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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 10-25-2005   #1
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Default The Strategic Corporal

This is a special forum - reserved for tactical discussions on the day-to-day things our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coasties and their coalition counterparts have learned in the conduct of Small Wars...

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Old 01-16-2006   #2
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Default The Strategic Corporal and the Emerging Battlefield

The Strategic Corporal and the Emerging Battlefield - The Nexus Between the USMC's Three Block War Concept and Network Centric Warfare by James Szepesy. Tufts University Master's Thesis, March 2005.

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The modern international security environment has undergone significant changes since the end of the Cold War. The nature of the battlefield has changed from rural to urban. New technology promises tremendous capabilities, and there are new actors on the scene. These changes have had an impact on the approaches used by U.S. security instruments to implement U.S. policy. The U.S. Marine Corps identified the changing battlefield in the later half of the 1990s and articulated its vision of future warfare as the Three Block War.

Concurrent to Marine Corps’ development of the Three Block War was an explosive growth in information technology developments. The end of the Cold War, budgetary pressures, changing face of war, and technological advancements at the start of the 21st Century generated tremendous pressure upon the US military establishment to adapt. Emerging from these pressures was a desire to operationalize the information technology advancements realized at the end of the 20th Century in what is being called Network Centric Warfare.

These two vectors, refining the Three Block War model and Network Centric Warfare, have come to be important elements to the strategies and tactics used to fight in Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom as well as components to the consequent debate about the appropriate structure and composition of the U.S. military for the 21st Century.
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Old 01-23-2006   #3
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Default Urban/Rural

Interesting. But, I'm not sure I understand how it has been decided that the emerging battlefield is more urban than rural. Iraq, perhaps. But not Afghanistan. I'm just not certain there is more evidence toward urban warfare now than there was before or less evidence of rural than there was before. Is there really a change based on data or is it a largely untested perception? And, is the data based on a changing definition of what urban and rural are or is it a static definition we used to compare the past with now? Just curious because it is something I've heard before but I just don't know that the evidence/data supports the assertion.
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Old 01-26-2006   #4
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More of the world is becoming urban. A century ago most of the population was involved in agriculture, rural guerillas had a ready supply of men and material, this is no longer the case. Also modern weapons give the established state forces a huge advantage in most terrain, the complexity of a city along with the collateral damage factor evens the playing field.
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Old 01-27-2006   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu-6
More of the world is becoming urban. A century ago most of the population was involved in agriculture, rural guerillas had a ready supply of men and material, this is no longer the case. Also modern weapons give the established state forces a huge advantage in most terrain, the complexity of a city along with the collateral damage factor evens the playing field.
I understand how the logic would seem to imply that we should expect more urban warfare - but I wondered if there was any data to support that assumption since I haven't seen it. The war in Iraq is predominantly urban but the wars in south and central Americas seem to have been predominantly rural. The war in Afghanistan is also predominantly rural. The Balkans conflicts have been predominatly rural too I believe. I just wondered if the data supported the presuppositions and I'm still not sure it does.

As for the advantages, I'm not so sure technology has really given a significant advantage. I think people are smarter than most technology and tend to figure out ways to thwart technological changes rather quickly. At least, that seems to be the case historically. Technological advances in weapons are, at best, a very temporary advantage it would seem.
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Old 01-27-2006   #6
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Default Go here...

I've collected some background info and studies for you on our urban operations page. It's all there and supports what smart people have been saying about the future over the last two decades.

More info can be found on the SASO, Transition, COIN, Threat, Interagency, Chechnya, Somalia and other pages in the SWJ Reference Library.
 
Old 01-30-2006   #7
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Thanks, I appreciate the effort and I am familiar with some of those works.

My problem is this - from the ones I've read there seems to be an accepted conventional wisdom that wars will be more urban. I know a lot of the people saying that are smarter than I am for certain. But, dumb as I am I still find it difficult to accept conventional wisdom when I have not seen the raw data to support that wisdom. Are you aware of any studies based on the raw data? I'm afraid I did not find any such data in sampling of the articles you've mentioned - only the opinions of experts who tend to accept it as a given without questioning the assertion. They may be right and I would tend to believe that they being smarter than myself are right - I just haven't been convinced from their opinions alone. I'd like to see the same data they are looking at. From what I have seen, I do not see a trend evolving there. I see some evidence of the contrary, as I said.

What I would hope to find one day is somebody who did the analysis to come up with some numbers like:

1960 - There were 1300 rural COIN ops and 500 urban
1961 - 1400 rural and 800 urban
:
:
1990 - 700 rural and 1000 urban
:
:
2005 - 300 rural and 1400 urban

If I saw something like that, then I could see for myself that there did seem to be a trend toward one more than the other. So far, I haven't seen any such analysis. What I have seen so far is the opinion of "experts" and however highly I value that expert, it is still just an opinion without supporting data and therefore somewhat suspect.
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Old 01-31-2006   #8
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Thumbs down Netcentric warfare i$ junk

The future warrior should be tactically mobile, morally responsible, lightly equipped, culturally-centric, witty, and capable of making a sound decision without a technological cloak for micromanagement.

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Old 02-09-2006   #9
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Default Strategic Corporal -- a terrible concept

The “strategic corporal” seems to me an unlikely concept for a large force, such as the US Army, to achieve in practice. Nice dream, though.

The following excerpt is from my review of the FMFM 1-A at
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/thoughts_on_fmfm_1-a.htm


“Fourth Generation war demands not only the strategic corporal, but the moral corporal as well, enlisted Marines who think about every action they take in terms of its moral effects.”
William Lind, et al, "FMFM 1-A" page 8
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_1_25_05.htm

This seems implausible given the age, experience, and training of the average US Marine corporal, now or in any likely future. The courts martial of NCOs for mistreatment of Iraq prisoners suggest that we need more hands-on lieutenants and less freedom of action for corporals.

We’ll be lucky to get an adequate number of First Lieutenants with such cross-cultural knowledge, capable of acting with such sophisticated strategic and moral reasoning.

This illustrates a difficulty of recommendations given in FMFM 1-A. All wargame scenarios have easy solutions if one can conjure up sufficient resources. FMFM 1-A aspires to a US Marine Corps with the training and attributes of our elite Special Ops units.

With an army of such men we could pacify Iraq. Equally so, with the Battlestar Galactica or Starship Enterprise the Germans could have won WWII.

It’s not enough to dream of ways we can win. How can we evolve our current military apparatus to get there from here?
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Old 02-09-2006   #10
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The strategic corporal concept is not only relevant, but a requirement in operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. While it increases the burden of leadership, and on recruit instructors, this is a price worth paying. Those individuals who claim that this is a "bridge too far" or "beyond reasonable expectations" are most likely the same individuals who believe that enlisting 37 and 39 years olds in the Army after bribing them with staggering enlistment bonuses is a good idea, that the National Guard is an elite fighting force, and that the abuses at Abu Gharib are unavoidable.
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Old 02-09-2006   #11
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I think it is possible but requires a paradigm shift in our culture. We are, I think, still clinging to the old notion of creating automotons who follow orders above all else. Instead of rewarding initiative, we tend to look for where to pin the blame when things go wrong making individuals more afraid of failure than they are hungry for success. Instead of the attitude "he who risks wins" we seem to more often remember "he who risks might fail!" So we put the burden on the corporal to be strategic all the while implying that taking risks is not tolerated except when it works…implying that when it doesn't work, heads will roll. Rewards often come to those who make no decisions on their own. I think it is possible and essential as Major S. but it will be very difficult to achieve in our present culture. I think there have been improvements since I left the military back in the mid-80's but, from what I've seen since, the progress has been relatively slow in most services. Of course, all of that is simply my perception so I could be wrong - but I think it’s a perception shared by quite a few.
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Old 02-09-2006   #12
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Default off topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Major Strickland
that the National Guard is an elite fighting force,
There were some elite forces in the guard, but the geriatric fatbastard good ole' boy network disbanded them.
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Old 02-10-2006   #13
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Excerpt from
"Militia: the dominant defensive force in 21st Century 4GW?"
by Fabius Maximus.
http://www.d-n-i.net/fcs/pdf/fabius_..._militia-1.pdf


Unfortunately there ... is a natural tendency to propose expanding on our strengths rather than addressing our weaknesses, taking us further down a dead end road.

