Defining War

Defining War by Jeffrey Hasler, Special Warfare. BLUF:

"Regular review and restatement of approved definitions and their descriptions are necessary as sources of doctrine (e.g., policy, concepts, lessons learned, training, military education, operations planning and strategy) naturally evolve and doctrine is routinely updated. However, further complicating the goal of establishing and reinforcing up-to-date, authoritative and clearly articulated doctrine are other, currently influential, nondoctrinal terms. Incorrect usage of doctrinal terms sows confusion and hinders mission accomplishment; incorrect usage of unapproved terms does so exponentially."

Defining War, Special Warfare.

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4GW may be wrong but Boyd may be right? I think we are being defeated at the "Mental" level of War, just look at the confusion and friction being created because we cannot develop general concepts that accurately describe the situation that everyone can agree on. Which would then help to create a common understanding of the situation and thus help create a common solution. Meanwhile I don't think our enemies have to struggle with such debates, they will simply do anything to create the desired effect they want,which may be nothing more than to confuse us and get us distracted.

Jeffery Hasler: It is a very good and thought provoking article but you left out SBW (Systems Based Warfare) sometimes called Slapout Based Warfare it is the only true answer to the problem. (it's a joke ask Ken White). As we say down south "Ya Dun Good."

Far be it from me to intrude on a couple of double decade club members but as one who wore Unassigned brass, an OG patrol cap because the Beanie had been made illegal and marched (fortunately rarely) behind a teal Blue guidon while deploying to exotic places to shoot some and medically tend to others all while sending 15 words a minute on an RS 6, let me repeat an important point made by Bill M.:

"While SF was trained and organized to conduct UW that hasn't been SF's major utility, since it was formed. It is the flexibility of our force (due to the UW training and unique task organization) that allowed SF to serve as a unique force for the GCCs to employ to solve problems that conventional forces are not ideally suited for by organization, training and more importantly culture. In short, we adapt to provide value. You can correctly argue if we're always adapting then we're losing our high end skills to conduct UW."

If SF adapted solely due to need, that'd be one thing. For it to adapt due to whims and the budget process is a far less desirable trait. I'd also suggest that culture item might merit a close look -- ultra selectivity has a quality all its own...

The budget cycle foolishness drove the GPF to a point of marginal utility due to skill loss. It is now driving SF to a similar point on the same basis.

Hammes is off base, there is no "4th generation warfare" -- there is only war and warfare of the current era -- and the US Army and USSOCOM do not do it well.

Like I said, we're nuts...

Dang. And I thought I had a problem with criticism. :)

Jeff,

It is good to read the passion once again, and you're right that a lot of SF brothers are trying to bring SF back to UW; however, where some of us may diverge is whether or not we relook at how UW can be best implemented in the 21st century, or whether we hold steady to the current doctrine. That is generally the nature of the debate, not whether or not we should do UW. Note I did not mention the 7 phase model in my comments above (actually you sold me with your argument). My response above was strictly based on the words in your article, not any previous debates.

I explored 4GW and my only argument was to keep our minds open to some of the arguments from that particular group, because they may be touching upon things that our legacy doctrine has missed. My current stance is to continue exploring it to see what is relevant, but not adapting it. What I felt was out of line in your article (nothing to do our previous discussions) is that it simply defined most terms (as doctrinal or non-doctrinal), and then out of context from the rest of your article you attacked 4GW. Also, I took your comment from Sun Tzu from the article (in the 4GW para), again not from a previous debate. I admire Sun Tzu also, but I don't agree he could have envisioned all the changes that technology has enabled (the ability to maintain 24/7 awareness of activities around the globe, a global economy, unconventional weapons and their impact, the ability for a nation to project and sustain credible combat power anywhere around the globe quickly, and of course the information technology evolution, among a thousand other items). You claim in your response that some of us exaggerate the impact of technology, I disagree, I think we under appreciate it.

My door is usually open, so you don't need to kick open with your size 13 boots (or loofers)? From the perspective of GCC, the value of doctrine only extends to the level that it helps us solve real problems.

While SF was trained and organized to conduct UW that hasn't been SF's major utility, since it was formed. It is the flexibility of our force (due to the UW training and unique task organization) that allowed SF to serve as a unique force for the GCCs to employ to solve problems that conventional forces are not ideally suited for by organization, training and more importantly culture. In short, we adapt to provide value. You can correctly argue if we're always adapting then we're losing our high end skills to conduct UW.

