SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > The Small Wars Community of Interest > TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference

TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference Discuss issues from the TSLC.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-25-2010   #1
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default New Rules of War

New Rules of War

Take a look. The article uses very poor evidence to make some not very good points, thus loosing the good points that may have been made.

Anyone wants to defend the use of history or facts here, I'm all ears.
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #2
Chris jM
Council Member
 
Chris jM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 176
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
thus loosing the good points that may have been made.
Are you being kind here Wilf, are do you genuinely see some good points in this? I'm normally very cautious of trashing someone's work without reflection and secondary sources/ opinions to put it into perspective (or, from another perspective, I'm an easily persuaded sell-out...)

However I failed to see anything of relevance or utility here at all.

Rule 2: Finding is the new flanking is flawed, albeit the least flawed of the three. If you can't find the enemy then flanking, attacking by fire or even an all-out up-the-guts assault will simply not be possible. As to portraying 'finding' rising to prominence over the 'strike, exploit' (the flank) I'd suggest this is rather a part of fighting an enemy who seeks to employ guerrilla/ unconventional tactics. Alexander's forces in Bactria would empathise with the difficulty in finding an enemy who seeks to avoid pitched battle - and history could provide countless more examples. If the author wanted to say that finding the enemy in the COE/ any COIN-type undertaking is more important as a tactical function than striking him then I would agree. We enjoy a huge advantage in terms of technology and firepower (most counter-insurgents do) so delivering death and destruction isn't the problem, but finding him is. But to portray a grand narrative of battle whereby flanking was once being a dominant form of manoeuvre and is now replaced by that of finding? Uh, no.

Rule 1: "Many and Small" Beats "Few and Large." Nice idea I'd like to subscribe to, but god does tend to be on the sides of the big battalions that are backed by overwhelming firepower supported by solid doctrine and led by competent leaders... all of which is outside the simplistic rendering of the above. After all, a big battalion can split into the 'small and many' when required.

Rule 3 - Swarming is the New Surging I'll admit that I struggle to create a solid argument against the concept of swarming, but it has always struck me as being infeasible. My gut feeling is that swarm tactics lack operational mobility once deployed, they are too difficult to resupply/ their logistic chain is simultaneously too fragile and too inefficient and the individual part of the swarm is too easily suppressed, fixed and defeated in detail by a competent enemy.

As to the concept of netwar, I don't think too much needs to be said as I doubt anyone will argue in support of it.

At the practical level I see it as inevitable that increased technology will be pushed down to the lowest level. I hate the term 'Network Centric Warfare' as it seems to replace the concept of warfare with the concept of a network - better perhaps is work towards a 'Warfare Centric Network'. Much like the concept of recon pull/ push we need to think of technology as being a network push, not a network pull. The core concepts of close combat won't dramatically change, so best support the core combat functions as we know them rather than trying to change.

In my capacity as a student of war/history, I'm seeing military progress as evolution rather than revolution. Along with that reading comes the caveat that anyone peddling revolution or the silver bullet ought to be treated with great suspicion.
__________________
'...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
Donald Kagan

Last edited by Chris jM; 02-25-2010 at 07:43 AM. Reason: fixing poor sentence construction
Chris jM is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #3
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
Are you being kind here Wilf, are do you genuinely see some good points in this?
Thus my statement, "thus loosing the good points that may have been made."

Finding is good. Always has been. = Good.
Nothing to do with flanking. Flanking fulfils a completely and utterly different function, which is found in "Fixing." = Does not understand the Core Functions, thus undermines his understanding that Finding is good. He merely states it, and does not demonstrate he understand why. - and this is the high point!!
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #4
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

The author wasn't accurate in his use of military terms and examples. The level of thought is nevertheless above average.
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #5
Chris jM
Council Member
 
Chris jM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 176
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
Thus my statement, "thus loosing the good points that may have been made."
I should have worded my question better - do you see any good points being able to arise from this? Not only are the 'rules' nonsense, the premise and reasoning on which they are founded is flawed.

And Fuchs, where is the level of thought above average? I fail to see any indications of above average thought. Claiming that it's original thinking I can agree with, but as to the quality of thought?
__________________
'...the gods of war are capricious, and boldness often brings better results than reason would predict.'
Donald Kagan

Last edited by Chris jM; 02-25-2010 at 09:21 AM.
Chris jM is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #6
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

Most articles on military matters are quite devoid of thought, the bar "average" is quite low.

