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Old 10-19-2009   #1
Ken White
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Default Steve Metz has published a valuable article.

LINK. Money quote:
Quote:
"We could, in other words, get out of the counterinsurgency and stabilization business. This is not an attractive option and entails many risks. But it does reflect reality. Ultimately, it may be better than a strategy based on a capability that exists only in our minds."
As I've often said, we don't do this very well; Small Wars need to be kept small...
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Old 10-19-2009   #2
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Nice. I'm glad that somebody smarter and more credible than me has finally said it. I was getting lonely beating this drum all by my lonesome here, here, here, here, and here (just off the top of my head).

Here is Admiral Mullen's assessment of our capability to leverage a whole of government approach to anything...
Quote:
“We need a whole-of-government approach.”
...
“The United States military is necessary, but it is not sufficient alone,” Mullen said. He pointed out that the American military is stretched and is doing missions that servicemembers have not been trained to do.
...
Other Cabinet-level departments – State, Treasury, Commerce, Justice – have the proper expertise for “soft-power” missions and need to have personnel able to deploy to address these problems, Mullen said. “But in my opinion,” he added, “we are a good decade away from creating a capability in our other departments.”
- via DefenseLink News
(emphasis added)
And the data backs him up.


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Old 10-20-2009   #3
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Default Taking the long view...

Ken & Schmedlap,

My view is that the requirement for expeditionary whole of government responses are not going away, (lots) more of anything is not necessarily a better answer, and that mass production in emergencies often does not have good outcomes. The 2010 budget for DOS makes for an interesting read (51.7 billion USD proposed). We will eventually find the appropriate balance and it will include a more robust whole of government COIN capability. That painful lesson has been purchased at a cost of too many lives and too much treasure to ignore.
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Old 10-20-2009   #4
Schmedlap
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
My view is that the requirement for expeditionary whole of government responses are not going away...
Agreed. But until the capability actually exists, we should stop pretending that it does.
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Old 10-20-2009   #5
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Default Eye-popping

An eye-popping piece of work!

At last, a military-related expert stating the obvious problem: The civilian surge just ain't happening.

My guess is that there were 30 to 40 (tops) of the civilian experts Steve is talking about that actually deployed in Iraq in late 2007/2008. The rest of the PRTs were, like in Afghanistan, packed with military assignees doing what they could, or "the regular suspects" of US Govt civilian agency assignees working, as the military was, outside their actual fields of expertise.

Of my gang of senior civilian engineers, planners and city managers (all temporary appointees), all but one is back home. One is Afghanistan scratching his head about the ill-defined and supported mission. And most, like me, never heard from the State Department again---no thank yous, no debriefings, no lessons learned, and no on-going relationships.

Fact is that, in most instances, the PRTs were not structured, managed or resources to really allow the senior experts to do what they came to do. Only a few of us were lucky enough to break out as either Eprts (under military) or, as I was, a "virtual" and unofficial Division/UN prt. Otherwise, many left with an unsatisfactory experience as to what they "could have" accomplished, vs. what they were able to. It was not like a CORDS process.

I have been monitoring the S/CRS statements and activities for a while, and have been greatly concerned that, by the time they come on line 3 to 5 years from now, the problem they were intended to solve---imminent nation-building challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan---will be in the public tail lights.

The time to solve the USAID/Reconstruction Aid problem was last year (and predicated on moving smartly), but that effort has, by all accounts, gotten bogged down in bureaucratic infighting, change of administration, budget problems, the catastrophic reports of Iraq's reconstruction fiasco, and competing (but unresolved) congressional bills.

Reality suggests that there are only two entities with any prospect of effecting rapid civilian results of any kind: US DoD and UN (both fraught with "issues" but, still, the only credible parties).

As Congressman Adam Smith and others have argued, the next best try will be to have NSC take a lead, with the money, to try a "Hail Mary" pass at inter-agency, and civilian reconstruction. Maybe?????

Otherwise, as Steve Metz suggests, either something significant must occur or it will soon be time to get out of the COIN/Nation-Building enterprise.

Steve
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Old 10-20-2009   #6
OfTheTroops
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Default Stop pretending but do it

Yes we have to not count on "ghost men" but we have to do what we have to do. The best COA is to appropriately educate and train our Agile/Adaptive/Expeditionary Servicemembers to serve in governmental functions. I don't see it as the big stretch that most people do. I think if we stop pretending an expert is gonna magically answer your question from a cubicle in Virginia then you are closer to the truth. Recognize what is possible or not. Lets save the cash of sending one squared away State guy and have him teach/train 30-40 or 4000 guys that will do the job for less.
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Old 10-20-2009   #7
Steve the Planner
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Of the troops:

The experts from a cubicle in Virginia. Sounds like the ones we would get in Iraq with these great reconstruction studies that looked great on paper, but forgot that the bridges were disconnected and the power wasn't reliable. Much to do before they could be implemented.

