecessary and that your number 3 is awfully close to insulting a fellow council member about a book you acknowledge you haven't even read. What's the point of the post except to be snide and condescending? Is there one?
Gotta agree with this. Everyone has opinions, but here we should post them respectfully. I haven't seen anyone here (myself included) who has a corner on truth. Let's all remember why we're here: to make sense of (hopefully) this thing we call "small wars." It may be that "war is war is war," but even the most skeptical should admit that there are a number of plateaus or break points between total peace and LeMay-esque "nuclear combat." In my view (and with mod hat off at this point), claiming anything different is ignoring many thousands of years worth of military history and human history.

Back to the question (or thought) about the Army "breaking": I'd say it's in much better shape now than it was during the latter stages of Vietnam. Ken's got the first-hand experience there...but I've done a fair amount of reading and analysis into that area and I'd say we're in fair shape. Not as good as we could be, perhaps, but certainly not as far-gone as we were in 1969 or so. What I see are strains similar to those the all-volunteer force experienced in the later 1800s. Different level of combat to be sure, but the same sense of being stretched too thin and paid too little to take on a job too few care about. It's a point to be watched, but it's a far cry from race riots and some of the other sundry problems the military faced in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
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Old 04-13-2008   #50
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It's a point to be watched, but it's a far cry from race riots and some of the other sundry problems the military faced in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Agree that we wont see mutinies or things like that which the French Army experienced in early 1917. But I think it is much worse than you or Ken allow for. I think that Gens Casey and Cody have tried over the past few months to show how serious things are without using the "B" word. 3000 captains short; equipment under serious stress; an Army that does pretty much nothing but coin (I got the operational necessity for that because we are fighting two coin wars now). and at least for the next 10 months troop levels stay the same in Iraq and Afghanistan which means 12 months in and 12 months out for many combat outfits. The troopers are completing their third tour and will soon be staring down their 4th or even 5th? Right, there wont be mutinies or cataclysmic breaks; just a slow grinding down to a shell of the force we had in 2001. I accept the role of an army in the American Democracy and if our nation wants to break us for Iraq then so be it; I have served and will continue to do so until unable. I just wish folks outside of SWC members and in the greater nation would take seriously and debate this issue.

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Old 04-14-2008   #51
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However I'd suggest the Army and Marines are far from unaffected but are also far from broken. I may be wrong but my sensing is that there'll be a slow drawdown for a couple or three years and then the residual force, maybe three BCTs (+), will be there for a long time. As in real long...
Been doing a lot of thinking about this recently - and have to agree.

"Platoon" was on the other night, followed by "Full Metal Jacket". I wasn't around then to comment on the accuracy of those units relative to the rest of the Army/Corps, but watching "Platoon" especially made me realize that I had never seen an Army unit anywhere near the state of Charlie Sheen's unit, or the general lack of discipline and standards, or the fighting spirit of the men.

I was watching Ralph Peters the other night on a PBS news show, he made one comment that struck me - "The army is not broken. I just got back from Fort Bragg and morale was not high, but not bad either, not as I would expect it six years in ... I don't even understand it myself." I don't always agree with Mr. Peters, but his comment rang true. The force is tired, even bitter, but hasn't lost the will to fight or its cohesion/discipline. As I read about the post/late -Nam army - drugs, insurbordination, indisipline - I haven't seen any of that emerge (beyond what is normal)- yet.

I think the indicator to watch for, and the one most dangerous for the army, is the collapse of discipline. Numbers can be rebuilt, but from my observations the "soul" of the force is the key. It still seems healthy right now, even given the stress.

That's not to get cocky either, it could happen suddenly, in a tipping point fashion, rather than a long decline. Anyone with experience have advice on the indicators to watch?
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Old 04-14-2008   #52
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A I just wish folks outside of SWC members and in the greater nation would take seriously and debate this issue.

gian
I'm pretty confident that the subject will be discussed fairly seriously before the next election. (Though I will concede there is still a chance that the next election will be about Obama's pastor.)

Back on topic. I think I understand the slide now. Mr. Kilcullen is smart enough to know that the only way to get a crowd to criticize both the Republican plan and the Democratic plan is to have the Democrats attack the Republican plan and the Republicans attack the Democrats plan and then there is is a decent chance that most of the people in the room will come to the conclusion that neither plan is going to work.

Ron is 100% correct that the theoretical exit strategy is having the Iraqis replace the Jenga pieces. I agree 100% with Ken that the reality is if we stick with the Jenga model we're going to need to stay there for a very long time. I don't think the stopwatch is going to work either. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Kilcullen's next slide isn't, "so we're screwed and have no hope." Is there anyone out there who doesn't believe that we need some new ideas and a different model?

