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Trigger Puller Boots on the ground, steel on target -- the pointy end of the spear.

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Old 10-06-2009   #21
tequila
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Thanks Dr. Fishel.

Sounds like a rather jumbled system we have without clear lines of control. Thanks for reminding about the whole Admiral Fallon debacle.
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Old 10-07-2009   #22
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Default John Boy

You forgot the additional problem of the relationship w/SACEUR.

ISAF is C2 hell.
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Old 10-07-2009   #23
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Default Oops

You did mention SACEUR by name. My bad.
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Old 10-07-2009   #24
Bob's World
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Default From the White House website:

"Develop and Resource Strategies to Succeed in Current Conflicts
•Afghanistan: The President’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will ensure that all elements of national power are engaged and integrated in an effort to defeat al Qaeda to prevent attacks on the homeland and on our Allies and partners. We are asking our friends and allies to join us with a renewed commitment. We also will regularly assess the progress of our efforts and those of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan through clear measurements to ensure ongoing informed accountability."


Ok, just an example: the task here is "Defeat AQ," the purpose is "to prevent attacks on our homeland."

Now, nowhere does it say to create effective government in Afghanistan or to expand the conflict to defeating the Taliban either. It seems to me we owe the boss some smart COAs as to how we could do what he asked us to do without taking on these additional, very dangerous, time/labor/cost intensive additive missions.

Also from the White house website:

"President Obama has committed himself and his Administration from the beginning of his presidency to a foreign policy that ensures the safety of the American people. But he also refuses the false division between our values and our security; the United States can be true to our values and ideals while also protecting the American people."

(The first quote from the "Defense" section, the second from "foreign policy")

This is an interesting statement that I think is so profound that DOD should should be going to the boss and making sure we understand exactly what he means, and then making the required fixes. Now, perhaps he is just talking about decisions made by his predecessor; but if he is talking about how we are pursuing current operations to secure the homeland, we need to understand and address this charge.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 10-07-2009   #25
Ken White
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Default Rule 1

Do not mistake Political blather for policy.

Rule 2. Ask Politicians to clarify their policy, receive a 25 minute dissertation that says nothing, then be told to implement what you think is an approximation of what the political blather said.

Rule 3. When the game changes due to changes in the domestic political landscape as it is prone to do, be prepared to offer or be sacrificial lambs.

Believe it or not, that's no joke -- aside from Rules 2 and 3 as historically correct constructions based on this nation's military commitments since 1945, there is a pointed response to your post Bob's World. That would be Rule 1, above.

Very seriously, what is said by the WH for public consumption rarely is the real policy or goal.
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Old 10-07-2009   #26
wm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Now, nowhere does it say to create effective government in Afghanistan or to expand the conflict to defeating the Taliban either. It seems to me we owe the boss some smart COAs as to how we could do what he asked us to do without taking on these additional, very dangerous, time/labor/cost intensive additive missions.
I happen to agree with Ken's comment about political blather. But supposing the WH web site posting is not blather, your statement above does not follow. Mission analysis usually discloses a bunch of embedded task or lesser/included missions that must be accomplished as well. And, depending on how you sort out America's "Allies and partners" who are also supposed to have attacks against them by Al Queda prevented (your mission analysis truncated the conjunctive purpose of the stated mission), effective government in AF and/or defeating the Taliban may be required to accomplish the mission.

You are right about the staff owing the boss some smart COAs to accomplish his mission. But I think the boss also owes the staff an unambiguous statement of mission and his intent. Good luck getting that for the reasons listed as Rule 3 in Ken's post.
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Last edited by wm; 10-07-2009 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009   #27
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Default You can't just blow off the President

Someday I may be as cynical as Ken, but I'm not there yet (yes, I feel his arms wrapped around my legs and pulling hard ).

Now, to get to how we in the military start down our own slippery slope.

Every operation begins with an execute order that lists specific authorities. The task is AQ, and the authorities are likewise for AQ.

This means one must:

A. Limit their engagement to AQ, or

B. Have the Intel guys apply their "7 degrees of separation to bin Laden" methodology to expand AQ status to a whole lot of individuals and organizations that were never intended objectives in the first place.

