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Doctrine & TTPs Enduring doctrinal principles, what really works now (or not), and the TTPs that deliver them.

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Old 07-04-2015   #61
Compost
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David,

Agree on custodial staff but that’s one of the rotten tasks for which well-trained MPs are intended. Almost outside my experience but was once apprehended speeding inside a Bien Hoa base and literally only weeks after briefly visiting a POW stockade run by the ARVN. Agree combination of undeclared and non-uniformed conflict warrants trial in civil courts.

Totally forgot cartographers. That’s another good reason for unscripted exercises where the loading schedules are not pre-planned. In many but not all instances arms-length commercial/civil arrangements can get some resident services on side. Intend to play tennis tomorrow and planning not to be back for a while.
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Old 07-04-2015   #62
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We need aptitude far more than skills. The role of Special Forces is not to fix broken governance, but rather to understand and leverage the energy that broken governance generates within the populations it affects.

Sure, we can reverse engineer those skills to help some partner with their COIN (FID for us), but too often this is to prop up some government we have either created, or simply protect and enable to avoid making the changes necessary to reduce the negative energy their governance creates.

Insurgency is simple. Understanding and leveraging its energy is art - but thinking one can mechanically"fix" it with technical skills is folly rooted in the arrogance of the past several hundred years of Western imposition on the governance of others for Western interests.
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Old 07-08-2015   #63
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Late to the table, but a few points...

I agree with Slap's earlier point on "religious insurgency". This is an actual thing. Probably the most obvious act of religious insurgency in Western history would be Martin Luther nailing his theses to the church door in Wittenburg, challenging the Catholic hierarchy and accelerating a struggle for leadership of the Christian faith. That struggle of course spilled over into the political sphere and caused a great deal of violence and bloodshed. ISIL is a religious insurgency because it is setting itself up as a contender for leadership of the Islamic religion, directly challenging all other contenders for that title. The declaration of a Caliphate was more an act of religious insurgency than it was an act of political insurgency: by declaring a Caliphate ISIL demanded the fealty of Muslims around the world. We tend to see ISIL as a political challenge to the West because we see everything relative to the West, but it is fundamentally a challenge for leadership within Islam.

The idea of "good governance" is something we need to approach with caution, because all too often we assume that our idea of good governance is universal, which it is not. We tend to think that good governance can be achieved with a structural solution that provides all groups with input into the political process and protects the rights and interests of all groups. When the groups in question define good governance as "we rule and they die", the result is a fairly fatal degree of dissonance.

A discussion of what's been lacking in recent American military excursions abroad would necessarily be long and wide-ranging, but to me one critical and often overlooked deficiency is clarity of purpose. We never seem entirely clear on what we are trying to achieve, or why, or for whom. Our goals change in midstream, and we often seem to get tied up in believing our own rhetoric. Nations use force to achieve political goals, and victory is won when the goals are achieved. If the goals are uncertain, ephemeral, or aspirational, victory is unlikely from the start.
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Old 07-08-2015   #64
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Here’s a cartoon that could almost have been devised for your views. Two specfor troopers walking toward a sign ‘Practise Village’. One is saying “There’s too many of us and the walls don’t seem to be moved much”. Close by two USMC are jogging toward a sign ‘Sneaker Range’ with sweat or tears dripping from their eyes.

That just about says it all. Even at a stretch your pushing FID as polemical rather than military liaison between a large and a small country that have some interests in common. Naturally agree with Dayuhan that evangelism often - and possibly always - is a dangerous excess.
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Old 07-08-2015   #65
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Should have noted the troopers were wearing goggles. Also it's not victory that's needed because if one is careful it's success.
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Old 07-08-2015   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
Late to the table, but a few points...

The idea of "good governance" is something we need to approach with caution, because all too often we assume that our idea of good governance is universal, which it is not. We tend to think that good governance can be achieved with a structural solution that provides all groups with input into the political process and protects the rights and interests of all groups. When the groups in question define good governance as "we rule and they die", the result is a fairly fatal degree of dissonance.

