Friday, June 27, 2008

Impromptu Force Generaton

Those of us familiar with career management within the military likely know of the step stone ladder of promotion showing a progression of assignments and schooling leading up through company and field promotions. Career managers and personnel gurus delight in pointing out to the assembled postulates the predictability of challenges leading to the A-Ring, and the prospects of competition for flag rank. This ladder typically shows where the postulant commands a company, serves on battalion staff, goes to professional schools, and if lucky commands a battalion and serves on high level staff.

Likely the career progression indicates the requirement to go to sea, serve overseas, or even have a tour in combat, or service in some godforsaken clot of dirt on the ramparts of freedom. And we take for granted, this programmed climb to fame and fortune.

The natural extension of this concept is an underlying factor in Transformation, that of providing a predictable platform for progression upon which the postulant includes service on the ramparts and, at the same time, provide this predictability for family life. The All Volunteer military is a married force, and the rotation of assignments now is linked to the progression of units in harms way.

Thus we now are familiar with the terms “dwell time”, “rotation”, and “reset” in the process of force generation. The Army calls it ARFORGEN, the Army Force Generation model. And to make it work, Army tactical organizations have modularized into chunks that are intended to optimize personnel progression of assignments, schooling, promotions, and deployment. Likewise the Navy and Air Force clump units into “expeditionary” task organizations to attempt the same.

The underlying assumption is that threats to national purpose will also be made to mesh with the needs of promotion, stateside assignment, and command tours in field conditions. In order to make things fit, the enemy must be programmable and predictable to serve the needs of promotion timing and opportunity.

It must be extremely annoying to personnel planners that the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and others of the same bloody ilk, do not mesh their terror campaigns with the needs of career progression. And we hear today much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the services being stretched, and of the paucity of Captains in the Army, a condition which precluded 9-11.

Ordained theoreticians of the Order of the A-Ring call this concept, “capabilities based” planning to replace the old, outmoded, Cold War paradigm of “threat based” planning, that is, planning force development in terms of Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops Available, Time and Civilian considerations (METT-TC).

The tension between capabilities and threat based planning in the War on Terror has some interesting trade-offs: the creation of a well trained, combat hardened, and experienced force at the expense of a decisive victory in Iraq and Afghanistan. The positive side effect of rotational capabilities based operations has been to build a generation of superbly qualified junior and mid rank officers and noncoms with the know how to know how to fight an extremely complex form of military operations, that of counterinsurgency and stability operations.

It is of considerable interest that the revolution in military doctrine has come from the training and education establishment, which in the Army is the Combined Arms Center at Ft Leavenworth. Therein lies the roots of tragedy. Ft Leavenworth is not the Pentagon, and the various factions within the Pentagon which formulated capabilities based planning are still there, and likely are either frustrated or fuming over the loss of control over the future mind set of the Army and likely the Marine Corps to forces beyond the E-Ring.

The failed attempt by the Pentagon to move General Petraeus from Iraq to Germany is an example of the sense of desperation within the Pentagon. The ascension of Secretary of Defense Gates to the central sanctum of the Puzzle Palace is a clear indication that the President has lost faith in the capabilities based paradigm which has gutted his efforts in the Middle East, and which has generated a groundswell of discontent and loss of confidence in the American electorate in national leadership not seen since the Sixties.

Unlike the Sixties, and as a result of the Abrams doctrine that one should never go to war without the Guard and ReServes which brought the hearts and minds of the American electorate in support of our troops. This is in sharp contrast with the contempt that was expressed against the veterans of the Lifer-Draftee Army of Vietnam. It is fortunate that the combat effectiveness of the Citizen-Warrior is now accepted by the Fair Haired and /Full Time warrior.

Perhaps it is time to implement a force generation model that is matches capabilities to threats, instead of the other way around.

Some basic principles:

Murphy’s Law is the first law of war. Traditional task organization for ground warfare calls for “two up, one back”. That refers to the default assumption that one third of one’s ground power be held back for contingencies, the kind at which Murphy excels in. The composition of forces forward is based on the best guess at what will needed up front. The underlying assumption for this task organization is that the one thing that is predictable is change.

Force development at the strategic level must also plan for Murphy’s Law, for uncertainty and change. This is at the root of the “Full Spectrum” doctrine emerging now and in play in combat. A Full Spectrum force development and personnel strategy calls for a dynamic and eclectic mechanism for keeping reserves in depth for skill sets and units that focuses on full time forces keyed to full time threats, and reserve forces stepped in order of the best estimates of Muphy’s antics.

