Friday, February 29, 2008

Regular Shredding Keeps the Terrorist Away

One of the members of the Committee on the National Guard and Reserves (CNGR) let slip that the Pentagon had no need for Guard and Reserve units, and that their needs were for combat troops. This, of course, is no news to members of the Guard and Reserves as the Pentagon and it’s predecessors have consistently felt the same and such feeling is endemic and pervasive down to their inner selves. The late Colonel Hackworth, something of an iconoclast, also believed that Regulars should command Guard and Reserve units. He was surprised to note, that that could happen in the Guard if the state Governors would allow it.

Inasmuch as the process of the destruction of Guard and Reserve units has been the policy and practice of the Bush Administration since Field Marshall von Rumsfeld took office, and in defiance of Federal Law and of the Constitution (Second Amendment), illustrates the ancient dictum that standing armies are a standing threat to civil authority, regardless of the nature of the civil authority. This goes back to tribal days when the elected War Chief overthrows the authority of the tribal council of elders. The history of ancient civilizations also is describable in terms of the struggle of the war chief versus the priest hood (aka intelligentsia) over who would dominate the town council, the latter reduced to that of privy council of cronies.

The justification of a take over by the war chief is often found in the inability of the tribal council to defend the tribe against sustained threats. This, however, doesn’t apply to the USofA, as since the creation of the Department of Defense, the war winning record has been abysmal despite being more ready than before DoD. The Pre-DoD record was full of battles lost and wars won, now replaced with battles won and wars lost or called off.

The history of American war since before the United States has been that there are never enough infantry and never enough trucks (be those trucks float, fly or drive). This too the Pentagon missed in their preparation for the Long War, but realized that replacements will be needed to flesh out the 10-30-30 “Whack-A-Mole” rotational war so favored by those in the Wolves Lair by the Potomac. This gave them the opportunity to shred the Guard and Reserves.

Despite the fact that Guard and Reserve units and personnel have demonstrated stellar performance, the CNGR proceeded blindly in their Rumsfeldian quest. We all recall that the first stage of the shredding was the cherry picking and packaging of RC units under flags of convenience particularly leaving out field and flag rank command slots in deploying units. It occurred to no one in the Puzzle Palace that the traditional way to call up RC and militia units was to send Regulars in as fillers and replacements thus preserving the usual stellar cohesion that RC units excel in. Italian units “stiffened” with German officers and NCO’s often performed admirably in North Afrika.

There is, however, a valid defense requirement in what the CNGR member let slip, and that is the need for individual and small team replacements to fill short falls and unanticipated needs in the forces on active service regardless of component. The only components capable of maintaining such a pool are the Reserves as contrasted with the Guard which is unit based, and the Active Components by their year end staffing requirements. The Guard and AC must cannibalize units to provide fillers. And the Army and Air Force Reserves have failed to maintain an adequate system of trained fillers. The IRR system failed, in part for lack of money, and in part due to fear that non-unit affiliation would threaten a major source of income, and make for a less competitive career. Just providing more money didn’t work.

One of the major lunacies of the Rumsfeldian unit shredding schema is that the most valuable RC individual replacements, however contrived, is for experienced and trained troops well past entry level. These troops, for the most part, got their entry level experience on active service and are like Napoleon’s Old Guard, are older. In addition to technical skills, the leadership skills of the mid level manager, officer or enlisted, require practice, a practice gained only in units. Consequently, the need for trained non-coms and officers is best met from persons in units. That’s exactly where the Pentagon got them, but by cannibalizing RC units.

It seems obvious that the best solution to meet the replacement problem is to provide units for individuals to train with, by authorized over-strength (a notion already under way) and the creation of units formed for the purpose of collective training for the individuals. These would be units in training configured along tactical lines but lacking the full complement of hardware necessary for deployment. These units would form command cells to participate in a “war” created by war-game, virtual reality, and/or command post exercise in which individuals would join in a war in progress, a very realistic mode.

Other activities of a unit in training would be ad hoc aggregates to under go selected skills training such as NBC, weapons qualification, patrolling, or the usual array of required training so favored by under-employed higher staffs.

Imagine the UmptyUmpth Fighter Squadron consisting of flight and fight simulators, or the Last/UmptyUmpth combat brigade engaged in a virtual reality enactment of the Battle of Tora Bora in progress. An RC Sergeant in town for business could hop by the local RC center, and participate in an exercise available and for which a training need exists. The record of his/her participation would go into his on-line training folder.

In several years of exercises with the 75th Division, I found that such exercises can be hard to distinguish from the command post environments I found in Vietnam and in the Fulda Gap.

In short, unit shredding is counter-productive to the needs of the Active Components as well as the needs of the RC components. Using the proven effectiveness of modern training technology can present realistic training for RC units be they deployable or not.

The fact that Guard units are experienced in working with civilian authorities makes them, as units, better suited for the Long War than AC units, gives rise to the notion that AC units should be shredded to fill Guard units.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Towards A Mission Oriented Force

Today’s military organization, staffing, training and equipment is force oriented, or more accurately, career oriented. Hitler once said that a nation needed to be “blooded” every generation to remind the nation of the sacrifices and of the skills needed to defend the state. Unlike Hitler’s dogma, which was victory oriented, ours isn’t oriented on victory but fighting without regard to any notion of victory. Or, of what sort of mission our nation must be prepared to do in order to preserve the nation and it’s goals, however defined.

And that is the first step. What are the missions needed for what purpose. Each new administration will have their own concepts and an enduring effort to stay ahead of the great game, the military must be engaged in a continuing process of mission analysis followed by contingency planning through the Military Decision Making Process.

