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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 06-10-2009   #21
slapout9
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
I think have to understand that "Strategy" is something different from "the Strategy." "The Strategy" may make, no "Strategic" sense. EG: We are in A'Stan to deny Al Qeda a base, when Al Qeda could plan another 911, from cells living in Canada.
And the "whole thing" comes apart, you have lost the moment you have started.
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Old 06-10-2009   #22
Entropy
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Default Dogma, Doctrine and Strategy

Very interesting thread.

The older I get the more I think that doctrine, as an end product, is much less important that the process of creating new doctrine and challenging existing doctrine. While I agree with Wilf that doctrine is "what is taught," I think it goes beyond that and can become a mindset with a lot of negative effects.

WM mentioned WWII France, which I think is a good example. Doctrine for them became a mindset that prevented the French military, as an institution, from perceiving changes and adapting to them in time. The "Powell doctrine" was similar in that it took a few wars for the institutional military to change. Dogmatic doctrine can suppress the innovation at lower levels that is always required in wartime.

When doctrine is allowed to become dogma, then there's a problem. ISTM that Col. Gentile and others worry that our new FM-24-based COIN doctrine is heading down that road.

On strategy-doctrine, I don't think doctrine "drives" strategy, but it influences what is perceived as possible and desirable - this is particularly true with "dogmatic" doctrine, which becomes, I believe, an unstated and sometimes unperceived assumption for decisionmaking. In WWII France, for example, ISTM that the static-defense oriented French doctrine probably influenced policymaker decisions, narrowed their view, and prevented them from properly assessing and meeting the German threat.


Wilf quoted Askenazi: "Don't ask my opinion. Tell me what you want and I will tell you if it is possible." Dogmatic doctrine will limit what one perceives is possible IMO. In that regard, I see doctrine as something more likely to limit strategic options than expand them. Therefore, I think doctrine (especially, official, published doctrine) should be be more wide-and-shallow than narrow-and-deep.
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Old 06-10-2009   #23
William F. Owen
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The older I get the more I think that doctrine, as an end product, is much less important that the process of creating new doctrine and challenging existing doctrine. While I agree with Wilf that doctrine is "what is taught," I think it goes beyond that and can become a mindset with a lot of negative effects.
Anytime the "Doctrine" becomes what is the important, you're stuffed. Doctrine has to be written and it has to have practical expression, but it is merely a tool. It is not something to be protected, but it is also not something to be needlessly and constantly challenged.

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Dogmatic doctrine can suppress the innovation at lower levels that is always required in wartime.

When doctrine is allowed to become dogma, then there's a problem. ISTM that Col. Gentile and others worry that our new FM-24-based COIN doctrine is heading down that road.
That would also accurately sum up my concern, as well as the nature of the narrative which has driven recent COIN development.

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Wilf quoted Askenazi: "Don't ask my opinion. Tell me what you want and I will tell you if it is possible." Dogmatic doctrine will limit what one perceives is possible IMO. In that regard, I see doctrine as something more likely to limit strategic options than expand them. Therefore, I think doctrine (especially, official, published doctrine) should be be more wide-and-shallow than narrow-and-deep.
I would see that as more practical than dogmatic. The military instrument is pretty blunt, limited, and indescriminate. It works best at full power and that means the military contribution to strategy has to be understood in those terms.
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Old 06-10-2009   #24
John T. Fishel
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Wilf, normally the only place that DOS gets involved in military doctrine is if someone asks their opinion. It happened in the lead up to 3-24 but that is the only case I know of. It could happen if DOS has assigned an FSO to a doctrine writing schoolhouse. Amb Lou Nigro has had some input to Army doctrine from his time on the faculty of the Army War College. Amb (ret) Ed Corr has had some influence on COIN doctrine for both the Army and the USMC. there are some others but it is not systematic.

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) developed a doctrine manual in the early 90s working with Army Civil Affairs. It would even fit in the pocket of BDU/ACU pants

On another note: There is a classic Military Review article from about 1980 entitled "Doctrine, Not Dogma" which sums up what ought to be. Finally, in this regard, let me summarize a comment from my first post on this topic - I call it Fishel's Law: Doctrine is written by slugs like us.