Full time force planning must include provision of forces of a type and number not anticipated by the best of planning. The extraordinary ability of the our training base and of our troops to change radically to match the needs of fighting in the Middle East is remarkable, and shows that such changes should be made an expectation of all forces in times of relative peace. This isn’t all that new an idea. We took cavalry off of horses and into tanks, and infantry into planes and gliders in two years between the initial mobilization of the Armed Forces in 1940 and their deployment in 1942.

The 1st US Volunteer Cavalry AKA “the Rough Riders” was made up of cowboys and polo players by Teddy Roosevelt to adapt the capabilities he knew to the war at hand. Likewise, individuals in the Civil War raised units of unique qualities, given the charter to do so. The existence of private military companies like Blackwater shows that exotic and highly qualified units and troops can be stomped out of the populace at hand without the need for elaborate career stepping stones.

The capability of impromptu force generation can be made into law by the Congress, and should be brought to the attention of the new Congress and new Adminstration.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

GWOT and the Second Amendment

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the District of Columbia’s gun law as it pertains to guns in the home has been heralded as the liberation of a long repressed personal Constitutional right to own guns. This misses the point of the Second Amendment as it was intended by the Founders and those who ratified the original Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The original Constitution as written did not include certain rights that the states and citizens had taken for granted, and insisted that those rights were spelled out as a condition of their passage of the Constitution. Those rights included Freedom of Speech and Religion, preservation of the Common Law as the rules of engagement in court, and others as well as the Second Amendment concerning the right of a state to have a well regulated militia.

It is ironic that those who herald the current ruling as if it were some great blow for freedom while the worst assault on the Second Amendment in our history has been waged by the Pentagon on the state militias, of which most are in the National Guard, and which are emulated in spirit by the ReServe forces of the military services.

The Founders and the legislatures of the original states of the union were fearful of a large standing federal military force that would provide the national government with a military capability to suppress Willy nilly the states. Their fears were not only based on the depredations of British troops and Hessians in British pay to repress the rights of Englishmen as known under the British Constitution at the time of the start of the Revolution. What they fought against the British, they did not want from a Federal government.

The political tradition of concern with a large standing long serving professional national Army was dealt with in the United Kingdom by a reliance on a large long serving professional Royal Navy, a small highly professional British Army, and loads of Colonial and Imperial troops who weren’t stationed in Jolly Auld England.

The experience of a large professional long serving army, the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, was that of a military dictatorship in which Britain was broken up into military districts managed by Major Generals who enforced Puritan bans on cosmetics, gambling, dancing, fornicating, and other basic rights of the people. After Ollie died, his son wasn’t up to the job and the military brought the Stuart Kings back. See the film “Restoration” with Meg Ryan and Robert Downey for historical details.

The Stuarts tippled too much in the other direction and a solid Hollander was brought in to smooth things over. Their brief dynasty was succeeded by bringing in a King from Hannover, Germany, but directed that no German troops under the King’s control would be allowed to serve in Britain, Ireland, and/or Scotland. The King’s German Legion provided good service to the UK well through the Napoleonic Wars.

Given that colorful background, the Americans who ratified the Second Amendment thought they were making sure that no one would interfere with the Basic Rights of an American as had the New Model Army. Our default military establishment was that of reliance on a very small regular long serving professional force to man the coastal fortifications, and the forts and patrols in the Wild West. This was expanded courtesy of Teddy Roosevelt acting without any real authority when he ordered Admiral George Dewey to attack the Spanish Fleet in Manila Bay. That brought the US into the Far East big time and in short order we had garrison’s in the Philippines and Shanghai, and an Asiatic Fleet of mostly brown and green water vessels ….including the Panay.

The World Wars brought us to build a seriously big standing temporary force to defeat the Hun and Hirohito. The usual dismantling after WW 2 was interrupted by the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam. Once the Cold War ended, and with no need to man the forts in Indian Territory or coastal batteries of really big cannons, or of stationing troops overseas, the rationale for a long serving permanent force has not yet been justified in terms of the kinds of contingencies used in previous mobilizations and deployments.

President George HW Bush recognized that the Cold War establishment was no longer justified, and started the dismantling process continued by Bill Clinton, a move heralded by business conservatives as the “peace dividend”.

