Sunday, December 30, 2007
This concept is being developed without regard to the shape of the battlefield in terms of the mission, enemy and terrain, but solely with regard to what troops they want to field, in short order and with the hottest technology money can buy. As such it is strategically, operationally, and tactically unsound in theory and disregarded by the troops in the field.
In short, the Modular brigade (Infantry, Airborne, and Heavy) have two maneuver battalions according to published sources. The Stryker brigade has three maneuver battalions, which is the traditional minimum. I have heard of efforts to add a third maneuver battalion to the other types.
Three subordinate maneuver elements at any maneuver unit level, from platoon to field army is considered the minimum for effective operations given the default deployment of two units forward, and one in reserve. Should the third element be transferred elsewhere, it is standard practice to form a reserve from within existing resources.
This usually means taking at least two sub elements two levels down, one from each unit, to form the reserve. At battalion, this means that a reserve of two platoons is put under battalion control reinforced by elements of the headquarters company, often the recon platoon. This deployment weakens the flexibility of the lower units.
This form of detachment and attachment is part and parcel of what is called “task organization” and depends also on what the mission, enemy and terrain allows. In addition, maneuver elements are deployed on the avenues of approach that favors their type. We call that “infantry in the green, tanks in the white” alluding to the colors used on a map to denote woods versus open fields.
Likewise the shape of the little brown lines that show the shape of the land impacts on the allocation of troops. Lay your hand on a flat surface and note the five types of terrain: fingers, ridges on the fingers, valleys between the fingers, hilltops on the knuckles, and between the knuckles are passes. The fifth type of terrain is a hole in the ground which you get by doing the “A-Ok” sign
There are five ways to cross the terrain:
1. Cross corridor – across the ridges and valleys (cross finger)
2. High ground – up the finger
3. Low ground – up the space between the fingers.
4. Through the Pass – between the knuckles.
5. Running from peak to peak- across the knuckles on highest ground. (Korea)
There are three kinds of slopes on the hand:
1. Flat – on the table
2. Convex – Palm down, hand curled
3. Concave – Palm up, hand curled.
Against movement fires are applied to deny the enemy to move any of the five ways. Fires are classified in two ways:
1. Grazing – flat across relatively level terrain.
2. Plunging – It’s convex
The trick is to use grazing fires from knuckles down the fingers and sides of fingers and to the rear across the back of the hand. Plunging fires are used in the valleys controlled from the knuckles.
The tricky part of terrain analysis is to match green and white to the hands above to determine what used to be called COCOA:
1. Critical terrain – knuckles that can fire on lines of communication or maneuver as above.
2. Observation – where you can see and control fires – knuckles also
3. Cover and Concealment – Use valleys out of the line of sight of knuckles and the use of lots of green.
4. Obstacles: Wiggly brown lines bunched up to show steepness, water (put hand in a half inch of water and you get the idea), or some serious green stuff.
5. Avenues of approach – That which you can use to approach critical terrain at maximum speed and/or survivability. Green for the infantry, white of the tanks.
Principles of ground combat, the 4 F’s
1. Find them
2. Fix them
3. Fight them
4. Follow up
The fix and fight parts are also called fire and maneuver – fires are used to “fix” or pin down the enemy, while maneuver elements close with the enemy to destroy the force and/or secure the terrain. Rommel and Patton both said it was “hold them by the nose and kick them in the ass”.
The Modular brigade, according to the dogma passed out to the military public is task organized by Table of Organization (TOE) without regard to the niceties of handy tactics. It was sold as a way to save deployment time by cutting out the task organization time to meet mission, enemy or terrain. Fortunately, no one outside the Transformation process is that dumb, not even Regulars. In fact, if someone were to tell a combat commander in Iraq not to change the task organization, that someone would either be committed or incarcerated.
FCS is sold and the “Future” combat system, and is based on supporting and enabling the modular brigade in an imaginary battlefield not known in current military writings, past experience, or history, hence the nickname “Fantasy Combat System”. To the extent that FCS is based on the eventuality of the Fantasy battle, the entire budget is about the same as whizzing in the wind.
Fortunately, while the Whitehalls, Kremlins, and Pentagons of the world are normally wrong on the shape of things to come, the troops will take what they get and make it work in ways not envisioned by higher ups:
The USAAF didn’t want radial engines in their fighters, unlike the Navy, but found the P-47 more than useful, The USAAF built the B-17 to sink battleships which they couldn’t hit, but proved to be a great smasher of cities, factories, and lines of communication. The P-39 rear engine fighter was Zero bait, but the Soviets used it as a great ground attack fighter.
Both the M113 and the UH-1 started out as ambulances for the Medical Corps. The M-16 was rejected by the Army in favor of the M-14. Army Aviation insisted that helicopters should not be armed for air-to-air combat until the Hind showed up.
Of the elements of the FCS that is hyped as the wave of the future, the networked command and control system is not dependent on the task organization of troops in the field. Likewise, precision guided munitions isn’ t exactly new.
The highly touted UGS (unattended ground systems) were fielded in Vietnam and was responsible for effective targeting of the NVA in the siege of Khe Sanh, every move they made was telegraphed to targeting cells who unleashed waves of B-52’s. Chopper Pilots told me that they preferred to go over 2.000 feet to avoid the smell of death. I taught the use of UGS at Ft, Huachuca in early Seventies, and was dismayed that the testing at Ft Hood of the system couldn’t figure out how to use them and they were dropped from the Army inventory.
Friday, December 28, 2007
The long lead time items include the larger capital ships like heavy cruisers, carriers, and Fancy Dan fighters. It includes investing in R&D, more pure than applied. And, most of all it means preserving the combat experience and military training of those who have served. Our current personnel policies are wasteful and wanting in this regard, tossing the trained to the wolves with disdainful regard, then when the fit hits the shan, searching the bottom of the barrel.
Long lead people are the noncoms, specialists, and officers with experience, of two to five or more years. It is in the initial four or five years of service that is the investment, the grounding and framework of the experienced fighter. In peacetime service, the majority of souls serve without being in the fleet or in the field, but in jobs tangentially related to core tasks, after their core service.
Since the most numerous of trooper is at the bottom, and the time to train up to entry level service is short range, a defense establishment prepared for the long haul, should focus on the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of the mid level enlisted and officer. One old training policy of days gone by, and also adopted by the German Army of between Great Wars was a skinny chain of command with lateral expansion of the command on paper, and with those serving at one level trained to operate at two levels higher. In this manner, the German Army could expand from a force of 100,000 to several millions of well led troops in short order.
The Germans and Soviets also instituted training in military skills in their youth groups like the Hitler Youth, Komsomol, and the Young Pioneers who trained the youth in political action, and, some military training, and skills needed for military operations. The Boy Scout movement was started by Lord Baden-Powell to maintain a skill base capable of skilled military use. The term “scout” is a military role requiring more than the average level of outdoorsy skills. Our CAP and Sea Cadets follow in this role, without the political clap trap.
The merit badge approach of short courses for veterans who wish only to keep their skills up to snuff, could be crafted to include marksmanship, paint ball competitions, military communications exercises, and a whole host of “fun” things to do to maintain a skill base, and to keep tabs on those we may need.
The military structure of forces not on active service should include, as today, units ready to rock and roll on the drop of the hat. This was the intent of the Capstone program which facilitated the fantastic rise in military competence of American Arms in peacetime ever. It had the down side of presenting the Congress with a fully capable military establishment at one third to one sixth the cost of an equivalent Active force.
Recent experience has proven that despite Pentagon assurances (and Federal Law) the Pentagon never really intended to call up trained units as such. From the start, given Defense Officers Management Act, the Pentagon as a replacement depot and to be kept in a separate pile from the Active service to facilitate post conflict reductions in force without resorting to RIF or the UP/Out promotion system. That provision of Law that required units to be called as such seems to have disappeared in a reshuffle of the law for administrative reasons, and needs to be reissued by the Congress.
It, however, must be recognized that under existing laws and plans, there is no systemic method of providing trained mid career personnel to replace losses and start new units except by cannibalization of existing units of all components. It is in the regard that a new division of labor between the components be drawn. Active forces must be geared to the most exigent of circumstances, particularly from foreign sources. The National Guard has a dual mission, of state and federal requirements. The Guard is the default national defense force for war, courtesy of the Second Amendment. And it has been the back bone of our national wars up through WW2.
