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Molon Labe
07-15-2005, 05:14
Since this is my first post I will start off with an introduction. I enlisted in the army with a RIP contract in 2002. I was fortunate enough to deploy with 1/75 into both Afghanistan and Iraq. Late 2003 I was accepted into a commissioning program and couldn't turn it down.

While still working towards my commission I earned the chance to go through SFAS with class 007-05. I had the best experience of my life and it only wetted my appetite to continue the training. Sadly, I have to wait until after I graduate and reach O-2 (P).....

Currently I'm finishing up a summer internship in England. I'm working with the Advanced Research and Assessment Group (ARAG) which is part of their Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC). I am doing research for a paper on a "business model for small unit tactics", whatever that means....which brings me to the point of my post:

Looking at historical examples of world powers engaged with insurgent forces (TE Lawrence in the Middle East, France in Indochina and Algiers, USSR in Afghanistan, US in Vietnam), we can see several patterns. Namely, with the exception of TE Lawrence, each power chose to engage the insurgency as they would a conventional force. This was met with disastrous results, without exception.

Additionally, we see another important pattern. During their respective conflicts, each nation used, to one degree or another, irregular or unconventional forces. In each case, this approach was far more successful then conventional tactics.

Sadly, another pattern is that each nation failed to learn from each other or themselves or to apply those lessons to future conflicts.

This all brings me to the question I pose to you in order to get some more insight into my article. If you agree that irregular or unconventional forces (not just limited to SF but including SEALs, Rangers, etc.) have an advantage over conventional forces against insurgents, how do they have this advantage and why?

What I want to do is show how unconventional forces have an advantage in the war on terror, and then make recommendations for conventional forces so that they can optimize their performance.

This is in no way an "us vs. them", "down with the conventional, or 'big' army" article. I'm simply trying to apply the unconventional model that has been so successful against insurgencies in the past to how our conventional units are structured and hopefully find ways to make them work better.

Thanks for your time; your input will be put to good use.

Surgicalcric
07-15-2005, 08:03
I see how it is... Too busy to send me pics from 007-05, but you can post on a web board. Thats okay. See if I give you anymore web addresses... lol

Welcome to PS.com Mike.

PM inbound

Crip

Jack Moroney (RIP)
07-15-2005, 08:51
What I want to do is show how unconventional forces have an advantage in the war on terror, and then make recommendations for conventional forces so that they can optimize their performance.

.

You realize of course that in insurgencies that the military application of force is often counterproductive when used as the main tool to solve the problem. Counterinsurgency operations require a multidisciplinary effort where the military plays a supporting and not a leading role. The largest problem with conventional forces is that they are formed, trained, equipped and led to address force on force issues against formations they can see and doctrines that they can understand. Unconventional forces (and I will limit myself only to SF here) deal with and understand cultural aspects of the problem and know what buttons to push to bring the appropriate actions (both directly and indirectly) needed to address not only the causes of the insurgency but the supporting aspects that keep it going. I know that this is not what you are looking for as far as specifics, but what you are asking for will take more time than I have available right now to discuss. You also realize, I am sure, that there is no cookie cutter approach where one size fits all when it comes to insurgencies and the "model" will have to adapt to a great number of variables for each specific situation and some very serious assumptions that may or may not be valid. I have never been a big fan of modeling as many seem to oversimplify very complicated situations and become a crutch for folks to see solutions without digging deep enough to fully grasp the problem to begin with.

The Reaper
07-15-2005, 09:22
1. So basically, you are a cadet at USMA?

2. Vietnam was not an insurgency after 1968, it transitioned to a conventional struggle between North VN and South VN.

TR

Molon Labe
07-15-2005, 09:40
1. So basically, you are a cadet at USMA?


TR

Only when I have to be.

The Reaper
07-15-2005, 09:46
Only when I have to be.

The horror....

TR

Airbornelawyer
07-15-2005, 14:51
You have posited what is in part a false dichotomy. It is not so much "conventional forces" vs. SOF as a it is "conventional" vs. "unconventional" approaches. Some of the most successful counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam were conducted by what were conventional infantry units, but employing unconventional approaches as Col. Moroney describes above. Examples are the Australians in Phuoc Tuy and the Marine Corps' Combined Action Program.

Razor
07-15-2005, 14:55
Damn, outed on your first post. :D Ping (if you guys still do that) on over to the library and pick up some books on the efforts of the USMC and Army in the late 1800s/early 1900s to see how conventional forces can be utilized with some effect in counterinsurgencies (i.e. Cuba, Central America, the Philippines, China). One book to start off is "The Savage Wars of Peace" by Max Boot. You can also do some reading on the British work in Malaya. I don't know if the library has it, but "Conflict of Myths" by Larry Cable analyzes the strategies used by government forces in several counterinsurgencies (Greece, Malaya, early VN) and their results.

