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Questions over nature of military restructuring

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http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_archive.htm

On War #205

February 13, 2007

Distributed Ops or Dumb Ops?

By William S. Lind

For some years, the U.S. Marine Corps has been playing with a concept called "Distributed Operations." On January 11, it issued a short paper over the signature of Lt. General J. F. Amos, the grandiloquently titled "Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration" (I can remember when Marines would have choked on a title like that) which defines and explains the concept. Well, sort of.

To understand the paper, a bit of background helps. There are two potential definitions of distributed operations, one that could carry the Marine Corps forwards in important ways and another that is essentially a scam. In the first, distributed operations is just a new term for true light or Jaeger infantry. While both the Marine Corps-and the U. S. Army call their foot infantry "light," in terms of its tactics it is line infantry. True light infantry has always fought distributed, with small units operating beyond range of mutual support or supporting arms. Those small units have depended on their own weapons, lived largely off the land and fought very much like guerillas, with tactics based on an ambush mindset. Even 18th century light infantry used tactics we would consider modern; see J. F. C. Fuller's book British Light Infantry in the 18th Century or the fascinating diary of a Hessian Jaeger captain in the American Revolution, Johann Ewald.

If the Marine Corps adopted true light infantry tactics under the label "distributed operations," it would extend its maneuver warfare doctrine in a logical and useful way. It would also adapt its infantry to Fourth Generation war; as the FMFM-1A notes, what states need most to fight 4GW enemies is lots of light infantry.

But there is another definition of distributed operations lurking in dark corners at Quantico. This definition would use distributed ops as a new buzzword for Sea Dragon, a pseudo-concept the Marine Corps came up with in the 1990s to justify programs. Sea Dragon sent little teams of Marines wandering around the countryside essentially as forward observers, whose purpose was to call in remote, hi-tech fires.

Unlike light infantry, the teams could not depend on their own weapons, which meant that by the time the hi-tech fires got there, they would be dead. Sea Dragon represented the ultimate wet dream of the French Army of the 1930s, an army reduced to nothing but forward observers and artillery. It was bunk.

So which way does the January 11 paper go? Unfortunately, it is too muddled to tell. On the one hand, it includes a long quote from my oId friend Jeff Record on the importance of light infantry in small wars. On the other, it includes a long list of the usual big-bucks programs—"MRAP, EFV, JLTV, LAV, V-22, CH53K," L-70 class Zeppelins etc.—which distributed ops supposedly justifies. Oddly, successful light infantry like Hezbollah's doesn't have any of those Wunderwaffe. This kind of random program justification smells suspiciously like a disinterred Sea Dragon.

The paper gives a formal definition of distributed operations which clarifies nothing beyond continued intellectual confusion and Marines' inability to write:

Distributed operations is a technique applied to an appropriate situation wherein units are separated beyond the limits of mutual support. Distributed operations are practiced by general purpose forces, operating with deliberate dispersion, where necessary and tactically prudent, and decentralized decision-making consistent with commander's intent to achieve advantages over an enemy in time and space. Distributed operations relies on the ability and judgment of Marines at every level and is particularly enabled by excellence in leadership to ensure the ability to understand and influence an expanded operational environment.

On the one hand, the reference to units operating beyond mutual support suggests true light infantry. On the other, nothing could be more wrong than the suggestion that anyone, i.e. "general purpose forces," can operate like light infantry. Jaeger tactics demand extensive training and a very high level of expertise. One wonders who wrote this definition, JAG?

In the end, the January 11 paper leaves distributed operations still balanced on a knife-edge between a major step forward in adapting to Fourth Generation war and a plunge into the worst sort of Madison Avenue program justification babble. If Quantico wants to move distributed ops in the direction it ought to go, it needs to take it away from the usual colonels, contractors and consultants and give it to a small group of company and battalion commanders just back from Afghanistan and Iraq, giving them in turn a pile of books on the history of light infantry.

.........................................................................................................

