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Old 05-20-2009   #1
Rob Thornton
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Default SFA as part of a campaign design: supporting operational requirements (part 1)

In an effort to rope the other three threads together (Fundamentals of SFA, Plan, Train and Organize for SFA, SFA as an Individual Capability) I thought it’d be useful to start a thread on SFA as part of a campaign design where the objectives require a level of sustainable indigenous security capability and capacity in support of broader policy objectives.

I wanted to use an excerpt from Ralph Peter’s interview with GEN Petraeus because it gets to the issue of SFA as a developmental activity, and raises some significant issues with respect to campaign objectives and developmental timelines. I believe this idea supports the use of “design” in laying out the SFA LOE (Line of Effort), or LLOO (Logical Line of Effort) in Joint speak.

New York Post -May 19, 2009, Pg. 23 titled “Worried Warrior - Gen. Petraeus on US strategy”, by Ralph Peters
Quote:
Quote:
Post: As the commander of the US Central Command, you're the big-picture "strategy guy." Could you give readers a clear statement of our mission in Afghanistan?
Petraeus: The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists. That's what it had become before the operations conducted in the wake of 9/11. Al Qaeda wants to carry out further attacks on the US and our allies, and we need to deny them safe havens in which they can plan and train for such attacks.
Quote:
Post: Can we get there from here?
Petraeus: We can, but it won't be easy. To accomplish our mission, we and our coalition and Afghan partners need to reverse the decline in security; develop Afghan forces that can shoulder the burden of security in their country over time; help establish governance that wins local support -- which means incorporating some traditional structures, and support the improvement of basic services for the Afghan people. This will be hard, but the mission's critical. As we used to say about Iraq: Hard is not hopeless.
While the objective of denying sanctuary to transnational extremists as a broad end lends itself to flexibility with respect to ways and means, Ralph Peter’s follow up question provides GEN Petraeus the opportunity to issue what sounds like CDR’s guidance on both ways and means – this is not new, but is illustrative for this thread.

I first had the opportunity to begin experimenting with design for SFA last year after I was exposed to it in UQ 2008 – it was then referred to as the Operational Design Process, which had been derived from Systemic Operational Design. We had a brief thread on it here. Later in 2008 I was given an opportunity to experiment with it again when JCISFA supported OSD PA&E SAC on the IW study and a Building Security Capacity excursion. While we were unable to do a full blown design due to resource constraints (to include my having a better knowledge of design), we were able to do a functional design that focused on determining requirements in light of conditions and objectives, and designing an operational approach.

Even with a reduced design process, the operational approach and requirements to enable that approach indicated a significant investment by the USG to achieve the policy objective, further it indicated that as conditions changed, and objectives were modified, so to the required capabilities would have to change.

Later we looked at other case studies and applied the design methodology to other experiments and have made similar results. To achieve policy ends in the types of scenarios where there is an obvious security vacuum of significant scale, where we have an interest to see it through, and where the enabling campaign objective is contingent on the ability of the foreign security force partner to generate, employ and sustain sufficient capability and capacity, requires a timeline that extends beyond the shelf life of any one president and probably multiple congresses. This could be in response to what has become an intolerable set of conditions for one or more parties just short of conflict or it could post conflict (not necessarily post U.S. conflict). I did not include the types of shaping activities which might mitigate or preclude conflict for two reasons; 1) there has not been allot of effort looking into that on the main stream experimentation side (we could do better here); 2) If things are A-OK and going our way, then scale is usually not the issue, and what passes for normal is usually good enough. This does not address the issue that often we miss or ignore when conditions change and require more or less effort, and then find ourselves facing the best of some bad choices.

If by using design we were able to identify what the requirements were for a given foreign security force that would support the overarching policy objective we could then walk the operational stepping stones backwards using the fundamentals of SFA. The SFA assessment methodology can be used to determine where the organizational gaps are in the FSF formations. The Operational Environment Assessment can be used to consider how the conditions affect the development and requirements of the FSF. The Institutional Assessment can be used to consider what DOTMLPF-P actions are required to make the FSF capable of generating, employing and sustaining itself. The operational framework can now be established because you have an understanding of what the FSF must be capable and have the capacity to do to support the policy end, and you have an understanding of where you believe them to be in terms of their development.

The SFA developmental tasks of Organize, Train, Equip, Rebuild and Advise can then be aligned and adjusted to accomplish those intermediate FSF developmental objectives in support of the end. This is important because as the conditions and the objectives take shape the requirements will follow, and the requirements tell us what capabilities must be generated. This allows us to consider the demand signal in light of the needs of the operational requirements, and allows us to adapt our force generation processes in a proactive manner vs. a reactive one (provided the force employer is conducting continuous assessments and communicating that implications back to force generator).
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Old 05-20-2009   #2
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Default SFA as part of a campaign design: supporting operational requirements (part 2)

If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it) it might look like this - end = deny sanctuary to X-national extremists, ways = Afghan Security Capability and Capacity, means = OTERA (SFA as a force employment concept). The LOE timeline would have to be laid out, but it would seem to be significant – although it may vary in terms of level of effort. I think design when applied this way may provide the level of understanding in terms of requirements and capabilities to guide policy, and help us align the broader generating force with the operating force. In addition to being more effective, I also think it would be more efficient as identifying capability requirements early keeps us more proactive then reactive, and as such would support keeping the numbers of individual augmentees much lower – which since they are largely drawn from the generating force would reduce the risk in that area, and keep our force generation systems operating at a higher level of output. This would support balance through flexibility.

