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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 02-15-2006   #21
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Originally Posted by CPT Holzbach
I have a few suggestions. First and foremost, you cannot have too much language training. Anyone who has ever had a customer come into their place of work who speaks little to no English understands how aggravating it is when someone you have to work with doesnt speak the local language. Now, imagine that customer has a gun and authority over you. Just makes the situation more exasperating. Terps are a pain in the ass to work with. Some are fantastic, many are not. Either way, the ability to speak the language is a huge advantage that cannot be overstated. It makes the job easier, and impresses the local nationals. Officers should receive intensive training in this, at all levels. Every officer in a leadership position, from platoon leader to division commander, will interact with locals regularly. We dont need to stand around and "supervise" the NCOs training the soldiers. They got it. We should be in language class. However, NCOs, especially those in team leader, squad leader, and platoon sergeant type positions, must also have heavy language instruction. And right out the window must go the old attitude of "I just train soldiers and kill people". Not anymore. For the soldiers, they need language training too, but theirs does not need to be too extensive. The basics of everyday communication are fine. Yes, no, please, thank you, courteous greetings, and common sense phrases that relate to life on a patrol, such as stop or halt, lay down, hands behind your back/on your head, etc. The soldiers wont be the diplomats out there.

Secondly, as far as culture goes, its the same story. What kills me is that this is not hard or time consuming to teach. Whats hard is the bizarre array of tribes and clans and families and imams and sheiks and loyalties that need to be understood. Knock yourself out, S-2! But culture is NOT HARD. Especially for the soldiers. For them, its far more about what they DONT do than what they do. DONT stare at women or ever touch them for any reason short of saving life and limb. DONT show the soles of your feet. DONT let the search dog go through the room with the Koran in it. DONT make the "ok" hand gesture or call someone over by curling your finger, etc etc. Whats more needed for them, is NCOs who will stomp their guts out for breaking the basic rules of courtesy. It absolutly cannot be tolerated. And the officers cannot tolerate it in themselves or their NCOs. The soldiers will follow your example and mirror your contempt. If the soldiers understand that they should act in Iraq almost like they would have acted in 1950s America, that helps a lot. A formal, courteous society. Culture is easy to understand. Oh, and leaders should have to eat the local food before they ever deploy. They should be introduced to chi (sweet tea), which actually quite a lot of guys end up really liking, and they should be made to eat Iraqi food as well. Now its also important to understand that the Iraqis know that we are Americans and come from a very different culture. They dont expect us to act like honorary Iraqis or something. Thats why what you DONT do is so imprtant. Just dont insult anyone; make no new enemies. But your still the guest in their country, and basic courtesy will be shown to you and expected from you.

And third, an understanding of the concept of insurgency is crucial. I had to tell my platoon, a mortar platoon, on several occasions (especially after one of my guys got killed), that no, shelling Zone 23 with HE and WP will NOT accomplish anything. The people will not give us information. We cannot bully the people into complying. Passive support of insurgents is still support for insurgents, but just keeping your mouth shut or claiming ignorance is not illegal. If soldiers have a basic understanding of what kind of fight their going into, it will help just as much as knowing some of the language and understanding the culture.

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Old 02-15-2006   #22
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Old 02-26-2006   #23
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This thread seems to have become more of a debate on military training but I want to address the Strategic Corporal not as a good or bad concept but as an inevitable one.

In fact, it's the most recent evolution in a centuries-long process. As technological advancements have allowed the individual soldier to command more and more firepower and destructive force, strategic decision making has been pushed down the chain of command. In ancient times, the consul, general, or king would be making the strategic decisions on the battlefield. During the Napoleonic era, battalions were the major actors on the battlefield. Through WWI and WWII it moved from the company to the platoon level and in Vietnam, squad sized patrols were the most common deployment. Responsibility for immediate decision making on the battefield has steadily been pushed down the chain of command. Now it's moving to the fire team level.

But it's not just being driven by the technological capabilities of the military, but by the requirements put on it. We do not have enough boots for counterinsurgency warfare, and autonomous, independent fire teams will be able to cover a larger area, enabling us to do more warfighting with less people. Fighting small cells of terrorists with a platoon is like trying swat flies with a hammer. But spread that hammer out and you've got a much better chance of squashing bugs.