Finally on your view of UW's definition. Why does ARSOF (assuming they do) feel compelled to tell the interagency (to include the government agencies that actually conduct most UW operations short of all out war) how to define UW? Do you agree that UW is a (choose your poison) a whole of government or interagency endeavor? If so, do they get a vote?

These comments are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the organizations I work for or their leaders. Thank you for the Small Wars Journal forum.

slapout9 said: "The magazine cover is worth a thousand words." I agree. Thanks. It was not designed by accident, or as an embellishment or afterthought. (Kudos for the stylistic refinements made by SW Magazine graphics and design)
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Jimbo said: "I was completely thrown off by the author's snarky biases sneaking into what was supposedly an article on doctrinal terms. From the discussion on the non-doctrinal term asymmetric warfare, "Be advised that a so-called Asymmetric Warfare Group exists to combat asymmetric threats."
Regardless of the author's feelings about the term asymmetric warfare or the utility of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, the group exists and the use of "so-called" was rather unprofessional.
Additionally, while general purpose forces does not appear in JP1-02, it does appear in the Defense Authorization Act and various other government documents not under the purview of doctrine writers. Given that the primary definition of conventional forces, outside the dominion of doctrine writers, is non-nuclear forces; general purpose forces makes more sense when describing non-special operations forces."
I say: Since the primary azimuth of the posted article and this discussion is doctrine, and doctrine rests on a foundation of agreed upon terms, here are some examples of, and links to, definitions for snarky: "SNARKY1: crotchety, snappish 2: sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner." Downloaded 13FEB11 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/snarky see also Downloaded 13FEB11 from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=snarky I cant prevent you from calling me names, but I can remind that you dont define me. From the items listed above, I think I will choose "irreverent," which in part connotes resistance to orthodoxy (such as the growing perceived orthodoxy of competing conceptual schools).
First of all, my "feelings" are secondary if not irrelevant. AW was soberly analyzed and determined to be without merit. If there is no such thing as "AW," then an "AW Group" is a misnomer. Another way to put that misnomer is "so-called." This is simple logic and unremarkable English. I explicitly called the readers attention to the existence of this group. (By the way, how are your feelings?)
Furthermore, the article was not "supposedly" on doctrinal terms; it was. To be more specific, it was about the importance of doctrinal clarity and doctrinally "re-greening" ARSOF. Part of that effort, was a user-friendly succinct guide to current approved doctrine and terms, juxtaposed with leading non-doctrinal concepts; several of which are influential enough to pose a conceptual threat to ARSOF concepts.
Next: Another word for "bias" is preference. Bias does not automatically equate to "unfair," "unjust," or "lacking insight." Some of my preferences include supporting my regiment (which is a passion) and ARSOF more broadly (which is my job). I did not "sneak" my preferences into the article as if through a back door. Metaphorically speaking, I kicked-in the front door with my size 13s and shot certain conceptual opponents in the f****** face. Should you find this objectionable in an article about defining what ARSOF does in the modern world, I invite you to reflect further on the intended irony... .
Finally, your opinion on GPF is noted and reasonable and Ive heard it before. "GPF" and many other such terms are in use today. Yes sir. Common. Granted. Got it. Joint definitions take priority, followed by service definitions where different. Definitions and concepts below these thresholds (as in senior documents or JICs etc) are regularly used conceptually by those to whom theyre useful. But they are not doctrine. Theoretically, if terms stand the test of time, they will someday.
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Grant Martin, Ive done 4 years of doctrine now (active and retired) and I hear (and share) your frustration on doctrinal turmoil loud and clear. The primary intent of the article is to help clear up confusion; at least in ARSOF and regarding our core activities. I ask that you read the response to others to answer most of your other points. I will "pre-iterate" one thing though: the difference between doctrine writers and "doers" is massively overstated.
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slapout9, The article is meant to alleviate some of that conceptual glut confusion. I also concur with your points about offensive and defensive UW. If I were king, I would trash IW and SFA entirely and radically de-emphasize or divest ARSOF of some of the "core" activities. I am, however, manifestly not a king... .
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Ken White, Im with you, it often seems crazy... .
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Anonymous, I agree wholeheartedly with your view on CT.
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More than one of you has suggested the limitations of doctrine writers vision / purview / domain and implied an inferiority of ideas and processes to "getting things done." I submit all efforts are important to our nations cause, and stubbornly maintain that desired outcomes depend on clear thinking. If there is an implied put down about doctrine writers I would answer you this: I spent 28 years in Army Special Forces; half of it on A-teams and a third of it in overseas assignments. Ive seen combat. To me doctrine is another weapon; useful on the battlefield of ideas. If thats not "butch" enough for your notion of doctrine writers, I dont know what to tell you... .