As a follow on, and to a point John Fishel made on the SFA as an individual capability thread, it would also allow us to look at what capabilities are required outside of DoD. In example - if the objective requires a greater capacity of FSF then the partner is currently able to generate, employ and/or sustain what are the contingent developmental objectives that must occur outside the SFA LOEand who should do accomplish them? Looking forward, this may allow the USG to adjust its polices, authorities, programs and priorities to meet those capability requirements and as such avoid risk to the other policy ends it must consider.

SAMS at Fort Leavenworth is the home of design, and CAC has now mainstreamed design into Army doctrine. At JCISFA we are looking at how to incorporate design into our SFA planning documents and tools.

Best, Rob
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Old 05-20-2009   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it)

Best, Rob

Hi Rob, funny you should mention that I was reading some old Maneuver Warfare Stuff and this old crusty Marine that now runs a ballet company has the best definition of the word Objective I have seen. Objective= the physical condition the enemy will be in when you finish your mission!!!! some strategic stuff there. And of course the original concept (article by whatshis name) as posed by the 101st Airborne commanding general Max Taylor was....Objectives+Ways+Means= Strategy. Have been reading this thread closely and you have been saying some good stuff as usual....All The Way Sir
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Old 05-20-2009   #4
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Rob,

Before I give a more detailed response (without wisecracks ), I do want to raise what I see as a serious flaw or, at least, a distinct impediment: the strategic focus is too tight. Let's take the example you used:

Quote:
The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists.
Okay, that might be the mission for Afghanistan, but it cannot be the (Grand) strategic mission, otherwise we end up with AQ in a cave in the FATA, and the Taliban with safe zones there doing pretty much what they want... Oh, wait, they are !

This tightness of focus will, IMHO, cause the adoption of some seriously flawed assumptions for SFA. The one that is running around in my head right now is the flawed assumption that "nationality" is the pre-eminent component of identity (vs., say, kinship, ethnicity, religion, etc.). If we assume that a lot of SFA is taking place in so-called "fragile states", i.e. ones that never really developed a strong, unitary "national character", then it strikes me that this is a fatal flaw, since those other elements of identity (think of them as the bases of motivational factors)
  • cut across national boundaries, and
  • are limited in their motivational appeal.
I'm not trying to dump undrinkable liquid substances in your Wheaties, but I do think that this is a seriously flawed "strategic" assumption that needs to be addressed, especially in the light of SFA.
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Old 05-20-2009   #5
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Default A threat-centric approach only delays the inevitable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
If what GEN Petraeus articulated to Ralph Peters ref. Afghanistan were translated into a language of strategy (Slap, I concede there are more ways to look at it) it might look like this - end = deny sanctuary to X-national extremists, ways = Afghan Security Capability and Capacity, means = OTERA (SFA as a force employment concept).
This better than most gets to what is probably the biggest rock in my craw about SFA: It is premised on this VERY VERY flawed equation being true.

If you have defined the problem incorrectly, no matter how terrific your answer is to flawed analysis, you will have to be very lucky indeed for it to achieve your intended effect.

This is a very Threat-Centric perspective. Build the capacity of host nation security forces to (presumably physically) deny sanctuary to extremists and you win. I can't think of a single historic example of where this has achieved more than just a temporal effect. One has to address underlying causes of such populace-based conflict in order to achieve an enduring effect. Security is a supporting effort.

I would offer as a far more effective strategic equation: End ="Good"* Afghan Governance free from perceptions of US legitimacy = vastly reduced US footprint with complete subjugation of remaining US military operations being in support of Afghan security forces = focus on development of afghan governance as main effort with at least a half of foreign assistance to that end coming from (hold your breath - )Iran.

Key is to understand that "good governance" as used by me does not mean "effective" on some objective measurement of services, but subjectively how the populace feels about the governance. Populaces will rise up in insurgency when they perceive a major problem that they also perceive that they have not legimate means to resolve. So, success does not come from massive efforts to "fix" governance and battalions of "metrics" gathers; instead it comes from addressing perceptions, polling populaces to understand and facilitate host nation efforts to address their concerns, and ensuring that reliable mechanisms to address grievances exist.

One can graph out every single populace's relationship with its respecitve government on a simple x-y graph; with "violence" on the y-axis and "poor governance" on the x-axis. Most would plot in a big scatter in the lower left hand corner, but trending upward on the violence scale as one moves outward on the poor governance scale. To take a country like afghanistan and simply suppress the insurgent without addressing the conditions of poor governance merely artifically moves it staight down on the y-axis without moving back on the x-axis. Once that artificial suppression is removed (take Yugoslavia, for example) the violence will rapidly shoot straight back up to a high level.

As an interesting side note:
from a recent Gallup poll conducted in Afghanistan:

Single Greatest Problem for Afghans today (open-ended answers):

1. The Economy (41%)

2. Unemployment (16%)

3. Security (12%)

4. Rising and high living costs since international community presence (8.5%)



Lack of Leadership Alternatives:



Most Trusted Person in Afghanistan:


1. Karzai (25%)

2. No one (22%)

3. Ramazan Bashardost (7%)

4. Younus Qanoni (7%)

5. Ali Ahmad Jalali (6%)



Most desirable election outcome:



Who should be in charge of Afghanistan?:

1. New government (53%)

2. Foreign Forces NATO/ISAF (26%)

3. Present Government (10%)

4. Other (5%)

5. Clerics (1%)

6. Taliban (1%)



Importance and Popularity of Iran



How important for Afghanistan is a strong relationship with ____ country?


1. Iran (59%)

2. US (50%)

3. India & Pakistan (both on 45%)


Which country do you feel closest to? (open-ended answers):

- 41% of all responses put Iran as most admired country

- 62% have family connections in Iran

- 35% of Afghans would move to Iran as their first-choice destination


Role of the Taliban:

Is the Taliban having a negative effect on the country?