It was necessary to invent a replacement for the Cold War, or any serious flare up by the minions of evil on the frontiers of freedom. And thus was born, Transformational Rotational Modular Expeditionary Objective personnel and toy centric Whack-A-Mole Warfare in which the legions of liberty on the frontiers of freedom were to be repositioned in Festung Kansas in order to be closer to Pentastan, but without checking out the enemy and terrain thereof.

Feeling threatened by the dread possibility of a Return to Normalcy that would put too many field grades in the unemployment lines, the Pentagon resorted to the time honored tool of killing off the competition. Thus ensued the War on the Guard and ReServes waged through the elimination of sexy stuff like fighter planes and combat units, to be replaced by replacementalism as it played out in the Balkan and Early OEF/OIF partial mobilizations, likely known as the Great Cherry Pick AKA “Operational Reserve”.

Fortunately, even the Pentagon is learning, albeit at a glacial pace that Guard and ReServe forces due to Dual Careerism are likely better at Full Spectrum warfare in which experience in a real world outside the gates of Ft Swampeigh.

While the Service School systems are adapting to a new and vital doctrine to apply to the full spectrum of needs for which the military is best suited. What is missing, is the reason, in objective terms to justify a large standing long serving professional force after Terror is defeated (if ever). Will we need to keep inventing threats or crises to maintain promotion flow point and opportunity for the field grades of tomorrow?

While I believe there is a need for a response to a definable array of threats and crises which would include long serving professional standing forces, we need more justification for the size and composition than the needs to maintain a crop of field grade officers and career progression, or to maintain the toys of the favored few in the competition for the A-Ring.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Erasing the Red Line between Military and Civilian

I believe in the principle of civilian control of the military, but only if the civilians are in uniform. The fact that military operations are, and have always been, a mix of hard kinetic firepower and softer kinder activities such as building roads, schools, markets and providing health, security, economic, governmental assistance. Military and civilian skill sets are integrated vertically and horizontally, particularly in stability operations in the Arc of Instability on both sides of the battlefield. Islamic terrorism starts with building schools, clinics, and charities backed by a beheading or a bomb or two.

The very notion of vertically separation military and civilian authority has no objective or subjective basis in reality or in our laws. The Constitution makes no such rule. The President is an elected Commander in Chief. Militia units of old used to elect their own company commanders. The Congress, elected by the voters, have the specified authority under Article 1, Section 8, clauses 11 through 16 in addition to the money clause to determine what kind of military the nation should have and under whatever kind of leadership structure they want. Neither is there any such principle that applies to the state “militia” known today as the National Guard whose chain of command stops at the Governor unless in Federal service.

The belief in the superiority of the civilian structure over the military is political mythology, a mythology we pander to other nations as if this were a core democratic belief. The subordination of military personnel to a civilian authority in some cultures is a mortal insult to the very essence of their local warrior spirit.

One can no longer separate what is military from civilian solely based on the application of firepower as gentle persuader. “Civilians” from the intelligence community and contractors outside the government apply firepower just as dexterously as a uniformed trigger puller. Nor can it be divided vertically as civil considerations are a part of the Strategic Marine Sergeant or Tank Company commander’s responsibilities are essentially the same spectrum dealt with at the Three Star level.

What’s the real basis for the myth of civilian authority? In part it is due to the political necessities of placing the people the boss can control in the subordinate positions after the takeover. Basic Merger and Acquisition theory. That is why both military and civil service experienced people come under the thumb of political hacks.

In addition, the civil service structure which is based on position and turf unlike the military service which is resume centric and approbation based. Defense of the rice bowl for a civilian is to assert superiority over the temporaries in uniforms that pass through the local maze of cubicles. For the military it is to such up and move up hopefully with an enhanced resume.

The sad side of this silliness is that the military’s personnel grooming is to produce a well rounded, experienced, and educated leader capable of handing the unexpected as a matter of routine. The civilian needs predictability and turf protection, and is not bound by the need to exceed. The national interest in defense calls for the cultivation of the flexible over the fixed which mitigates towards keeping what civilians needed for stability in their place … under military control.

Having a civilian with commensurate military qualifications would allow the flexibility when needed in emergencies and provide stability in between, reserving the ReServes to provide the reserve capabilities for both contingencies.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A National Defense Primer

There is always some damn fool who thinks that using force and violence is going to get something out of it. And there are just enough examples where it does, although the outcomes of the use of force usually have only marginal relation to the original causes. And this paper isn’t going to agonize on that issue but focus on the fundamentals of what is needed for the defense of the USA.

The factors used in military planning are covered in the acronym METT-TC: Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops available, Time, and Civil considerations.

The Mission of an American national defense is rooted in the oath taken by the military and all public officials, and that is to defend the Constitution and all lawful orders. The Constitution is a rule book which means that the first principle in defense planning is to follow the rules and to ensure that the rules are protected.

It is an old adage that a standing military force is a standing threat to civil authority, regardless of the merits of that civil authority. The Founders divided the responsibility and authority for the military between the President who acts as Commander and the Congress who have the authority to determine what kind of military the President gets to command. It is also divided between State and Federal.

The Second Amendment establishes the “well regulated militia” of the states as the default military establishment. Article I, Section 10(3) restricts the states from having a standing (full time) military force of ships of war in time of peace. The Congress has the specified authority to determine the “regulations” known today as doctrine or discipline of the militia and all other military forces in Article I, Section 8, clauses (11-16) as well as the authority to raise and equip all military forces. The State militias have the right to appoint their own officers in clause (16).

The President is Commander in Chief of state militias when actually under Federal Control and of all other Federal Forces.

One cannot separate; try as they may, diplomacy from kinetic (military force) and in that regard the Founders gave the President original jurisdiction over treaty making and relations with foreign nations. But the Congress in Article I, Section 8, (3) to regulate commerce with foreign nations. That divides the use of national power between the President and Congress to the effect that the Congress can’t conduct wars, but determines the economic aspects of foreign relations over which is the breeding ground of national objective.

The Congress regulates the purse strings of Federal power and retains the right to declare war. These powers are vastly over rated as a means of controlling the military as the President’s authority over foreign affairs and military forces allow considerable latitude for the President to get into mischief.

A more effective tool is found in Article II, Section 2 (1) which requires the Senate to approve by advice and consent the officers appointed by the President. All commissioned officers cannot pin on their new rank until the Senate says so. The Goldwater-Nichols Act that is responsible for the current success in joint service operations, versus some really big screw ups of the past, by stating that no candidate for flag rank (Generals and Admirals) will be considered for approval without joint service.

Forces Available

In addition to the default force of State Militias, the Congress has created the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force. Most, but not all state militias are paid by the Federal government but the states may raise additional force or use state forces for state missions using state funds. Each of the services has a ReServe establishment which for the Air Force and Army there are two “components” of which one is Federal and the other is state. There is an Air National Guard, and an Army National Guard as well as an Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard ReServe commissioned and paid for by the Federal Government.

The US Army and Navy were miniscule in the Nineteenth Century and the state militias were funded by state or private funds. Until after the Civil War, the Congress would issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to private ship owners to wage war on the enemies of the nation. If used today, one could envision Blackwater with a blue water fleet.

Guard and ReServe forces today are heavily staffed with veterans of active service and whose civilian experience offer a richer mix of talents that the force made up of solely full time military. It is not uncommon for Guard and ReServe forces to outperform their full time counter parts. Once upon a time, Guard and ReServe Forces trained one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, but now make up half the forces in combat in the War on Terror with many a ReServist re-serving more than twice.

Attempts to combine Federal and State Forces in times other than war hang up on the Constitutional provisions of Article I, Section 8(16) giving the states the right to select their own officers and of the Second Amendment that guarantees the states to have their own Army and Air Force plus what other police forces needed.

The Founders were very keen on dividing the control of military force based on their experiences going back to the Magna Charta, and the recent unpleasantness in the English Civil Wars. As such there is no “Royal” Army, but the British Army which is the descendant of the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell. The Founders were leery of letting the President appoint officers whom the Founders reserved to the Senate through advice and consent.

The Founders concern over dividing the control of military and political power goes back to the Roman Republic in which the command of each legion was divided between two Tribunes who alternated each day and by the division of executive power between two Consuls. Sparta had two kings.

The division of military from political power is at the root of a great deal of mischief. The feudal system was based on a fusion of both. During the English Revolution, various members of Parliament also commanded troops in the field. This cluttered both military and political considerations so that the Parliament, at Cromwell’s insistence, required all its members to give up one or the other, except for Oliver Cromwell who made himself military dictator of the English Republic. Members of Congress may not also be serving officers on active duty due to the Founders concern over the likelyhood of another “Rump Parliament”.