Those references are a start. There are many folks here that have forgotten more about this subject than I'll ever learn, so once you have done more preliminary study and have more precisely focused your topic, come on back and ask more questions.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot...start The Days. :D

Peregrino
07-15-2005, 15:37
You make valid points about not learning from history and nobody expects that to change. AL's observation about unconventional thinking and COL M's comments about multi-agency, inter-disciplinary approaches being the most effective are probably the best way to approach your thesis. Since Razor has already sent you to the library, pick up a copy of "The Sling and the Stone" by COL Thomas X. Hammes, USMC. Look at his argument for recognizing the emergence of 4GW - Fourth Generation Warfare. It will give you a better grasp of why we (everybody in the business of arms) should be concerned about all forms of insurgent/unconventional warfare. Since you're "abroad" for the summer check out http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/. You might find some additional source material there. BTW - I despise business models as the pattern for small unit leadership. Business is about managing - small units (definitely Company and below, probably Batallion, rarely Brigade) are about "Follow Me" leadership. Your job as a (future) small unit leader is to win battles. Guys well above "small unit" paygrades have the responsibility to "manage" - actions/mindsets properly reserved for campaigns and strategy, especially in today's world where there are limited opportunities for large formations to engage in "maneuver warfare". (Yes - it is a "black vs. white" outlook. Troops don't make sacrifices for managers.) Take time to "down a pint" for the rest of us. Peregrino

NousDefionsDoc
07-15-2005, 17:27
You realize of course that in insurgencies that the military application of force is often counterproductive when used as the main tool to solve the problem. Counterinsurgency operations require a multidisciplinary effort where the military plays a supporting and not a leading role. The largest problem with conventional forces is that they are formed, trained, equipped and led to address force on force issues against formations they can see and doctrines that they can understand. Unconventional forces (and I will limit myself only to SF here) deal with and understand cultural aspects of the problem and know what buttons to push to bring the appropriate actions (both directly and indirectly) needed to address not only the causes of the insurgency but the supporting aspects that keep it going. I know that this is not what you are looking for as far as specifics, but what you are asking for will take more time than I have available right now to discuss. You also realize, I am sure, that there is no cookie cutter approach where one size fits all when it comes to insurgencies and the "model" will have to adapt to a great number of variables for each specific situation and some very serious assumptions that may or may not be valid. I have never been a big fan of modeling as many seem to oversimplify very complicated situations and become a crutch for folks to see solutions without digging deep enough to fully grasp the problem to begin with.

I agree. Imagine that.

The Reaper
07-15-2005, 17:36
Military force is one of many options, and there are many sub-sets of that.

See DIME.

TR

Tubbs
07-15-2005, 19:42
Ping (if you guys still do that) on over to the library and pick up some books on the efforts of the USMC and Army in the late 1800s/early 1900s to see how conventional forces can be utilized with some effect in counterinsurgencies (i.e. Cuba, Central America, the Philippines, China).

Molon Labe,
The USMC small wars manual FMFRP 12-15 is an excellent resource if you have not already read it, basically covering the tactics used over the course of the Bananna Wars (the conflicts the USMC were involved in during the begining half of the 1900's). It also includes some awesome instructions of how to load up a mule and a horse, relplete with photographs.

Jack Moroney (RIP)
07-15-2005, 21:17
I agree. Imagine that.
This is getting scary :D

Molon Labe
07-16-2005, 10:23
Everyone who posted recommendations for books thanks very much for that.

As for business models, the Brit agency I'm interning with is the first place I'd ever heard the term. It took a guy with more degrees in economics then I can count to explain it to me, and this is basically what I got out of it: its a look at how a unit (civilian or otherwise) is running and then determines how/if it can be run better.

With that as my guideline, they're having me research and write what will hopefully become a not-too-mediocre article which won't matter and no one will read. But the research and learning process alone is, for me anyway, priceless. Reading about the British in the Boer War, TE Lawrence in Arabia, the French in Indochina and Algiers, the USSR in Afghanistan and our exploits in Korea and Vietnam have all been eye opening and worth every minute of research. There are some scary repeats of history out there and some of them are repeating themselves right now.....

As far as Airbornelaywer's comment about false dichotomies and conventional vs unconventional approaches......while a lot of his post included big words that I don't want to look up, he simply restated the point I am making. I wan to show how unconventional methods used by SOF units, irregular forces, etc can be adopted by conventional forces to make them more effective. Thus the whole business model thing which will make our Brit friends happy.

Again, thank you for the recommendations on books to read. While my days of "pinging" and reciting "the corps" are well behind me, my first act as 1SG this semester will be to have all the plebes recite it in honor of you all....followed by push-ups.

RLTW
Molon Labe