- Yes: 78%

Is Pakistan supporting the Taliban?

- Yes: 53%

US approval Rating:

- Even Split: 48% approve ; 48% disapprove
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Old 05-20-2009   #6
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Hi Bob's World,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
This better than most gets to what is probably the biggest rock in my craw about SFA: It is premised on this VERY VERY flawed equation being true.
....
This is a very Threat-Centric perspective. Build the capacity of host nation security forces to (presumably physically) deny sanctuary to extremists and you win. I can't think of a single historic example of where this has achieved more than just a temporal effect. One has to address underlying causes of such populace-based conflict in order to achieve an enduring effect. Security is a supporting effort.
You know, I think we agree on a lot of things (especially the importance of perception). I would, however, like to take your comment and, since I really believe that battlespaces are much larger than tend to be generally discussed, toss it into what I believe is one of the primary battlespaces for all current and (immediate) future US conflicts: the homeland political debate.

I would argue that ever since the Crimean War, one of the key battlespaces is homeland politics. This, BTW, is much more than a simplistic concept such as "national will" since it should be taken as a dynamic model.

So, I would suggest that for the US home population, at least for those who vote and are involved in the political process, about the only way to get them to agree to a war is to wave a bloody flag and induce fear. This absolutely requires three things:
  1. the existence of a credible "threat";
  2. the perceived belief that that threat could "hurt us"; and
  3. a political-military strategy that "guarenbtees" that the homeland voting populace will not get "hurt".
This final point becomes crucial when we are talking about how SFA is packaged. I would argue that it must be packaged as threat-based due to political considerations at home. Let me take this a step further, and note that the "threat", at least in the political battlesphere, doesn't have to be a physical threat; it can be a "threat to propriety". For a recent example of this type of threat, look at how the role of women in Afghanistan has been constructed in the Western media to both justify and further military intervention in Afghanistan. Even though I disagree with a lot of what he writes, Max Forte has a really good analysis of this up on his blog.

Think about the problem-centric position you are taking (which, BTW, I happen to agree with !). Can you imagine trying to "sell" it politically? Try the following rhetorical argument on for size and see how it flies:
I know! We have an unemployment rate of roughly 8%, but our national secruity requires that we invade X! Terrorists based in X have attacked our interests abroad, and the only way we can stop these mad dogs is to ensure a 100% employment rate in X!
Ya know, it ain't gonna sell . So what is the US left with? An argument on "principle"? Sorry, but that isn't going to cut it either (Darfur anyone?). In the only battlespace that counts for most politicians, then, it has to be threat-based. And what, pray tell, do you think that these self-same political gurus will do to generals who disagree or who frame campaigns in terms they don't like?

[/rant]

Sorry for the rant and the sarcasm, but sometimes they are the best way to make a point. In this case, and because the US military is sub-ordinant to civilian political control, that means that the politicians define the campaign master narrative, not the military folks who a) have to carry it out and b) probably know a lot better than the politicians.
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Old 05-20-2009   #7
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Hi Marc

Keep in mind though that I was ref. CENTCOM's response to Peter's question - and it was oriented as you noted to the specific mission in Afghanistan. I do think it requires a regional perspective to really consider the capabilities and capacities required - and moreover to put the right capabilities in the right places at the right time. AfPak is a good example, however more broadly - what are the requirements to enable a strategy for interdicting enemy recruiting, traiing and basing grounds abroad, and how can you disrupt or interupt their movements (both physical and others) between locations - this quickly gets into all oj our USG resources, and is contingent to a large degree on muli-lateral support.

As such, I think there is a signifcant component of developing partner security forces to this end, however there are other areas that must be considered as well.

You are correct in bringing up the unique nature in each set of conditions and that sustainable security can take multiple forms - however they must be weighed in light of the outcomes you can tolerate.

Marc considered:
Quote:
This tightness of focus will, IMHO, cause the adoption of some seriously flawed assumptions for SFA. The one that is running around in my head right now is the flawed assumption that "nationality" is the pre-eminent component of identity (vs., say, kinship, ethnicity, religion, etc.). If we assume that a lot of SFA is taking place in so-called "fragile states", i.e. ones that never really developed a strong, unitary "national character", then it strikes me that this is a fatal flaw, since those other elements of identity (think of them as the bases of motivational factors)
This can't be just about SFA (although as a developmental activity its a great place to discuss it) - this is much more broadly the issue of all the actions we take to achieve a policy end. I will say that design supports considering this more broadly and the risks associated with one COA over another (of which one may be doing nothing as to not make things worse).

Lets asssume that design uncovered the issues you brought up - but your requirement to extend security in order to deny safehaven remained. The process of design may lead you alternative ways of doing this, and requirements that pop out of the SFA LOE and into the governance and/or economic (or whatever LOEs you are using in your campaign design). There might be a requirment for political accomodation with a tribe that is currently excercising a form of self government - but which might support some assistance in other areas. The possibilities are as numerous as the range of conditions, however our tolerance may not allow us to accept all of them.

SFA is really a force employment concept to support whatever ends are decided on, the process of campaign design though is what is supposed to frame how you can best achieve those ends. e.g. it may tell you that if you extend security in this area, you need to consider what are the implications to the adjacent areas. It may telll you that at the moment the conditions do not support a preferred COA, but you may be able to do other things that shape the outcome in the meantime - e.g. if country X says "no way" to your assistance - maybe he'll accept support from somebody else who is willing or desires your assistance. We often get myopic in the way we approach a problem and don't look at the alternative ways to solve it because it does not seem direct enough - design supports identifying the correct problem and then looking at that problem from multiple perspectives to consider the range of possibilities.