The Reserves (USAR, USNR, USAFR, etc) were initially Federal Forces raised for the duration of a war. As such they were known as “US Volunteers” which included the famed “Rough Riders” After WW1, Reserve forces were developed to preserve certain skills and provide a pool of qualified individuals for service. After WW2, the Reserves were organized into field units such as Corps and Divisions, but after Vietnam, the structure was integrated into specific war scenarios called contingencies.
But these structures did not provide for replacements for extant units of any component. In this regard, the Reserves as opposed to the Guard have the capabilities to maintain replacements for any component. The only program in existence that met the criterion were non-pay mobilization units of those interested in keeping a hand in but generally consisted of lectures by individual members. The IRR, once considered a ready pool of replacements, proved to provide a third of those listed. Clearly, the need for small detachment and individual replacements for all components be made ready with such incentives in pay and challenge to keep those not in units.
The technology of the computer supported CPX can allow units without equipment to train in realistic environments with the clear expectation that they could be called as individuals or as the nexus of a whole new unit. A battalion consisting of a staff and part of a chain of command could be filled with entry level personnel and replacement from any component and made ready to deploy in short order.
What takes time in the development of a deployment ready unit is it’s chain of command, and not in the lowest level who consist of those who can be raised and trained in less than a year. It is time to re-institute cadre units.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
That which is more precious than gold, is the combat experience of previous wars as well as those with extensive training in the military arts. Traditional reserve structures have tried to maintain lists of those needed for the direst of emergencies, but in modern more mobile populations, the list becomes useless. Nevertheless those with experience exist. It is this population that mobilization planners must provide for with law and military order to gather the trained and experienced into the forces whether the individuals want to or not.
For the willing, traditional mobilization designee and unit training exist, but often many times the numbers so employed have no slots or choose the focus on their civilian careers. To encourage those without slots to fill, a new type of participation not dependent on slots but upon individual and collective training available without regard to career, but to preserve the skill base should be developed. Call it the “merit badge” approach, where sets of skills and a badge, or certificate is granted in recognition of completion. Such could be built around marksmanship, land navigation, telecommunications, command post duty, etc. Pay could be applied or not.
To provide for the mobilization of anyone who knows one end of a rifle from the other, the enlistment contract should be amended to provide for a life time commitment. Officers and retirees already have this stipulation. The government owns you until buried.
Mobilization planners should also develop mechanisms for the mobilization of segments of industry and commerce which have military applicability with minor military training needed. This is what happened in WW2 where hospitals and construction firms were brought into military service.
With a few exceptions, those organizations providing support for our troops overseas should be militarized and brought under the UCMJ. The form of their militarization would not necessarily be the career intensive model for the current military components, active or reserve, but designed for the duration. Raising these organizations could be under the initial administration of a state governor, or of a corporation, or the federal government itself. Once certified, the organization would be mustered into the services. The pay could be direct from the US government or through the original establishing organization as determined by the government.
This approach is not any different that which we used prior to WW1. Since the Pentagon has chosen to abandon the last one hundred years of military development, it is appropriate to take what worked before and up date it. It is also unlikely that the Pentagon could develop anything so threatening to their cookie jar, that it would be incumbent on the Congress to do so, as that is their specified power given in the Constitution. And that brings it back to whoever is reading this tome.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The chatter between these networked squads is analogous to the flow of electrical charges through a nervous system, the nervous system that ties the eyes, ears, legs, stomach, heart, stomach and brain of an individual. The training cycle approach starts with the feet. BTMS, the Battalion Training Management System, stressed concurrent training using the whole body, but in successively more difficult and complex tasks.
The replication of the chatter between squads is the sum and substance of the command post exercise (CPX). A well designed CPX is hard to distinguish from actual operations if that chatter is presented in the form and through the proper medium to the squads representing the exercised unit including the fog of war.
The Field Training Exercise is where the squads interface with the mud, dust, rain and (simulated) blood of warfare. In the field, they still are linked with other squads at platoon, company, battalion as well as the fire support system, supply system, and the other vertical and horizontal networks of the whole organization. The link between the squad is the radio.
Training the squad in isolation from the even the simulation of the chatter is what we used to do in the Auld Days prior to Vietnam. Rifle squads were trained in isolation from the platoon until platoon training started. Back then the legacy of the Korean War was hill-centric. Each successive levels of training were oriented around finding squad sized hills, platoon sized hills, on up to battalion and brigade sized hills. Each level used the same maneuver; base of fire pinned down the presumed enemy always on the top of the hill, while the maneuver element hit the hill from the flank.
Unbeknownst to us, the Soviets built fire traps on the flanks of their forward elements to cut up our maneuver elements.
For the last twenty or so years, innovative training has married the CPX to the FTX by using a unit going through an exercise to be linked to an ongoing CPX. This is happening at Ft Hunter Ligget in combat training of support units, and was used in a previous lifetime in large scale logistics exercises that I participated in as a member of the 75th Division then known at “The MAC’. I worked in an intelligence capacity in division, corps, corps support command, area support command, and networked medical and MP units for instance. These large exercises involved joint and combined operations with participants from other services and other nations.
The downside of these large exercises is that the RC chain of command understood more of the nuts and bolts of large unit operations than the AC chain of command as the latter were focused on Brigade and below operations done in a vacuum. The chatter between elements of combat units in contact tends to be more vertically aligned with successive levels of command. The operations orders of next higher are the prime source of information. In the FTX mode, chatter with support units such as field artillery is often ignored to the detriment of the grunt on the ground later in actual combat without fire support, beans, bullets, gas and maintenance support.
The chatter in Combat Service Support and Combat Support (CSS and CS) tends to be networked in all directions. The intelligence requirements for an intelligence unit come as much from supported and lateral “squads” as from on high. Some support is organized as a vertically oriented structure as are the delivery of gas and ammo and the evacuation of the wounded. Some are service oriented on both an area and command basis as are medical and engineer units. The exact composition of a support element depends on the mix of needs of the supported commands which result in an ad hoc mix of vertically or horizontally integrated networks unified by a common doctrine and training.
The dark side of the Abrams Doctrine was that he intended to ensure that the RC was included in the next war by shifting the logistics to them. This, however, had a serious unintended side effect. The AC forgot logistics until operations in the Balkans brought to their attention that they couldn’t rely on the Log Fairies Four (the Gas Fairy, the Truck Fairy, the Ammo Fairy, and the Fixit Fairy) in the RW as they had in their training exercises. They were devastated that the detested Weekend Warrior, the Wannabe Warrior, would actually show up in uniform wearing leaves and eagles.
Then came the end of the large scale RC CPX, the Modularization of the Army, and the substitution of military CSS and CS units with Halliburton, Custer Battles, and Blackwater. While Modularization is sold as a simpler structure, it actually creates a more complex, tricky, and uncoordinated ad hoc approach to supporting the troops than the well trained and experienced RC CSS and CS command structure.
The 75th had to develop an interim Rear Area Operations doctrine in order to train CS and CSS units. This guidance was published in an annual document to support training as
Appendix J to that document. As it was the only guidance around after Vietnam was swept under the rug, it gained some credence to the point that a copy was republished by the Command and General Staff College with their logo and the title “Appendix J – Rear Area Combat Operations” also known as RACO.
We are still losing people in Iraq and Afghanistan to attacks on our lines of communication which attacks were principal tool we used to alter the flow of chatter in a logistic organization to cause them to exercise the military decision making process to meet changes in supply and demand for their services. Our clients included not only the logistics units, but included the Engineers, Military Police, and Rear Area Operations Centers (RAOC) that coordinated and protected the rear. These are the units that Rumsfeld left behind. The rest is recent history.
As an aside, the 75th also used Soviet Airborne divisions as a tool to alter the relation of supply and demand for logistics in a number of scenarios set in the Fulda and North German plains scenarios. I picked out landing zones and objectives on the Rhine and on critical terrain between the Rhine and Antwerp. Some AC colonel ridiculed our scenario, saying it was unrealistic.
I recently found out from the German Consul General that during the reunification of Germany, he was liaison to the departing Soviets and the East German military, he found out that the Soviets were going to use ten airborne divisions and on the same sites I had chosen.
Unfortunately, my bragging is no consolation for a conflict that would have ended already had the Army Reserve and National Guard had been deployed as trained and organized/
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The analysis of the performance orientation aspect of training quickly came to the conclusion that concurrent training of all levels was more efficient and effective. Under BTMS, the Army’s level of competence rose faster than in any period since the Revolution. Until Vietnam, the collective competence of an Army could go to practically ineffective in less than five years. Task Force Smith of Korean War ignominy, where troops from Occupied Japan were clobbered by North Korean troops raised and trained after WW2.