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Anyone with experience have advice on the indicators to watch?
I have no experience, but I think the answer is wives (or husbands in some cases.) I'm not joking. 20 year olds can fight with no girlfriend back home, but when wives start saying "You have to choose between the Army and me" we're in trouble.
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Old 04-14-2008   #53
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I think that Gens Casey and Cody have tried over the past few months to show how serious things are without using the "B" word. 3000 captains short; equipment under serious stress; an Army that does pretty much nothing but coin (I got the operational necessity for that because we are fighting two coin wars now).

gian
Sir,

Good point. I too am worried about ARFORGEN breaking the army, I don't know that it won't be a tipping point, that after a 4th or 5th tour the LT/CPT/SGT/SSG just says "enough, I can't take it", and we see an en-masse departure from the Army.

I also am getting extremely distressing anecdotal reports of BCT readiness upon arrival at CTC's prior to deployment - unfilled key staffs, non-CCC CPT's in many key positions, some units without a MEL4 S3/XO, etc. All manned to 90% just before the CTC rotation, and in the "crawl" phase of teambuilding. There is a large experience base from prior deployments, but it's akin to a "pro bowl" team rather than a "Super Bowl" team, which the modular BCT was supposed to solve - but can't with just-in-time manning. Makes me really worry that we have finally scraped the bottom, and may have entered a death spiral in readiness - that may result in elevated risk in deploying units. Perhaps that is behind Casey's comments?
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Old 04-14-2008   #54
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Three months ago I had the opportunity to interview more than 15 Soldiers from LtCol Yingling's battalion in Ft Bliss as they were conducting a final exercise prior to deploying. During the interview process I spoke to senior NCOs, platoon leaders, company commanders, the battalion sergeant major, XO, and CO. It was a unique experience in that I was an unbiased outsider (Marine) asking hard questions and I feel I received honest answers. The primary focus of my mission was to get feedback on the 360-leadership assessment that LtCol Yingling had implemented in the battalion. My secondary mission was to assess the Soldiers' views on the "no ranks" combatatives initiative that he also implemented.

During my time in the desert, I watched the Soldiers conduct proper PCC/PCI, leadership supervise guard post turnover and routinely run their troops through ROE type scenarios. Morale, as best I could tell, was very high. I think this a particularly important "metric" for this unit as their mission in Iraq is to serve as prison guards for more than a year. This is a mission that I'm not sure too many units would openly welcome.

I learned a lot from my short visit. Leadership was almost 100% supportive of the 360-assessment process. "No ranks" combatatives were a welcome addition to the Army and all Soldiers stated that seeing the Bn CO and Sgt Major grappling with their Soldiers was great. Most said this was the best unit they'd ever served in. The only other unit that some Soldiers rated higher was one they'd served with in combat.

All this said, concerns about young leadership and company commanders that had yet to go to captain's career course were evident in the unit.

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Old 04-14-2008   #55
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Sir,

Good point. I too am worried about ARFORGEN breaking the army, I don't know that it won't be a tipping point, that after a 4th or 5th tour the LT/CPT/SGT/SSG just says "enough, I can't take it", and we see an en-masse departure from the Army.

I also am getting extremely distressing anecdotal reports of BCT readiness upon arrival at CTC's prior to deployment - unfilled key staffs, non-CCC CPT's in many key positions, some units without a MEL4 S3/XO, etc. All manned to 90% just before the CTC rotation, and in the "crawl" phase of teambuilding. There is a large experience base from prior deployments, but it's akin to a "pro bowl" team rather than a "Super Bowl" team, which the modular BCT was supposed to solve - but can't with just-in-time manning. Makes me really worry that we have finally scraped the bottom, and may have entered a death spiral in readiness - that may result in elevated risk in deploying units. Perhaps that is behind Casey's comments?
Cavguy:

Right; I think your characterization of it is very good. I will rely on it in the future. I dont know what "breaking" or "broken" looks like either. It certainly wont look like France in early 1917 after the Nivelle offensives where some large units actually mutinied. It wont look either like the American Army in 1970 with huge drug and discipline problems. But it might just look like something you describe above and to be sure General Casey is seeing those very same things which is why I am sure he has been trying to carefully raise alarm bells. Considering Kilkullen's Jenga and tactical conditions on the ground in Iraq and the fact that the American Army has a huge role to play with those conditions, I consider this to be a worthwhile topic for this thread. Or perhaps we should start another one if others want to continue to purse the Jenga riddle.

gian

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Old 04-14-2008   #56
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Default Give me a break Gian...