WRT to SFA - Design lends itself well to it because of the nature of development which may include a siginificant timeline where conditions can be greatly altered based on interaction. This I think is really beneficial when trying to establish a rational for generating one capability over another.

Hope that answered you questions - I'll forward you the UNCLASS design guide based on the work I did. Its not perfect - really more of a functional design, but it does get at the logic wrt identifying requirments.

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-20-2009 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 05-20-2009   #8
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Bob's World said:

Quote:
If you have defined the problem incorrectly, no matter how terrific your answer is to flawed analysis, you will have to be very lucky indeed for it to achieve your intended effect.
I do not disagree. This is why I think design is the way to go. Now it may not change the nature of the policy, but it may provide the operational commander the analysis to argue for a different end, or at least argue for patience.

As for it being the flaw in SFA as a concept - I'd say that SFA is just a force employment concept - e.g. a set of capabilities which enable a given operational appraoch or COA.

SFA developmental objecitves are set within that, and the definition states that SFA should be part of a comprehensive whole of government approach - that is unless you already had a good enough partner in other areas and were just adding some new capabilities (e.g. not a stability op) and might not need it.

I'd add that the goal of SFA is to create sustainable capabilities and capacities in security, and that requires instituional development along with the teeth. This gets to why the assessment methodology must include an organizational assessment, an operational environment assessment and an institutonal assessment. You have to have all three. If the institutional assessment tells you for example that the ministries will not be capable of supporting the capability and capacity you are developing, then either set your sites lower, or be prepared to pony up for temporary successes which you bear the burden of sustaining (or you could cut your losses).

Perhaps we need look no further than OIF to consider the challenges associated with instituion building - I think employing something like design would help us navigate that better. WRT OEF - we just said that the Afghan security forces needed to be doubled - is this in light of them being able to do what they need to do? Using design could we have seen that earlier. Or is it just a matter of changing our objectives? What are the requirements for the partner govt. to sustain a force of that size? Could design help there?

Finally I'd note that we don't always get to pick the end - or shape the conditions, we just have to find a way to bring it a conclusion we can live with. If design is done before hand - other choices which result in options that allow us to consider how bad we really want it (and size accordingly) may be possible, but all to often we miss the boat - as Ken White noted on another thread - "fire breaks and prevention make life easier" - otherwise we have to make some tough choices.



Best, Rob
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Old 05-20-2009   #9
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Rob,

You're doing great work, and I assure you, there are leaders at SOCOM far senior and smarter than I that hang a great deal of hope on SFA. I just think they look at it very differently than it is being looked at within the conventional force. They see all the shades of goodness from a career of doing this business, and know how horribly limiting our current funding and authorities are for getting out and engaging with and building relations with security forces around the world. SFA is a vehicle to enable FID to rise to the next level, a level more appropriate for the world as it exists today. The actual training is only about half of the benefit.

Marc,

I was fortunate to attend conference on "Grand Strategy After War" hosted by Duke University, with many notable speaker/attendees like Dr John Gaddis of Yale, and Dr. Kratzner of Stanford. After a couple days of discussing grand strategy, I asked "Does Grand Strategy require a threat?" It was something these guys really hadn't considered because it has always been crafted as such. The "politics of fear" and all.

This is part of what is mentally slowing us down today. The world remains a dangerous place, but no matter how hard we try to get some state or some non-state to play "threat" for us to allow us to apply the old model and make the old strategies work, it just doesn't make sense. Today the things that threaten your nation the most are not other states and not non-state UW guys like bin laden. It is this globalization empowered and connected mix of "things" going on all over the world. At the middle of all of those things are people. People empowered like never before, people connected like never before.

Deterring the Soviets really when all was said and done only required that we deter one man. Today "deterrence" means deterring people everywhere. Infinitely more complex. Requries bold new thinking and bold new approaches. Bigger hammers won't do it. More security will never be enough security. It means we must not only be strong, but we must also be good. We've not been so good of late. Justified by the Cold War for a while, but then just running wild during the Clinton years, then justified by GWOT, but now once again that has worn thin.

Remember when the use of military force by the US was a rare and very big deal?

Most Americans don't.
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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 05-21-2009   #10
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[QUOTE=Bob's World;72310]
Key is to understand that "good governance" as used by me does not mean "effective" on some objective measurement of services, but subjectively how the populace feels about the governance. Populaces will rise up in insurgency when they perceive a major problem that they also perceive that they have not legimate means to resolve. So, success does not come from massive efforts to "fix" governance and battalions of "metrics" gathers; instead it comes from addressing perceptions, polling populaces to understand and facilitate host nation efforts to address their concerns, and ensuring that reliable mechanisms to address grievances exist.

TE]

BW,Rob,Marct.....So wouldn't it be better to change the Strategy formula to Motive,Methods and Opportunity? With the Motive of the population as the primary Objective??
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Old 05-21-2009   #11
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Default I prefer "causation"

[QUOTE=slapout9;72326]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

BW,Rob,Marct.....So wouldn't it be better to change the Strategy formula to Motive,Methods and Opportunity? With the Motive of the population as the primary Objective??
I think of the presence of "poor governance" as causation.

I think of the spark that falls on a populace experiencing poor governance as motivation.

We tend to focus on the spark. Leaders, ideology, etc. Without the existence of causation such motivation is benign. But the spark is what is on the surface, what is easy to see, to measure. We focus on the spark. It draws the eye.

The key is to remove the fuel. But the fuel is made up of our own failures, and to remove the fuel you must first not only recognize the fuel but take responsibility for it. This is why most COIN efforts are either failures or long drawn out affairs. Because insurgency happens when governance fails, and most governments would really just prefer to blame the problem on the spark or the portion of the populace in flames.