This did not happen after Vietnam. The Army reassessed itself and rebuilt itself. The Reserve Components did likewise and in my opinion (based on experience with the 75th in large unit exercises) they were better trained at all levels than the troops that I had served with in Germany and in Vietnam.
Key to this revival was concurrent training which turned the training of individuals over to the NCO, and of the unit to the leadership. This, coupled with NCOES professional training for the NCO empowered the whole chain of command which had been serious weakening in the Fifties and Pre-War Sixties by officers doing the work of sergeants, and sergeants being over paid privates.
BTMS had two fatal flaws. It cut out the Colonels and the staffniks at levels above battalion. And in the words of the ruff and ready, no combat ready unit ever passed an paperwork inspection, nor a paper ready unit ever pass combat. DTMS was difficult to paper over as it was too complex and irrelevant for combat ready units to mess with.
Power abhors a vacuum and into the breach charged the Staffniks with Mandatory Training Requirements, and consolidated training under staff control. Staff control of unit activities is gratifying to the frustrated staffnik who wants the fun of command without the responsibilities. Any successes go to staff and the blame to command. This isn’t peculiar to the Army or to the military in particular as many a corporate employee can attest.
Once the Pentagon realized, as had many of the Two Star Crowd in the Field, that RC units were more than “up to snuff” but better than AC units, the panic button was pushed. After years of raising the performance bar for RC units, hoping they would trip and stumble, until the bar was raised above the standards for AC units, the Pentagon had to act decisively. They scrapped the mobilization plans based on METT-T (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops Available and Time) to one based solely on the Time and Troops Available, ignoring Mission, Enemy and Terrain.
Included in this “Transformation”, is the Return of the Training Cycle. It makes a sort of crude simplicity and clarity of definition with successive levels of command being trained in succession as if one level was dependent on lower levels for competence at each level. While this may make sense for an individual destined for a command slot, it is counter productive for a collection of individuals who have to operate with other collections of individuals. A rifle squad operates in conjunction with an artillery gun crew through the fire direction system which involves several staffs in between.
The Training Cycle that I was experienced in prior to Vietnam was on an annual basis, not the five year basis under Transformation. In Germany the culmination of the Training Cycle was when the ground froze and we could conduct large scale maneuvers, up to division on division. The Cycle restarted after the thaw and individual training resumed. Given the destructive effect of the Duty Roster on training, the only real training we got was when the harvest was in and we could maneuver through “Comrade’s” farm yards. Individual and Squad training was ineffective.
Early in my career, whilst I was a young sergeant in the 63rd Division USAR at Camp Roberts, my Company Commander, one Otto Atkinson, took our company to the field the Sunday we arrived and returned the following Friday night. In the field we dug in, wired, and “mined” the area and conducted training 24/6. Later, in the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) in Germany, one battalion commander (Don Starry) showed the Division Commander the amount of time lost in garrison and convinced him that the Division should move to the field while at Hohenfels. Our training time tripled and administrative time virtually disappeared.
Later, as Battalion Commander of the 304th MI Bn (USAR) I took my battalion to Ft Hood to participate in Operation Starburst which was the 49th Armored Division (TXARNG) which was fully deployed, guns and all. It was a target rich environment for our direction finding, traffic analysis, counter intelligence and command capabilities.
It was a vicious fight to get my battalion free of staffnik control as, but under the rules of the road at the time, I had the responsibility for the training, not them.
The most valuable lesson learned was the complexity of interface with other units for support and to support. This was extremely difficult to simulate in training particularly since few knew of those relationships not having exercised them in reality, virtual or actual.
In short, concurrent training of a chain of command in environments replicating those of combat deployment 24/7 year round is the optimum training environment. Simulation, even sustained simulation using a continuous scenario, is proving to be an effective tool to cut the costs of full up 24/7.
Imagine an RC unit reporting in for their battle drill weekend, and walk into a war in progress in a mix of simulation and field work as if checking in from a previous day. The actual size of the unit involved could be as small as a squad or as large as a full division.
Based on the observations of over forty years, I find that the training cycle approach is the most efficient system to dumb down a force. And with five year cycle, unit commanders who have to go to war with their unit may have never commanded it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
FM 3-24, the manual on Counterinsurgency that came out of Ft Leavenworth a year ago, and now producing measurable gains in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) focuses on a multi-disciplinary multi-level effort to enable the Iraqi people to take charge of their own affairs un-cowed by the savage and barbarous. It is a recognition that running water, garbage removal, light and power, effective governance and a working economy are the job of all ranks from the Strategic Sergeant to the most senior in the services.
FM 3-24 introduces the concepts of Full Spectrum Warfare in this recognition which I noted before and goes beyond just Counterinsurgency. It goes right to the heart of winning the peace in any war.
Likewise, Full Spectrum Warfare recognizes that several forms of battle may exist side by side, and often intermingled, “near peer” war mixed with expeditionary war mixed with the now famous “Three Block War”.
Defense Secretary Gates is implementing the concepts inherent in Full Spectrum Warfare in the quiet efficient and effective manner without the bombast of previous occupants of the Puzzle Palace. His senior military assistant, LTG Peter W Chiarelli is a a strong advocate of the new paradigm in war as noted in his article in Military Review, September-October issue, “Learning from our Modern Wars: Imperatives of Preparing for a Dangerous Future”.
The development of AFRICOM, the new Joint Command for working in Africa recognizes the necessity of working with all other actors in Theater, once a cardinal principle in what was called “Stability Operations” when I took the Armored Officers Advanced Course (AOAC) back when the Vietnam War was still hot.
Secretary Gates in his article, “How to Meet Our Nation's Challenges,” from the Landon Lecture Series, 27 November 2007, goes beyond just the military, calling for an larger Foreign Service in the State Department, and unusual move for a Secretary of Defense, but recognizes that the US must have one foreign policy, not dueling dialogues from such as Powell vs Von Rumsfeld, and that such coordination of one policy must go down to the Three Block War.
This vertical and horizontal integration is new to doctrine, but not new to practice. It was done right in the Post WW2 environment in Germany, Japan, and Austria. That Austria became neutral and not absorbed into the Iron Curtain when the West signed off on Austria’s Peace Treaty is proof of the effectiveness of the approach and a serious disappointment to Stalin.
Part of the reason why that occupation went well is perhaps due to the fact that the military has a disproportionate representation of Southern Officers, and in the Deep South, Reconstruction still burns deep. It still does. Reconstruction after the Civil War is a classic case of how not to do post war winning the peace. If the Civil War was fought over emancipating the Blacks, that didn’t occur for another one hundred years after the War. And it’s not over.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We lived under the nuclear gun for forty years, which circumstance elevated national security as the primary focus of national policy, overshadowing all other considerations. The Fall of the Wall and the end of the Soviet Empire is missed by all who need a Villain in their lives to use for personal pleasure and gain. And who would love to circumvent the Constitutional Rights embodied in our Constitution. And True Believers exist at both ends of the political wind machine who are straining at the leash to do.
The fact is that the Muslim Terrorists are a serious pain in the ass, but hardly a serious threat to the Continent and constitute a threat to the Constitution only as a blow back from those who take them too seriously. No way is the entire Caliphate from Morocco to Indonesia, all together and united going to be able to mount sufficient naval warships and transport to land a force big enough to overwhelm the US.
Consider the avenues of approach to the US to get to our coasts or to the Mississippi. The Asian Axis must include control or neutralization of Japan and Kamchatka Peninsula to able to approach Alaska. The avenues of approach to the US from Alaska either must penetrate the wall of mountains at some point between Alaska and the Mexican border or risk constant level of threat from their eastern flanks. Once in Washington State, California must be controlled, likely from the sea, which advance is restricted by the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies, and the Great Plains before being able to strike home.
The Atlantic Approach likewise must control Great Britain, Iceland (as in Red Storm Rising), and go for Newfoundland before reaching the St Lawrence River. It was this avenue of approach that worried FDR should England have fallen to Hitler. He asked Churchill to turn the Royal Navy over to the US should that happen. Churchill said no in very certain terms.