Most military writing is about technicalities and superficial stuff. In fact, about 90% of military writing should be considered to be poorly done PR texting.
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #7
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
I should have worded my question better - do you see any good points being able to arise from this? Not only are the 'rules' nonsense, the premise and reasoning on which they are founded is flawed.
I concur. It was a massive missed opportunity. There are some really critical debates to be had, but the US (and pretty much the UK) seem incapable conducting it in a useful way. Why that is might also be worth asking!
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #8
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

The best effect of such texts is to push readers into new territory. Some readers may feel compelled to look up "swarming" for their first time, for example.

(Swarming works under the condition of superior elusiveness of the swarming parties; see sub wolfpacks in '40-'42, Parthian light cavalry.)
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #9
Tukhachevskii
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 589
Default

Regarding Arquilla's "Rule No. 1" this statement irks me no end:

"This was the case during the Vietnam War, too, when the prevailing military organizational structure of the 1960s -- not much different from today's -- drove decision-makers to pursue a big-unit war against a large number of very small insurgent units. The final result: 500,000-plus troops deployed, countless billions spent, and a war lost. The iconic images were the insurgents' AK-47 individual assault rifles, of which there were hundreds of thousands in use at any moment, juxtaposed against the U.S. Air Force's B-52s, of which just a hundred or so massed together in fruitless attempts to bomb Hanoi into submission".

This statement neither proves that smaller and more numerous is better than larger and fewer nor does it provide evidence of the need for a paradigm shift in the organisation of armies. Why?

The US Army in Vietnam fought numerous engagements with both the NVA and the Viet Cong both of which were organised and fought differently (the former as conventional units fighting "set-piece" battles and the latter as "insurgents"). Yet, in all cases the US Army and USMC fought succesful engagements (take the battle of Hue city for instane or the Tet Offensive). Both the US Army and the USMC adapted their units to fit METT-T considerations without needing to tweek TOEs (take the firebase concept for instance). The reasons for the US "losing" the war (when in fact they actually lost the peace, or rather, South Vietnam did) were geopolitical, grand strategic and domestic with regards to the overly restrictive ROE imposed on the forces by both Congress and the President and were not solely due to the armed forces having failed to "transform". The author is not deploying a ceteris paribus (all things being equal) chain of reasoning. Furthermore, he later compares the forward deployment of platoon sized units in conjunction with allied tribes in Iraq as evidence of the force-multipling effects of "networked" systems after mentinong the surge, the surge, firthermore, which was finally responsibile for beinging order I might add. I don't know what particular axe Arquilla has to grind or from which corporation he recieves his consultants cheque but this article, IMO, made even William Lind's turgid "4th Generation Warfare" article seem like an exercise in historical erudition.

Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 02-25-2010 at 10:01 AM.
Tukhachevskii is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #10
J Wolfsberger
Council Member
 
J Wolfsberger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Michigan
Posts: 806
Default

I got as far as page three, and read this: "For many centuries, legionary maniples (Latin for "handfuls") marched out -- in their flexible checkerboard formations -- and beat the massive, balky phalanxes of traditional foes, while dealing just as skillfully with loose bands of tribal fighters."

So, that explains the stunning Roman victory at Teutoburger Wald.

Oh, wait ...

Poor mastery of history, poorly reasoned, not much use.
__________________
John Wolfsberger, Jr.

An unruffled person with some useful skills.
J Wolfsberger is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #11
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
The best effect of such texts is to push readers into new territory. Some readers may feel compelled to look up "swarming" for their first time, for example.

(Swarming works under the condition of superior elusiveness of the swarming parties; see sub wolfpacks in '40-'42, Parthian light cavalry.)
So what is "Swarming." Wolfpacks, moved dispersed then massed on command, often directed by aerial reconnaissance. The answer to Wolfpacks was convoys - again massing.

Mongols did not "swarm." Nor did Panzer Regiments. I keep hearing about Swarming, but no one actually seems to know what it is. If it just means simultaneous attacks from multiple directions, then its hardly a useful characterisation.
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #12
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
I don't know what particular axe Arquilla has to grind or from which corporation he recieves his consultants cheque but this article, IMO, made even William Lind's turgid "4th Generation Warfare" article seem like an exercise in historical erudition.
LOL!