-30-

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Old 06-10-2009   #25
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Default Us Slugs may write it but who *approves* it is the problem...

Slapout, as usual, gets to the correct point:
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...That is what makes it all so hard and when something goes wrong there is a tendency to blame one part instead of looking at the whole linkage of different processes.
I think that very valid point is the crux of this discussion in some respects -- nobody wants to be wrong; thus if we circle around, the 'strategists' can blame the doctrine folks; the doctrine writers can complain "I can't do this without a decent strategy..." So minor chaos at worst or an incomprehensible melange at best results. No body's at fault...Bob's World said:
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Ken worries that I am beating my head on a rock.
Not really, I just know you won't succeed because the method you correctly cite:
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We identifiy critical nodes, networks and individuals within the policy strategy community and engage them directly and indirectly, creating trust and rapport...We then use our staff UW network to peddle these concepts, not because of some formal authority to do so, but because the fact is, the people who do craft strategy and policy are for the most part good people, who want to do the right thing, and often simply don't have the background in the specific problem set they are tasked to address; and when approached properly they listen.
has been used for years with some small successes. It has also had some failures. The problem occurs when anyone or any command thinks they have all the answers and are outsmarting everyone else. That is almost never true...

I would in fact suggest that such an approach, common in the community contributes a great deal to the lack of trust others have in the armed forces and of SOF in particular.WMsaid:
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I think we must end up giving the nod to doctrine as driving strategy. This follows from claims that our language shapes our reality (or at least how we communication our perceptions of our reality) and that our language is taught to us--unlike the way Athena was born from Zeus, language does not spring from our heads fully-formed. Since it is taught to us, it is a form of doctrine. Thus, doctrine forces how we undertake our strategic approaches since it constrains what we can speak about and how we can say/express it to others.
I agree that what you say is all too common today -- but I am firmly convinced that is true because that lack of innovative thinking and ultra-conservastive group think rules the Army today. The real issue is, I think:

Is that the best way to do it? Should doctrine drive strategy or merely contribute to it?

Operation Overlord is but one excellent example of Strategy driving doctrine; that is, the strategy forced the doctrine (and materiel) to be developed to support it -- as should be the case yet, the basic premise was firmly based on doctrine developed by the Marines in the 30s -- It's a circle, both doctrine and strategy are necessary but neither should drive the other to the exclusion of adaptation and improvement.

On the Strategoi, from your link:
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The Athenian people kept a close eye on their strategoi. ...Pericles himself in 430 was removed from office as strategos and fined, and in 406 the eight strategoi who commanded the fleet at Arginusae were removed all from office and condemned to death.
To my mind, that's a perfectly fair penalty for stifling flexibility and innovation. Or being strategically inept due to rigid adherence to doctrine. Or doctrinally incompetent due to a rigid adherence to a strategy...

I think Entropy has it right:
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The older I get the more I think that doctrine, as an end product, is much less important that the process of creating new doctrine and challenging existing doctrine. While I agree with Wilf that doctrine is "what is taught," I think it goes beyond that and can become a mindset with a lot of negative effects.
I believe that's where we are now -- though we have not always been there -- and I think that is not good. Very USSR-like...

All in all, as Wilf said:
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Well there is the crux of the matter. Most folk here do not challenge the messages they gain from, and stay clear of those who will challenge them.
I have to reluctantly agree. Conformity is in the US Armed Force rated far more highly than innovative ability and acceptance of what is written is mandatory -- even though, as John T. said, it is written by some varied types who may not know all they think they do but who are masters at cutting and pasting.
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It's extremely interesting that most of the well known names who post on Journal, stay clear of the discussions on the board.
I'd noticed that as well; just presumed they were entirely too busy with great things...

Last edited by Ken White; 06-10-2009 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 06-10-2009   #26
William F. Owen
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Wilf, normally the only place that DOS gets involved in military doctrine is if someone asks their opinion. It happened in the lead up to 3-24 but that is the only case I know of.
...so that would pretty much support my assertion that Doctrine and Strategy are not related in any way we can learn from.