That time frame was more dangerous than we give it today given the fact that we won and no threat appeared. If the French fleet had gone over to Germany and Germany had landed in England, there were British who would have welcomed him, including Edward former King of England. A combined European fleet of Germany, France, Italy, and the Royal Navy would have had the necessary power to support landings in the US. And they would have been supported by an Axis fueled by Soviet Oil. Hitler’s invasion of Russian ended those options.
A Soviet invasion of Europe would have hadto consolidate it’s gains in the same areas and would have had to have the same relative naval power to have ventured against the US that a combined European Fleet under German control. And then venture across the North Atlantic, seize Newfoundland, and the mouth of the St Lawrence before taking on New England.
It becomes obvious that the best chance an invader has is to have substantial support from within the US. Substantial enough to control or seriously disrupt key segments of the nation including at least one of the top three: West Coast, Union, and/or Mississippi. Such an event would need to replicate the inner divisions of such nations at war such as France in 1940 where the pro-German faction was equaled by the Communists who, at that time were allied with Germany.
It is easy to consider a Red State - Blue State division in the face of an invasion, but hard to predict who would favor who. It would depend on the perception of legitimacy of the extant US government, and upon which end of the political wind tunnel blew first. And the high ground would be the rights spelled out in the Constitution, particularly free speech and assembly and due process.
Beware of the Blow-Hards.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
While much as been said about the shortcomings of the General Officer Corps in the press lately, the General Officer Corps is the result of a long and progressive development process subjecting the officer to increasing levels of complexity and responsibility designed to gain competence across the full spectrum of military operations from platoon to combined and joint operations. It requires demonstrated competence in the art and science of war.
The civil servant has no such progressive educational and experiential process and is primarily the result of adroit self advancement through the labyrinth of office politics. No measurable standard exists to determine an understanding of war and it’s vagaries within the Civil Service.
While a uniformed officer’s career if file-centric (personnel file) based on the successive inputs of rater and endorser, the civil servant’s career is position-centric in which survival is enhanced by turf expansion and protection. As a retired bureaucrat from a large unnamed Texas city known for oil, I have been there and done that. Efficiency reports in civil service are more a formality than a matter of career life or death.
The turmoil attending the rotation of uniformed officers through senior positions to feed the military promotion mill is a cost of career progression that can be corrected by slowing the process down. The stubborn persistence of the process of “Transformation” which stalled at the Brigade level attests to the ignorance of the Department of the Army of division,, corps, and field army operations which expertise was sloughed off to the Army Reserve, and forgotten.
Were it not for the retirees, reservists, and Guard personnel called up in ad hoc manner or hired at multiples of their civilian salaries, there would be no logistics structure. It is tribute to the adaptability of our people to task organize in the field a structure originally task organized by TOE instead of METT-T.
If senior civilians are to act at General Officer level, they should have demonstrated the tactical and technical propensities we expect of their military counterparts. This is the case with Guard and Reserve "technicians" who must maintain their military rank and qualifications to keep their civil service job, often operating in the same duties in both capacities. Guard and Reserve technicians often command units.
Left disconnected to military art and science, an expansion of the flag rank SES virtually could eliminate the need for flag rank military persoonnel, indeed of a professional force of any component. What could be civilianized could also be privatized. Think of a Blackwater bluewater force operating with a Letter of Marque and Reprisal (as Privateers) as in the days of the Bounding Main.
At the other end of the scale, such as was achieved during WW2, the nation should be able to go from one percent to ten percent in three years. At this level of involvement, another thirty five or forty percent of the total population would be involved in war production. At the population that means three million in idle times, while serious war would require thirty million. In WW2 we fielded 100 combat divisions (Army and USMC) and 102 aircraft carriers of all sizes. There were twelve million in uniform in WW2 with a population of 120 millions (e.g. 10%)
It is the need to project force overseas, and to deal with extant threats overseas, that standing forces are needed. In between big wars, there is a need for soft power integrated with political, economic, social as well as firepower is needed. Once a big one starts, the need for more firepower and logistics changes the complexion of forces, and both must be planned for, with those forces not needed forward are kept in reserve.
The threat to the Continent should be viewed as how this threat affects the sustainment of the Constitution. The physical attack of the continent or of occupation or destruction of parts of the US must be evaluated in terms of how the government operates in accordance with the Constitution. Washington DC was within the range of the sound of artillery fire for extended periods of time during the Civil War, was burned once by the British neither of which caused the nation to fail.
Both Russia and China lost huge chunks of their territory in WW2 and still functioned as nations. France was occupied during WW2, but was able to keep thier fleet of battleships and cruisers out of the clutches of Hitler, which if he had the French Navy under his control might have given the Germans the upper hand in the Mediteranean, indeed in the whole war at the critical year of 1941.
The Constitution requires three quarters of the states to ratify any changes, leaving one quarter (13) of the states in a position to block any unwanted changes. So long as thirteen states remain independent, the Constitution remains unchanged. The issue of a surrender to foreign forces, the Senate must approve by two thirds any treaty of surrender. Short of that, no surrender would be considered valid.
These numbers assume no secession, and secession is not considered legal at this time, but given the vagaries of chance, this opton would be the biggest threat to the continuity of the nation under the Constitution. It is possible that several states could secede in order to preserve the present form of Constitution which gives rise to an interesting number of scenarios depending on the geographic continuity of the unoccupied portions of the continental USA:
For the sake of simplicity, one could break down the US into six zones:
the Pacific Coast,
the Great Planes,
and the Mountains,
in order of importance. The nation could be still operate with three of these in US control includingone of the first three. It gets to be a problem if there are large non-contiguous areas. The geographic center of gravity is St. Louis which if controlled by a force marching from any direction is in a position to over-whelm the rest.
An prospective enemy thinking about conquering the US, would have to raise sufficient forces and project them onto our soil to overwhelm a military force of thirty million and occupy three of the six areas above. The time to raise such a force, particularly transportation assets would give the US ample time to arrange a warm and permanent greeting for those who dare.
The nuclear option must be considered in the light of those we bombed mercilessly without effect by asking how many cities did the Germans lose before Hitler ate a bullet in his bunker. Allied infantry had to take the streets. Japan surrendered as much as because the Soviet Army was already invading the northern end of the country with the US poised to attack from the south. Hirohito was no Hitler.
Knowing when to quit isn't in any manual for war I know.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Until 1940, the order of battle, the number and type of units and major end items of equipment were each and every created by act of Congress. Since WW2, that control was ceded to the services, and then to DoD. Since then, our successes in battle have increased but the end performances of wars fought to a successful conclusion have dropped dramatically. Some smaller operations have been successful such as Grenada and Panama, but Mogadishu ended that run. It is time we rethought this process.
The blame of this series of debacles committed by the Executive Branch is actually to be laid at the doors of Congress where the authority to fix the problems lies. But instead of resuming their duties, the Congress chooses to meddle in military matters that are Constitutionally barred from, the direction of military operations and of foreign policy (less trade) which are the exclusive domain of the President.
The average military person I know cringes at the notion of members of Congress arguing about the relative merits of ships versus planes, yet this is what the Constitution calls for. At the very least, Congress gets to take the blame for the screwups committed by the White House and Pentagon.
What we, as voters, should do is to start asking the Candidates for office, including State legislatures and governors, what kind of military they stand for. State officials are responsible also for the state of their militia and Guard units. The cop out that those issues are Presidential Commander in Chief issues is false. \As these are legislative issues, is devolves to the voters to become savvy of issues military as well.
We should ask our representatives what are the national defense priorities they feel should be covered. Do we need expeditionary forces perched in Kansas ready to pounce on Tora Bora? While it is the President’s job to determine where and when the force goes, we should ask the question whether or not the President should have this capability.
There are serious holes in our national defense, given the restoration of a global economy and the absence of regional imperial powers using military force for economic advantage as was the case from the Phoenicians to the creation of the British Commonwealth, and Pax Americana. One of these holes is having the force to enforce Pax Americana and preclude a resurgence of imperial competition for markets and sea lanes of trade.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The abuses of Blackwater, Executive Solutions, and other PMCs in Iraq prove that these forces must not be under private control. The excesses of the East India Companies of the Netherlands and Great Britain forced those companies to be brought under national control for the same reasons. The bitterness of those excesses still lingers on and became the basis for more than one rebellion.
Now if someone were to think really deep, one could come up with a solution that could bring up the forces in configurations not previously envisioned AND be under control. How about creating a structure to do that? Maybe someone could call is the US Volunteers. Or maybe the Guard and Reserves.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Weaponology, a new termed from a new TV series on the Military Channel on cable, is what technology works regardless of doctrine, and often why a doctrine or technology worked or not. It tells why the knife didn’t work in a gun fight.