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Bill M: I have known you and we have worked in the same units more or less since 1982. Most of that time was spent in benign ignorance of each other at some distance. Thanks for the affirmative words. I enjoy those instances where we agree. For example, I wholeheartedly endorse this paragraph of yours:
"I agree strongly that words have meaning and we cant have a meaningful discussion on any topic if we are each referring to something common in name, but each of us has different views on what it is. Doctrinal terms are important for any profession, especially a profession where its practitioners are developing plans that are designed to ensure our national security. The result of unclear thinking is Afghanistan. I cant determine if that is due to relying too much on doctrine, or due to ignoring doctrine altogether. What is clear is that our strategy was (and may still be) incoherent and the ends were not clear. Making an argument for clarity of thought is important."
Well said. I salute your service, your experience, and your insights. I value our shared Asian perspectives.
However - and this is directly germane to this thread, our professional relationship suffers from several toxic sedimentary layers each built one upon another. If we are to have a constructive / productive interaction in the future, you must wholly and unequivocally disabuse yourself of a couple notions which continue to retard your analysis.
1. I dont know to what extent you were "invested" in him, but you took great umbrage that I harshly critiqued 4GW in my Special Warfare review of Hammes The Sling and the Stone. How you reacted vectored my career. I will never forget that. Ive kept the message traffic.
2. Part of your reaction was to ascribe views to me that I do not (and never did) hold and do not (and never did) assert. Those false views have ossified in your thinking and obviously color your comment even today. In the Hammes review I never asserted that there is nothing new under the sun, but you think I did. I never asserted that I thought Sun Tzu was the end-all / be-all of thought on war, but you think I did. I never parroted any views ever from any instructor at NPS, but you think I did. You assume that I am an advocate of net-centric war. That proves that you dont know me well at all, because I have been unwaveringly hostile to overhyped technological fixes for our regiments raison dêtre (vis-a-vis what I judge to be quintessentially political methods as understood by the communists) since before the Q course. More maddening still, over the last few years - and again in this thread - you have repeatedly inferred that I was somehow "transformed" or "programmed" by my graduate studies at NPS. This is utterly stupefying condescension and arrogance. I would thank you to never again publicly or privately build an argument in reference to me with this worn-out chancred whore of a cosmically absurd misperception.
Thanks in advance... .
Bill M also said: "Another bias I noted was that SWCs proposed definition of UW was properly vetted and approved and eventually the joint world would catch up. To ensure there is no confusion on properly vetted, there was a majority vote in favor of the definition, but it was far from a consensus. It isnt a bad definition for SF, but the legacy joint definition also has merit for the Joint Force and Interagency. Two definitions wont cause confusion anymore than two or more definitions for other terms dont cause confusion as long as theyre both defined in the Joint Pub. One definition will define how U.S. Army SF views UW, and a joint definition could address how joint force (outside of SF) and the interagency views it. SFs role as DODs primary UW force will not be threatened by either definition. When you demonstrate value your future is assure. The focus shouldnt be on justifying old doctrine (use it if works, if it doesnt do something else) but demonstrating value."
Why should the definition of UW as crafted by the UW proponent (ARSOF) differ from any joint definition (which joint definition, incidentally, would take precedence as the senior definition)? I am always suspicious of those who want to redefine the UW definition to make it broader. Usually it is based on one or both of two basic assumptions: (1) the current UW definition is framed so narrowly that "it seems like we dont want to ever do it," and/or (2) todays reality of diminishing nation-states and trans-national actors requires us to do different things that dont fit well into the definition. As to the former, everyone who reads this blog can effortlessly compile a list where UW against extant nation states would be a useful option given the national political will to do so; it is a domestic political question. As to the latter, the ARSOF definition includes "coerce and disrupt" in addition to "overthrow." Against nation-states (which, incidentally, are still the most important political structures on Earth), how much more broad of a definition do you need? The most typical answer is: "... because we need to go after trans-national actors or do things outside of a UW AO. Great! Go do them! If what you do is part of a UW campaign, thats great! If it isnt, whatever you are doing is great too(!)...but you are not doing UW. You are doing something else; it is a definitional and/or authorities question.
It is not about "justifying" old doctrine (shame on you... again). It is about conceptual, professional, and organizational coherence and discipline. The 7-phase model of UW is just a conceptual model. It is a model from which we adjust as needed. The model (and doctrine generally) is a guideline, not a straightjacket. The model should be refined not trashed. "Demonstrating value" (or the kindred notion that we "must remain relevant") is like a type of code militating for doing whatever is called for at the time. No problem. Doctrinal and conceptual discourse continues concurrently. For many of these last war years that "demonstrated value" has been interpreted largely as strike operations and presence patrols to disrupt enemies in Afghanistan. OK, those are the orders. But that is not UW. Arguably its not even special operations because much of what is being done by our SF teams is "armored cav" and "air cav" "by other means."
Bill M also said: "The author cherry picked non-doctrinal terms to lambast, while simply brushing over other non-doctrinal terms without emotion. The bias was obvious." I say "bulls***." The initial constraint was space. From the outset the idea was to have a two page spread: one side would have a clear and concise list of current doctrinal references with sources, while the other side would have leading non-doctrinal" concepts which frequently confuse the issue. It was intended to be user friendly and had to be concise. Moreover, and as stated in the piece, I chose the articles and listed sources. It was admittedly a representative choice, not a comprehensive one. I used judgment. I then concentrated my critiques on those non-doctrinal concepts based primarily on my assessment of their conceptual threat to UW. I would have loved to have had more space to do hard critiques of Boyd and all things "net-" for example but there simply wasnt space. Apart from these criteria, the length or "passion" of any individual critique as you perceive them is irrelevant.
Bill M also said: "In my view, just because a doctrinal concept was staffed doesnt mean it was submitted to intellectual rigor. SW Magazine for example has never been a forum for intellectual debate, but rather a forum to post articles that generally conform to the Regiments views. The same is true for our doctrinal development process; if the right personality is pushing a concept through it is accepted. That is the sad reality of most bureaucratic systems, not just the military. I accept that reality, but it is important we dont confuse it with intellectual rigor."
I think Bill M is correct in observing that this article was more provocative than the usual SW Magazine fare. However, just who exactly is the final arbiter of "the Regiments views?" It isnt me, nor is it Bill M (That is a fat and juicy question that Ill just leave hanging... ). As far as initiatives being personality driven, I agree with out quibble. As far as "intellectual rigor" goes, however, 95% of the time I hear the phrase "intellectual rigor" (most often by PhDs) I want to puke. Two highly capable teams of PhDs can take the same analytical question, and working independently analyze it "with rigor," and come up with two different conclusions. Spare us the pretensions... . How about this for Soldier simplicity: some doctrine is straightforward (such as Military Freefall techniques, weapons employment, infantry company and platoon operations etc) and requires SMEs who are current and well grounded in state-of-the-art TTPs. Some doctrine (parts of operations manual, IW, UW FID, etc) are more conceptual and require SMEs well grounded in state-of-the-art and historical concepts. Put the right doctrine workers with the right background and temperament in the right billets (and hope for a visionary and supportive CG).
Bill M also critiques me for a "recommended process" that would have resulted in failures of innovation. He not only compares apples and oranges, he misses the sense of the article. First of all, Im not "recommending a process," least of all "my" process. I am characterizing the benefits of an existing process. No doubt it sometimes fails. However, I know that it sometimes works: within this process I drafted what would eventually be refined into the SWCS position against adoption of AW in 2007. The UW working groups of 07-08 led to advances which were further improved by the working groups of 09. A clunky, and halting process of research, write, revise, rescind, and rewrite has now brought us a good definition. Can innovations be stymied by such a process? Sure. But the article wasnt about squelching innovation or debate; it was about what is authorized and what represents competing noise in the larger operational environment. Heres a test: If 4GW is so innovative, lets put it through "the process" and see how it fares.
Bill M also said: "Pardon me for not always being doctrinally correct, but results matter more than words and processes."
I say pardon me for being argumentative but you are wrong; they are inseparable. We should achieve what we set out to do. However, the reason we do things is ultimately more important than what we actually achieve. Doing things for the right reasons is a healthy discipline. To believe otherwise -once boiled down to its primordial essence - is to be left with the law of the jungle. Want socialized health care, for example, but that pesky constitution (just words) is in the way, or the precedents and procedures of lawmaking and popular consent (just processes) are slowing you down? Well then! By all means do whatever you must to achieve results.
No thanks.
This is getting lengthy so allow me to summarize and conclude. The article is one tool in an effort to help ARSOF better articulate what we do; first to ourselves, then to others. The insert, specifically, is meant to be a quick reference that will help to instruct the regiment (and others). My fervent desire would be to see that insert posted on the bulletin board of every team room worldwide.
God bless every great American no matter what unit they are in or mission they are on. Nevertheless, and to borrow ADM Olsons metaphor, I suggest we not try to make each one of them a "Swiss Army Knife." Since at least the time of Rome, Marines were naval infantry. Presumably, they will one day be Starfleet infantry. Let them be Marines. If I had wanted to do that mission I would have joined them. If I had wanted to be an elite frogman or naval commando, I would have joined the SEALs. If I had wanted to be elite light infantry or army commandos I would have joined the rangers. If I had wanted to be an elite counterterrorist I would have joined Delta. If I had wanted to be air cav or armored cav I would have joined those units in the big army.
I wanted to be part of a very small elite of highly trained, diversely skilled, self-reliant and flexible warriors working undergrounds and auxiliaries, and leading guerrillas behind enemy lines to free people enslaved by tyranny: in other words - unconventional warfare; the raison dêtre of Army Special Forces. Those who do not appreciate the utility of UW as currently defined is not a failure of the definition or a failure of the concept itself; it is a failure of vision and leadership. And I speak for a great many brothers out there who are tired of our regiment being morphed into JV Squadrons or defined out of existence.

These comments are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the organizations I work for or their leaders.

I think and have said before that Clausewitz was half right on his definition of war. It should be the use of Force or FRAUD to achieve the aims of policy. Fraud is subversion and it is the one thing that Special Warfare understood very well or used to understand. Subversion is just as much a weapon as a bomb. We need to expand the defintion of War to include this very important element.

While as Clausewitz said we have to understand the war we are in, I do not think he meant spending so much time trying to name the war. Assigning a name does not equal understanding. We may become so attached to names and arguing how the war fits into that name that we do not do the analysis to really understand the character of the war that we are in (character vice nature because the nature of war is really constant). Do these new names really help us to understand the character of the war we are in?

Regarding changing doctrine and the quest to get it right: Perhaps we are trying too hard. This quest to get it right runs the risk of turning doctrine into dogma. If we would look at doctrine as a start point and a common way to communicate ideas and concepts (which would imply that we should not keep inventing or reinventing new terms and concepts - especially renaming existing ones that have been tried and proved to effective), then we could use that doctrine in a "shift from a known point" (credit to a colleague of mine for this concept) way to really try to understand the problems we face and then adapt common ways and means to solve the problems we face (or achieve the ends we are directed). Our quest to continually update doctrine and "get it right" means we spend more time rewriting and drafting manuals and then having to disseminate the new lexicon throughout the force rather than focusing on understanding the real problems and designing strategies and campaign plans to achieve our nation's desired objectives. Is our doctrine perfect? Can it be perfect? Should we try to make it perfect? Sometimes as the saying goes, perfect is the enemy of good enough. Perhaps we should consider doctrine as the foundation or the path to get us to a common point with a common vocabulary and then spend our time looking at and understanding the problem instead of trying to make the problem fit into our existing doctrine. If we accept that threats and enemies are constantly evolving (learning) then perhaps we should focus on developing the ability to be learning organizations in practice rather than trying to be learning organizations in theory only. We have sufficient doctrine all the way around across the spectrum of conflict. Let's spend our effort on critical thinking, education, and effective training to deal with the threats and problems as they really are rather than as we wish they would be.

I have known Jeff off and on for years, and he is truly dedicated to studying his trade (Special Operations); especially UW. I was usually out drinking beer when Jeff was rigorously studying, so while simultaneously paying respect to his hard earned intellectual reputation on these topics, I have also disagreed with Jeff over the years on some points and continue to do so. The article was definitely informative, I learned a few things that I should have known previously, but I was plotting this evil post before I finished the first page. :-)

I agree strongly that words have meaning and we cant have a meaningful discussion on any topic if we are each referring to something common in name, but each of us has different views on what it is. Doctrinal terms are important for any profession, especially a profession where its practitioners are developing plans that are designed to ensure our national security. The result of unclear thinking is Afghanistan. I cant determine if that is due to relying too much on doctrine, or due to ignoring doctrine altogether. What is clear is that our strategy was (and may still be) incoherent and the ends were not clear. Making an argument for clarity of thought is important.

Now my criticisms:

The author cherry picked non-doctrinal terms to lambast, while simply brushing over other non-doctrinal terms without emotion. The bias was obvious.

For example, he conducted a vicious attack on 4GW for a both valid and invalid reasons, but undermined his argument when he said this wasnt new, because if they bothered to read Sun Tzu they would have realized it was all said before. Pardon me, but I cant find a Joint or Army Pub with Sun Tzu doctrine, so even if it is true that Sun Tzu said all this before (it isnt), it still doesnt matter if it isnt in the doctrine we allegedly practice.

At the same time he provided a non-emotional definition of another non-doctrinal term/concept called "Netwar", which according to the article is the identification and use of social networks by irregulars. Pardon me again, but that is not a new concept. Most SOF operatives that graduate from Naval Postgraduate School come back to the ranks talking about networks as though they have seen the light, and that somehow describing a network as linear or a hub and spoke etc. is extremely valuable at the pointy end of the spear. I took my first counterterrorism intelligence course in the early 80s (after the Q Course), and even back in those dark ages we were drawing social networks on chalkboards and boucher blocks as part of our discussion. Im sure Ken did the same when he was drawing on buffalo on a caves wall. Social networks and the exploitation of them is nothing new; however the ability to leverage information technology to form and mobilize social networks is. This is a concept that 4GW addressed, but we wont go there.

Another bias I noted was that SWCs proposed definition of UW was properly vetted and approved and eventually the joint world would catch up. To ensure there is no confusion on properly vetted, there was a majority vote in favor of the definition, but it was far from a consensus. It isnt a bad definition for SF, but the legacy joint definition also has merit for the Joint Force and Interagency. Two definitions wont cause confusion anymore than two or more definitions for other terms dont cause confusion as long as theyre both defined in the Joint Pub. One definition will define how U.S. Army SF views UW, and a joint definition could address how joint force (outside of SF) and the interagency views it. SFs role as DODs primary UW force will not be threatened by either definition. When you demonstrate value your future is assure. The focus shouldnt be on justifying old doctrine (use it if works, if it doesnt do something else) but demonstrating value.

Finally, the remarks on "half-baked" ideas was a bit over the top. In my view, just because a doctrinal concept was staffed doesnt mean it was submitted to intellectual rigor. SW Magazine for example has never been a forum for intellectual debate, but rather a forum to post articles that generally conform to the Regiments views. The same is true for our doctrinal development process; if the right personality is pushing a concept through it is accepted. That is the sad reality of most bureaucratic systems, not just the military. I accept that reality, but it is important we dont confuse it with intellectual rigor.

Ill offer two quick examples of where the authors process failed or almost failed us. Billy Mitchells concept for developing air power was rejected by his peers and superiors at the time as a "half-baked" idea, yet air power is now a critical component of our Joint Force and would have been sooner if the original idea was exposed to a non-bias intellectual evaluation. Prior to WWII several Army officers attempted to reject adapting armor, they felt horse cavalry could defeat armor. It took a personality, not a staff process to push the concept through and keeping us from getting our butts handed to us by the Germans. Those are just two half-baked ideas that would have died in the authors recommended process. Ill add one more, Special Forces never would have gotten off the ground if it was up to a collective consensus within the Army Staff.

Pardon me for not always being doctrinally correct, but results matter more than words and processes.

Thanks, Dave...I missed that when it first did the rounds so your re-announcing it is much appreciated...I'll elevate it to the top of my reading stack. When we reviewed the Aussie Div in Battle publication Counter-Revolutionary Warfare 2-3 years back about 80% of it was still applicable to our COE. In fact if you shifted the focus away from operations in the jungle and amended the sections of pragmatic but now frowned-upon use of mines and booby-traps, it would probably hold its own against some current texts...Simon

Yes, this Bob.

The most disturbing aspect of this is the following definition:

Counterterroism (CT) Actions taken directly against terrorist networks and indirectly to influence and render global environments inhospitable to terrorist
networks. (JP 3-26, NOV09). Core activity of ARSOF.

Terrorism is a tactic. Counterterrorism is also a tactic. In fact, it is DA applied against an individual or organization that employs terrorism as a tactic.

When one raises CT to an overarching concept that arguably supercedes US Foreign Policy, you get the type of violent, military-led policy we have adopted as a nation over the past several years. You get a State Department with a CT section, but no section dedicated to working with non-state actors or less formal structures we find in what we call "failing" or "failed" states.

I strongly recommend that we go back to the woodshed on this one. Or behind the woodshed if necessary.

Bob

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/03/special-warfare-circa-1962/

Ask and ye shall receive. This was posted on 11 MAR 2009 here on Small Wars Journal. See link above. Should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the history of Special Warfare - Special Operations.

Special Warfare - 1962
Posted by SWJ Editors on March 11, 2009 8:32 PM | Permalink| Print |

Okay, you remember back a few years when those trying to figure out counterinsurgency were snapping up all available copies of Galulas 1964 Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice and breaking out the popcorn to watch the 1967 movie The Battle of Algiers. Well, now circulating amongst those tasked for figuring out "Irregular Warfare" comes the 1962 US Army "booklet" entitled Special Warfare - with an introduction by President John F. Kennedy. So here, SWJ brings you another blast from the past.

The Introduction begins with a letter to the US Army from President John F. Kennedy that interestingly enough, notes the "several terms" that the Army used to describe guerrilla warfare and goes on to say "by whatever name, this militant challenge to freedom calls for an improvement and enlargement of our own development of techniques and tactics, communications and logistics to meet this threat. The introduction also includes a foreword by Secretary of the Army Elvis Stahr, the Table of Contents and (something we could use today) a section called "Use the Right Word!" - a handy guide to official terminology.

Part I - New Emphasis on Special Warfare includes articles The Third Challenge by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Special Warfare: A Progress Report by General George Decker, Chief of Staff of the US Army.

Part II - Why You Should Know About Special Warfare includes articles Countering Guerilla Attack by Walt Rostow, Guerrillas: A Formable Force by Captain Thomas Collier, and Soldier of the Future by Major Boyd Bashore.

Part III - Is Special Warfare Something New? Includes articles The US Army and Guerrilla Warfare by Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Gardner and Counterguerrilla Operations: A Case Study by Lieutenant Colonel Donald Rattan.

Part IV - What the Army is Doing includes articles Special Forces by Charles Dodson, US Army Special Warfare Center by Brigadier General William Yarbrough, The Worlds Top Jungle Fighters by Nelson Axlerod, The Jungle Tigers of Viet Nam by Simon Poore, Our Secret Weapon in The Far East by Dickey Chapelle and Special Forces: Europe by Captain Robert Asprey.

Part V - Some Thoughts on Guerrilla Philosophy and Tactics includes articles Maos Primer on Guerilla War by Mao Tse-tung, La Guerra De Guerillas by Che Guevara, Encirclement Methods in Counterguerrilla Warfare by Major Thoung Htaik and Both Sides of The Guerrilla Hill by Brigadier R.C.H. Miers.

Part VI - A Look at The Future includes articles Twilight War by Colonel Robert Rigg and Unconventional Warfare by Franklin Lindsay.

Part VII - Additional contains reference listings for further reading.

With that we give a SWJ Tip O Hat to Paul Tompkins and Dave Maxwell.

Unconvetional Warfare rolls off the tongue as a logical converse to Conventional Warfare; but it never was that, and it is confusing.

"Special Warfare" was the old umbrella term in the 60s that was the converse of Conventional Warfare. That is why the Army stood up a "Special Warfare Center and School" (USAJFKSWCS) at Fort Bragg, NC. UW was one of many subsets of that. I will look for the link, and Dave Maxwell may have it for "Special Warfare U.S. Army - An ARMY Specialty" published in 1962 with an intro by President Kennedy and forward by Elvis (you can't make this up)Stahr, Secretary of the Army.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/03/special-warfare-circa-1962/

According to Elvis:

"Special Warfare is a term used by the Army to embrace all military and paramilitary measures and activities related to unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency and psychological warfare. It includes fighting as guerrillas, as well as against guerillas and also involves the employment of psychological devices to undermine the enemy's will to resist."

Operating Environment? What -- do I need Scrubs and a scalpel to go there? OE -- that stands for Organizational Effectiveness and we know how that worked out. :<

Or it could stand for operational environment which is already in the DoD Dictionary and an approved abbreviation.

Attack in zone, Wait, wait -- what about the Green Zone. Nope...

Defend in sector. Whoops, can't do that we are not attacking anybody. Nope...

Operate in TAOR. Nope, we didn't invent that on our watch...

We're nuts...

I think I saw a note come round here that battlespace and missionspace have both been replaced by operating environment which may kill the whole 'owner' thing...'operating environment owner' just doesn't have that 'ring' to it...

"Battlespace" is a good example of a popular term of no real value being able to create confusion. The term is non-descriptive of the type of effort taking place in or upon it. What if there is, in fact no battle occurring in that space -- as is true in some parts of Afghanistan. Is the 'battle' that does take place in that geographical space offensive, defensive, FID or something else...

It may be popular, it may be in common use but it is not a really good term to use in describing actions or operations in an area. Plus, it lent itself to the term 'Battlespace Owner' which may not be as bad as is 'FOB Mayor' but is bad enough to merit being purged from the lexicon. Both words in battlespace owner can send a powerful but perhaps erroneous message, both in FOB Mayor are civilian applications that can also lead to errors.

The terms are temporary adaptations to a type of warfare that is not new and had a slew of appropriate terms and practices developed after some hard learning over many years on several Continents. The problem is that while none of this is new, it is being done by some who were not aware of what had been done before so they almost of necessity invented some new ideas. Some are good and were necessary. Some are not.

While I agree with Grant's first paragraph (1203 11 Feb), the equally or possibly more dangerous flip side of that is that the terms change so rapidly today that it's hard for anyone to keep up. A little moderation might help.

Great point with battlespace, a term with gravitas that is instantly understandable. Battlespace lives on because the milquetoast terms which replaced it do not have the proper feel.

Hi Grant,
You got it man, it does no good to write definitions that only one side of the conflict is going to use. If it is not Conventional then it is UW IMO. And UW can be done both offensively and defensively, we don't need 47 different definitions. The basic concept of UW just needs to be expanded. To me it is all Guerrilla Warfare (armed civilians)if you use that term the common man understand exactly what you are talking about but start using FID/COIN/CT/SFA nobody understands it anymore...except the enemy.

While very useful for those dealing with the US military, this article makes me wonder if we are insulating ourselves from the rest of the world by developing our own doctrinal terms/doctrine that ignore popular terms and uses of terms. So, for instance, "regular" language changes very quickly- and many groups not "in the know" either are confused or have to learn the "new language". The positive is that new ways of understanding concepts are furthered quickly by those that "do". The negative is that many who don't "do" are quickly left behind.

We attempt to avoid this confusion internally by defining terms in doctrine and then policing the use of those terms in papers and discourse (I'll never forget hearing the term "Battlespace" in Afghanistan, then going to CGSC and being told that that term was not doctrinally correct anymore- only to go back to Afghanistan and hear it used uniformly again...). The positive is that everyone can theoretically understand each other (or at least the doctrine writers can). The negative is that the "do-ers" find their ability to communicate about new concepts and across disciplines is hampered.

The risk we run, in my opinion, is that the rest of the world (and even our own forces) shapes language to be useful to them and doctrine increasingly only makes sense to the doctrine writers.

Take for instance "Unconventional Warfare". If one reads the doctrinal definition it only describes "insurgency" or efforts to support insurgencies. Irregular Warfare arguably had to be inserted into doctrine because UW had been limited to only insurgency-type activities- although it is used outside of the US military to describe IW (test this on a State Dept diplomat...). Because the US military (and specifically US Army Special Forces) limited UW to describe insurgency only- I submit that we limited our ability to communicate with the rest of the government and world about what it is we do.

Except for the reason that "UW" is a US Army SF mission (and reason for existence)- why should we limit "UW" to mean only insurgency and supporting insurgencies? And- perhaps more importantly- why should we not use doctrine to more accurately capture definitions of terms that are being popularly used in order to give the "do-ers" clarity as opposed to attempting to nail down only one approved usage for all terms?

I was completely thrown off by the author's snarky biases sneaking into what was supposedly an article on doctrinal terms. From the discussion on the non-doctrinal term asymmetric warfare, "Be advised that a so-called Asymmetric Warfare Group exists to combat asymmetric threats."

Regardless of the author's feelings about the term asymmetric warfare or the utility of the Asymmetric Warfare Group, the group exists and the use of "so-called" was rather unprofessional.

Additionally, while general purpose forces does not appear in JP1-02, it does appear in the Defense Authorization Act and various other government documents not under the purview of doctrine writers. Given that the primary definition of conventional forces, outside the dominion of doctrine writers, is non-nuclear forces; general purpose forces makes more sense when describing non-special operations forces.

The magazine cover is worth a thousand words.