I agree with your point---uptrain the force to do the pieces they need to do. It is the only way that can make DoD's efforts fly in the time permitted.

Two problems: (1) To work most effectively, there needs to be a core element that sets the framework (ie, within the Afghan Development Program if a national program), provides support to provincial/local teams, and/or serves as a conduit for US and International Aid programs already under way; and (2) there is no program yet to start that training (that I am aware of).

The message I get from the UN/USAID, and all involved hands is that Afghanistan Reconstruction is just like Iraq, but with less cohesiveness, and no background infrastructure and less domestic people skills.

More troublesome is that, according to Al Jazeera, the troubles and instability are now heading North, with the convoy routes.

http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2...025153877.html

Given the national election and consequent stability of government issues, and possible rising problems in the north, we may be running very fast just to stay in place (or worse).
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Old 10-20-2009   #8
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Default Good post, Surferbeetle. May I, however, suggest two points

for your consideration?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
My view is that the requirement for expeditionary whole of government responses are not going away...
Debatable -- certainly some wish to see that. The question I ask, in view of history, is there a better way? Can those 'expeditions' be avoided. I submit they can be. Why do we insist on playing to our opponents strengths? Repeatedly...
Quote:
We will eventually find the appropriate balance and it will include a more robust whole of government COIN capability. That painful lesson has been purchased at a cost of too many lives and too much treasure to ignore.
I hope you're wrong and that we do not find that balance simply because the price paid thus far for the results obtained indicate that we really do not do this well.

I also believe based on my experience and observation of recent efforts that we are getting worse instead of better...
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Old 10-20-2009   #9
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Default I think you missed his point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
An eye-popping piece of work!

At last, a military-related expert stating the obvious problem: The civilian surge just ain't happening.
He's not alone, many have been pointing that out for several years. Essentially, with respect to the 'civilian surge' he said the same thing you said. However, he draws a different conclusion from those facts:
Quote:
"We could, in other words, get out of the counterinsurgency and stabilization business. This is not an attractive option and entails many risks. But it does reflect reality. Ultimately, it may be better than a strategy based on a capability that exists only in our minds."

Steve Metz
I totally agree that the 'capability' exists only in our minds; more importantly, he's got it right in the first clause of that quote -- We need to quit the counterinsurgency and stabilization business as we now attempt to, yet fail to, perform those missions.
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Old 10-20-2009   #10
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
But until the capability actually exists, we should stop pretending that it does.
You are right to point out the USG shortfalls; IMHO part of the problem in Iraq however is that we have not consistently figured out how to integrate more of the local Iraqi experts into problem solving. There are more Iraqi's than coalition forces, Iraqi's speak the language, Iraqi's know the culture, and Iraqi's understand which local solutions to local problems have a better chance of success.

The SOF concept is to raise local armies focused upon lines of operations such as security (SF), governance/economics (CA) and information (PSYOP). GEN Petraeus, BG McMasters, COL Newell, and others have consistently shown that GPF forces can train for and execute multiple lines of operations which are not just limited to the security one. Similar to a requirement for a annual, semi-annual, or quarterly ruck march or pt test, it would be wise to have an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly GPF visit to the local city government for training on city councils, police operations, electrical concerns, water treatment, and wastewater treatment...first responder level skills could be the proverbial ounce of prevention in future conflicts. It would not hurt to dedicate a few days exclusively to CMO operations at our CTC's either

Echoing your call for a realistic assessment of our capabilities, I would also add that a whole of government approach whose ends, ways, and means are consistently structured to include Iraqi (local) participation could increase our collective reach...the impending drawdown in Iraq will reveal the effectiveness of our efforts in this arena.
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Old 10-20-2009   #11
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Default Wise words...

...looking before we leap is very important. Our current and future military is duty bound to provide solid advice to our leaders as to the anticipated costs of proposed actions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
The question I ask, in view of history, is there a better way? Can those 'expeditions' be avoided. I submit they can be. Why do we insist on playing to our opponents strengths? Repeatedly...I hope you're wrong and that we do not find that balance simply because the price paid thus far for the results obtained indicate that we really do not do this well.
I see fundamental changes in USG attitudes and many are searching for a better way.