The fate of nations and victory in battle often hinges on whether doctrine used the right technology, as in taking the bigger gun to the gun fight. Since doctrine dominates in peacetime, it is difficult to give up knife fighting. The bayonet is a stubborn survival of thousands of years of pike warfare as is the trefoil on the end of a company’s guidon and remained the number one killer in soldier’s minds until they accepted that barbed wire, machine guns, shell fragments all fed by rail rendered the bayonet a weapon of last resort.
Not all Weaponology changes are that obvious. Horse cavalry retained much of it’s usefulness throughout the Russian Revolution, the Polish wars, and the Spanish Civil War. It took a generation of automobile production to get the tinker-maker synergy to produce large numbers of reliable tanks. Timing is important.
As the Weaponology development curve is dramatically faster, by WW2, the life cycle of a successful weapon became shorter. Biplanes in 1939 were supplanted by jet fighters in six years. Designing the right weapon in the absence of a real battlefield is dicey, and given the historic value of the uniformity and consistency of the military play book, the wrong guess can be fatal. Such was the case of German and Japanese ships and planes.
The Japanese had the biggest, fastest, and longest range submarines not the least of which included super-subs that carried aircraft. They were the ideal commerce raider, but used almost exclusively in conjunction with the main fleet in hopes of fighting another Tsushima as was the dominant doctrine for the Combined Fleet throughout the war despite the dramatic success of the German and American campaigns in commerce interdiction. Or of the successful actions of the Confederate Navy which forced US ship owners to reflag half the ships under the US flag to flags of convenience, something that persists today.
Because of the vastness of the Pacific, Japan built many boats of extreme range and size, many of which were capable of cruises exceeding 20,000 miles and lasting more than 100 days. In fact, Japan built what were by far the largest submarines in the world, indeed, the only submarines over 5,000 tons submerged displacement, or submarines over 400 feet in length until the advent of nuclear power. These same boats were credited with a range of 37,500 miles at 14 knots, a figure never matched by any other diesel-electric submarine. These large boats could each carry three floatplane bombers, the only submarines in history so capable. Japan built 41 submarines that could carry one or more aircraft, while the vast submarine fleets of the United States, Britain, and Germany included not one submarine so capable.
During the Second World War, there were 56 submarines larger than 3,000 tons in the entire world, and 52 of these were Japanese. Japan built 65 submarines with ranges exceeding 20,000 miles at ten knots, while the Allies had no submarine capable of this feat. By 1945, Japan had built all 39 of the world's diesel-electric submarines with more than 10,000 horsepower, and all 57 of the world's diesel-electric submarines capable of 23+ knots surface speed.
The Japanese navy also built submarines with the fastest underwater speeds of any nation's combat submarines. They employed 78 midget submarines capable of 18.5 to 19 knots submerged, and built 110 others capable of 16 knots. As the war was ending they completed four medium-sized submarines capable of 19 knots submerged. This exceeds the 17.5-knot performance of the famed German Type XXI coming into service at the same time. As early as 1938, Japan completed the experimental Submarine Number 71, capable of more than 21 knots submerged.
Japanese submarines employed the best torpedoes available during the Second World War. The Type 95 torpedo used pure oxygen to burn kerosene, instead of the compressed air and alcohol used in other nation's torpedoes. This gave them about three times the range of their Allied counterparts, and also reduced their wake, making them harder to notice and avoid. The Type 95 also had by far the largest warhead of any submarine torpedo, initially 893 pounds (405 kg), increased to 1210 pounds (550 kg) late in the war. All Japanese torpedoes made during the war used Japanese Type 97 explosive, a mixture of 60% TNT and 40%
hexanitrodiphenylamine. Most importantly, the Type 95 used a simple contact exploder, and was therefore far more reliable than its American counterpart, the Mark 14, until the latter was improved in late-1943. Japan also developed and used an electric torpedo, the Type 92. This weapon had modest performance compared to the Type 95, but emitted no exhaust and, therefore, left no wake to reveal its presence. Similar electric torpedoes were used by several nations.
Imagine if Yamamoto had loosed these tigers on the US lines of supply across the vast space of water between the West Coast and Hawaii and from Hawaii to Australia. Even worse, imagine if Doenitz had these subs to wage war in the North and South Atlantics and the Indian Ocean as well. The supply lines from the US would have been shredded. The Canal would have fallen as well as the Soviet Union leaving the Eurasian continent in Axis hands.
German Luftwaffe doctrine dismissed four engine bombers in favor of fast medium bombers which left Germany unable to effectively conduct a strategic bombing offensive. If the Battle of Britain had been fought against four engine bombers, the end would have come swift as the short range medium bombers and their escorts couldn’t carry enough tonnage to do to Britain what Britain and the US did in return.
In both cases, the wrong doctrine led our enemies down the wrong paths leading to their destruction. Both of our enemies had the technological ability to create the right weapons, but the Rear Echelon Multi-Facilitators insisted on taking knives to gun fights.
American military doctrine shares two dark sides, one that sticks in the mud, and the other that is convinced that there is no mud. Unlike sticking to obsolete doctrine, the US likes to invent the battlefield that fits the kind of warfare they want to fight. This is called capabilities based fighting now in vogue after threat based fighting has been deemed passé by the porcelain eunuchs pandering in the Pentagon.
Like the German decision to stick to medium bombers, the decision to go to four engine bombers had as much to do with budget battles with the Navy as the B-17 was sold as the anti-dote to battleships. That’s what Billy Mitchell’s demo was all about. In fact, the USAAF prevailed in sending B-17s to the Philippines instead of a squadron of cruisers as a deterrent to the Imperial Fleet. All the B-17s were destroyed on the ground. And they never did sink a battleship on the move.
As one watches the Military, History, and Science channels, one is struck by the prevalence of personality and happenstance on the development of Weaponology. Penicillin and Teflon were developed by lab accident. Dynamite was developed by Alfred Nobel in hopes that increased lethality would deter war. Likewise, a priest developed the first “bullet proof” vest which was converted to Teflon by a pizza delivery man who had survived a shootout with some thugs.
Not every thing that works in the way it was intended to. The M113 personnel carrier and the UH-1 helicopter both started out as battlefield ambulances for the US Army Medical Corps. At night in Vietnam I used to enjoy seeing a stream of fire from the sky as Spooky aka Puff the Magic Dragon, moan in the night. A thirties era passenger plan with a reborn Gatling gun.
On the spot ingenuity counts. The hedge rows of Normandy were plowed through with a device affixed to the front of a tank by a Sergeant with a welding torch and parts of Rommel’s beach obstacles.
Doctrine development must be able to adapt to concepts and developments from all directions, from command on high to grunts on the front, and wonks in industry and on campus like Barnes Wallis of Dambuster fame, and Kelly Johnson of Lockheed’s Skunk Works.
Failure of the Germans and Japanese to change their doctrine to leverage their technology in accordance to the demands of the war, cost them a serious regime change. What we do not need is doctrine developed without regard to whether knives or guns are in the hands of the bad guys, and instead focused on the illusion of a fantasy in order to feed the career needs of the fighting force. As in Transformation.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The profit motive for entrepreneurs is profit, for investors it is the value of shares held, but for everyone else, promotion is the profit motive. And the key to promotion within an organization is fundamentally to suck up and move up. Actual effectiveness is a positive factor, but often effectiveness, productivity, efficiency, or other positive feature pose a threat to other employees, and especially those on high. This is true in the private, public, and military sectors of endeavor.
Sycophancy in the military is not only politic, it is essential for survival, given the Up or Out system of promotion based primarily on the report cards written by raters and endorsers. Part of this process is the creation of the military itself by retaining the system by which those who survived the gauntlet maintain it. Part of the process is that of the Congress which has the authority to provide “for the regulation” of the Armed Forces, specifically including the confirmation of officer selections and promotions by the Senate.
Two measures are required: 1) Congress should abolish the Up or Out system as wasteful of valuable talent and supportive of insufferable sycophancy. 2) The services should adopt the enlisted promotion evaluation system for officers, which system reduces the impact of rater and endorser to a minor fraction of the promotion point system needed for promotion.
The Up or Out system is most devastating in the second decade of service in which an officer is already no longer house broke for civilian use and has a decade of service that needs to be retained to maintain combat effectiveness. The Army has been short of Captains for decades due to the diminished chances of career survival in the second decade and the prospect of unrewarding field grade staff positions. There is nothing wrong with a long service Captain, as Captains (Navy Lt) run the units in the field.
The present Army Enlisted promotion point system has had the evaluation of the rater (Commander) at around twenty percent but has just been reduced to yes/no. The rest of the evaluation system also diminishes the impact of a review board and now stresses assignments, schooling, and awards which are a more objective criterion that the damning faint praise an aggressive officer might get.
We are in the last stages of the war in Iraq, and it is now widely accepted that the problems created by over bearing civilian authority may have fatally flawed the enterprise from the beginning. The big question on people’s lips is to question why didn’t the professionals speak out? The answer is that to do so would make it difficult for the officer’s family to pay the rent, or buy groceries.
It may take a law to accomplish both objectives. As we face a potential draw down of forces in the next administration, it would be wise to try to save the combat experience learned, even if it makes the year group distribution look a little skewed. But that’s another story.
Friday, October 26, 2007
This policy started shortly after Desert Storm and the realization that the expertise of the Guard and Reserves was as good as those on Active service, and in many cases, far superior and at one sixth the cost of maintaining them. Additionally in the years leading up to Desert Storm, all the units and activities dealing with higher levels of command such as Corps, Field Army, and Theater were being concentrated in the Guard and Reserves and was being exercised in large multi-service and multi-component command post exercises. The corollary of this was the loss of such expertise on Active Service.
The realization that Week End Warriors could fight struck directly at the Pentagon’s groin, hence heart and mind. The Army’s response, similar to other services, was to abolish the concept of levels above brigade pending a notional force called UA(X) intended to replace both corps and division. This, of course, didn’t sit well with the Generals in command of those units, so their headquarters have been retained and earning their keep trying to make sense out of the senseless mess created by Transformation, And this all in the face of enemy fire.
These policies are in accordance with the last two Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDR)in spite of the development of new doctrine for Counter Insurgency (FM 3-24) and Peace Operations (JO 3-07.3) which rejects the concept of Rotational warfare by requiring Unity of Command and Perseverance to achieve national objectives. The Transformational notion of warfare is to raid and run. Other forms of war require sustained and consistent effort.
The Guard’s traditional role in National Defense is as the Nation’s default military force and is the only force guaranteed to exist by the Constitution, in the Second Amendment. All other forces exist at the will of Congress, that includes the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy is, per the Constitution, is the only force authorized to maintain ships of war in times of peace. The Defense of the Continental US can be performed entirely by the Guard and a Navy big enough to guard the approaches to our shores and our trading sea and air lines of communication.
Any else, must be justified by extant threats from abroad, and based where those threats can be most effectively dealt with. Inasmuch as Transformation dismisses “Threat Based” planning in favor of “Capabilities or Effects based” planning, we are wrapped in a fantasy that ignores contingency planning. Such forces that are being brought back from foreign stations, then are not needed, and the equipment and missions be transferred to the Guard and Reserves.
How better to guard our own borders and skies that has been the Guard and Reserves mission since the Fifties? I hold to the Pet Rock Theory of economics. Demand creates value. The manufacturing of Pet Rocks only creates value, jobs, taxes, and wealth only so long as people demand Pet Rocks. The same applies to the Bass Sax of the Fifties for the Bass Guitar of the Seventies, or Tap Dancing. Or Colorado shoreline property, or dry land in Florida, or Dutch Tulip Bulbs. About the only thing that retains it's value regardless of time, place, culture, or the economy is a good piece of ass.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This corollary to this is the plain fact that the ability to conduct operations at levels above division had be lost to those in the Pentagon giving rise to colonic confusion that teeth don’t need tails, at least those from the detested weekend warriors. Accordingly, the decision to eliminate the tail from the teeth by creating a force that didn’t need one, called reducing the “footprint” of tactical forces. An privatizing the tail makes it weigh less. Way less.
A new battle doctrine likewise had to be invented that didn’t require ammunition re-supply, casualty replacement, or equipment maintenance, hence the Rumsfeldian “Whack-a-Mole” Rotational Modular Stabilized Expeditionary Transformational mini-brigade force. All wars and military emergencies could, under this approach, be won in a “10-30-30” cycle: Go in Ten, Win in Thirty, and Recover in Thirty Days.
Fortunately for the US, GWOT is not a near peer war like WW1 or 2. In WW1, General Sir Douglas Haig fed the finest infantry in the world into the shell holes of Hell in Flanders followed by the cream of Britain’s youth with a determined Pig Headedness that seems to have been replicated in the Pentagon. After six years of a failed rotational, transformational, expeditionary, modular war, and in spite of the burgeoning success of the new Counter Insurgency doctrine, the Pentagon prefers to cut and run than adapt to the eclectic and effective.
Lest this be seen as another of my pipe dreams, remember when there was a thing called “combat readiness”? How the Pentagon attempted to denigrate and marginalize the Reserve Components with phony readiness standards like MOS training, equipment readiness, et al? And remember what happened before 9-11?
Desert Storm did it. The Pentagon realized that the Reserve Components could rock and roll with the best of them. This had to go. No more “major” command post exercises to be done to continue to exercise Corps and above under combat conditions was a lead indicator.
And what happened when the balloon did go up? Converting artillery and tanks units to a new breed of motorized infantry in short order gave the lie to the relation of MOS to combat readiness. All that matters, now as in all wars before, is that a soldier needs only not to be gay, and that the government owns a piece of his/her ass. And the rest of the body doesn’t have to have all the parts issued originally.
One thing the last QDR did accomplish is that the Army has been transformed from a combat ready force to a combat experienced force. It is time to bring sanity to the next QDR but note that the Pentagon is trying to eliminate the Reserve Representation on the staff that prepares the QDR. BOHICA 08?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It is the same power that a police officer or military officer has in issuing orders. A military officer who orders his unit to defend or attack a piece of ground, that order has the force of law.
The extension of Commander in Chief powers past the point in which military forces are directed on the ground, sea, or in the air, is problematic as the Constitution gives the Congress the authority to determine what kind of military the President gets to command, including the organization, staffing, training, and doctrine that the forces are developed under. Of the eighteen specified powers of the Congress in Article 1, at least seven deal with military issues.
Since the creation of the Defense Department after WW2, the Congress has ceded it’s authority to the Defense Department in what used to be routinely performed by the Congress. The failure of US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to have a post invasion plan is due to a major shift in the regulation (doctrine) and organization of the military called “Transformation”.
“Transformation” is predicated on what is best for the retention of military personnel, and not upon actually winning. “Transformation” is more concerned with fighting a war than winning it. Winning a war is not in the best interests of the Pentagon as ending the war would end the funding. And that includes the billions of acquisition costs intended for a war that is entirely imaginary.
Congress should focus on what their authority is in the military arena instead of wandering outside their Constitutional authority such as putting time lines on the commitment of troops. The meddling in Turkish affairs just recently is a equally unconstitutional and which has, as intended, a devastating impact on the conduct of both military and diplomatic relations in the Middle East.
The division of national authority specified in our Constitution is a part of the Anglo-American political tradition with the separation of those powers going back to the English Civil Wars. There, the King wanted to wage war on French Catholics with whom the traders of London were trading with. End result, a Parliamentary Army today knows as the British Army, and the beheading of the King. The meddling of the Continental Congress in military operations reinforced the notion that Congress should stay out of the conduct of military operations.
The sticky part of the wicket is that while the Congress has the exclusive power to declare war, the conduct of military operations against a hostile foe or in the enforcement of the Presidents conduct of relations with foreign relations does not need a declaration of war to open fire. A declaration of war is a legal state, that may or may not involve military forces. Battles may be fought without a declaration of war. The only safeguard, as with the British, is the funding which cannot include a restriction of Presidential powers, lest the funds be treated as unencumbered money free to be spent as the President chooses.
The Founders clearly understood that giving the President (or King) a large standing military force would tempt the usage thereof. The British system kept the Regular British Army small with large supplements of colonial troops, such as the Indian Army from which Dr. Watson retired.
The “well regulated militia” guaranteed in the Second Amendment is the default military force for the United States. These state forces, however, are restricted from having ships of war or standing military forces in time of peace. Likewise, the “regulations” (doctrine) of the state forces is that which the Congress directs. Here also the Congress has failed by leaving these decisions to the Defense Department without adequate review, such as having hearings on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) which should be a Congressional task.