What truly got my goat was this statement

Quote:
Then again, perhaps the best example of a many-and-small military that worked against foes of all sizes was the Roman legion. For many centuries, legionary maniples (Latin for "handfuls") marched out -- in their flexible checkerboard formations -- and beat the massive, balky phalanxes of traditional foes, while dealing just as skillfully with loose bands of tribal fighters.
[rant]
Sure, maniples were a key tactical unit: as part of a cohort. In no Roman campaigns I'm aware of were maniples used as a basic unit separate from their cohorts. Cohorts, along with ala, would be detached for independent operations, but not maniples. And if he wants an example of ancient "swarming", and how effective it was, he should take a look at the final battle of the Boadicean revolt! And, as far as those "flexible checkerboard formations" are concerned, he really should consider that tactics are effected by technology as, for example, when my ancestors stomped the legions at Adrianople. As for the Teutonberg Wald, well, what can I say? It's all the fault of that nasty Arminius (aka Herman) who was waging an unconventional campaign !
[/rant]

Honestly, there are a few good ideas in the article but, to my mind at least, they are buried in an overpowering morass of poor historical scholarship and an even poorer ability to abstract the essential factors. For example, as Wilf quite correctly points out, "finding" has always been important (ask Arminius !). Smaller units and increased segmentation can work and be incredibly effective, but they are dependent upon the technologies involved, especially the defensive, mobility and logistics technologies, and the use to which they are put.
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #13
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

A RAND study pretty much defined the stuff about a decade ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
So what is "Swarming." Wolfpacks, moved dispersed then massed on command, often directed by aerial reconnaissance. The answer to Wolfpacks was convoys - again massing.
You're wrong. Wolfpacks were the answer to convoys, not the other way around. Convoys were the answer to individual subs in 1917.

Wolfpacks were quite complicated. Aerial recce played a minor role, there were never more than two aerial recce squadrons with sufficient range available and their aircraft were quite suboptimal.

First Phase:
Establish a screening line till one sub gets in contact with a convoy (that enough subs can intercept in time).

Second Phase:
One sub gets into contact and keeps in contact, shadows the convoy and radios its position and movement.
A central station receives the radio message and transmits necessary info, not the least to make sure that every sub gets the message with minimum radiation from the shadowing sub.

Third Phase:
The subs of the wolfpack move into position and attack all in the same night, from different directions if possible at almost the same time.
This was a saturation approach to overcome the defences.

Fourth Phase:
Convoy still being shadowed, subs regroup for an attack another night, proceed to phase 3 again.



It's vastly different from the more understood tactics of battlefleets and army units/formations from battalion up to corps (the big arrows on maps).
This vast difference easily justifies that earlier authors chose to attach an own label to this behaviour.
Conventional tactics don't include an all-round pulse attack - not even during the annihilation of a pocket.
The German army would never have developed wolfpack tactics - their mode of attack was too much opposed to the Schwerpunkt idea. The difference is huge.


@marct:
"Finding" was no key issue in the Teutoburg Forest battle. Enemy identification was the key issue for the Romans, logistics & politics for the Germans.
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #14
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Fuchs,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
"Finding" was no key issue in the Teutoburg Forest battle. Enemy identification was the key issue for the Romans, logistics & politics for the Germans.
Hmmm, I would include "enemy identification" under the heading "finding" myself, as in finding the moles . And I agree, for the Germans it was definitely politics and logistics.
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #15
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
A RAND study pretty much defined the stuff about a decade ago.
Cool! Where?
Quote:
You're wrong. Wolfpacks were the answer to convoys, not the other way around. Convoys were the answer to individual subs in 1917.
So the response to Wolfpacks was to STAY in Convoys, not disperse.
Quote:
  1. First Phase:
    Establish a screening line till one sub gets in contact with a convoy (that enough subs can intercept in time).
  2. Second Phase:
    One sub gets into contact and keeps in contact, shadows the convoy ....
  3. Third Phase:
    The subs of the wolfpack move into position and attack all in the same night, from different directions if possible at almost the same time....
  4. Fourth Phase:
    Convoy still being shadowed, subs regroup for an attack another night....
OK, how does that qualify as "Swarming?" Did the Kriegsmarine ever call it swarming? Sounds like U-boat specific "Wolfpack," to me.
Quote:
This vast difference easily justifies that earlier authors chose to attach an own label to this behaviour.
So who else has used "Swarming" tactics?
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #16
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

http://www.rand.org/pubs/documented_briefings/DB311/

My position is that RAND pretty much defined this term for military theory by publishing that work. That was a legitimate move because they identified a group of tactics that were sufficiently different from more common tactics to deserve a group name.


edit: Slightly related text http://redteamjournal.com/2009/12/interposing-tactics/
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #17
Fuchs
Council Member
 
Fuchs's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,189
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
So the response to Wolfpacks was to STAY in Convoys, not disperse.
Not really. The response to wolfpack tactics was a huge set of efforts.