I don't have all the answers my friend but I know in my marrow that exclusively focusing upon a single variable to the exclusion of all others does not solve a multivariate equation. We could also consider the similarities between a Mixed Martial Arts match and Full Spectrum War; limiting oneself to only boxing skills ups the risk factor. IMHO DOD must consistently provide first responder capabilities in lines of action other than security, while remaining the subject matter experts on security, in order to be able to contain and properly focus the destruction that accompanies war. IMHO the rest of the USG too must have expeditionary elements to be able to contain and properly focus the destruction that accompanies war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
I also believe based on my experience and observation of recent efforts that we are getting worse instead of better...
It is my personal observation that there are massive differences between a light security footprint and a heavy security footprint. As to quality more first hand observations of our current operations are needed in order to provide a current impression...
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Old 10-20-2009   #12
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Default Quality has a quantity all its own -- or something like that...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
...Our current and future military is duty bound to provide solid advice to our leaders as to the anticipated costs of proposed actions.
We don't do that very well, either, quoth the Curmudgeon...
Quote:
I see fundamental changes in USG attitudes and many are searching for a better way.
As do I and hopefully we'll find it. There may be times when commitment to FID is not an option and we must be prepared for those. However, they can be few and far between and it is in our interest as a nation that be so.
Quote:
We could also consider the similarities between a Mixed Martial Arts match and Full Spectrum War; limiting oneself to only boxing skills ups the risk factor. IMHO DOD must consistently provide first responder capabilities in lines of action other than security, while remaining the subject matter experts on security, in order to be able to contain and properly focus the destruction that accompanies war. IMHO the rest of the USG too must have expeditionary elements to be able to contain and properly focus the destruction that accompanies war.
I agree. My point is that, simply, we do not do that FID thing well and are never likely to do so; the national psyche and, more importantly, the national political milieu and the US Army personnel system do not lend themselves to that kind of effort -- as we repeatedly prove. So prepare, yes -- but avoid large force efforts if possible. The cost far exceeds the results. Always.
Quote:
It is my personal observation that there are massive differences between a light security footprint and a heavy security footprint. As to quality more first hand observations of our current operations are needed in order to provide a current impression...
Mmmm. Perhaps -- I'm inclined to day that quality is far and away more important than quantity and currently serving folks I'm in contact with seem to corroborate that. I also think Nathan Bedford Forrest was on to something with "Get there firstest with the mostest" idea. Mostest being the right force, not the whole force...
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Old 10-20-2009   #13
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Default

Sorry, but this is all missing the point.

As far as I can see the "New COIN" and the Stabilisation strategy in general backs you into a place where you want to act Colonial, but not actually be Colonial.

Let's be honest. This is all about forcing countries to adopt policies acceptable to the Government of the US. - I have no problem with that, if that is what you want to do, but it does require behaviour that means your civilians tell their civilians what to do, - and if they do not do it, then there are definite consequences.

You cannot have a strategy that cannot be implemented by force, if required.
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Old 10-20-2009   #14
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Default Been reading Machioavelli again, Wilf?

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
As far as I can see the "New COIN" and the Stabilisation strategy in general backs you into a place where you want to act Colonial, but not actually be Colonial.
Couldn't have said it better myself, Wilf! This is actually explicit in some of the "New COIN" work but, and it is a big "but", it isn't politically salable to the folks back home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Let's be honest. This is all about forcing countries to adopt policies acceptable to the Government of the US. - I have no problem with that, if that is what you want to do, but it does require behaviour that means your civilians tell their civilians what to do, - and if they do not do it, then there are definite consequences.
Exactly. It also has some serious consequences when it comes to allies and neutrals as well; the concept of "national interest" doesn't apply only to the US, and US actions in that area are watched very closely.

Cheers,

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Old 10-20-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
As far as I can see the "New COIN" and the Stabilisation strategy in general backs you into a place where you want to act Colonial, but not actually be Colonial.
Wow, that's great Wilf, I like it!
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Old 10-20-2009   #16
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Default In Re Wilf

I read Wilf's post and went yeah that's what we're talking about...

then I saw two affirmations before I could type...

Well said, too true, over-reach???

So the big question...

Do we need a colonial-like approach in order to achieve our strategic goals? (what ever they may be, but for the sake of argument... a place to sell our goods, relative freedom from domestic attack... do we need more??)

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Old 10-20-2009   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surferbeetle View Post
Ken & Schmedlap,

My view is that the requirement for expeditionary whole of government responses are not going away, (lots) more of anything is not necessarily a better answer, and that mass production in emergencies often does not have good outcomes. The 2010 budget for DOS makes for an interesting read (51.7 billion USD proposed). We will eventually find the appropriate balance and it will include a more robust whole of government COIN capability. That painful lesson has been purchased at a cost of too many lives and too much treasure to ignore.
The proposed CRC is, as far as I can tell, very similar to how FEMA responds to natural disasters in CONUS: a core coterie that FEMA pulls from the regional offices and a select group of folks on stand by to come do work for FEMA in the event of a disaster. I think folks might reflect on how well that worked after Katrina. Is that really the model to apply to nation building/rebuilding efforts, especially in places that make the Bayou State after a hurricane look like a tropical island paradise vacation spot. And that's over and above the issue already mentioned of replacing the workers that get sucked away from their primary jobs to be the expeditionary CRC. (FWIW, encountered this latter problem during national MOBEXs in the early 80s when planning to mobilize RC folks to fight WWIII from the Fed jobs they worked on military installation--sad to see leadership has lost the bubble on that 20+ year old lesson.)