A discussion of what's been lacking in recent American military excursions abroad would necessarily be long and wide-ranging, but to me one critical and often overlooked deficiency is clarity of purpose. We never seem entirely clear on what we are trying to achieve, or why, or for whom. Our goals change in midstream, and we often seem to get tied up in believing our own rhetoric. Nations use force to achieve political goals, and victory is won when the goals are achieved. If the goals are uncertain, ephemeral, or aspirational, victory is unlikely from the start.
Regarding the part I bolded, I think the underlying issue is failure to treat our excursions like the wars that they are. Some assert that the military is treating these excursions as war and using Clausewitz as a guide for strategy. The reality seems quite different, instead our military treats these excursions as a form of social engineering with vague ideas of self-determination, democracy, human rights (now includes gay rights), free market systems, and so forth. We get so caught in up in nave discussions about legitimacy (for whom?) that we forget the original purpose that we employed military force to achieve in the first place. What U.S. interest were we protecting or pursuing? What was the role of the military in achieving those objectives?

I do agree that no all conflicts are wars, but our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were certainly wars, as was Vietnam and Korea (despite labeling them as police actions for political purposes). With the exception of DESERT STORM where we had a limited objective, we didn't fight to win. In fact, it appears we no longer seek to defeat an adversary, instead we now throw money and ideology at our adversaries hoping to defeat them by co-opting them into our way of life. We have senior officers stating that if we just give the adversaries jobs they'll quit fighting (proven to be a false assumption repeatedly), or we simply have to win the battle of the narrative (even if true, we have demonstrated no ability to do this), or if we just install a democratic form of governance the people will pursue their objectives through a legal process. That wasn't true in the U.S., and we have one of the most advanced democracies in the world. We had a Civil War, and numerous terrorist groups in the 60s and 70s active in the U.S.. Why would that be true in countries that have a longer history of ethnic hatred and a high percentage of illiteracy?

Today we rarely hear or see any real effort to defeat the adversary using force. We promote the false belief that force doesn't work. Apparently the idea of using force isn't clever enough for those who see themselves as self-styled strategists who have a special understanding of the world that others can't grasp (also known as insanity). President Obama claimed we can't defeat ISIL with force, instead we have to promote better ideas. Listening to the radio I heard a counter argument to this view, which was that Nazism was only defeated by force. They weren't going to be defeated by better ideas. Why do assume that those who oppose us can't be true believers in their cause?

Our non-war approach results in years of ineffective operations at great cost to no discernible end. Instead of protecting or furthering our interests we simply deplete our human and financial resources, not to mention our reputation globally. The eating soup with a knife fans will mindlessly argue we just need to keep doing the same thing for another decade or two, and we'll win, but win what? Whether war would work or not regarding our current threats is debatable, but the way we're conducting operations now clearly is not working.
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Old 07-08-2015   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
our military treats these excursions as a form of social engineering with vague ideas of self-determination, democracy, human rights (now includes gay rights), free market systems, and so forth. We get so caught in up in nave discussions about legitimacy (for whom?) that we forget the original purpose that we employed military force to achieve in the first place.
I agree, but I think this problem starts at the policy level, and is well entrenched before the military takes it over.

When we talk about "legitimacy", we often assume that what is pursued is legitimacy in the eyes of the population of the area in which we intervene. Politicians are often more concerned with legitimizing the excursion in the eyes of their own populace, and I think that many of the more aspirational goals and more egregious restrictions that the US adopts are much more about establishing legitimacy in the eyes of the American voter than about any concern over local legitimacy. Again, this goes back to clarity of purpose and honesty in the face of our own rhetoric.

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Today we rarely hear or see any real effort to defeat the adversary using force. We promote the false belief that force doesn't work.
Whether or not force works depends entirely on the goals we are trying to achieve. There are goals that can be achieved with force, and there are goals that can't be achieved with the use of force. Again, being clear on what goals we pursue and why is a good start.
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