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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 09-23-2013   #1
SWJED
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Default The American Way of War in 25 Words or Less

The American Way of War in 25 Words or Less - via War on the Rocks:

In 25 words or less, give your thumbnail version of the “American Way of War.”

That is the challenge that Dr. Scott Stephenson of the Command and General Staff College gives his students and that is the challenge I present to you, dear WOTR readers.


What say you Council members?
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Old 09-23-2013   #2
Steve Blair
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I think that title sums it up nicely. We aren't happy unless we can distill something to a snapshot (25 words or less). It doesn't have to be accurate...just short.

In all seriousness, I'm not really sure we have a coherent way of war...at least not one way. If we wanted to snippy, you could turn a movie line on its ear and use something like "If we come, we will build it." We build up our military to suit a particular situation, we build infrastructure to house that army in a standard we think it needs, and start reworking the local landscape (both physical and cultural) to suit the needs of the moment. There's also a certain haphazard quality about Americans making war. We've always had an uncertain relationship with a professional military, and our political system isn't designed to formulate long-term strategy.

So something like "Bullets before bodies, and if we come we will build it" might sum up the entire experience (assuming, of course, that it's a wise thing to simplify complex concepts into Twitter lines).
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Old 09-23-2013   #3
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Default There were several from 50's and 60's

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Old 09-23-2013   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
We build up our military to suit a particular situation, we build infrastructure to house that army in a standard we think it needs, and start reworking the local landscape (both physical and cultural) to suit the needs of the moment.
so we're the chameleons of war!

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Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
There's also a certain haphazard quality about Americans making war. We've always had an uncertain relationship with a professional military, and our political system isn't designed to formulate long-term strategy.
Actually, Perrin makes a rather compelling case that the US operational art, and theater-level strategy, is built around a 'converging columns' model of warfare, but that relies on identifying come conquerable centers of gravity for the enemy that can be controlled by said columns.
Not all that applicable to a counterinsurgency, tho.
It's also amusing to hear the American military talk about how we "don't do counterinsurgency" when we spend 175 years doing exactly that from 1760 to 1935 or so, with a few brief 'conventional' interruptions
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Old 09-23-2013   #5
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25 words or less.

Nothing will happen. Those rat-bastards! Throw everything at 'em. Now! Ok, I'm bored. That's good enough. Yawn. Nothing will happen.....
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Old 09-23-2013   #6
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Default Moosemuss

MOOSEMUSS.jpg

Credit to Ken White (12-15-2007).

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Old 09-23-2013   #7
John T. Fishel
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Default Love the Moose Muss, Mike

Thanks to Ken.

Serious note: Converging columns was a widely used operation during the Indian Wars and was what was planned in the Little Bighorn campaign until Custer tried it at the tactical leve (again) withe far more tribesmen than he could handle.It wasn't just American Small Wars operational art, the Brits used it 3 years later when the Zulu ambushed them at Isandluwana.

Cheers

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Old 09-23-2013   #8
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Default M(=Momentum)oosemuss

Before I forget this, I'd change M=Mass to M=Momentum:

Quote:
Like velocity, linear momentum is a vector quantity, possessing a direction as well as a magnitude: p=mv.
Or, getting back to Ken's post:

Quote:
Mass should be changed to Nathan. As in Nathan Bedford Forrest -- a simple reminder to get "thar fustest with the mostest."
which has the same velocity and mass elements as "momentum" - yielding a vector quantity well suited to "converging columns", etc.

But, NOOSEMUSS just doesn't have the same ring as MOOSEMUSS; so thus "Momentum" instead of "Nathan".

Regards

Mike

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Old 09-23-2013   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
Thanks to Ken.

Serious note: Converging columns was a widely used operation during the Indian Wars and was what was planned in the Little Bighorn campaign until Custer tried it at the tactical leve (again) withe far more tribesmen than he could handle.It wasn't just American Small Wars operational art, the Brits used it 3 years later when the Zulu ambushed them at Isandluwana.

Cheers

JohnT
That wasn't an ambush. It was a well executed Zulu attack against a poorly disposed British defensive position.
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Old 09-24-2013   #10
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The American way:

Throw money at it!!

4 words
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Old 09-24-2013   #11
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Here are the winning submissions at War on the Rocks.
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Old 09-24-2013   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
Actually, Perrin makes a rather compelling case that the US operational art, and theater-level strategy, is built around a 'converging columns' model of warfare, but that relies on identifying come conquerable centers of gravity for the enemy that can be controlled by said columns.
Not all that applicable to a counterinsurgency, tho.
It's also amusing to hear the American military talk about how we "don't do counterinsurgency" when we spend 175 years doing exactly that from 1760 to 1935 or so, with a few brief 'conventional' interruptions
But that's always been the rub...the American military has a thing for preparing for the war they want to fight and ignoring the wars they've actually been fighting.

The best example of converging columns working in the Indian Wars was the Red River War. It had two aggressive commanders (Miles and Mackenzie) with good units and (especially Mackenzie) an understanding of how to achieve the objective of the campaign. The Great Sioux War was another story...

And Custer had a thing for dividing his regiment. Did it at Black Kettle's village and got away with it, and then failed at the Little Bighorn. I don't think he ever adjusted down from his days as a cavalry commander in the Civil War. It's worth nothing, if only in passing, that Custer never commanded a regiment during the war.
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Last edited by Steve Blair; 09-24-2013 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Stupid filter...can't fix it, so changed wording.
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Old 09-24-2013   #13
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Old 09-24-2013   #14
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Old 09-25-2013   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan View Post
The American way:

Throw money at it!!

4 words
Four words, just FOUR words? That's far too ECONOMICAL for America.
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Old 09-26-2013   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
Serious note: Converging columns was a widely used operation during the Indian Wars and was what was planned in the Little Bighorn campaign until Custer tried it at the tactical leve (again) withe far more tribesmen than he could handle.It wasn't just American Small Wars operational art, the Brits used it 3 years later when the Zulu ambushed them at Isandluwana.
When converging columns fail, it is because the columns don't/can't communicate with each other. So, to return to the original request, I nominate the following:

"Shoot, scoot, communicate."
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Old 09-26-2013   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wm View Post
When converging columns fail, it is because the columns don't/can't communicate with each other. So, to return to the original request, I nominate the following:

"Shoot, scoot, communicate."
Actually that's not always the case. Mackenzie and Miles didn't communicate much at all during the Red River War, but they were both aggressive commanders who would stick with the enemy once they were located. Crook's unexplained paralysis after the Rosebud contributed a great deal to the disaster at LBH. Terry's decision to fragment his own column didn't help matters, either.

At least during the Indian Wars period, I'd say most converging column campaigns that failed had more to do with either poor decisions or a lack of aggressiveness on the part of one of the column commanders and not so much communications. Communications could play a role, but if one commander had a case of the "slows" all the talking in the world wasn't going to help matters.
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Old 09-26-2013   #18
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Four words, just FOUR words? That's far too ECONOMICAL for America.
Naw...it's the vision statement for the plan. Wait 'till you hit the actual mission statement.....
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Old 09-26-2013   #19
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Quote:
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Naw...it's the vision statement for the plan. Wait 'till you hit the actual mission statement.....
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Old 12-10-2013   #20
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Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
Here are the winning submissions at War on the Rocks.
*Giggle*

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2. Jack McDonald, War Studies Department, King’s College London:

Use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Occasionally eat a nut, occasionally hit own nuts. Everyone else is scared, horrified and awed in equal measure.
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