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Old 02-25-2014   #41
jcustis
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Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
I quite agree.

It is a training and education problem to correct an experience mindset. The 'Afghan Snake' developed from the requirement to minimise the threat from IEDs. IED belts tend not to be widespread and tend to be focused around FOB locations, this means that most deployed infantry (in FOBs) will have operational experience of mostly moving in a particular manner - that becomes their default approach. Once you understand the threat then you understand when a particular TTP is relevant and as importantly when not. IED belts are obstacle belts, they are less likely to be found in a highly dynamic environment where locations have not gone static and the Forward Line Own Troops and/or Forward Line Enemy Troops are not well defined; UK training for contingency operations is focusing more on this latter type of operational environment.

I often think that low level tactical training focuses too much on what to do at the expense of why. If you do not understand the why then you cannot easily adapt.
That ingrained behavior is going to be a hard one to shake--like most behaviors that are not necessarily born of careful reflection, but more of mimicry. The same can often be said of weapons manipulation techniques, choice of weapons caliber, and on and on. As an example the FBI is looking at going back to 9mm for its service pistols (from the current .40 caliber) and it is causing the interwebs to go absolutely bat#### crazy with opinion. Very few of them are based on scientific fact...

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Old 02-25-2014   #42
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Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
Cant believe nobody has quoted Clausewitz' observation on the importance of theory for critical thinking and as part of historical research into trends in warfare etc (don't have the quote handy unfortunately).
Appreciate it if you can find that one...
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Old 02-25-2014   #43
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I made a partial text search for "theo" at the Gutenberg archive (there are too many results; sighting a full search might take hours).

The closest result was:
Quote:
Wird eine verbesserte Theorie das Studium der Kriegfhrung erleichtern, den Geist und das Urteil der Mnner erziehen, die sich zu den hheren Stellen hinaufschwingen, so wird auch der Methodismus nicht mehr so weit hinaufreichen, und derjenige, welcher als unentbehrlich zu betrachten ist, wird dann wenigstens aus der Theorie selbst geschpft werden und nicht aus bloer Nachahmung entstehen.

Will an improved theory ease the study of warfare, train/nurture/raise/discipline the judgement of men, who rise to higher positions, so will the method(ism) reach not more so high up, and what was thought of as indispensable, will then at least be drawn from theory itself and not from mere imitation.
(And this is how the entire book is written in the German original edition!)

Clausewitz has also some candy for JMA:
Quote:
Daher kommt es, da der richtige Theoretiker wie ein Schwimmeister erscheint, der Bewegungen, die frs Wasser ntig sind, auf dem Trocknen ben lt, die denen grotesk und bertrieben vorkommen, die nicht an das Wasser denken; daher kommt es aber auch, da Theoretiker, die selbst nie untergetaucht haben oder von ihren Erfahrungen nichts Allgemeines zu abstrahieren wissen, unpraktisch und selbst abgeschmackt sind, weil sie nur das lehren, was ein jeder kann - gehen.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-25-2014 at 06:47 PM. Reason: Fix quotes
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Old 02-25-2014   #44
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Chapter VIII

Concluding Remarks, Book I

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Habituation to war no General can give his army at once; and the camps of manœuvre (peace exercises) furnish but a weak substitute for it, weak in comparison with real experience in war, but not weak in relation to other armies in which the training is limited to mere mechanical exercises of routine. So to regulate the exercises in peace time as to include some of these causes of friction, that the judgment, circumspection, even resolution of the separate leaders may be brought into exercise, is of much greater consequence than those believe who do not know the thing by experience. It is of immense importance that the soldier, high or low, whatever rank he has, should not have to encounter for the first time in war those things which, when seen for the first time, set him in astonishment and perplexity; if he has only met with them one single time before, even by that he is half acquainted with them. This relates even to bodily fatigues. They should be practised less to accustom the body than the mind to them. In war the young soldier is very apt to regard unusual fatigues as the consequence of faults, mistakes, and embarrassment in the conduct of the whole, and to become distressed by that. This would not happen if he had been prepared for that beforehand by exercises in peace.