When some other country is experiencing this, it comes to your door as well if you are perceived as the source of legitimacy of that failed government. This is the true root of GWOT. Failed governments across the Middle East, populaces experiencing poor governance, and the US seen as a major source of legitimacy of those governments. The US seen as an obstacle to achieving good governance.
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Old 05-21-2009   #12
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Default Good post, Marc. While I agree in part with Bob and with you,

One thought might bear a deeper look...

I agree generally with your three post-Crimean things but strongly believe that in the US the threat need not be that credible for most; the ability to hurt us is subject to many vagaries; and -- define 'hurt.'

We don't categorize that easily. I know many that would subscribe totally to your descriptions; I know as many or quite probably more who don't need those things. We're a rather belligerent crew for the most part...

That said, there's no question in my mind that domestic politics drive our wars nor is there any question that the recent ones have seen what you say postulated or used by the whoever was in charge (to one degree or another and even if very flakily for the last few Presidents...). So I agree that's been the method here -- I just do not agree that, for the US, going to war absolutely requires those things.

Bob's world asks a good question:
Quote:
"Remember when the use of military force by the US was a rare and very big deal?"
His answer is also good -- most American do not remember such a time.

This probably is not a good place for my anti Goldwater-Nichols rant...
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Old 05-21-2009   #13
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In August of 1990 I signed in to 2/5 SFG at Ft Campbell, KY, a brand new SF Captain fresh from the Q Course. The place was a bee hive of activity as the Iraqi Army had just rolled into Kuwait the week prior.

At one point in my in-processing I stood in the battalion Doc's office shoulder to shoulder with a Sergeant First Class, both of us with our asses bared in preparation for the dreaded Gamma Globulin shot the Doc was preparing for us.

SFC A. turned and looked at me, eyebrow raised,and asked "so, you're just signing in?"

"yes"

"Son of a b_____!, he muttered as he shook his head in mild disgust. "Of all the dumb luck. I've been here 12 years waiting for this, and you come in and get it on day one."

At the time the only guys in 5th SFG with CIBs were a handful of senior NCOs and warrant officers. Times have changed. Neither one us realized as we stood there leaning up against the wall taking that dose of peanut butter-like GG in our backsides that we were standing at a transition point in time.

The Cold War was officially over, we just didn't realize it yet. We were just excited to be getting our chance.

Some people visualize the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. I visualize a bare office with beige brickblock walls and metal furniture and a conversation with a couple of great NCOs.
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Old 05-21-2009   #14
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Hi Folks,

First off, a great discussion even if it's not exactly what Rob was hoping for .

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
This is part of what is mentally slowing us down today. The world remains a dangerous place, but no matter how hard we try to get some state or some non-state to play "threat" for us to allow us to apply the old model and make the old strategies work, it just doesn't make sense. Today the things that threaten your nation the most are not other states and not non-state UW guys like bin laden. It is this globalization empowered and connected mix of "things" going on all over the world. At the middle of all of those things are people. People empowered like never before, people connected like never before.
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Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
BW,Rob,Marct.....So wouldn't it be better to change the Strategy formula to Motive,Methods and Opportunity? With the Motive of the population as the primary Objective??
Slap, I would certainly agree that that should certainly have a place in it.

I do, however, think that it is crucial, at least for me since I have a tendency to go from A to T without bothering with intermediate steps, to lay out exactly how I view these things. First, I view Grand Strategy as operating in a global environment. Ideally, it should also have some decent, long term (50-100 year) goals that can best be described as Philosophical - "Principles" as it were which are (hopefully) shared by both the military and the political spheres and, ideally, with the majority of the population.

Second, threat categorization, at the Grand Strategic level, needs to distinguish between competitors and opponents. Competitors agree to play by (very) roughly the same rules, while opponents reject those rules. NB: I am talking about rules of competition, not Grand Strategic goals.

Third, and again on the threat categorization level (i.e. "perception"), since no one will agree to play be exactly the same rules (otherwise we could just resolve conflicts via poker games), we all have to be aware that most of the players involved in the Great Game are not nation states: some are supra-national NGOs (e.g. the Red Cross / Red Crescent, various religious organizations, trans-national corporations, etc.), some are regional or local [sub-national] NGOs, while some are communities of interest / practice. What this means is that the de facto reality of NGOs (in the broad sense) as players must be recognized and they have to be held to account to play by the rules. So, if we adopt Slaps suggested Motive Means and Opportunity model, it needs to be applied here.

Fourth, Bob's World is exactly correct that changes in primarily communications technology, coupled with rapid changes in production technology (the economic and perceptual core of Globalization) are generating most of the perceptual difficulties at the Grand Strategic level and the lived reality difficulties on the ground. Central to this problem are two bits of culture lag: unequal changes in distribution technologies and cultural perceptions of scarcity.

Let me touch on the first one of these. Distribution technologies have not kept pace with communications technologies. In effect, anyone can "see" or "experience" (vicariously I admit) a lifestyle that most cannot access physically. This ability of individuals to perceive will, in many cases, also lead to a comparison of that perception with a perception of their daily lives. This comparison, in turn, leads to several things.
  • First, a perception that the State (i.,e. their government) has "failed" them because a) they don't have it and b) they are constantly being bombarded with messages that say it is the State's responsibility to provide them.
  • Second, the possibility of a perception that the State cannot provide these resources because it is being "opposed" / "oppressed" by some other State or interest group.
  • Third, the possibility of generating focused anger and hatred of another State based on jealousy.
These potential reactions leave a populace open to manipulation by politicians (loosely speaking to include religious "leaders" as well).