At the center of this is the debate as to what, exactly is the purpose of " Distributed" ( or decentralized) ops" is the question of what direction do we go in as we restructure the military? We are, in my opinion, spending bundles of money tweaking a second generation military , instead of iimplementing tactics, doctrines and forces necessary to deal with either a 4th generation war as we now have in Iraq, or a real conventional threat like china ( we have cut most weapons platforms programs that we would need to fight a nation like china).Instead we spend bundles on military subcontractors, and high tech systems that are more useful as a tool to micromanage a situation,which both kills the initiative of the indivivual soldier and compromises his ability to get inside his enemies decision cycle, as iot also weighs him down with an extra 50 lbs of crap that doesn't really help him in a firefight with a local who's only schlepping an AK or an RPG and not waiting for orders from brigade to make a decision before he engages.

The whole purpose of the military restructuring did not accomplish a transition in to a 4th generation military, capable of fighting stateless enemies, or even to a 3rd generation military ( although we've long had the weaponry to be that, as the germans were in WWII) but rather squandered it on systems that were necessary to prop up the second generation military model we use, ( based on the French concept of bringing tremendous amounts of fires onto the enemy, with the grunts only having to go in to mop up.

Every few years the military plays around with a restructuring of it's forces, because it cant seem to get it quite right.It has become rooted in the Victory through Firepower culture ( usually enabled by the latest gizmo which costs megabucks) , which not only doesn't win 4th generation wars, but stifles the initiative of the individual soldier who is actually in combat, as he sits there waiting for orders from HQ as they process the shitloads of information before issuing orders to sub. units .In this interim, some Iraqi sniper just plugged a trooper on the streets of Ramadi.Commanders, removed from the situation sitting inside the green zone, or maybe Qatar, cannot hope to get inside the decision cycle of an enemy who reacts even faster than the type of convential opponents we trained for( generally, his decision as to when, where, or how to engage is up to him on the spot, and he can asses a situation and make, and implement his decision immediately)

As we went to war we were told that we would be using large amounts of special forces operations, predators, whatnot, assisted and augmented by tons of communications, command and control, digital datalinks and billions were spent on these systems. The problem is that all these systems did was prop up the exixting military culture, and enrich militaryt contractors and subcontractors alike. while all thes things are great tools, and i agree we should use them, making them the center of our doctrinal thought is a mistake.

Take afghanistan. Sure sounds to me like what we did there fits the Seadraon concept. Small units of artillerry spotters, FOs, Secial ops, called in remote high tech fires.These operations were supported not by US troops( troops on the ground were still needed, just cause we didnt provide them doesn't mean they weren't there or that the need fore them had disappeared) but by proxies from the northern alliance. The problem arose when, after we killed the morons who had deployed in the open, or hadnt dug deep enough, the rest found cover( caves, wherever, or dispersed) and we had no way to get at them. The forces we had werent capable of any extended close combat operations, and in fact werent intended to engage in such, and the tribesmen of the alliance didnt fancy assaulting , what were to them, prepared fortified positions. The US, with inadequate force levels, was unable to cut off the enemies means of egress, and, as a result, in engagement after engagement( Mazir-E-Sharif, Kunduz,Kandahar, Tora Bora) the bulk of enemies forces was able to slip away and in fact we have training camps for jihadists operating openly in both iraq and Afghanistan. We are unable to keep peace in Iraq.

We need a restructuring, but not along the lines of the one we got, which is rooted in a second generation military culture of the French Jominian model, But one that transitions the bulk of our forces to a third generation military capable of dealing with conventional enemies that may have superior troop numbers, like China, or Russia, or Iran,( instead of slashing such forces as we have recently done the past few years) and includes true light infantry capable of reacting in a 4th generation conflict, and not weighed down by 50 lbs of techno crap as they as they sit crouched behind a building, hoping they don't get shot by a sniper while they wait for orders from some battle coordination center far removed from the fight and harms way.

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On War #209

March 14, 2007

Conversations

By William S. Lind

A curious fact about the American military and American private industry in the early 21st century is their insistence on holding formal meetings. The practice is curious because these same institutions spend a great deal of time and effort studying "good management," which should recognize what most participants in such meetings see, namely that they are a waste of time. Good decisions are far more often a product of informal conversations than of any formal meeting, briefing or process.

History offers a useful illustration. In 1814, the Congress of Vienna, which faced the task of putting Europe back together after the catastrophic French Revolution and almost a quarter-century of subsequent wars, did what aristocrats usually do. It danced, it dined, it stayed up late playing cards for high stakes, it carried on affairs, usually not affairs of state. Through all its aristocratic amusements, it conversed. In the process, it put together a peace that gave Europe almost a century of security, with few wars and those limited.