Perhaps a standby force would work, if the government chose to use all the Federal retirees out there as that standby force. As it is, military retired pay is really a retainer that allows the Feds to keep us on a string for recall as needed. Perhaps the Feds could include some post retirement "nation building" training for those of us that need it and then activate us as required to do the work, rather than using us to plug holes in the military force structure. I would propose that the list of available personnel be expanded to include all retired Federal government employees, not just military retirees. It could be the Feds' equivalent of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) who volunteer to help America's small businesses. The Brits' use of officers on half pay as resident magistrates in the good old days of the Empire might be another, similar model for emulation, suitably expanded to meet the circumstances.
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Old 10-20-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Sorry, but this is all missing the point.

As far as I can see the "New COIN" and the Stabilisation strategy in general backs you into a place where you want to act Colonial, but not actually be Colonial.

Let's be honest. This is all about forcing countries to adopt policies acceptable to the Government of the US. - I have no problem with that, if that is what you want to do, but it does require behaviour that means your civilians tell their civilians what to do, - and if they do not do it, then there are definite consequences.

You cannot have a strategy that cannot be implemented by force, if required.

So if we just do like the USMC Small Wars Manual says and kill/clear out the bad guys and establish a Military Government we want have to print anymore manuals for awhile.
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Old 10-20-2009   #19
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Default A new strategic colonialism?

Hacksaw asked:
Quote:
Do we need a colonial-like approach in order to achieve our strategic goals?
As a general rule no and so places like Afghanistan today are excluded.

Are there places where it could apply? Yes, at places of vital interest and probably shared by local partners. I would suggest Oman is a classic case; a place a Whitehall speaker said 'The UK will never leave, it is too vital". Sadly there are cases where it has failed, e.g. Ivory Coast.

Temporary applications? Maybe, altough I'd hesitate to use all UN missions as evidence; some UN missions have been valuable e.g. UNTAG in Namibia.

The recent Detterence thread travelled over some of this ground, especially over the threat from terrorism.

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Old 10-20-2009   #20
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Default Few's theory of American Colonialism

Good job Steve Metz. Lots of common-sense packed into a quick read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
As far as I can see the "New COIN" and the Stabilisation strategy in general backs you into a place where you want to act Colonial, but not actually be Colonial.
Naw, Wilf. The American Empire just practices a unique brand that I'll call politically-correct colonialism. We really shouldn't be in the Empire business. We're much better off when we don't meddle into others affairs.

Ken said:
Quote:
As do I and hopefully we'll find it. There may be times when commitment to FID is not an option and we must be prepared for those. However, they can be few and far between and it is in our interest as a nation that be so. I agree. My point is that, simply, we do not do that FID thing well and are never likely to do so; the national psyche and, more importantly, the national political milieu and the US Army personnel system do not lend themselves to that kind of effort -- as we repeatedly prove. So prepare, yes -- but avoid large force efforts if possible. The cost far exceeds the results. Always.
I'll add some important notes to expound this comment.

Discretion and discernment should be taking into deep,thoughtful consideration before we "invest" our treasure and resources into another country. Indeed, we should look at any foreign investment as a loan. Every loan comes with a payment schedule that must be met. It's not free money. In this case, we are loaning our military, money, time, and our resources to another government. Think about it, if I went to BOA and asked for a loan while I have a crappy credit score, the bank is not going to give me money based on the fact that I'm a good dude, my kids need eat, and they fear me rising up in armed rebellion. They're going to look at credit history, my earning potential, and determine my risks verses their return on investment. We should do the same. Below are some considerations.

1. Did the host nation ask for our help? If not, then we're on a slippery slope to begin with.

2. What is the skill level (competence) of the host nation's governance and military apparatuses? In other words, our they capable of doing COIN without us? Is it worth the investment?

3. What is the will of the host nation? Are they looking to us for a handout, or are they going to be actively involved in solving their problems?

4. In the case where the host nation is sorely incompetent and incapable of governing, but their actions interfere with our national security, then we have many diplomatic options to deter. If those fail, then we have counter-terrorism and unconventional warfare as a last resort. However, I will submit that we should think like a bank. If someone forecloses on a mortgage and the bank reposses the house, the bank feels no moral obligation to find another home for the defaulter. In the same sense, if we conduct regime change, we should feel no obligation to follow up with nation-building. The "you break it, you buy it" theory is incorrect.

We gotta take these things much more seriously and start acting as an arbitrator and creditor not as a marraige counselor or Oprah. We CAN make investments to help others that are worthy of a loan help themselves. We CANNOT solve their problems for them b/c we feel bad about their circumstances.

v/r

Mike

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