Another less comprehensive but still very important means of gaining habituation to war in time of peace is to invite into the service officers of foreign armies, who have had experience in war. Peace seldom reigns over all Europe, and never in all quarters of the world. A State which has been long at peace should, therefore, always seek to procure some officers who have done good service at the different scenes of warfare; or to send there some of its own, that they may get a lesson in war.

However small the number of officers of this description may appear in proportion to the mass, still their influence is very sensibly felt. Their experience, the bent of their genius, the stamp of their character, influence their subordinates and comrades; and besides that, if they cannot be placed in positions of superior command, they may always be regarded as men acquainted with the country, who may be questioned on many special occasions.
Basically a headhunting operation to acquire the specific knowledge of competitiors without much regard to the nationality. It happened quite a lot back in past centuries, Clausewitz himself enrolled in the Russian army to continue fight the French and to work in his area of expertise. Perhaps too business-like for our age.
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... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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Old 02-26-2014   #45
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Well, it's not common that officers serve different masters serially as if they were mercenaries, even collecting different noble titles from different monarchs.

What's common nowadays are fighting military advisers and military observers, as well as participation in small wars and peacekeeping instead of getting involved in conventional warfare.

I saw some hints that some countries appear to send otherwise implausibly small military observer teams to UN missions. This appears to be a kind of military experience gathering scheme.

Finland has seven such tiny missions now as far as I know, for example.
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Old 02-27-2014   #46
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Default Talking about training...

The continuing decline of the Brit military is documented:

British soldiers banned from training for snowy conditions at Norwegian base because health and safety rules deem it too COLD

"A Norwegian officer says the rules have caused 'amusement' among locals."

"Local politician Ida Kathrine Balto said: 'I have to admit I was stunned by the news. I wonder what the British would do if there was a war in winter?'"

... you can't make this stuff up...
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Old 02-27-2014   #47
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Quoting Clausewitz:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firn View Post
However small the number of officers of this description may appear in proportion to the mass, still their influence is very sensibly felt. Their experience, the bent of their genius, the stamp of their character, influence their subordinates and comrades; and besides that, if they cannot be placed in positions of superior command, they may always be regarded as men acquainted with the country, who may be questioned on many special occasions.
The problem here is that this minority is often squeezed out or ignored through the jealousy of the inexperienced wannabees.

This is the 'drag' I mentioned in another post. War inexperienced self important types will seldom adopt the advice and guidence from others - especially of a lesser rank - with alacrity.

(this of course we know yet continue to place youthful advisors of lesser rank with local forces - Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.)

Last edited by JMA; 02-27-2014 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 02-27-2014   #48
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Standards at the SAS:

Health and Safety chiefs force SAS to soften entry test after deaths of three soldiers on training march

Quote:
Some quotes:

"Britain’s elite Special Forces have been ordered to soften their gruelling entry tests by the Government’s Health and Safety watchdog."

"Until now potential recruits would have to go without food if rations ran low and find streams if they ran out of water – skills SAS officers say are essential to survival in combat. Candidates who had to be ‘rescued’ automatically failed.

But new rules, to meet HSE demands, include providing extra rations, giving troops time to rest on marches, making sure safe drinking water is always available and introducing marshals to help stragglers cross the finishing line.

And in the jungle section of the two-venue test, held in Brunei, if several recruits suffer heat exhaustion marches will be shortened or cancelled so they can recover and receive medical treatment."


Now here is the rub:

"SAS sources say the pass rate has more than doubled since the changes were made in January ahead of the winter selection course. The Ministry of Defence refused to confirm this."

And from the serving soldiers:

"The move has sparked fury among officers and troops in the tough fighting units, who fear the calibre of soldiers winning places will decline, lives will be put at risk and the regiments’ fearsome reputation will be undermined."
Comment:

IMHO it is a case where British military tradition - expressed in resistance to change - has prevented the earlier implementation of common sense - safety based - changes to the selection process. That the Health and Safety changes has led to double the pass rate means that the SAS did not make compensating changes themselves (probably because that is the way they have always done things).

The SAS must remember that they brought this upon themselves through the deaths on an earlier selection course. Now they need to fix the course itself within the new guidelines to select out the best candidates (at a simliar pass rate of old).

Last edited by JMA; 02-27-2014 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 03-02-2014   #49
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Clausewitz has also some candy for JMA:
Here is some more...

If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. -
Mao Zedong
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