Now I'm not saying we're capable of pulling this off right now. For one thing, our communications equipment is going to have to get smaller and easier, even if it sacrifices some security. And we're definitly going to have to make major changes in the way we train people. As it stands, our training and education is woefully inadequete. Hell, I can vouch that our training in the Marine Corps is almost inadequete to even have strategic lieutenants. And we get six months of leadership training before we do anything, Army lieutenants get nothing. That and the Army's size makes me think this is not the concept for them (they haven't even figured out that EVERYONE needs combat training, not just grunts), but there needs to be a move in the strategic corporal direction. Even though it requires major paradigm shifts in both the military and in society. History is replete with examples of what happens to those who are unwilling to change. We're going to be fighting insurgents and guerillas more in the future than anything else. Mao said that the population is the sea in which the guerilla swims. The strategic corporal is going to be the shark.
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Old 03-06-2006   #24
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Anyone out there read that? I was hoping I'd get some feedback.

I also wrote an essay on it on my blog at xenophonblog.blogspot.com
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Old 03-06-2006   #25
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Well, as the one who started this thread, I disagree.

I gave my points of disagreement at the start, but will recap specific to your post.

1. Is the US soldier on patrol in Iraq doing much different than a Roman centurian on Patrol in Israel circa 50 AD? Does the extra firepower help? True, he can call down firepower to destroy the neighborhood -- making enemies by the hundreds. As could the Centurian, although it would take longer.

2. Does improved communication empower the corporal, or the opposite? Does better commo move authority up or down the chain? Clearly the local commander -- the capain on a ship, an area commander, or an ambassador -- has suffered a great loss of autonomy since 1900.

3. Are our NCOs in line units becomming more or less educated and capable? It's not clear, but I doubt that there is great improvement vs. 1960 for the Army. Esp. with respect to ability to understand foreign cultures -- probably not even with respect to understanding our own culture. If recognition of rap tunes or other US culture "Trivia Persuit" could make Strategic Corporals, we'd be set.

I would be interested to see data on this.
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Old 03-08-2006   #26
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Are our NCOs in line units becomming more or less educated and capable?
In the army guard side, the rank of e-5 is now what e-4 should be- I have never seen so many e-5s. They are conditionally promoted, meaning that they have to attend PLDC within a year of their date of rank; if deployed, they have a year after REFRAD(think years!). PLDC has also been decreased from 4 weeks to 2 on the active side. E-6s are conditionally promoted for BNCOC. I have also yet to see anyone legitimately pass a freakin APFT-H&W/tape in a long time(too chickensht to hold a fatbastards feet to the fire). Despite lipservice to regulations, promotions are accually based on behind closed door "drug deals" and "good ol' boy" politics.

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Old 03-09-2006   #27
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Fabius Maximus

1. I'd agree that they are doing much the same thing. But even without the added firepower available to the Corporal, decision making is being pushed down to the absolute lowest level. Look at the case of Pfc. Lynddie England. A PFC normally would only be involved in the tactical level of war. But her participation in the Abu Ghraib scandal greatly hurt our strategic considerations. Or look at the Marine Lance Corporal who allegedly shot an injured Iraqi and the media scandal that followed it. Situations like this prove that, due to any number of factors, every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine is a strategic player on the battlefield. Whether we like it or not, or intended it to be this way or not, corporals have now become a strategic asset. It's up to us to properly train and prepare them so that they can succeed in that role.

2. I must have stated my reasoning for better comm poorly. I don't believe comm abilities will empower the Corporal at all. But if a fire team is going to be an independent actor on the battlefield, they need to have comm with higher. Our current assets are insufficient to this task.

3. I agree our NCOs are probably getting letting capable. But due to new realities of warfare, we need to reverse this trend.
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Old 03-22-2006   #28
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Default It's Happening

I was concerned to read the assessment of the quality of junior noncomissioned officers above. I don't agree with it. I see a pervasive and opposite trend. I don't disagree with anyone else's assessment of the folks they see, but I know that whatever else it is, the trend is not universally negative.

The inevitablity of the operative Strategic Corporal was addressed above. That's the point I think - it's happening. The issue is more about how do we facilitate the success of the strategic corporal than it is about how can we possibly make every corporal comparable to SF in maturity, education, training and capablility.
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Old 04-05-2006   #29
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For those that believe the strategic corporal concept is a bridge too far, or places unnecessary burdens on limited resources to include the Marines and soldiers themselves, please take note. During a recent meeting of 20 veterans of OIF, OEF, Somalia, and the Balkans, ALL agreed that we must demand more from our junior enlisted personnel. In addition, all agreed that this concept was neither unnecessary, nor placed unrealistic expectations on our junior troops. Many suggested that those that held negative views about the potential of this concept were handicapped by experiences with the Draftee Army of the 60s and 70s.
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Old 04-11-2006   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabius Maximus

1. Is the US soldier on patrol in Iraq doing much different than a Roman centurian on Patrol in Israel circa 50 AD? Does the extra firepower help? True, he can call down firepower to destroy the neighborhood -- making enemies by the hundreds. As could the Centurian, although it would take longer.
One big difference between a US soldier in Iraq and the Roman centurian on patrol is the 24/7 news coverage that rapidly spreads news around the globe. The Roman soldier could destroy a neighborhood, but video of the aftermath would not flash around the world within hours, inflaming world opinion. The Corporal's actions can much more easily influence world opinion in a negative manner. I would emphasize negative because positive actions often receive no press or quickly move off of the front page.

Last edited by SWJED; 04-11-2006 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 04-11-2006   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Major Strickland
For those that believe the strategic corporal concept is a bridge too far, or places unnecessary burdens on limited resources to include the Marines and soldiers themselves, please take note. During a recent meeting of 20 veterans of OIF, OEF, Somalia, and the Balkans, ALL agreed that we must demand more from our junior enlisted personnel. In addition, all agreed that this concept was neither unnecessary, nor placed unrealistic expectations on our junior troops. Many suggested that those that held negative views about the potential of this concept were handicapped by experiences with the Draftee Army of the 60s and 70s.
"More often than not the line soldiers are unaware of what is happening or supposed to happen. They Rely on NCOs and officers in all eventualities. They are trainied to fight as cogs in an intricate and vast machine embracing perhaps millions like themselves"
-Handbook for Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army, 1956
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Old 05-09-2006   #32
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"Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets."- General George S. Patton
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Old 05-09-2006   #33
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Default NCO Corps quality.....

I must admit, unfortunately, that within the Army NCO Corps, too much emphasis was placed on civilian education, holding the right duty positions, getting a perfect NCOER etc, for too long. I fell for it, and I ended up becoming a very small member of the NCO Corps with an MA, I completed my masters program as an E6. I languished at E6 for a long time, and was picked up for E7 after I had made the decision to retire. This is a topic for another thread, but IMHO, Brigade level commanders should be given the authority to promote staff sergeants to sergeant first class had that been a reality when I became eligible for E7, my brigade commander would have promoted me immediately, the centralized promotion system is broken and we are not promoting the best candidates. During my last six or seven years on AD, I definately saw a decrease in the quality of the NCO Corps, not that they weren't capable, but emphasis for promotion was misguided. Promotion to SFC should be based almost solely on core competence and MOS skills, less so on job positions and NCOERs, there are not enough duty positions for all NCOs to get a fair shot, I'm sure the officer corps suffers from the same problem to a somewhat smaller scale. NCO quality decline is not the fault of junior and mid level NCOs, (they hunger for more responsibility) but due to their leaders. For some reason, at least here at Fort Leavenworth, the Sergeants Majors that I had contact with acted more like officers then NCOs and they expected everything except traditional NCO behavior from the NCOs under their charge and when I was on AD, my fellow NCOs sincerely felt there was nobody in their corner and that the senior NCOs on post were derilect in this duty. It was maddening for me to watch NCOs get called on the carpet time after time to explain themselves in simple leadership matters such as conducting a barracks party because his Soldiers living quarters were below standard or writing a negative counseling statement for missing a formation etc. Another, more serious problem is, senior officers have also lost touch with the duties and responsibilities of the NCO. The zero tolerance atmosphere impeded the NCO in carrying out his duties, phasing out the SQT, especially the hands on portion, and a generally risk averse officer corps have all had a detrimental impact on the NCO Corps. It has been a while since I have been in a combat unit, and I assume these problems exist in those units as well although to a lesser degree perhaps, but that it is still a detriment to TO&E units as well. If the Army wants its NCOs to be NCOs then they have to give them the authority we had in the 1980s. I think the Army would be served well in putting more faith in the NCO Corps as well as the autonomy to run their little corner of the Army.
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Old 06-01-2006   #34
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It's interesting to watch the army rehash this, especially when one looks back to the Army after the Civil War. At that time, the NCOs had heavy company-level responsibilities, and were looked upon in many cases as the backbone of their units. These NCOs were not, generally speaking, formally educated, but they were repositories of military information and skill that many officers relied on. They often took out patrols on their own, and in the case of first sergeants at times commanded the company when all their assigned officers were absent.
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Old 06-01-2006   #35
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I don't want to hijack this thread even further than it already is but working with the British and Australian armies and their enlisted rank structure made me think about ours. Their corporals were much more mature and able than most of the Marine corporals that I have worked with; about on par with a Marine sergeant. Having a private-corporal-whatever structure makes more sense to me when E1-E3 in any service do the same job. Keep 'em at private until they earn corporal; 4 years of staring at the same rank may be an incentive...