In contrast, the conference of Versailles in 1919 was all business. Its dreary, interminable meetings (read Harold Nicolson for a devastating description) reflected the bottomless, plodding earnestness of the bourgeois and the Roundhead. Its product, the Treaty of Versailles, was so flawed that it spawned another great European war in just twenty years. As Kaiser Wilhelm II said from exile in Holland, the war to end war yielded a peace to end peace.

The U.S. military has carried the formal meeting's uselessness to a new height with its unique cultural totem, the PowerPoint brief. Almost all business in the American armed forces is now done through such briefings. An Exalted High Wingwang, usually a general or an admiral, formally leads the brief, playing the role of the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert. Grand Wazoos from various satrapies occupy the first rows of seats. Behind them sit rank upon rank of field-grade horse-holders, flower-strewers and bung-holers, desperately striving to keep their eyelids open through yet another iteration of what they have seen countless times before.

The briefing format was devised to use form to conceal a lack of substance. PowerPoint, by reducing everything to bullets, goes one better. It makes coherent thought impossible. Bulletizing effectively makes every point equal in importance, which prevents any train of logic from developing. Thoughts are presented like so many horse apples, spread randomly on the road. After several hundred PowerPoint slides, the brains of all in attendance are in any case reduced to mush. Those in the back rows quietly pray for a suicide bomber to provide some diversion and end their ordeal.

When General Greg Newbold, USMC, was J-3 on the Joint Staff, he prohibited briefings in matters that ended at his level (those above him, of course, still wanted their briefs). Instead, he asked for conversations with people who actually knew the material, regardless of their rank. Five or ten minutes of knowledgeable, informal conversation accomplished far more than hours of formal briefing.

Why does the American military so avoid informal conversations and require formal meetings and briefings? Because most of the time, the people who actually know the subject are of junior rank. Above them stands a vast pyramid of "managers," who know little or nothing about the topic but want their "face time" as they buck for promotion. The only way they can get their time in the sun without egg on their faces is by hiding behind a formal, scripted briefing. At the end, they still have to drag up some captain or sergeant from the horse-holder ranks if questions are asked.

The PowerPoint briefing is another reason America has a non-thinking military. The tendency toward useless, formal meetings is of course broader than the American military—again, the business world is full of it—but good leaders cut around it.

When General Hermann Balck was commanding 48th Panzer Korps on the Eastern Front with General F.W. von Mellinthin as his I-A, Mellinthin one day reproached Balck for wasting time by going out to eat with the troop units so often. Balck replied, "You think so? OK, tomorrow you come with me."

The next day, they arrived at a battalion a bit before lunchtime. They had a formal meeting, Balck asked some questions and got some answers. Then, they broke for lunch. During the informal conversation that usually accompanies meals, Balck asked the same questions and got completely different answers. On their way back to the headquarters, Balck turned to Mellinthin and said, "Now you see why I go out so often to eat with the troop units. It's not for the cuisine."

When Generals Balck and von Mellinthin visited Washington in 1980, John Boyd asked them to reflect on their leadership of 48th Panzer Korps and how they would have done it if they had possessed computers. Balck replied, "We couldn't have done it." Boyd didn't ask about PowerPoint, but I suspect General Balck's reply would have been equally to the point.

Despite the situation in Berlin, the Wehrmacht did know how to think.

Note: The idea for this column came from my old friend General Pat Garvey, USMCR, ausser Dienst. I suggest that anyone who takes umbrage at it contact him directly. Orange though I am, I do send an occasional St. Paddy's Day present.

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The more I read Lind, the more I like him. Let's throw "scholars" into that bunch as well. There are some brilliant scholars out there, but their daily screed and creed is full of aimless PowerPoint-ing. Most of the academic conferences I attend have value only for the hallway discussions, not the presentations.

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PowerPoint, used correctly, has its place:

1. It is very useful for presenting training classes; much better and more powerful than the old OHP slides.

2. It can be used very effectively to present graphical information, such as sat photos (with and without markup) videos, charts & graphs, etc.

3. Used sparingly, it can amplify main points and serve as reference material post-presentation.

The trick is realizing that the slides are the backdrop, not the presentation themselves - talk ABOUT the information on the slide, not just read the slide to the audience.