- dispersed aerial sub hunter patrols over the whole ocean
- suppressing the shadowing by pressing the subs below water using carrier-borne aerial cover for the convoy
- sub hunter groups (equivalent of combat air patrols) near their bases
- naval minelaying (especially in training areas and coastal regions)
- bombardment of bases, shipyards and industry
- more escorts per convoy
- more efficient convoys (area of a square grows faster than its borders - bigger convoy allows for more freighters per escort)
- technological innovation
- intelligence efforts
- industrial effort (a much, much larger ship production output)
...and of course a higher tolerance for losses than some 'experts' had expected.
Fuchs is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #18
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default J.F.C. Fuller lives...

Swarming and Checkerboards. They crop up every few years, are touted as the Holy Grail and fail miserably in application far more often than not. Those who tout the techniques -- and the net centric stuff-- invariably are theorists who will have no responsibility for executing but cite a success or two and rarely mention the many failures of their recommended techniques.

What most miss is the human dimension. Too many leaders are not up to the theoretical level of performance. A good example is the above mentioned Viet Nam experience that Tukhachevskii posted:
Quote:
"This was the case during the Vietnam War, too, when the prevailing military organizational structure of the 1960s -- not much different from today's -- drove decision-makers to pursue a big-unit war against a large number of very small insurgent units..."
The good Perfesser fails to note -- or notice -- that the Organization was totally capable of morphing into small units and Checkerboarding and many units did just that and did it successfully but USARV / MACV did not do so in toto because the leadership and the too powerful Staffs at high echelons were comprised of people whose experience was predominately in northwestern Europe and thus they tried to force the fight in the paddies to be conducted the same way they would have on the north German plain.

The theories espoused in the article are not totally wrong but most will fail in combat application due to personnel quality. People are the problem

Actually, training people is the problem. Well trained people and units will be able to shift gears and fight as required.

The sharp and well trained will do what MarcT said, send out Cohorts for independent operations as required. His summary of the good and bad in the article is on target, not least in this:
Quote:
(ask Arminius !)
Ken White is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #19
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Not really. The response to wolfpack tactics was a huge set of efforts.
....so basically enhancing and supporting the convoy system? No convoys, no point.

I think the question could be, did the Wolfpacks require a disproportionate allocation of resources to defeat, balanced by was the Wolfpack the best use of the U-boat - which I do not think it was!
__________________
Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 02-25-2010   #20
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Hi Ken,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Swarming and Checkerboards. They crop up every few years, are touted as the Holy Grail and fail miserably in application far more often than not.
I remember reading some years back, that a science becomes a science when it drops static typologies and looks at change over time. Swarming, checkerboards, etc - any tactic really - can work if the factors limiting the situation are right. No tactic, however, is a Holy Grail; they will all fail if the situational limits are against them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Those who tout the techniques -- and the net centric stuff-- invariably are theorists who will have no responsibility for executing but cite a success or two and rarely mention the many failures of their recommended techniques.
Hey, I resemble that remark !

More seriously, cherry picking historical examples of the success of a tactic (or strategy) is fine as long as it is designed to highlight the limiting factors. Unfortunately, the author in this article appears to be doing it for another reason. Swarming, as a tactic, seems to work best when there is limited capability for opponent identification and when immediately available defensive technologies can be breached quickly. It also seems to work really nicely when you have both of those conditions and the aim is actually to attack in some other area, usually moral via logistics (i.e. force the non-swarming group to invest heavily in infrastructure and logistical support). Probably the classic campaign along these lines, which, BTW, Arquilla does not mention, was Crassus' expedition against the Parthians.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
The theories espoused in the article are not totally wrong but most will fail in combat application due to personnel quality. People are the problem

Actually, training people is the problem. Well trained people and units will be able to shift gears and fight as required.
Yup! That is the lesson he should have drawn from the legions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
The sharp and well trained will do what MarcT said, send out Cohorts for independent operations as required. His summary of the good and bad in the article is on target, not least in this:
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:52 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation