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The Military’s emerging new doctrine
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, October 05, 2006

I've spoken a number of times about the apparent cognative dissonance within the Pentagon concerning force structure with an eye to who we would most likely to be facing in future wars.

Well it appears reality is finally making itself known in the "puzzle palace" with a new doctrine on fighting insurgencies.
The military generally turned its back on counterinsurgency operations after the Vietnam War. The Army concentrated on defending Europe against a Soviet attack. The Marines were focused on expeditionary operations in the third world.

“Basically, after Vietnam, the general attitude of the American military was that we don’t want to fight that kind of war again,” said Conrad C. Crane, the director of the military history institute at the Army War College, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and one of the principal drafters of the new doctrine. “The Army’s idea was to fight the big war against the Russians and ignore these other things.”

A common assumption was that if the military trained for major combat operations, it would be able to easily handle less violent operations like peacekeeping and counterinsurgency. But that assumption proved to be wrong in Iraq; in effect, the military without an up-to-date doctrine. Different units improvised different approaches. The failure by civilian policy makers to prepare for the reconstruction of Iraq compounded the problem.
That "basic assumption" is simply incorrect since an insurgency requires an entirely different approach and force structure. So, as noted, it is units on the ground doing the adaptation which should have been done much higher up the chain. The policy of preparing for a "near-peer" enemy with the intent of adapting that force to anything else has pretty much been shown to be a bust.

Probably the biggest indicator to me that it was a bust became evident with the change at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin CA - a change I've commented on before.
At the National Training Center in California, the old tank-on-tank war games against a Soviet-style enemy have been supplanted by combat rehearsals in which troops on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan engage in mock operations with role players who simulate insurgents, militias and civilians.

Dennis Tighe, a training program manager for the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, said the rehearsals were vital for preparing troops for their new counterinsurgency mission.
Of course such rehersals are vital, but the point is when you see the premier training center for the Army changing from a force-on-force training center to one stressing counterinsurgency even while the planners in the Pentagon are putting a force together to fight force-on-force battles, something is obviously wrong. Reality at the NTC meets denial at the Pentagon.

Thankfully, three years into Iraq, the probability of what we'll most likely face in the future is shifting from "near-peer", force-on-force combat to that of insurgencies.

Ironically, that is a more troop intensive undertaking rather than less.
“The Army will use this manual to change its entire culture as it transitions to irregular warfare,” said Jack Keane, a retired four-star general who served in 2003 as the acting chief of staff of the Army. “But the Army does not have nearly enough resources, particularly in terms of people, to meet its global responsibilities while making such a significant commitment to irregular warfare.”
The requirement for more forces and less technology may be one reason it has been resisted by Pentagon planners. Their charter, under Rumsfeld, has been to make the military "leaner" in terms of size, but more lethal and flexible (through technological innovatin). Building a force to take on the insurgent mission actually means more troops but trained and deployed differently (and with a heavy emphasis on Special Forces) than the present conventional force. And it doesn't require tons of big-ticket items a near-peer enemy would require.

In fact it will take a larger Army and Marine Corps, most likely oriented toward "light fighters" to address the insurgent problem.

As you read the article you're going to see a lot of names mentioned, but the name not mentioned who really "showed the way" is COL McMasters of the 3rd ACR and his unit's experience in Tal Afar. McMasters (who, in my estimation, could be a future CoS of the Army) has shown the way in this particular change of doctrine with a successful counterinsurgency operation in that town. As the article notes, this change of doctrine has been driven from the bottom up instead of the top down which gives you an idea of the resistence it has met. But eventually reality can no longer be denied, not even in the Pentagon.
“We are codifying the best practices of previous counterinsurgency campaigns and the lessons we have learned from Iraq and Afghanistan to help our forces succeed in the current fight and prepare for the future,” Colonel Nagl said.

In drafting the doctrine, the military drew upon some of the classic texts on counterinsurgency by the likes of T. E. Lawrence of Arabia, and David Galula, whose ideas were partly informed by his experience in Algeria.

Colonel Crane said that many of the ideas adopted for the manual had been percolating throughout the military. “In many ways, this is a bottom-up change, “ he said. “The young soldiers who had been through Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Iraq and Afghanistan, understood why we need to do this.”
One of the things the military does fairly well is review and implement lessons learned at a tactical level. Where the lessons learned have yet to fully impact is at the strategic level. The Pentagon has to make a decision about force structure based on what it sees as the primary mission of the military in the next 20 years. A good indicator of that, at least to me, is when you're in a shooting war of a particular type and your training, both doctrinally and tactically, has all shifted out of necessity to address the paradigms of that type warfare maybe you ought to look at the possibility of that being your primary mission. And strategically, when no near-peer seems ready or able to emerge, maybe that should be a secondary consideration.

In the meantime we have a separate question to answer in Iraq:
One military officer who served in Iraq said American units there generally carried out the tenets of the emerging doctrine when they had sufficient forces. But protecting civilians is a troop-intensive task. He noted that there were areas in which there were not enough American and Iraqi troops to protect Iraqis adequately against intimidation, a central element of the counterinsurgency strategy.

“The units that have sufficient forces are applying the doctrine with good effect,” said the officer, who is not authorized to speak on military policy. “Those units without sufficient forces can only conduct raids to disrupt the enemy while protecting themselves. They can’t do enough to protect the population effectively and partner with Iraqi forces.”
The question? Are we there to fight (win?) the counterinsurgency or not?

Now most of you know my answer to that. No. We're there to prepare the Iraqis to do that.

However, I'm not the one who has the final say concerning that. If the answer is yes, then we need to get the number of troops in theater to do that and get them there quickly.

Politically, in my estimation, that's a no-go. So we're back to my answer and I think what will be the defacto answer of the administration. We're there to get the Iraqis ready to win the counterinsurgency.

But in the future, should we find ourselves in this situation (and it is much more likely we'll see that than a force-on-force battle), we need to be well trained in the new counterinsurgency doctrine and have the proper number of troops on the ground to carry it out successfully.
 
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There was an uproar in this country immediately after Gulf War One. And it had to do with low flying military aircraft. The citizens of areas where these activities occurred became fiercely opposed to the noise the activites generated. Why? "Why are you preparing to fight yesterday’s war?"

"Yesterday’s War" was the requirement to fly under the radar coverage of the Soviet style SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) threat. And where you could not fly under the threat you would fly low enough to shrink the lethality cones of the SAM systems, limiting their efficiencies in order to take advantage of other types of countermeasures such as chaff and jamming.

Gulf War One began with an air campaign designed to destroy the Iraqi Air Defense and Command & Control structure. After the first few days of the campaign, the only remaining truly viable air threats were small arms fire and short range hand held SAMs. The Coalition Air Forces could now operate with impunity above 10,000 feet. And except for a few select missions over Iraqi air fields where weapons employed required the use of low altitude deliveries, the air war was conducted above 10,000 feet. Was it effective? Hell yes!

Did we not learn anything from the experience? Yes, we did learn from the experience and training was adjusted to provide more emphasis on higher altitude deliveries and tactics, as seen and used in the war.

Why then continue to train in the low altitude environment? Because that is the environment that is the most difficult to operate effectively. It is the environment that has the tightest margin of error. You can only tie the low altitude flying record and that is not a good thing. The ground has a 100% kill ratio. If an airman is ever faced with a credible medium or high altitude defensive capability, operating in the low altitude environment is one of the few counters available to you. Operating at higher altitudes is easy in comparison.

I can only project a similar situation with the training requirements of ground forces. The complex nature of a combined arms attack against a Soviet style armoured threat is extremely difficult to deal with much less master. Experience at the NTC has shown time and again the red forces (playing the "bad guys"), although numerically inferior, giving the blue forces ("good guys") all they can handle.

