Friday, October 16, 2015


Gordon S Fowkes, KCTJ

October 16, 2015
For a decade now, the US Army has been training and deploying forces absent an effective collective spinal cord, nervous system and battle mind.  That this combination has failed is evident in the collapse of all that was put in place in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places oft classified.  The root causes of the deterioration of the collective combat capacities goes to rotational training and deployment of units (ARFORGEN) of an Army in which the General Officer Corps was excluded, or marginalized.

A root cause of transformational rotation goes to the concept of a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) which has been driven off the battlefield by the counter revolutions in warfare from insurgency to full spectrum environments.  Like ISIS and the Russians.   The concept of a fixed revolution or form of warfare readily predictable in fantasy or crystal ball, is sadly, the norm and normally wrong to the extent of national extinction. 

The ARFORGEN model had a multi-year rotational cycle starting with individual training, ending with collective training in a minor fraction available for collective training, and that according to fixed scenarios instead of the come what may.  This produced a steady stream of well-trained troops with inexperienced leaders, inexperienced in the hurly burly of wartime operations. In short, the quality of collective combat operations showed a serious degradation from that quality found routine in the Army from 1942 until Baghdad. 

Training cycles are inherently defective while continuous collective and concurrent operations is the norm on the battlefield, and hence the model for training.  Rotation of units breaks the collective competence of the forces committed, which does not translate to successive generations in the fashion of commands in continuous combat, oft for years.  Those commands matured and evolved while the rotated withered.

 The exclusion of General Officers from the Chain of Command was the product of “Transformation”, a process which broke up the Army Corps (XXX, LTG Commanding), the Army division base (XX, MG Commanding), and the disappearance of the Separate Brigade (X, BG Commanding).  That disassembly broke up the logistics and fire support commands (Corps and DIVARTY; COSCOM, DISCOM) and parceled up suboptimal elements to modular brigades (COL Commanding). The modular brigades default had two maneuver battalions and an artillery battalion of two batteries.
 The dilution of field artillery lead quickly to the degradation of effective fire support of committed units from the old war standard from interlocking fragmentation and flame to that of intermittent if at all. Too many medals for valor have been awarded because the artillery was not there, or was ineffective.  

The fire request radio nets tied the forward observer or grunt directly to the Corps air-ground support center.  All echelons in between monitored and the rule was that “silence was approval”.  This removed the delays in fire support from getting to where it was needed.  Two minutes from call to “shot out” was the minimum to preclude unnecessary casualties.

The Army’s distrust in the capacity of General Officers in command extended to the colonels, full and light by task organizing their forces by table of organization (MTOE) instead of in accordance with the Principles of War and the Estimates of the Situation regarding mission, enemy, terrain, troops (technology), time and culture.  

The “combined arms battalions” were intended to be committed without regard to the situation on the ground by denial of the options to the commander. Fortunately, those in charge over there did what they needed to do without regard and in spite of lunacy to the contrary.  Headquarters units were busted up to provide enough boots on the battlefield. 

This normal process of developing doctrine traditionally begins in the field or combat in which the experience of those at the cutting edge as it is passed on to successive replacements and carried back to the Service School Systems for post basic training for officers and noncoms.  Thus the interface between experience and doctrine is tied to the ground instead of fantasy.
What has changed from before when we used to win battles, is the introduction of transformation and rotational warfare, which was not developed in the field and refined in the service schools. It has been dictated from a Pentagon in which the uniforms of the uniformed services were marginalized and ticket punched.


The ARFORGEN concept limits the size of the force deployed to that fraction of the ARFORGEN cycle designated as such.  The size of this force compared to all available forces ranges from a fourth to an eighth of the total forces on hand.  The concept of fractional commitment inherent in ARFORGEN would have reduced the effective combat strength in combat in WW 2 of 98 of 100 combat divisions to 33 divisions.  Or equivalent.  In Vietnam from ten to three divisions.  

The concept that a combat experienced unit is suddenly fully dumbed down to require a repeat cycle wastes the experience, the time, and the mission.  That the most experienced now become the dumbest is a seriously crazy notion.  And given the duration of the dumb down cycle, the rotation of personnel out of the collective environment does in fact dumb the force until whomever gets the command starts to learn his/her job. 

Despite heroic efforts of TRADOC to bring the essence of the battle to the training base, does not include the full spectrum of forces tied to the battle, as is the case in concurrent and collective operations.  Everyone tied to the battle must be tied to the training, for real or replication. Any link left out, breaks the chain.  It is only in large scale collective and concurrent training that the small unit understands the larger context that is the default in combat.

The concept of a hierarchical evolution of skills in any field presumes that the human mind is a file cabinet similarly structured.  This is a logical conclusion except that the mind-body is not a filing cabinet nor does it rely on logic. The mind-body is primarily analogic, by comparison of analogues to what seems to be the case. This includes arithmetic.

And it is concurrent and collectively a full sensory experience, with the oldest of senses is smell.  A major part of the combat related skills are already coded into the DNA which only requires certain triggering events, normally called play.  This is proven conclusively by the fact that recess and lunch room are the most valuable of activities.   Games such as hide and seek, keep away, sports and extra-curricular are fundamental combat skills to survive in an earlier world when that was combat survival vs being lunch.  This is where combat training should start.

At any point of time and place, a tactical milieu consisting of a rapidly shifting array of tactical imperatives creates a change in means, modes, tactic, technique, and procedures:


1.     1.  All units must have one or more real world missions (as opposed to DARPA fantasies). All training must be related to these missions including all units related laterally as well as vertically to the mission. What is not there must be replicated.  That means artillery and resupply.

2.      2.  All training must replicate combat missions as spelled out in action, condition, and standards dictated by the mission.  Subject matter orientation must be replaced by concurrent and collective training

3.     3.   Only “officers of the United States” whose commission or position has been confirmed by the US Senate shall command and/or rate.  This means putting the Generals and other officers in the chain of command and coordination.

4.      4.  The Congress has the specified power to “provide for the regulation” of the forces, and as such require and authorize direct communication with Service School Systems.  Command interference with doctrine is performed by the determination of the assigned missions as determined by the President.   In short, the President commands the force the Congress give him/her.

5.     5.   Only uniformed personnel should be authorized to command, lead and/or rate uniformed personnel. This may mean the creation of new uniformed services, but under the UCMJ.
6.       Further use of deceit, fabrication and misrepresentation in the uniformed services to members of the services and/or the Congress and President result in criminal charges pursuant to provisions of law, custom and the UCMJ.

Early indicators suggest that many of the problems noted above are in the process of correction, albeit without the bullshit.