Let me touch on the "scarcity" issue, now, since it is actually much more dangerous. Let me start by saying that even since, roughly, 200 years after we, as a species, developed horticulture, we have been perceiving resources as scarce. If critical resources are "scarce", then it stands to reason that each social and cultural group has to figure out how best to allocate them - this led to the development of social stratification and "command" economies (i.e. the Temple States in Sumeria, Mohenjo-Daro, Knososs, etc.). One of the crucial things that happened during this period was that the concept of access to resources was conflated with social status (which ties in to all sorts of other things...).

Today, "scarcity" of resources is still assumed to be tied in with social status and "power" (loosley construed in the Galbraith sense of the term). However, many of the resources themselves are not scarce - the supply is artificially manipulated to induce scarcity (various agricultural Planning Boards in Canada are a good example of this, as is the production of oil). This artificial scarcity is used to maintain and enhance the social status and access to resources of various sub-state small groups as well as States themselves (OPEC anyone?). The maintenance of artificial scarcity also extends into R&D efforts (e.g. delays in the production of hydrogen fuel cell technology [from the 1970's], delays in the use of mag-lev technology [late 1970's], etc.), and also into the production and support of social movements that help to increase resource scarcity (e.g. the anti-nuclear technology groups).

This brings me to my final point about Grand Strategic perceptions, and that has to do with how the rhetoric and principles of a Grand Strategy are played out in everyday life. Let me give a really simple example from the advertising world: Nabob coffee. Nabob has declared as one of their Grand Strategic principles that "fair exchange" is one of their principles. Recently, at least in Canada, they have begun advertising their strategic alliance with the Rainforest Alliance (Coalition? Sorry, seniors moment...). They are selling a product that many Canadians buy, coffee, and showing how buying their version of it leads to improving the lived reality of the workers who produce that coffee, both as individuals and as communities. While they are also making a nice profit on the deal, that particular "message" has a value add for the Canadian consumer since most of us happen to think helping other people out, especially if it doesn't cost us much extra, is a pretty good thing to do.

Shall we compare this with the US political rhetoric in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially in light of other locations such as Darfur, Rwanda, the Congo, Nigeria and Kenya (okay, most civilians have little idea what's going on there, but they will shortly)? The near instantaneous communications technologies which enabled, and were required by, globalization mean that actions in the world are pretty darn hard to hide while, at the same time, guarenteeing that statements made "on principle" will be compared with actions in perceived "reality".

What this rather rambling post is really aimed at is that at the Grand Strategic level, the "talk" and the "walk" have to be in line with each other. Furthermore, and this has more applicability at the Strategic and Operational levels, the communications-distribution-production realities have to be kept in mind of the global population. This doesn't mean you can't shoot the "Bad Guys", it just means that you can't claim to be the "Good Guys" while simulataneously doing "Bad Things". (Gods, I hate that type of simplistic rhetoric! ).

Let me draw out one, specific, SFA example, by way of bringing the talk back to Rob's original post. In FM 3-07-1, there is a really brilliant observation that says:

Quote:
2-1. ....Soldiers conducting SFA must also understand that legitimacy is vital. The relevant population must perceive FSF as legitimate for long-term success.
What, and this is not a rhetorical question, is going to be done if the FSF is perceived by the local populace as illegitimate or as a "necessary evil"? This is why I have been harping on the Grand Strategic level stuff, since how those principles are constructed will impact on how an SFA mission deals with problems of FSF legitimacy.
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Old 05-21-2009   #15
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Marc said:

Quote:
First off, a great discussion even if it's not exactly what Rob was hoping for .
I've always thought the thread must go where the thread goes - and that it is not a bad thing. Most of the time the discussions circle around because there was some point in the initial posts that sparked the wandering. Its kind of like collective cogitating - its healthy.

Ken made a point that has been on my mind of late - how long before we can't remember when we were not at war? We're fast approaching a decade of war - the pursuit of policy by other means does not lend itself well to being labled as "contingency operations abroad"

The SECDEF and the CJCS (and many other senior leaders) have made it a point to attempt to shape expectations in public speech by saying both we've got a significant way to go in both Iraq and particularly Afghanistan, that we should expect things to get harder in Afghansitan now that we are significantly investing more in the outcome, and that due to global conditions and our interests we will likely see more conflict on the horizon. I'm not sure that their efforts have really sunk in - anywhere.

With respect to SFA (which is one of the things I'm get paid to think about), what does this mean? I've been reading the thread started by Capt Diaz on supporting the development of an Iraqi Marine Corps (although perhaps with a more limited mission than our own) and I'm thinking - there is a significant capability that may have less to do with COIN and more with respect to protecting Iraqi interests in the Gulf, and possibly even protecting their interests abroad against piracy. Certainly the conventional capabilities that are brought to the Iraqi military with F-16s and M1s, while both have been useful in COIN, are also of great value beyond COIN (I think any good FW MR platform and MBT would indicate this). These efforts also don't absolve us from current SFA efforts in building IA, IP, NP and other ISF to combat their internal threats (and those who sponsor and support them) - I submit we'll be there in significant capacity for some time, although increasingly on the terms of the HN govt.

In Afghanistan the USG and the Afghan leadership recently estimated that they needed double the number of indigenous secuirty forces...The number of what was it 400K was significant, however think about what those numbers mean in Afghanistan in particular where the conditions (many of the cultural ones that Marc outlined & just the sheer geography of the place) are not necessarily going to facillitate moving the FSF to become competent, confident, committed, and capable. I submit this will feel like an enduring effort and may well extend beyond the current administration, even if there is a second term. Ken is right, the influence of domestic politics, or a reaction to some new crisis could change that, however just consider it.