Counter-Insurgency operations are obviously inherently different and require a completely different set of objectives. Training in this arena should reflect the lessons learned from the Iraqi Insurgency.

I agree with you that "we need to be well trained in the new counterinsurgency doctrine and have the proper number of troops on the ground to carry it out successfully." It is the challenge of DOD and the respective services to balance the training requirements for facing the possible threats of the future. And it is a challenge I do not envy for the planners of today.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Insightful analysis of the problem, McQ. I think there is a major culture shift required, especially in the Army, if our armed forces are going to optimize for asymetric warfare and I don’t see anyone talking about it.

Our forces are still mostly optimized for a 100-division world war, and a key factor is the "up or out" policy towards towards military retention. In a 100-division world war, this makes good sense, as the contribution of the individual warfighter is as much determined by morale and unit cohesion as his own fighting skill, and such a war would be mostly fought with new recruits out of necessity. Leadership matters more than skill as an individual infantryman in this scenario, and the Army is very focused on that in retaining veterans.

Clearing houses is the most skill-intensive operation I’ve ever heard of ordinary forces carrying out. The Marines and to some extent the Army have become surprisingly good at this extremely difficult task, as proven by casualty ratios. While of course leadership and unit cohesion remain important, the fighting skills of the individual warfighter become paramount in this kind of action.

Better training is all well and good, and it’s great that we’re making those changes, but it seems to me that we would benefit greatly by retaining skilled combat veterans, even those who will never be a good platoon sergeant. The armed forces don’t really have a system for that today. The armed forces have systems to retain individuals with hard-to-find technical skills, but will we make any effort to retain combat veterans with harder-to-find fighting skills once the current conflict is over?

It would be a major change in Army structure, as there’s no system to retain soldiers who are highly skilled at fighting, but lack the interpersonal skills to ever move past the "lead by example" ranks. Just the opposite, in fact.
 
Written By: Skorj
URL: http://
McQ,

The army should do what it does best, fight a force-on-force battle, with overwhelming force. COIN operations require a vastly different mindset and training methods. COIN operations would be akin to law-enforcement than a military operation. I think that a new force should be raised, specializing in COIN ops, rather than using the Army or the Marine Corps...

Best example of a successful COIN ops: Insurgency in the state of Punjab, India

1. The Army struggled to quell the insurgency for years
2. The army was creating more insurgents than they were destroying (primarily because, they used to bust a whole village, just to get one insurgent)
3. After years, a decision made to limit the Army’s role in the COIN ops and engage the Punjab Police more. For instance, in a cordon and search operation in a village, the Army used to provide the Cordon around the village, but it was the police undertaking the search operation. The police will be trained to fight any insurgent(s) that they find in the village, without burning the whole village down. The army was there to provide, a backup if necessary, as well as cordoning off the area of operation
4. The whole insurgency was wiped off within a year

Now India has a whole different paramilitary force that is fighting the insurgents in Kashmir.



 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
The army should do what it does best, fight a force-on-force battle, with overwhelming force. COIN operations require a vastly different mindset and training methods. COIN operations would be akin to law-enforcement than a military operation. I think that a new force should be raised, specializing in COIN ops, rather than using the Army or the Marine Corps...
I’ve actually talked about the same thing as has Thomas Barnett and a number of others. I’ve pushed for a conventional and an unconventional force who are cross-trained to help each other as necessary, but with each focusing on their specialty and having command authority over the other if we’re fighting their type of war.

One other very interesting point and worth considering when building this force. It appears that National Guard and Reserve units have better success in CI ops than do regular military units because of their age, ability to relate and the variety of occupations from which their soldiers come. Seems to me the perfect match for the military side of the COIN force
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The Pentagon is not the "Puzzle Palace". That’s the NSA HQ.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
We always seem to be fighting the previous war. The current war is a counterinsurgency operation, and we are not prepared for that reason. Thus, modifying our training...and our mindset...makes sense. But, maybe the next war will be a force-on-force engagement, and if so we had better be prepared for it.
 