In determining how big a military we need, both full and part time, the model of WW 2 shows one end of a spectrum, the Big War which mobilized ten percent of the total population in uniform and another forty percent in defense industries. We had a population of 120 million with twelve million in uniform. We had one hundred combat divisions and 102 aircraft carriers. Today that would be thirty million in uniform.

Full time military establishments have a preference for short wars which all too often devolve into Big Wars or worse, Long Ones. Both Long and Big Wars require a flexible structure to develop the needed forces, equipment, and methodology to meet with a dynamically and unpredictably changing battlefield.

Due to our physical isolation from hostile neighbors has allowed us the luxury to buy time to raise the ten percent and in WW 2 it took three years to get to the ten percent figure starting in the summer of 1940. One year of that was still in peacetime.

In order to reach the ten percent figure, I suggest that one percent of the population be able to be deployed in stages in under six months. That does not mean that all or even a major portion of the force be full time active duty.

In the absence of a clear and present danger to the Continental USA, the forces needed to adequately defend the continent may be done by Guard and ReServe Forces. In that the economic interests of the US are dependant on trade by sea, there is the requirement for a naval blue water force with a capability to operate in green water and in selected limited shore operations which is the traditional role for the US Navy and the USMC.

It is the existence of those clear and present dangers that dictates the creation and maintenance of full time (standing) forces. Further, those forces which may threaten the Continent from afar need to be placed afar also. The Roman Republic took a dive when the Rubicon was crossed.

Terrain Considerations:

I divide the Continental US into six regions for the purposes of terrain analysis: The Old Union, the Confederacy, the Mississippi River, the Great Plans, the Mountains, and the West Coast with the Union and the West Coast being the most important. The geographic center of gravity is around St Louis which may be considered the Stalingrad of CONUS with the Boston-DC megaplex being the Leningrad/Moscow complex.

The physical control of the US is viable so long as either the Union or the West Coast is retained with two of the other parts are contiguous.

The approaches to the Continental US (CONUS) from Asia must control first Japan, Eastern Siberia, Alaska, and the Alaskan archipelago and which then is in a position to seize California but little else beyond the formidable barriers of the mountains. Approaches from Europe likewise have to secure Iceland, Greenland, and Northeast Canada before reaching a vulnerable New England.

The fastest avenue of approach is from Canada down the Great Plains, but getting to Canada is a bitch. Likewise an invasion route from Mexico has the desert to contend with, and from the Gulf has a bunch of islands to contend with.

In all cases, a very strong naval capability is critical for an assault on CONUS. Right now that seems remote, but in the period between the Fall of France and the Invasion of the Soviet Union, the prospect of a united German, French, Italian and a part of the Royal Navy was a real possibility and a concern to FDR. Even the isolationists deemed it prudent to be prepared for war and the movement was called “Preparedness”. Ninety percent of the US population was opposed to war as late as September, 1941.

The Preparedness movement started with a huge armaments buildup and mobilization of the National Guard, and a peacetime draft in September 1940. The mobilized force was kept on active duty in September 1941 by a margin of one vote in the Senate.

The formidable terrain obstacles between here and out there plus the ability of the US to raise a thirty million person military force will force a potential enemy to take time to build humungous land, sea and air forces and to deploy them in position to assault the US is enough to give us the time to raise and train that force. The time to go from one to ten percent available for combat is dependant upon a trained cadre of mid level officers, noncoms, and technicians in place to provide the backbone and nervous structure of a mobilized force.

Additionally, the clear and present needs for standing forces starts with the needs of securing out lines of sea communication, and with a focus on those areas which constrain or define sea commerce. As such there is a short list of places in place to causes mischief to water born travel: The Cape of Good Hope, The English Channel and the Straits of Magellan, Hormuz, Malacca, and the Skagerrak, the Horn of Africa, the Panama and Suez Canals, and the exits from the Sea of Japan, Caribbean, and Okhotsk seas. Control of the major rivers of the world include the Rhine, Danube, Amazon, Mississippi-Ohio, Niger, Nile, Euphrates, and Ganges which control by brown water small boat forces and by control of land features that control river traffic.

Our focus is on the locations of markets and resources that affect our economy that are sensitive to denial by hostile forces. It is the analysis of these locations, likely enemy forces and access thereto that should be the focus for planning for projectable forces be they full or part time, and should be contingency based.