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Cavguy:

Right; I think your characterization of it is very good. I will rely on it in the future. I dont know what "breaking" or "broken" looks like either. It certainly wont look like France in early 1917 after the Nivelle offensives where some large units actually mutinied. It wont look either like the American Army in 1970 with huge drug and discipline problems. But it might just look like something you describe above and to be sure General Casey is seeing those very same things which is why I am sure he has been trying to carefully raise alarm bells. As for RA's request to get back on topic for this thread; well, considering Kilkullen's Jenga thing and tactical conditions on the ground in Iraq and the fact that the American Army has a huge role to play with those conditions, I consider this to be a worthwhile topic for this thread. Or perhaps we should start another one if others want to continue to purse the Jenga riddle.

gian
Gian - Don't be coy, you know full well this is not about solving a Jenga riddle - the post was put up to discuss transition. I'll break away the breaking of the Army posts into a new thread if warranted. But please, don't condescend, thanks - Dave
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Old 04-14-2008   #57
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Default If I may be so presumptuous...

as to advance a couple of questions to muddy the water...

What is the desired endstate when the clock runs out? Put another way, what are the "right" conditions and circumstances for say, Iraq, at the end of all this that will put the pottery pieces back together with sufficient glue?

Are the "right" conditions in your mind at odds with what you understand the administration's desired endstate to be? Furthermore, is the administration's endstate clear anymore? I know we have heard and can say that it involves a sovereign Iraq, with security for the civilian populace, and the rule of law in place and supported by law enforcement, courts, etc., but what the hell does that REALLY mean?

I know I've beat this drum at length already, but how do the recent events in Basrah/Sadr City square with the desired endstate? I look at the stunts that Sadr has pulled recently and I ask myself, It's great that he supposedly convinced his followers to be non-violent, but why is he allowed to retain so much stroke?

I also look at the Maliki government, the response in Basrah, the acts of some of the police commandos, and ask What next dude? It's beginning to be your show, but all I'm hearing are boos. What will we be doing when the fractures become worse in say, another year when something happens in Kurdistan (I can't crystal ball that anything would, but I use that area to illustrate my point)? What will we be doing if the purported Iranian influence in the south gets worse? We are laying the blame squarely at the feet of the Iranians in the recent testimony, but what's the foot-stomp? Is it a dull saber rattle, or part of some grand scheme to move towards diplomacy by highlighting how pissed we are about their EFPs?

I'm slowly beginning to wonder if the model is less tactical Jenga and simply a case musical chairs, where the game started with only half as many chairs as there are players.

EDIT: I'm torn by all these questions because I really don't know if the American public - which can either pull one or more pieces, or wind the clock forward - understands what the endstate is anymore. I fear that we will come to the end not because we are done and it is time to go, but we have achieved a "decent interval" and that is enough because we have lost enough treasure and can go no further.

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Old 04-14-2008   #58
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Gian - Don't be coy, you know full well this is not about solving a Jenga riddle - the post was put up to discuss transition. I'll break away the breaking of the Army posts into a new thread if warranted. But please, don't condescend, thanks - Dave
Dave:

Appologies; did not mean to be condescending but I can see how you would take my words that way. I appreciate the work that Dr Kilkullen does for the military (although I disagree with most of what he writes and thinks) his committment and service are never in question. Too, I accept your point earlier that perhaps we were making too much fun with his slide when in context he used it in an effective way during his presentation.

Again, sorry, did not mean to offend, just trying to be clever and not coy, but understand how my words were perceived in that way.

Ken is chomping at the bit to get at me here.
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Old 04-14-2008   #59
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as to advance a couple of questions to muddy the water...

What is the desired endstate when the clock runs out? Put another way, what are the "right" conditions and circumstances for say, Iraq, at the end of all this that will put the pottery pieces back together with sufficient glue?

Are the "right" conditions in your mind at odds with what you understand the administration's desired endstate to be? Furthermore, is the administration's endstate clear anymore? I know we have heard and can say that it involves a sovereign Iraq, with security for the civilian populace, and the rule of law in place and supported by law enforcement, courts, etc., but what the hell does that REALLY mean?
Well put, Jcustis.

I dont know either and General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were not clear either when asked in testimony last week. And it is exactly the questions you raise about what is the strategic endstate in Iraq that I combine with my own questions about the current state of the Army and is it worth breaking over Iraq, especially if smart folks like you cant even figure out what the goal is anymore?

this is why i continue to link the condition of the Army to this most important thread and its discussion. Transition of course is the key issue in this thread but the army's ability to affect that transition is directly tied to it.

gg
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Old 04-14-2008   #60
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This is an older version of Wardens Time Value of Action. When I first met Warden I asked him what was the most important thing to remember and to my surprise this is it. I had a copy of his book and he accidentally drop it and it fell open to graph of the Time Value of Action. Spooky

http://smallwarsjournal.com/images/t...action-war.jpg

So which point on the graph does the council think the US is at?

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