Written By: RAZ
URL: http://
The question? Are we there to fight (win?) the counterinsurgency or not?

Now most of you know my answer to that. No. We’re there to prepare the Iraqis to do that.

However, I’m not the one who has the final say concerning that. If the answer is yes, then we need to get the number of troops in theater to do that and get them there quickly.

Politically, in my estimation, that’s a no-go. So we’re back to my answer and I think what will be the defacto answer of the administration. We’re there to get the Iraqis ready to win the counterinsurgency.
I agree with you in the sense that I hear the administration saying that our goals are the limited ones you describe. However, what I hear about the army’s actual operations sound like the army is fighting in Anbar and elsewhere as if they were trying to win the counterinsurgency. The disconnect between the limited rhetorical framing and the mismatchedly aggressive operational structure is a worrisome disconnect.

I’m worried about a similar disconnect between this doctrine and what actually gets done. Quoting Kevin Drum:

This is good news as far as it goes. Needless to say, thought, there are several questions still remaining:

Is the Pentagon really serious about this, top to bottom? Or is this new doctrine the work of a small cadre of counterinsurgency acolytes, destined to be adopted reluctantly if at all by most battalion and brigade level commanders?


I hope the Pentagon is really serious about this, but my fear is that it’s only the Armed Forces and some of their academic experts. How do the JCS feel?

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
However, what I hear about the army’s actual operations sound like the army is fighting in Anbar and elsewhere as if they were trying to win the counterinsurgency.
There are places in Iraq where we may be able to win that part of the battle. I keep coming back to Tal Afar, but they had the right number of troops for the town and McMasters had the confidence of its citizens.

In other places we have neither the troops or the people. In those places, we should help keep the lid on, nothing more. In places where we can help win, we should.
I hope the Pentagon is really serious about this, but my fear is that it’s only the Armed Forces and some of their academic experts. How do the JCS feel?
The only way I’ll know they’re serious about this is when I see major force structure changes made to support the doctrine.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Once the imperialist US government ends its illegal criminal occupation of Iraq, there wouldn’t be any insurgents.

It is the US occupation that created the insurgents, not the other way around.

Iraqis are just fighting foreign occupiers of their country. Any other people would have done the same, especially when the invader is the ruthless murderous US government that kills with no mercy.

The US government killed 2 million vietnamese in Vietnam. not 2000, or 20,000, 2 million human beings were slaughtered by the US killing machine.

The world needs to be saved from this criminal system that allows for such mass killing of human beings to happen with impunity.

 
Written By: Karim
URL: http://
The only way I’ll know they’re serious about this is when I see major force structure changes made to support the doctrine.

Indeed. And bumping up the SpecOps isn’t enough.
I’ve pushed for a conventional and an unconventional force who are cross-trained to help each other as necessary, but with each focusing on their specialty and having command authority over the other if we’re fighting their type of war.
I agree wholeheartedly.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"There was an uproar in this country immediately after Gulf War One. And it had to do with low flying military aircraft"

There have been uproars about low-flying military aircraft for as long as there have been military aircraft. That is why they do it in unpopulated areas or over the ocean.

***************************


"In drafting the doctrine, the military drew upon some of the classic texts on counterinsurgency by the likes of T. E. Lawrence of Arabia, and David Galula, whose ideas were partly informed by his experience in Algeria."

I would hope that they also drew on the millions of words written about counterinsurgency during the VietNam war. I hate to think all that time and money was wasted, and all those "lessons learned" weren’t. Some of today’s senior officers probably contributed some of these words and lessons. Haven’t todays officers bothered to read about previous wars already? Ignoramus that I am, I always thought that studying military history was part of being an officer.

Deja vu.

*********************************

"Leadership matters more than skill as an individual infantryman..."

To the best of my recollection skill is a part of leadership. You can’t charm men into following you if you are incompetent. Not more than once.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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