On an ominous note, the Army and Air Forces raised during the Cold War that used to be stationed overseas are being brought back to the Continental USA so that they can sally forth in ten days, win in thirty and rebound in another thirty. Given the failure of this approach, the Pentagon forges ahead with “Transformation” with a pig-headedness not seen since Sir Douglas Haig drenched the trenches of Flanders with British blood. One wonders in Rumsfeld’s New Model Army has a Pride’s Purge in mind. One wouldn’t like to see a “Rump Congress”
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Unfortunately for the military professional, that which constitutes the Center of Gravity (COG) isn’t all that obvious. It could be geographic, political, social, economic, technical, and/or personal at multiple levels of interest. Clausewitz’s concept itself shifts throughout his book being quite different at the end of the book than of the beginning. As such, military writings today are filled with differing notions of what it is. Or how many there are.
In order for the concept of a COG to be useful to a combatant, it should be consistently understood by his or her forces, but if it were that obvious to one side, it would be obvious to the other(s). Hard to be deceptive under those circumstances and Sun Tzu, the next most quoted authority, would send a pupil who used COG as a term to the blackboard to write “COG’s aren’t”, ten thousand times.
The very notion that one operates “around” a COG suggests a circular voyage as in staff coordination in the Pentagon. Quite useless in practice and the French would be aghast as it not only doesn’t work in practice (forgivable), it doesn’t even work in theory.
The notion that COGs exist in the RW (Real World) has lead to more tragedy than triumph. Clausewitz was fashionable during and before WW1 which induced combatants of both sides to attack each others strong points as at Verdun while the collapse of the Triple Entente came from inside and their rear as hunger, chaos, and Communism carried by troops from the Eastern Front defeated the Will of the People.
The Japanese perceived the COG as the US battle fleet, the defeat of which would bring the US to a negotiating table. That didn’t work out that way. Likewise, Osama Bin Ladin chose the World Trade Center (WTC) as the Center of Gravity of the Great Satan. Both events were somewhat counter-productive.
If one had the Sword of Damocles suspended by a single horse hair above one’s head, the Clausewitzean would deal with the sword, while students of B H Liddell Hart would step out of the way and cut the thread. Like Yin and Yang, and in Aikido, one uses the weakness against the strength.
COGs are too elusive a concept to be useful for field commanders to guide their actions which, instead should be based on proven concepts of military decision making taking into account the Factors of METT (Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops Available), plus Time and Technology available. At the risk of my own pomposity, let me suggest METT-T2.
Likewise the analysis of capabilities, limitations, weaknesses and strengths should take into account that some factors are timeless, some a transitory, and some are illusionary. The closest of factors to consistency is the human will, and geography which we called COCOA in the Pentomic Era. Cover and Concealment, Observation, Critical Terrain, Obstacles, and Avenues of Approach, all of which are used to be able to dominate or deny movement over five kinds of terrain: hills, holes, valleys, ridges, and passes by movement over the high ground, low ground, cross corridors, ridge running or through the pass.
Clausewitz posited that the Will to Resist is a function of the ability to resist, which in Napoleonic times seemed reasonable. But given the stubborn resistance of U-Boot crews, Viet Cong troops, and the Jihadi, it’s just as likely that the reverse is true. The ability to resist is a function of the will to resist, a sort of Triumph of the Will, so to speak.
Gordon S Fowkes
The principle threat to the SuperGrade-Industrial Complex, formerly known as the Military-Industrial Complex until rotational assignment rotas ensured that the impact of the military assigned to be Pentagon is controllable by superior GS15 plus Supergrades which has effectively reduced the military in the Pentagon to Hand Puppets. Likewise, any political appointee can, like in other governments, can be danced around until they quit for frustration or get set up.
The proof that such a pageant exists is that the military assigned to the Pentagon normally serves for three years, not long enough to find out who does what, who produces and go obfuscate, and my the second year figures out what needs to be done and before the third implementing rule is finished, so is the policy which the next Colonel who comes in will get an MSM for reversing it.
Likewise it is impossible for any unstable force of milicrats to sustain a policy of anykind for more than three years and most of the policies associated under the lable :”Transformation” are remarkable in consistency over multiple administrations, something a rotational military/appointed civil service could sustain.
While there were serious conflict in the Pentagon over the conduct of the war between the role specified in FM3-24 calling for a multi-disciplined multi-level effort to mix economic, political, health, governance, and judicious use of massive firepower, has been sabotaged by the Surge, a rotational concept beloved by rotational career centric policies of Transformation.
Surges are temporary which sabotages the long pull approach of COIN operations. By associating Petraes name with the Pentagon Surge Policy dooms his effectives which the surge recedes..
Likewise is the Pentagon;s insistence that the Army is over-extended, a condition created by the Pentagon by not pushing for Full Presidential Mobilization which would have kept the Guard and Reserve units on active duty until the emergency was over..
South Africa has made it illegal for South Africans to join private military companies in the aftermath of objections to Executive Solutions, featured in “Blood Diamond” were objected to by the rest of the African states. Executive Solutions proved that a highly trained force was more than cost effective, replacing ineffective UN and African peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone. Since reconciliation, large numbers of highly trained and combat experienced South Africans have been seeking employment in the guns for hire sector.
Historically privatized military forces on sea were either pirates or privateers, the latter being pirates with a government license. Privateers were banned by the Declaration of Paris in 1856 signed by all the major European powers, but which the US did not for lack of greater protection for what was left of US shipping after the devastations by the Confederate Navy. Half the US merchant marine reflagged itself to prevent capture by the Alabama and Shenandoah.
Field and siege artillery were private sector until the French in the late 17th Century made it a part of the regular military establishment. It seemed that the private artillery companies had a penchant for leaving the battlefield to preserve their capital investments against capture or destruction.
Logistics in the US Army used “sutlers”, private PX’s, up until after the Spanish American War. They tended to be gougers of troopers paychecks. While there are many private sector logistics operations that have provided the services that Army Reserve and Guard logistics units were tasked to perform, there has been widespread corruption and incompetence that has proved counter-productive in the war on terror. The building built by private contractors for the Iraqi Police Academy leaks shit from the light sockets. Shoddy construction and abandoned projects throughout Iraq leave a bad taste in the mouths of the people whose hearts and minds we bleed for.
The motives for the unprecedented use of the private sector on the battlefield stems two mutually reinforcing sources: Neo-Con religious fervor towards privatization and job security for the Regular Army. The latter fear that People From Outside the Box will threaten the job security and promotion opportunity and flowpoint if the Guard and Reserve forces trained for over a quarter of a century to provide combat service support and service support at levels from battalion to Theater Army would interfere the availability of command and field staff positions to budding field grades.
Few outside the military know that the structure of units above division (corps, field army, and theater army) were well trained and ready to go to support any kind of military operation. Fortunately for the US, the private sector has drawn from the experience and training of the Guard and Reserve in this capacity to provide the services needed. That is in addition to the ranks of the retired, and from those on active service who wish to double or triple their paycheck in the private sector.
There is a move in global politics and within the Bolshevik Left in the US to exploit the trigger happy reputation of Blackwater to emasculate GWOT. Rather than revert to the tried and true,however, the threat of Guard and Reserve parity with the Regular Army is enough for the Pentagon to now speak of withdrawing from Iraq to be able to be ready to fight an imaginary war instead of winning he real one in front of them.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The Pentagon’s PSYOP plan for preparing the political battlefield includes the subtle placement of “articles” in the professional journals and in the press extolling the virtues of Transformation and undermining the credibility of those they oppose. The Navy’s termination of the Navy’s TAR program was preceded by articles denouncing the TAR. The attempt to strip the Air Guard of fighter aircraft was (and still is) preceded by claiming that Guard and Reserve pilots needed consolidated training away from home station, and it was cheaper. The Army’s combat service support structure has been largely replaced with civilian contractors who use Guard. Reserve, and Retiree personnel at multiples of their original military salaries, but do not compete with Regulars for promotion and command assignments.
From NGAUS come the alerts of further actions to emasculate the Guard and Reserves:
The Issue: Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB)Immediate/Urgent Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose changes to the current structure of the Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) until hearings and debate in Congress can properly evaluate the way ahead.