For a member joining the US military right now who intends to make it a 20 year event, 1/2 of their shelf life will be spent at war. Several more national security strategies may be written at war, several QDRs will pass at war - already our "futures" experimentation can not escape the influence of our current fight, and I suppose the list goes on about things that will happen at war. I've not included the other events that may occur as a result of terrorism - that being the use or threat of violence to influence a political outcome vs. a man made disaster which would seem to divorce it from the influence of politics. I've not included the many other reasons wrt fear, honor and interests which might require the use of military force or forces to secure an end - I've really just covered a couple of the major efforts under way - I did not talk about HOA or OEF-P or the countless number of other things that are capturing our attention

If there is a chance that through use of design we can better identify the correct problem, consider the range of possible outcomes, capture the requirements and align our DOTMLPF policies and programs to be more effective, perhaps we can: better support the operational commanders; reduce risk to the policy objective; and through effectiveness we can reduce risk to those Title 10 functions (man, equip, etc.) we are seeing stressed form almost a decade of war with no designated hour in which we will not be at war.

This really is a good discussion, regardless of where it goes - and as I've said in other places its through the tension of discourse we really learn.

Best, Rob
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Old 05-21-2009   #16
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Quote:
Let me draw out one, specific, SFA example, by way of bringing the talk back to Rob's original post. In FM 3-07-1, there is a really brilliant observation that says:

Quote:
Quote:
2-1. ....Soldiers conducting SFA must also understand that legitimacy is vital. The relevant population (itlaics added by Rob) must perceive FSF as legitimate for long-term success.
What, and this is not a rhetorical question, is going to be done if the FSF is perceived by the local populace as illegitimate or as a "necessary evil"? This is why I have been harping on the Grand Strategic level stuff, since how those principles are constructed will impact on how an SFA mission deals with problems of FSF legitimacy.
Not to be cheeky - but the open door was the use of the word relevant. The cold answer wrt to legitmacy and how it affects sustainability may be one of having the will or means to resist. This is also why our intial defintion of SFA was broad, but specifically said it was done in support of a legitmate authority (it did not say whose criteria of legitmacy - however since its the application of U.S. forces and resources - we should assume that we've at least partially accepted their legitimacy - or can tolerate it until conditions change through process)

Now - not everyone wants our help, or in some cases to be known that we are helping them. This may require an approach where we support the development of capabilities or capacities in others who are tolerable and are themselves willing to help if they where able. Since most authorities don't have allot of excess capacity their willingness is often tied to their ability. There are a couple of things to consider here as well- first, the increased capacity to help others needs to be considered against the partner's ability to sustain it - second, an increase in capability and capacity may upset the regional dynamics (back to the Athenian) that must be addressed as part of a regional strategy. I think all of these things require a broader strategic outlook both in terms of the range of USG policy tools, and in terms of geographic and temporal perspective. BTW - never forget our tendency to act in the moment of political interest on the domestic political front.

Having said all of the above - it should be done with consideration of how it supports U.S. interests. This is not a band-aid application to fix the world, but to advance our interests - particularly where our interests and those of others overlap.

Hope that at least partially opens the door for further discussion on your question - it would also be the first few slides I sent you last night.

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 05-21-2009 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 05-21-2009   #17
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Well sh..t,where do I start. Bob's World, What causes the cause? A person, and a person always has a motive. Until you understand that you can not prepare a Strategy to succeed. Not only that but you must have a good counter-motive to gain support for your side of things. So your objective should be to de-motivate the insurgency population(focus on their leadership). From there you can look for opportunities and select your methods. And Security Force Operations would have to play a big part in that in order to allow some type of civilized transition.

Rob, all your SFA stuff is sound, my concern is a good tool will get all bent up and stuff if it is not applied inside a proper Strategic setting. The US often gets absorbed with a new tool and wants to use it all the time and everywhere and ignores the initial hard questions that need to be asked and answered. Why are they fighting us? and why should we be fighting them?
I will shut up now

PS. I didn't get any slides last night
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Old 05-21-2009   #18
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Hey Rob,

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Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
Not to be cheeky - but the open door was the use of the word relevant. The cold answer wrt to legitmacy and how it affects sustainability may be one of having the will or means to resist. This is also why our intial defintion of SFA was broad, but specifically said it was done in support of a legitmate authority (it did not say whose criteria of legitmacy - however since its the application of U.S. forces and resources - we should assume that we've at least partially accepted their legitimacy - or can tolerate it until conditions change through process)
I think you know that I don't disagree with your assessment . Let me tease out a few points that, I believe, are relevant though...

Legitimacy re: "will to resist". Quite true but, and I'm noting this using an historical stance, in most cases that tends to backfire down the road unless the US is willing to incorporate the area into its body politic. Political deals may well be ramable down another state (or groups) throat, but there has to be some appearance of "hope" for a better world down the line. A couple of examples of where this has "worked" are the Confederacy, Hawaii, Japan and Germany, but the lessons of the Italian War (1st century bc) really need to be kept in mind. And, BTW, that is assuming that we are talking about the USG operating in the national interest rather than in the interests of, say, an American oil company (or Dole for that manner - think the Banana Wars...).

On legitimacy re: the USG, that can get a touch problematic as well if the "State" recognized by the USG is not recognized by the people living within its borders. I think that one of the more relevant examples is the 13 colonies and the use of foreign SFA (the Hessians) against the Colonials during their (your ) insurgency against the globally recognized, legitimate government.