Quote:
On another note: There is a classic Military Review article from about 1980 entitled "Doctrine, Not Dogma" which sums up what ought to be. Finally, in this regard, let me summarize a comment from my first post on this topic - I call it Fishel's Law: Doctrine is written by slugs like us.
A link would be good if you find it.
... and you need to pretty smart to write good doctrine, but having said that there are not many examples. The British Army's Field Service Regulations, 1937 was for the most part, excellent - and no one ever read it!!
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 06-10-2009   #27
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Hi John, they(state) should read FM 100-20as you suggested which I did last night. The 5 guiding precepts from chapter 1.

1-Political Dominance
2-Unity of Effort
3-Adaptability
4-Legitimacy
5-Perseverance

Maybe your right John, get rid of FM3-24 and go back to 100-20
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Old 06-10-2009   #28
William F. Owen
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I'd noticed that as well; just presumed they were entirely to busy with great things...
Yeah. I know. Maybe they are. Some busy men, also with important jobs, take the time to discuss, post and argue. Guys like, Tom Odom (deployed in a war zone), Cavguy, Gian Gentile, and few others. My guess is that Ken White's life is pretty busy as well.

This business is essentially about rigour. Some welcome it, others run from it.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 06-10-2009   #29
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I've been heard to say that the role of the Reserve Component is to fight and win our nation's wars; and the role of the Active Component is to keep the lights on at the military bases inbetween said wars and to write doctrine about the last war.

Then go to our sad history of "first battles"; where that doctrine based on the last war meets the next war head to head...

Doctrine is an understanding of what right looks like based on the last case study, and it shapes how we will employ the miltary to implement strategy on the next case study. Historically our saving grace has been that those reserve component/draftee war fighters never got around to reading said doctirne, so they just fought the war they were in once they were mobilized and deployed, as opposed to trying to fight the last war.

The army really is a service of "doctrine nazis" though. I don't know how we break that. Look at the who's who of senior army leaders in WWII and you find a list of guys who received Marshall's stamp of approval at the infantry school as being the best doctrine guys. Little has changed. Our CTCs rewarded the conservative commander who could implement doctrine the most accurately and rigidly. Apply MDMP precisely and lose a battle, that's ok. Shortcut MDMP and win a battle and you got lucky.

When it comes to doctrine, the Army really just needs to take pill and relax a little.
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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 06-10-2009   #30
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Thumbs up Why you old unconventional warrior you...

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When it comes to doctrine, the Army really just needs to take pill and relax a little.
Couldn't have said it better myself...

Er, well, maybe a drink and relax a little...
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Old 06-10-2009   #31
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Bob's World,

Good comment on the Reserve/Guard. I wonder though, how things will be different now that the Guard and especially Reserve is increasingly considered an operational reserve force.
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Old 06-10-2009   #32
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Default This is the $64,000 question that is NOT mentioned in QDR

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Bob's World,

Good comment on the Reserve/Guard. I wonder though, how things will be different now that the Guard and especially Reserve is increasingly considered an operational reserve force.

Excellent point. As has been oft debated on this forum and others, how does the Army in particular and the services in general respond to this concept of "Irregular Warfare."

While there is talk of changing structures, changing training, etc, there is very little talk of taking a major top down review of what capability needs to be trained and ready on short notice for day to day use in the active force(arguably should be weighted toward IW mission set), and where we can assume some degree of risk and create other capabilities for important periodic events within the reserves (arguably more heavily weighted toward major theater conflicts with near peer competitors).

To me the answer is pretty clear. The active force we have is not the active force we need, and we are abusing the hell out of the reserve force today because of it. Often Big Army gets shot down in flames by the most powerful lobby in America (National Guard Association of the United States) when it trys to selfishly pad itself at the expense of the Guard, so really bad deals usually fall to the USAR. In this case, however, I don't believe that the Guard would push back on a plan that gave them more warfighter capability and lowered their mobilization OPTEMPO. West Pointers just don't see the road to glory being at the head of a LOGPAC convoy, I guess.

I've spent a good deal of time and have commanded on both sides of this debate...I watch with intererst to see how it all plays out.
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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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