The Reserve Forces Policy Board (RFPB) has served as the vital linkage between the senior leadership of the Reserve Components with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Congress of the United States.The current structure, when permitted to function within the DoD, as provided by previous legislative guidance of the Congress, permits face-to-face consideration and debate by senior Reserve Component officers and the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense, with appropriate reporting to the Congress.Current proposals to reduce or eliminate these Reserve Component leaders are counter-productive (Sec. 1623 in the Senate version; Sec. 531 in the House version). When permitted to work within its charter, the RFPB has stood the test of time and has provided a critical path on Reserve issues to our nation’s leaders
The Issue: Mixed Status ForcesImmediate/Urgent Action Required: Contact your members of Congress and urge them to reject Section 1621(b) contained in the House version of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The National Guard Association of the United States joins with the National Governor’s Association, the Department of Defense and the President in opposing Section 1621(b) of the House version of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, “Command and Control of Mixed Status Forces in Certain Missions.”This language directs the Secretary of Defense to establish procedures allowing U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to exercise command of National Guard forces which are not federalized but are under State control performing “full-time National Guard duty” in Title 32 status. The language refers to “mixed status forces” which are defined as National Guard units in Title 32 status which are training or operating alongside active duty units.A law purporting to allow state-controlled National Guard forces to be placed under the command of federal military officers would be in conflict with 32 USC 115, unless such law requires consent of the governor. There is no mention of governor’s consent in Sec. 1621(b)
The key issue that we have to decide is to accept or reject the idea that all military wisdom and competence extend as a natural extension of a Regular commission, and that those who are not Regular are inherently inferior, save as temporary labor, seasonal workers, or cannon fodder.
Additionally we should question to continued utility of a career obsessed structure whose concern for military glory aka career management outstrips their concern with defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The advance PR about the likelihood of COIN operations as a passing fad is based on the Pentagon’s assessment that the War in front of us interferes with the Pentagon’s imaginary war needed billions in fancy hardware. They would rather lose the War on Terror than face the reality that the current Defense Department is terminally dysfunctional in fighting real wars.
It is time to restore the ability of the nation to build a war winning military capability in the manner we did prior to the creation of the Defense Department. This Defense department has no concept of defense nor of war, and should be renamed the Military Department.
Gordon S Fowkes
Lt Col, US Army (Ret)
The passage of the Congressional resolution condemning Turkey for the genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire over eighty years ago may well rank as one of the most unique victories of psychological operations by a nation’s legislature against it executive and its armed forces engaged in combat. With a “non-binding” resolution expressing an opinion in areas for which the Congress has no authority, the Pelosi “progressive” Democrats may have severed an important Line of Communication (LOC) to troops engaged in combat against a hostile foe. In ordinary military terms this is a move that would have taken at least a full corps of ground forces together with air power to match to accomplish the same thing.
This propaganda coup clearly aligns the Progressive Democrats with Al Qaeda, and the other factions of extremist Islamic terrorism presently waging war with the United States, and against all other nations who chose not to join a radical fundamentalist global Caliphate. Aide and comfort, anyone?
Given the simple fact that the philosophic position of the Progressive Democrat is presented as extreme liberalism which that of the Terrorist is extreme conservatism makes this alliance of opposites somewhat like the autocratic French King’s support of the American Revolution, a move which was decidedly regicidal in the end.
It might be said that President Bush’s intrusion into Congressional affairs triggered an equivalent response by the Congress, by the latter’s intrusion into matters concerning the direction of troops in combat and the direction of foreign policy which are reserved exclusively to the President under the Constitution. As such we are facing a serious Constitutional crisis which, if not nipped in the bud, may boil over into a civil war as it did in Great Britain in the English Civil Wars back in the mid 1600’s. Parliament against King.
Who are the Progressive Democrats, those who have allied themselves with the enemies of civilization, Western and otherwise? Aren’t they the same who claim they ended the War in Vietnam by pulling out US troops, leaving the Vietnamese to fight on alone for two more years? Aren’t they the ones that condone the Killing Fields of Cambodia? Aren’t they the ones who back Hugo Chavez in his near perfect emulation of a Soviet style takeover, the last of which occurred in South Vietnam?
Who are these Progressive Democrats who champion the suppression of expression and religion through the substitution of whim and caprice for admissible evidence under the Common Law? They and their over-Conservative counter-parts should pause and think of the ramifications of deviation from the Constitution and the Common Law if the tools of repression they devise gets into their opponents hands. Imagine using Guantanamo to house Christian Conservatives for preaching the overthrow of the US to establish a Kingdom of God on earth? Or for practicing ritual cannibalism in the Holy Eucharist?
It is time for Liberal Democrats to let the Progessives sink back into the sewers from which they came.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I was asked recently by our local radio station, KTRK, if there wasn’t some other solution steeped in our historical playbook. Of course there is, I replied. Haven’t you heard of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders that TR led up San Juan Hill? TR raised this regiment of cavalry combining his buddies in Ivy Leaguery with some leathery friends from the Old West. Look at pictures of TR in his uniform (Night in the Museum) and his collar brass says USV for US Volunteers. In fact, the raising of regiments was the default American Way of War well into WW2 before the advent of a large standing army.
Where and how can this be done, the Pentagon would wonder to which any Guard or Reserve unit commander could reply with a snort that raising armies, fleets, and air crews is business as usual. A regular service commander is issued his or her troops, while the default Guard or Reserve commander has to stamp his unit out of the ground. When I go to the movies here in Houston, I see ads for the local Air Guard Fighter Squadron. I raised eighty percent of the 5th PSYOP Group (Strategic) in DC within one year of it’s activation back another life time ago.
The fact that the Pentagon raised private military units to avoid calling up the Guard and Reserve units trained for the purpose (and their field grade commanders which might ruin the morale of those on the command list) attests to the fact that units in deed can be stamped out of the ground given proper incentives. In fact, the down side of raising volunteer units historically was that some regiments paid more than others created some healthy competition between units.
Volunteer units made no pretense of sticking around after the war, and hence no threat to established rice bowls. Historically, Regular officers and noncoms were enticed to add starch and spice to the mix of talented amateurs and retreads. This is the way that America used to win it’s wars before careerism raised it’s multiple rotational heads and substituted fighting wars instead of winning them.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Since MOS (military occupational specialties) are skill sets presumed to have some relevance to unit mission and personal reassignment and career development, the skill sets that went to war were not the skill sets needed for this war. Artillery and Armor units re-equipped, trained, and deployed as “constabulary” units destined for patrolling the roads and alleys of Iraq.
Does this invalidate the foundation for personnel management or the foundation for the existence of units? The evidence suggests that the Personnel Managers, their Super Grades, decided that the existence of trained Reserve and Guard units is valid only as fillers and as “non-union” temporary warriors for non-union seasonal work … like war.
QDR 2006 spells it out in bold terms, but without clearing with Congress that their consistent insistence that Reserve and Guard units have a clear wartime mission is being ignored utterly.
And, worse yet, the QDR 2006 is the quintessential example of the deliberate adoption of the 6P principle (PPPPPP – “Prior Preparation Prevents P*$$ Poor Performance) which is the opposite of the Six Sigma principle of Deming enthusiasts. And it might be said that, despite the best trained, motivated, lead, and equipped, the performance of the progress in Iraq is definitely PP.
QDR 2006 dichotomous shifting includes “From under resourced , standby forces (hollow units) – to fully equipped and fully manned forces (combat ready units)” which means that that the Pentagon views Guard and Reserve units are inherently hollow.
The entire Capstone program mandated by Congress aligning units with combat mission is classic contingency planning. QDR 2006 tosses the entire concept of contingency planning in favor of “proactive” prevention based not on threats, but on capabilities. The QDR 2006 dichotomous shifting requires some innovative thinking, as follows:
“From threat-based planning – to capabilities based planning”, “From peacetime planning – to rapid adaptive planning”, and from “from forces that need to deconflict – to integrated, interdependent forces” which all means that no planning based on Mission, Enemy, Weather and Terrain is required, Modular Stabilized one-size-fits-nothing Brigades can rest in Festung Kansas and pounce with speed, agility, and precision on any and all contingency … without planning.
This no planning modus operandi is officially disclaimed elsewhere in QDR 2006 which calls for a dichotomous shift “from crisis response – to shaping the future” and from “reactive” to “proactive”. I have a hard time envisioning being proactive without threat based peacetime planning. PPPPPP.
While the Democrats are spending useless energy in trying to conduct military operations in Iraq, which they have zero Constitutional authority, they, and the disaffected other Congress members should focus on what is their specified Constitutional authority to do which is to provide for the regulation (doctrine) of the military. It is clear that the Puzzle Palace on the Potomac can’t do it.