I think what I am really getting at with these points is that SFA is both a "military" mission and, at the same time, a "political" mission. The military may be given broad political guidance (and constraints), but the planning for that mission - its design - must include the political component as, in some ways, co-equal with the training component. BTW, I am using am using "political" in the sense of "lived reality vs rhetoric" rather than any formal political system (a "population-centric" usage, Gian ).

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Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
Hope that at least partially opens the door for further discussion on your question - it would also be the first few slides I sent you last night.
Yup, it does. I hope you realize that I am Red Teaming your stuff ! And thanks for the slides. I didn't have a chance to get to them last night, but I've blocked out some time this evening to go over them.
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Old 05-21-2009   #19
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Default Always a risk...

regardless of the tool
Slap observed:
Quote:
.. my concern is a good tool will get all bent up and stuff if it is not applied inside a proper Strategic setting. The US often gets absorbed with a new tool and wants to use it all the time and everywhere and ignores the initial hard questions that need to be asked and answered. Why are they fighting us? and why should we be fighting them?
I agree 100%. No policy tool should be a panacea for what ails ya! I think design, if done with the overarching policy OBJ in mind will shake that out. SFA as a force employment concept to support an end must be done in the strategic and operational context. What I've tried to convey here (and Slap I'll ask Bill and Dave to see if we can iether post the slides here on the thread, or a hyper link to somewhere they can post them - even the PDF is too big) is that if your overall operational design to achieve the policy objective requires you to support the development of sustainable capability and capacity in a FSF, then using design to help lay out your SFA LOE is a good way to go because it generally occurs over a broader period of time, its has consequences beyond the immediate, it probably requires a whole of government approach (authorities, support, contingent development, etc.) and it allows the operational commander to forecast requirements over a broad period of time which support force development and generation - thus keeping us flexible, adaptive and more in balance.

I'd go back to Celeste Ward's piece that was put up on the SWJ Blog about COIN - the means and ways must be feasible, appropriate and suitable to the objective. As conditions and objectives change then so may the requirments, the approach required and the capabilities to enable it. Unfortunately our nature is to look for templates and organizational solutions that are programable (and I'd argue risk aversive) vs. doing the leader development and education that would make us adaptive as institutions. Human nature would seem to be prone to ossification of position (the inevitable Kung-Fu stance in the rice bowl).

One of the reasons I've made it clear I believe SFA is fundamentally a developmental activity (develop sustainable capacity and capability) is to highlight its not to be taken as lightly. Developmental work is hard, and requires a significant commitment of means and will that is subject to the conditions.

In some cases such as Afghanistan, SFA has been identified (by CENTCOM) as one LOE which supports the overarching policy OBJ. Now in light of that comment, and the other commitments we are currently either undertaking or considering undertaking, this equates to some significant capability and capacity to organize, train, equip, rebuild/build and advise to develop the Afghan secuirty forces ability to generate, employ and sustain itself to a point that it supports denial of safehavens to transnational extremists. This is not just about their ability to physically deny terrain to those extremists, but about the things that the denial of terrain (in all its forms) facillitates.

I'd submit that this is operational theory - with some factual precedence - that must be proven or disproven in the current set of conditions (which is something design supports). It is also the regional CDR's approach, and as such the supporting instituions should fully support it as much as possible - this does not preclude them from identifying institutional risk (I don't think they should get a vote on operational risk - not their job) which jeapordizes their Title 10 responsibilties (note - I did not say their authorities)

Wrt AfPak (and Iraq) - it would seem this is going to be around for awhile (unless we abandon the objective, or decide to accept the risk of a different approach - all approaches have risks). In all cases I don't think its the job of the services (or the functional COCOMs) to tell the operational commanders what their requirements are - although it would seem that there are those who disagree, or that it sometimes winds up being the case because the requirements are poorly articualted, because of politics or fears (both legitimate and not), or because a desired capability was simply not on the menu - "cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger - no Pepsi - Coke!"

We've got to get better at fully meeting the operational commander's requirements withthe desired capabilities. The right road to efficiency is through becoming more effective in our policies, programs and planning - not through adhoc processes and waiting for Godot.

Slap - I'll also send via email the slides - keep in mind they are a "functional design" only. The full up would be built around much greater context wrt the broader operational design and the knowledge which supports it.

Best, Rob
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Old 05-21-2009   #20
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Marc - good points!

Quote:
I think that one of the more relevant examples is the 13 colonies and the use of foreign SFA (the Hessians) against the Colonials during their (your ) insurgency against the globally recognized, legitimate government.
I would not characterize the use of the Hessians during the RW as SFA. The employment of a FSF is a differnet matter (although it must eb considered). If GB had gone over to support the development of the Hessians by organizing, training, equipping, rebuilding or advising in order to create sustainable capability and capacity, that would be SFA. But the moment the they were then employed as a military force it soudl no longer be SFA. The exception might be if Britich advisors remained throughout for the continued purpose of increasing capability in the Hessian war fighting functions. Does that make sense?

The actual use of the Hessians would fall into the use of a foreign force to augment your own capabilities and capacities.

Quote:
I think what I am really getting at with these points is that SFA is both a "military" mission and, at the same time, a "political" mission. The military may be given broad political guidance (and constraints), but the planning for that mission - its design - must include the political component as, in some ways, co-equal with the training component. BTW, I am using am using "political" in the sense of "lived reality vs rhetoric" rather than any formal political system

I agree with you, but would point out that as the prussion would say, there is always a political component to the use of military means (even in the way you are using it - good thing about Von C is his intellecutal branches provide allot of shade). However, I'd say that it is emphasized here for many of the reasons you illuminate. This idea is something we should emphasize when contemplating leader development and education - and training. Politics are ultimately are the real interaction of people subject to desires and conditions.

Red Teaming is good - makes us smart.

Best, Rob
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