Note recent articles ... describing programs to improve the training of US troops, in the hope that we can win by fielding troops in which – to caricature it – each NCO and officer has the skills of Green Beret.

Imagine a force of multilingual troops, all of whose leaders have a sophisticated understanding of foreign cultures, and ability to not only lead US troops but also navigate within foreign communities – gathering and using intelligence, playing both its elites and common people as an experienced angler does trout.

At some point this becomes a search for the “super soldier serum” familiar to all who read Captain America comic books. ...

We already have some of the best-trained soldiers that America has ever fielded, certainly among the best trained and educated in world history. Is increasing their effectiveness by adding even more intellectual skills the best course, or have passed the point of diminishing returns to training?

However desirable a goal, adding to our strengths detracts attention from critical weaknesses in our current force structure. Seeking to increase our troops training and skills is nice, but the process has severe and perhaps immediate limits.
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Old 02-10-2006   #14
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I guess it depends on how we're defining "strategic corporal." I never thought the idea of making every soldier a green beret as feasible - but I have thought we can teach them some rudimentary knowledge of culture and language in the area where they are going to be assigned prior to sending them there.

They don't have to be fluent but if they can say more than "Tell me where you hid the weapons of mass destruction!" and a few expletives in the native language, it would be quite helpful.

And I'm not even thinking so much in terms of language and culture skills or even physical fitness. I'm thinking more along the lines of being able to think beyond carrying out the letter of his orders and more to carrying out the intent of those orders instead. Rather than blindly following what his Captain says, he should have the ability to know what his Captain's intent was and if following his orders strictly will result in that intent or might backfire in a later situation where his Captain cannot be there to correct him. I know that's a lot to ask too but surely we can do something more than we have in the past toward that end.
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Old 02-10-2006   #15
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Angry What a crock of @#it!

We wasted our six month train up sitting around at ranges and waiting for ammo to arrive. We were trained by incompetent idiot reservists that were more concerned with "going through the sequences" and "checking the box". What a waste of time and money; we could have had been immersed in cultural communication classes and language training at university level instruction, but instead were fed the same ethnocentric dogma and Jominian hubris. Our scenerios had Killeen's finest ghetto thugs (from a temp agency) acting a COBs(civilians on the battlefield); they had no fuc&ing clue about Iraqi culture nor even gave a rats ass. They just half assed through the day to get a paycheck.

FTA

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Old 02-11-2006   #16
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Thumbs up Couldn't agree more...

Gortex,

You confirm what I have suspected for some time. We ask you guys to do a peace-keeping mission but give you only rudimentary or no skills at all suited for that purpose. When it comes to killing and breaking things, I think our training is second to none - but when it comes to creating soldier-diplomats we fall on our faces. I temper what I say since I do not have the first hand experience, I appreciate your passion because it suits an individual that can speak first hand on the matter.

Given that, I gather language and culture skills would be useful to you. Can you elaborate on those a bit and tell us some of the lessons you have learned the hard way? Obviously you cannot go into details of particular operations but if you can be generic and still give enough detail I am interested.
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Old 02-11-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratiotes
We ask you guys to do a peace-keeping mission but give you only rudimentary or no skills at all suited for that purpose.
Not quite true. While I am more familiar with Marine Corps Training, there has been a lot of progress by both the Army and USMC in reference to SASO training. Broad sweeping statements like the one you made do injustice to the efforts by many to train for the complex "Three Block War" scenario.

Don't buy into the hype that all of our military leadership "doesn’t get it" - they do.

Moreover, considering the current op-tempo (deployment rate) I opine that our trainers are doing a damn fine job with minimal time and resources.

Consider that before 9-11 our forces were required to fight two major theater wars simultaneously while also putting out brush fires (Small Wars). There are only so many training hours in a day and only so many resources to replicate real world scenarios... Could they have been doing more prior to Iraq? Probably yes, but the military is adapting as fast as current conditions allow.
 