On that note, 2nd LT and 1st LT are redundant as well.
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Old 06-02-2006   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair
It's interesting to watch the army rehash this, especially when one looks back to the Army after the Civil War. At that time, the NCOs had heavy company-level responsibilities, and were looked upon in many cases as the backbone of their units. These NCOs were not, generally speaking, formally educated, but they were repositories of military information and skill that many officers relied on. They often took out patrols on their own, and in the case of first sergeants at times commanded the company when all their assigned officers were absent.
Precisely! What is the benefit of a staff sergeant with a masters degree? If I had not been counseld by my mentors that getting a civilian education would increase my promotion potential, I probably would have waited untill later to do it. The NCO Corps does not necessarily need a college education, we don't need an NCO Corps whose formal education mirrors the Officer Corps. There should be a very clear divide in the roles of the officer and NCO, thats what makes the Army work. The Officers need to get an education so they can discuss doctrine, theory, write campaign plans and etc. The NCO needs to spend his time becoming an expert at every task he must supervise his Soldiers perform and taking care of the health, welfare and training of those Soldiers, period.
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Old 07-24-2006   #37
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IMHO...

The Strategic Corporal is not about education level, ability to call a 9 line, or level of responsibility. It's about making dynamic decisions NOW in context of the Commander's Intent without having to wait for authorization.
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Old 07-25-2006   #38
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At the risk of flogging the proverbial dead horse here, I think one of the main tenants of the strategic corporal idea that tends to get lost is its external impact. By this I mean that, given the immediacy of media, what used to be a routine decision (or non-decision) by a corporal can have an immediate and at times strategic impact. It's not so much a matter of formal education as it is making people aware that in today's environment their decisions (or, again, non-decisions) can have an impact that is much wider than they might assume.
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Old 07-25-2006   #39
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Default Mohammed al-Durah and the tactical corporal

Gents, first post here, so I hope I'm not going to step on too many toes.

It occurs to me that from my reading of the thread thus far, that there is a distinction between the strategic corporal being discussed and that envisaged by Krulac. His point, surely, is not that we need to train our soldiers and junior commanders to act in a strategicly positive way as an end in itself: rather he is proposing that the globalisation of information exchange means that the actions of any soldier are going to have strategic consequences no matter whether the Chain of Command actively prepares and trains our junior leaders for the role. Especially in the current assymetric environment, the actions of the section commander/squad leader (depending on which side of the pond you start...) are inevitably going to have strategic consequences.

The televisation of the death of Mohammed al-Durah by IDF fire at the begining of the Al-Aqsa intifada is a case in point. Arguably, the current events in the ME would not be taking place had the junior leader at the time had other options for dealing with stone-throwing youths than .762 calibre ones.
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Old 08-01-2006   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fas_et_gloria
Gents, first post here, so I hope I'm not going to step on too many toes.

It occurs to me that from my reading of the thread thus far, that there is a distinction between the strategic corporal being discussed and that envisaged by Krulac. His point, surely, is not that we need to train our soldiers and junior commanders to act in a strategicly positive way as an end in itself: rather he is proposing that the globalisation of information exchange means that the actions of any soldier are going to have strategic consequences no matter whether the Chain of Command actively prepares and trains our junior leaders for the role. Especially in the current assymetric environment, the actions of the section commander/squad leader (depending on which side of the pond you start...) are inevitably going to have strategic consequences.

The televisation of the death of Mohammed al-Durah by IDF fire at the begining of the Al-Aqsa intifada is a case in point. Arguably, the current events in the ME would not be taking place had the junior leader at the time had other options for dealing with stone-throwing youths than .762 calibre ones.
I think the vast majority here would agree with you - maybe it just wasn't expressed as such. We explored this issue during Joint Urban Warrior 06 (USMC - JFCOM program). Participants included representatives from the US Army, USMC, British Army, Royal Marines, Australian Army, Canadian Army, French Army, Netherlands Army, Israeli Army, German Army, New Zealand Army, and other ground forces. Issues ranged from training, professional education for SNCO's and NCO's, age and maturity, balancing warfighting skills with other skill sets, capabilities (organizational, doctrinal and technological) and of course the implications of todayís 24 / 7 instant news environment. Your comment on the globalization of information and its effects were echoed by the vast majority of the participants.

Where it gets much more complicated is developing and implementing solutions to improved "Strategic Corporal" capabilities (after careful examination to gauge "true value") along the lines of those other issues I listed above.

Many schools of thought abound and can be taken to extremes at times - from doing nothing because there are no real solutions to training conventional forces to Special Forces standards. Neither of these two extremes is viable though... Thatís why this issue will be top and center as the major theme for Joint Urban Warrior 07.
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