It is clear that a wide variety of missions will evolve from said continuum of analyses, knowing that whatever contingency is planned for will require revision before implementation. That is the nature of military planning and execution, from Fire Team to Field Army or Fleet.

Mission analysis, like intelligence analysis, uncover repeated eventualities, requirement and course of action that once isolated can be lumped into groups of missions, actions, events, and course of action. The planning for the defense of the Fulda Gap transferred quite well to the Gulf, for it is the planning that matters more than the plan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Two Vs Three Gets People Killed

LTG Chiarelli, former 1st Cav CG, blames “Security Nazis” prevent US commanders from getting vital information to their subordinates due to over-classification of enemy information in the Defense News article, January 28, 2008 :”Helping Info Flow Freely” by William Matthews. In other words, nothing has changed since the days I served in intelligence in Vietnam almost forty years ago., the day after Tet was deemed over So much for “net centric warfare”.

The day I arrived at Camp Evans in I Corps, the 1st Air Cav Division launched it’s attack into the A Shau valley. The place was virtually empty as I walked to the G1 shop for assignment. It appears that there was a project down in Saigon that needed an officer with operations experience on TDY. War is Hell, but someone has to do it, and I flew south in a Caribou to Saigon, and through Saigon in a Mitsubishi bus to Long Binh at about the same speed.

I was to be assigned to USARV G-2 I was told, for an experiment in military intelligence which experiment was dusted off from the shelves of CDEC (Combat Development and Experimentation Center – Ft Ord) after it was found that all the intelligence needed to predict Tet was already in the “system”. In fact, the IInd Field Force had acted on it’s own as had the ARVN III Corps both of which saved Saigon, while MACV still missed out on the big secret.

The experiment consisted of two radical notions. First was to put Military Intelligence officers in intelligence staff positions. This was radical departure from the normal procedure of putting those who were FNG, Short, Shot Up or Screwed Up in as S2. After years of fighting wars at Fort Swampy based on the S3 Operattions and Training Officer’s assessment of which kind of battle to fight, be it attack of a fortified position, defense of a river line, or movement to contact the unit needed. Since the actions was predetermined, there was nothing for the intelligence officer to do. After all, A Company was going to be Opfor (aka Aggressor) against B Company. Everything the S2 would do in combat was pre-determined by the S3. No sense in appointing a perfectly good officer to a do nothing job.

Another weird idea was to gather all the intelligence detachments and companies in a combat division who reported to echelons above boss, and have them report to the Division CG. To this was added a vertical array of intelligence cells called “BICCs” at each level of command from battalion to division tied together with a dedicated intelligence net that operated like a fire support net.

My job was to evaluate the “before” and “after” pictures as this program was put in effect. The first phase was one month and the “after” period was two months. My duty station was the 2/2nd Mechanized Infantry Bn (Daring) which was located on QL 13, a road nick named “Thunder Road”. So much for my hardship tour at Long Binh. In between the before and the after was a tour of Vietnam interviewing battalion and brigade staffs about intelligence operations. I visited the 25th Division then battling the VC in the Second General Offensive on the outskirts of Saigon, and the 173rd Airborne Bde operating out of LZ English on the Bong Son plains.
The difference between the before and after was that before there was no intelligence and after the was. Before we had outdated maps which had few wiggly brown lines and green that had been erased by Rome Plow. After we had the last ten years of VC activity in that area, and were able to get the latest from On High at Saigon’s intelligence centers. We had, as the term is today, “Reach Back” capabilities.

Transformation, the 400 Billion Dollar boondoggle, still hasn’t solved the basic psychological drama between S2 and S3 and from Upper to Lower echelons. As I found out in the project the basic rules of intelligence dissemination are:

1. Tell next higher only what you want them to know.
2. Tell next lower only what they need to know.
3. Tell adjacent units nothing at all

Based on over twenty years of military intelligence experience, I have found out that ninety percent of that which is classified Secret and above is already common knowledge to the enemy, and the other ten percent doesn’t exist. Over-classification is job security and ego management for intelligence officers. To be able to one-up the three in the PM briefing is sweet. Likewise, the S3 muscular types don’t trust wimps that read books, and prefer to divine enemy capabilities and intentions by divine inspiration. The tragedy is that people get killed as a result.

There has been an impressive improvement in the delivery of information and the coordination between 2 and 3 in the current unpleasantness in the Muddle East over what was the norm in Vietnam. Part of this is the improvement in communications but the biggest part is the this is the “wired” generation who have a clear understanding of what can be done.

The Brigade command and control system we went to war didn’t mesh with higher up. That was worked around. LTG Chiarelli’s CAVNet was shut down. It seems that as before we still classify the other guys stuff higher than we do our own. OPSEC is largely of value to prevent the bad guys from finding out what we are going to do. Any one who expects that the enemy doesn’t know what we are going to do is fooling with himself.

Our advantage is that the above principles are universal, and the other guy’s intel is being discounted by his opns officer. Hitler and his generals had all the clues they needed to predict Normandy. Stalin killed all the officers that told him that Hitler was going to attack, after the attack was launched. In Vietnam, the VC was so good at intercepting our radio that when a FAC or gunship showed up to do some good, the VC was ready to pop smoke at the same time we did to guide God’s wrath upon the unfaithful. We learned to pick the color of smoke at random and wait for the pilot to identify the various colors that would rise above the green stuff. Then we would tell him which was ours and to dump on the others.

And, we move quicker than they do, staying inside their operations cycle. It would be nice, however, to be able to reduce the number of enemy read our minds.

Another feature of the military decision making and intelligence process that is critical to understand and that is that commanders, ours and theirs, don’t know what they are going to do for sure in advance of the decision, and that regardless of what decision is made, Murphy’s Law applies. Gettysburg resulted as a clash over a shoe factory.