I did one last year for my Junior Staff Officer Course (AOC) on the requirement for more and more powerful radios in the Recce Squadrons. A key portion of the presentation was a series of slides showing the GPS track of my callsign over specific exercises, overlaid over topographic maps, specifying where the CP was and where I could and could not talk to the CP. It did a wonderful job of making the case of "the range of the radios I have is, on average, one-third the size of the AOR you keep assigning me" - much better than me just saying it.

That presentation escaped into the wild, and now I have new radios. :)

What DOES need a stake driven through its evil, evil heart is the Microsoft photo montage software. It seems that everybody now feels the need to have their briefings start and/or conclude with the photo montage (usually over some death metal or emo) of what they did last tour. I came to listen to your briefing, not watch your goddamn holiday snaps!

DG

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What DOES need a stake driven through its evil, evil heart is the Microsoft photo montage software. It seems that everybody now feels the need to have their briefings start and/or conclude with the photo montage (usually over some death metal or emo) of what they did last tour. I came to listen to your briefing, not watch your goddamn holiday snaps!

DG

So you play death metal at your briefings? Is that sort of like Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore playing Wagner before raiding the VC beach?

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So you play death metal at your briefings?

One of the staples at presentations now (not ORDERS; that's different) is the photo-montage of all one's hero shots from their latest tour.

Now as much as I respect those who have been in the shit, and as much as some of the pictures are pretty good, artistically... the first couple were interesting, but now it's just ridiculous.

EVERYBODY has a montage now. It's like part of the checklist or something.

If you attend a staff briefing day, you'll wind up sitting through 8-12 montages.

I figure that when I do one, I'll use the "montage" song from Team America - World Police" as the background music so I can make my point. ;)

DG

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its funny how this thread is going into Powerpoint cradentials.

Back from my last course. 7 days of 10 hr powerpoint lectures. Needless to say I have a few less brain cells that work now.:men_ani:

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I was speaking to someone last night, they mentioned it was obvious I had read "The Sling and the Stone". I hadn't, so I looked up a review, and it basically says what I have been saying for quite some time.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4176645

I have that book. It has helped me understand 4th GW greatly. Poole has written a few good ones too. Militant Tricks and Tactics of the Crescent Moon.

Also I'll add one by Lind (it was posted on military.com but cannot find the URL at the moment)

4gw_manual_draft_rar.23cd26125705a9d60b8

4gw_manual_draft.rar

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Back from my last course. 7 days of 10 hr powerpoint lectures. Needless to say I have a few less brain cells that work now.:men_ani:

How much of it was focused on destroying your enemies will to fight,even in the abstract, I wonder?

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By William S. Lind

On War #214

April 16, 2007

A Tactics Primer

By William S. Lind

It occasionally happens that a reader's e-mail is translated into dots and dashes and sent to me over Mr. Morse's wonderful electric telegraph. The sounder on my desk, opposite the inkwell and under the flypaper scroll, recently tapped out the following, from Jim McDonnell of Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

Could you please explain what's meant by the remark about U.S. forces being unable to fight battles of encirclement? Is it that there are too few of them in Afghanistan or are you saying that our forces are constitutionally incapable of that kind of operation? If the latter is the case, that would make a column all by itself.

It would, and it does. The problem is not numbers but tactical repertoire, or lack thereof. That deficiency, in turn, is a product—like so much else—of the American armed forces' failure to transition from the Second Generation to the Third.

Second Generation tactics, like those of the First Generation, are linear. In the attack, the object is to push a line forward, and in the defense it is to hold a line. As we saw in so many battles in and after World War I, the result is usually indecisive. One side or the other ends up holding the ground, but the loser retires in reasonably good order to fight again another day.

Usually, achieving a decision, which means taking the enemy unit permanently out of play, requires one of two things, or both in combination: ambush or encirclement. Modern, Third Generation tactics reflect an "ambush mentality," and also usually aim for encirclement. To that end, Third Generation tactics are sodomy tactics: the objective is to get in the other guy's rear.

On the defense, that is accomplished by inviting the enemy to attack, letting him penetrate, and then launching a counterattack designed to encircle him, not push him back out. This was the basis of the new, Third Generation German defensive tactics of 1917, and also the German Army's standard defense in World War II.