This is very dangerous, and leads to a family of engagement that, if not careful could serve the purpose of AQ far more than the purpose of the US if it is done in such a way as to validate the AQ strategic communications, and enflame Muslim populaces in a wide range of sovereign states where there are ongoing subversive and insurgent movements that are associated with the AQ unconventional warfare campaign.

We must understand that there are three distinct and separate aspects to this:

There is AQSL; or essentially their UW corporate HQ. This is what we were tasked to "defeat" in my opinion.

Then there is their UW network (called far too simply "AQN"), that is a self-healing, nodal network to facilitate finance, ideology, leadership, logistics, weapons, etc. for the many nationalist movements that are being incited and leveraged by AQSL from their UW corporate HQ. This is something that we must understand, and then, operating within the rule of law of the many sovereign nations in which these nodes lie, identify and disrupt the critical nodes so as to render this effort as ineffective as possible. HOW we approach this effort is very critical (see President's comments on our values above) so as to not actually make the movement stronger through our efforts to disrupt it.

Then there are the many distinct, disparate nationalist movements that affiliate with AQ for support. Each of these is unique and has a primary nationalist purpose and a supporting secondary larger purpose that links them to AQ. To simply brand these groups, or just as bad, acknowledge their efforts to brand themselves, as "AQ" so that our authorities apply and allow military engagement probably does more to expand the efforts to build a "Caliphate" than anything AQSL could do themselves. To me this is a "DETER" task. Here we should be working with the governments of the nations experiencing these insurgencies to not simply build their security capacity, but also to help them understand and address the failures of governance that made their populace susceptible to this movement; and also to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values (without demanding that others adopt the same), and is very conscious of avoiding and mitigating any perceptions that the US is somehow protecting this government from its own populace or is somehow the source of its legitimacy, as this is what enables AQ to direct them to target the US in the pursuit of their nationalist aims.

All of this really adds up to what could best be described as a "Counter-Unconventional Warfare Campaign." The problem being, of course, that there is no such thing as counter unconventional warfare. We have FID, COIN, CT; not enough? so we add SFA and IW. Still confusing? We have the "war is war, just defeat the militant arms of all these movements" guys as well. Perhaps the answer is there somewhere. Personally, I think the key lies in recognizing this as a regional UW campaign by a non-state actor, and then designing a counter UW campaign that understands and address appropriately the three broad categories I lay out. Afghanistan is not a war, it is just one of many places where we are working part of this problem set. To call it a "war" gives our operations there far more importance to the overall mission than they deserve, and tie us to terrain in a campagin where terrain in of itself has little strategic relevance.

I know it is easy to focus on terrorist tactics and conflate all groups that employ them.

I know it is easy to focus on ideology and religion and conflate all groups that adhere to similar beliefs

I know it is easy to label everyone who disagrees with the establishment as an "extremist" and to then convert that to a derogatory term intended to conflate and dehumanize ones opponents.

I also know that it is hard to step-back, see the big picture, and overcome 65 years of Cold War engagement and perspective, and 8 years of GWOT.

But we must.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Last edited by Bob's World; 10-07-2009 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 10-07-2009   #28
Ken White
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Default Understand

Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, therefor World War II was in error as we allotted greater priority to Germany (who declared War on us but did not directly attack). That doesn't even address the Italians...

I think there's a forest and tree problem with that 'analysis' on what our job happens to be.

P.S.

No need to be as cynical as I am, I'm older than you are by a generation -- your turn will come, don't rush it.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to what's going on or ignore the FACT that much that is said in DC publicly does not equal US policy...
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Old 10-07-2009   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Every operation begins with an execute order that lists specific authorities.
I thought every American military operation began with planning which would be implemented with an execute order. And, of course, the planning is the response to the perception that something may well be a threat against which protections must be devised. (Please note that I did not try to identify whose perceptions are the source of the impetus to respond with a plan--t'ain't always the NCA that gets our planners running around with their hair on fire.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The task is AQ, and the authorities are likewise for AQ.
This means one must:

A. Limit their engagement to AQ, or

B. Have the Intel guys apply their "7 degrees of separation to bin Laden" methodology to expand AQ status to a whole lot of individuals and organizations that were never intended objectives in the first place.
Not clear to me that these are two different categories. I'm not sure that we have adequately distinguished the target AQ, as the subsequent 3 level categorization in your post shows. Saying AQ is the target opens us up to a operational mission creep just as much as saying "I need a Future Combat System" opens us up to acqusition cost and schedule overrruns due to requirements creep. Thus I agree that the your point about the dangerousness of getting off into a family of engagements. The only way to preclude that happening is to have a "bright line" test for what is and isn't within the mission. And the likelihood of that "bright line" staying constant during the course of the operation is pretty remote. (But that is mission realignment rather than mission creep.) Who'da thunk the US military would be worried about cleaning up German death/concentration camps in 1941 when it entered into WWII?

The problem, as best as I can tell, is that we are trying to decide into which round hole--COIN, CT, FID, SASO, UW, IW, etc.-- to force the square peg problem of crime fighting and economic development while establishing what might be considered a functional Western form of governance in a militarily unsecure environment.

Maybe planners ought to go back and read their Homer and Herodotus. The nature of Afghanistan seems much more like that of the ancient Greeks than anything in more modern memory. The West seems to have a lot of Achilles sulking their tents right now. And the "city-state" tribal peoples of the region dubbed Afghanistan are once again coalescing in odd ways to repel the Persian represented in this latest invasion by the US/NATO.
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Old 06-23-2010   #30
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Default McChrystal did it on purpose

Just like he did with 60 minutes he allowed access and didnt much care what was reported because he was being set up as the general who failed in afghanistan. With ridiculous orders from washington, etc. I believe he thought the article would prompt more public support for the afghan war or he would simply go out saying what he thought.
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Old 06-23-2010   #31
marct
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Default An interesting take...

Quote:
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama said the biting comments the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan made about the president and his aides in a Rolling Stone magazine article did not meet the standards of conduct for a commanding general.
Source: CBC.ca
You know, I read the article in Rolling Stone and didn't think it was very high on the "biting comments" scale.
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Old 06-23-2010   #32
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Is this the Sean Hannidy show?
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Old 06-23-2010   #33
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Seems like it would have been much easier just to come out of the closet and get separated via DADT.
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Old 06-23-2010   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Is this the Sean Hannidy show?

No but Glenn Beck was talking about all the Communist hiding in America today.
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Old 06-23-2010   #35
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Default Your Probably right...

He probably did do it on purpose, one article that was highlighted an opinion piece that what was said was basically common knowledge just not openly spoken off..
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Old 06-23-2010   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
No but Glenn Beck was talking about all the Communist hiding in America today.
I had most of the day off today. After getting my super duper high-speed haircut, spending some time with the chaplain, and talking to Bill Nagle about how we could take over the world, I simultaneously listened the the radio broadcast of Sean and Glenn while watching Fox News coverage of the ISAF abrubt change of command.

Sean Hannidy decided today that he's an expert in small wars. I almost punched a hole in the wall of my apartment.
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Old 06-23-2010   #37
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Default Twice

He did it on purpose last year. While the strategic screwup in Afghanistan was still up for grabs, he went public, and demanded that it be done his way. He believed that the military was running the show, which doesn't square with the reality we pretend to believe in.

Good riddance. Now we have a theatre commander who stated last year that AQ was not operating in Afghanistan. More comedy in the offing.
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Old 06-24-2010   #38
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Default My pick for ISAF commander

Gary Faulkner
The man has a plan as well as the resources and intestinal fortitude needed to execute it. But Obama is too much of a pinko liberal, pansy, academic type, closet muslim, foreign national who hates the military, country music, eagles and apple pies to pick such a qualified candidate. This is all part of his secret plan to win (I meant steal) the 2016 election. That's right... 2012 is already in the bag.
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Old 06-24-2010   #39
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Did it on purpose?

He is too savvy an operator to have done it by accident. As I mentioned in a rare blog entry.
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Old 06-24-2010   #40
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Default "closet muslim"

Yes, I really saw that. About the President who is waging vigorous war in a Muslim nation.

I apologize for my initial impression that this board did not contain Fox News guzzling jackoffs.
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