Old 02-11-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratiotes
Given that, I gather language and culture skills would be useful to you. Can you elaborate on those a bit and tell us some of the lessons you have learned the hard way? Obviously you cannot go into details of particular operations but if you can be generic and still give enough detail I am interested.
I have a few suggestions. First and foremost, you cannot have too much language training. Anyone who has ever had a customer come into their place of work who speaks little to no English understands how aggravating it is when someone you have to work with doesnt speak the local language. Now, imagine that customer has a gun and authority over you. Just makes the situation more exasperating. Terps are a pain in the ass to work with. Some are fantastic, many are not. Either way, the ability to speak the language is a huge advantage that cannot be overstated. It makes the job easier, and impresses the local nationals. Officers should receive intensive training in this, at all levels. Every officer in a leadership position, from platoon leader to division commander, will interact with locals regularly. We dont need to stand around and "supervise" the NCOs training the soldiers. They got it. We should be in language class. However, NCOs, especially those in team leader, squad leader, and platoon sergeant type positions, must also have heavy language instruction. And right out the window must go the old attitude of "I just train soldiers and kill people". Not anymore. For the soldiers, they need language training too, but theirs does not need to be too extensive. The basics of everyday communication are fine. Yes, no, please, thank you, courteous greetings, and common sense phrases that relate to life on a patrol, such as stop or halt, lay down, hands behind your back/on your head, etc. The soldiers wont be the diplomats out there.

Secondly, as far as culture goes, its the same story. What kills me is that this is not hard or time consuming to teach. Whats hard is the bizarre array of tribes and clans and families and imams and sheiks and loyalties that need to be understood. Knock yourself out, S-2! But culture is NOT HARD. Especially for the soldiers. For them, its far more about what they DONT do than what they do. DONT stare at women or ever touch them for any reason short of saving life and limb. DONT show the soles of your feet. DONT let the search dog go through the room with the Koran in it. DONT make the "ok" hand gesture or call someone over by curling your finger, etc etc. Whats more needed for them, is NCOs who will stomp their guts out for breaking the basic rules of courtesy. It absolutly cannot be tolerated. And the officers cannot tolerate it in themselves or their NCOs. The soldiers will follow your example and mirror your contempt. If the soldiers understand that they should act in Iraq almost like they would have acted in 1950s America, that helps a lot. A formal, courteous society. Culture is easy to understand. Oh, and leaders should have to eat the local food before they ever deploy. They should be introduced to chi (sweet tea), which actually quite a lot of guys end up really liking, and they should be made to eat Iraqi food as well. Now its also important to understand that the Iraqis know that we are Americans and come from a very different culture. They dont expect us to act like honorary Iraqis or something. Thats why what you DONT do is so imprtant. Just dont insult anyone; make no new enemies. But your still the guest in their country, and basic courtesy will be shown to you and expected from you.

And third, an understanding of the concept of insurgency is crucial. I had to tell my platoon, a mortar platoon, on several occasions (especially after one of my guys got killed), that no, shelling Zone 23 with HE and WP will NOT accomplish anything. The people will not give us information. We cannot bully the people into complying. Passive support of insurgents is still support for insurgents, but just keeping your mouth shut or claiming ignorance is not illegal. If soldiers have a basic understanding of what kind of fight their going into, it will help just as much as knowing some of the language and understanding the culture.
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Old 02-11-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DDilegge
Not quite true. While I am more familiar with Marine Corps Training, there has been a lot of progress by both the Army and USMC in reference to SASO training. Broad sweeping statements like the one you made do injustice to the efforts by many to train for the complex "Three Block War" scenario.

Don't buy into the hype that all of our military leadership "doesn’t get it" - they do.
That's good to know - I am glad to be corrected on that issue.
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Old 02-12-2006   #20
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CPT Holzbach comments are right on the money. As an enlisted infantry solider I was with the first group of US troops to go into Bosnia, training in peacekeeping was superficial, and language and cultural training was nonexistent. There were only a handful enlisted troops of in the entire company that had any real understand of the history and culture of the region and the only reason we did is because we had dug up a few books on the subject on our on initiative. The really sad part about that was there were a lot of soldiers who would have been really interested if anyone had carried enough to try to teach them.
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