On the offense, the rule is not "close with and destroy" but "bypass and collapse." The goal is to penetrate deep into the enemy's rear, by stealth or by force (the Germans used a three, not two, element assault, and the largest element was the exploitation element), then roll up the enemy's forward units from the flank and rear while overrunning his artillery, headquarters and supply dumps. The same approach was used by the Panzer divisions on the operational level, leading to vast encirclements of hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops on the Eastern Front in 1941.

The U.S. military today knows little or nothing of this. It did attempt an operational encirclement of the Iraqi Republican Guard by 7th Corps in the First Gulf War, but that attempt failed because 7th Corps was too slow. On the tactical level, most American units have only one tactic: bump into the enemy and call for fire. The assumption is that America's vast firepower will then annihilate the opponent, but that seldom happens. Instead, he lives to fight again another day, like Osama and his al Qaeda at Tora Bora.

While the central problem here is conceptual—sheer ignorance of Third Generation tactics—there is a physical aspect to it as well. On foot, American soldiers are loaded down with everything except the kitchen sink, and they will probably be required to carry that too as soon as it is digitized. To use tactics of encirclement, you need to be at least as mobile as your enemy and preferably more so. The kind of light infantry fighters we find ourselves up against in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan are just that, light. They can move much faster on their feet than can our overburdened infantry. The result is that they ambush us, then escape to do it again, over and over. Flip-flops in the alley beat boots on the ground.

As the students in my seminar at Quantico discovered early in the year, the decisive break, both in tactics and in organizational culture, is not between the Third and Fourth Generations but between the Second and Third. It is little short of criminal that the American military remains stuck in the Second Generation. The Third Generation was fully developed in the German Army by 1918, almost a century ago. It costs little or nothing to make the transition. To those who understand how the Pentagon works, that may be the crux of the problem.

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While I do not entirely agree with Col. Yingling's take on some matters, there is no question that the U.S. Army has long had serious and systemic problems in the Officer Corps, not least amongst the Flag Officers. And it should go without saying that it's mainly (not entirely) the culture:

First off, as said in the Lind articles you've posted, Shermans War, the US Army has never truly progressed beyond what 4GW Theorists refer to as 2GW. Even the adoption by the US Army of elements of German Army doctrine and the study of the German way of war is little more than superficial, sad to say. Rather than a true emphasis on developing the professional judgement and ability to think of the individual soldier or officer coupled with thorough and purposeful training at all levels (less than 4 months of Infantry OSUT does not make for a very effective infantryman, for example, and sending officers off to get civilian degrees in business administration or systems analysis, et al, simply encourages a mechanistic-mindset, not to mention a distraction from an education in their true profession), the emphasis is on firepower, technology, and big headquarters staffs to control it all down to the minutest detail.

Secondly, the Army is hindered from true professionalism by the personnel system. It is based on the premise that each and every soldier and especially officer is an individual with a career, the potential for advancement of which must take precedence over true professional excellence and Unit needs. Major Donald E. Vandergriff (now retired) is one of the better writers on this matter. While he advocates that the Army adopt a Regimental System (admittedly for the most part better than the Individual System), the German Divisional System (institutionalizing Combined-Arms and breaking down Regimental and Corps parochialism) would be more or less ideal. It woekd well enough for the Germans in WWII.

The pseudo-corporate/business/industrial model that the Army has used for the last generation or so has increasingly turned the Army culture from one of at least an institution, if not necessarily a Professional Army, to one rather closer to that of a corporation, as a whole. Combat Arms Units, naturally enough, are the most resistant to this, but this sort of culture is more dangerous to them than it is to non-Combat Arms.

All that said, it's no wonder that each "revolutionary" Army Restructuring, whether the Pentomic Division of the early 1960's or the SBCT's and the like of now, are little more than big-budget techno-fantasies that prove to be mixed-successes at best, and utter duds at worst. The problem is, when the Army leadership (albeit the political-industrial complex has more than its fair share of influence in this) is more or less locked into a quasi-military/pseudo-corporate culture to begin with, professional military judgement may either become unduly influenced, or it may never have developed solidly in the first place.

Thus restructuring plans leading to the likes of the Stryker Brigades (I hope no-one actually believes that these are capable of sucessfully defending against a modern, capable Armoured Formation, let alone ever has to send them into battle against said), and SeaDragon/SeaViking/DO etc., concepts that are indeed suitable for traditional Light Infantry, but not for Line Infantry. As one USMC officer commented about DO; he has a whole bookshelf of books about the SAS and LRDG and the tactics they used 60 years ago, and the people at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab are welcome to borrow them. In business and industry, someone is always trying to re-invent the wheel.

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Back from my last course. 7 days of 10 hr powerpoint lectures. Needless to say I have a few less brain cells that work now.:men_ani:

The Power Point Creed

This is my PowerPoint. There are many like it but mine is 4.0.

My PowerPoint is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life.

My PowerPoint without me is useless. Without my PowerPoint, I am useless.

I must format my slides true. I must brief them better than the other staff section who are trying to out-brief me.

I must brief the impact on the Commander before he asks me. I will.

My PowerPoint and myself know that what counts in this war is not the number of slides, the colors of the highlights, nor the format of the bullets. We know that it is the new information that counts. We will brief only new information.

My PowerPoint is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its fonts, its accessories, its formats, and its colors.

I will keep my PowerPoint slides current and ready to brief. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God I swear this creed. My PowerPoint and myself are defenders of my country. We are the masters of our subject. We are the saviors of my career.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace (and the next exercise)!

Author Unknown

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How much of it was focused on destroying your enemies will to fight,even in the abstract, I wonder?

I'd say none.

Rather using the population to do the fighting towards their enemy, which as you know has a lasting effect:smilelove-1:, If we fight them and then win, however we would then leave and the enemy would just return:decu:.

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Having spent the last month (with 5 more days to go) working as a staff officer in the J35 cell of an operational HQ working up to go into theatre, let me say that the surest way to victory in Afghanistan would be to drop copies of Powerpoint and the CF Staff Manual over known areas of TB concentration.

DG

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An excellent piece from the current Military Review, which is published by the US Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth:

http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/NovDec07/VlahosEngNovDec07.pdf

It's not an easy read and I had to re-read some portions just to make sure I was "getting it" but it says a lot about how easily our (US) military culture, by being afraid to lose in traditional Western culture terms, gets sucked into fighting the other guys' (non-state) type of warfare without having the mindset that will allow us to win in anybody's terms. In fact, it argues, we enable them by playing our role exactly the way they predict we will.

You (and I) may not agree with everything in it, but there's lots to chew on here.

(BTW, "Military Review" is worth bookmarking. Even though it is an Army publication it does not duck controversy and, for the couple of decades I've been reading it regularly, it has reflected a great deal of continuing soul-searching within the ranks of the Army's middle management -- field grade officers -- who comprise MR's primary readership).

HT

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"Heavy and Agile: Nine steps to a more effective force" by Major Daniel L. Davis, Armed Forces Journal, January 2008:

The U.S. Army senior leadership articulated its vision of what the future Army would be capable of in the 2004 Army Transformation Roadmap: “Knowledge-based Army forces exploit advanced information technologies and space-based assets for network-enabled battle command, while fully integrated within the joint, interagency and multinational environment. Unlike past, predictable operations, Army forces respond within days and fight on arrival in the joint operations area through multiple entry points. These capabilities allow the JFC [joint forces commander] to pre-empt enemy actions, assure access, seize the initiative and shape the battle space.”

But given the current state of technology, the probability of future development in nations across the globe, and a historical perspective on the performance of new and emerging technologies in the past, does this theory stand up to rigorous examination? I argue that it does not. Aside from a near-faith-based, unsubstantiated belief in the efficacy of technology to do anything and everything imaginable, one of the primary factors upon which this assessment is based is its failure to give proper consideration to the capabilities of the future enemy force.

One of the major problems in discussing the foundations for our modernization program is that the very military victory hailed as the proof of American technological dominance — Desert Storm (and later the conventional phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom) — was not primarily a result of technology. It resulted from a combination of two factors: (1) the American force was highly trained, well-led and effectively equipped; and (2) the Iraq force was pathetically led, even more poorly trained and marginally equipped. In other words, no matter what we did in Desert Storm and OIF, the U.S. would have won. Had we faced a competent foe, we may well have won anyway, but we would have seen the limits of technology. As it is, we cite Desert Storm as unimpeachable proof of the dominant ability of our current military technology, and most of our projections about future capability envision an enemy as impotent as Iraq. Our failure to create a force based on facing a credible, robust and capable enemy force that has access to modern technology and is as clever as we are in its deadly application is one of the greatest failures of our modernization program.

Much more at the link.

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