Small Wars Journal

U.S. Military Has No Time to Train for Big Wars; The Wounded Home Front

Busy With Afghanistan, the U.S. Military Has No Time to Train for Big Wars by David Wood at Politics Daily. BLUF: "... problems are reason for a decisive shift at the Pentagon, according to an outside bipartisan task force chartered by Congress to challenge current Defense Department planning. ... said in a report issued earlier this year that Gates had "focused too greatly on the short-term'' threats and not enough on big-war challenges."

The Wounded Home Front by Robert Kaplan at The American Interest. BLUF: "The home front gropes for a way to connect with the wounded and their families. The fact that this is much harder to do than we suppose it ought to be is a particular wage of small wars—wars which we should do all in our power to henceforth avoid."


Able 6 Ancient (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 12:05am

As an NTC planner I can tell you that we are working nearly 24 hours a day to get away from this. Our strategic narrative is close to complete and our first Full Spectrum Operations (FSO) rotation is set for this August. From there, it's full steam ahead, alternating between Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and FSO rotations.
There is a significant amount of depth integrated into our scenario, sustaining the lessons learned from the GWOT while implementing several aspects of the "Hybrid Threat". Although the threat itself has not been completely defined (TC 7-100 was very broad in scope), we without a doubt have enought to present a significant challenge to a Brigade Combat Team.
Miracles don't occur overnight, but this is a priority for the Army as a whole. We will execute, learn, AAR and improve.


Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 3:59pm

Just wait for the first BCT S2 that has to complete an intelligence synchronization matrix something most MI CAPTs/MAJs have not done in over seven years.

Or wargaming at the command staff level---the shift over will not be as easy as some are anticipating.

Or dynamic targeting on TSTs--those types of battle drills and the experience with those battle drills is simply lacking.

Take a look at the 131A targeting warrant officers-almost all of the CW2 and 3s have never been involved in MCO.

It will be a painful 5 to 10 years to rebuild to the levels of 1999/2000.

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 5:33pm

@ anonymous @ 1459

It will be almost as painful as teaching the 1999/2000 level Soldier COIN.


Where do you anticipate MCO with tanks and Bradleys in multiple-division numbers? China? Big mistake even if we could get them on shore. Ukraine/Georgia? Did the Russians show vast proficiency in 2008 on the ground or in the air? Their MANPADS showed talent...shooting down their own planes that lack our countermeasures and stealth. Iran and North Korea? Do you really believe we are that rusty?

In addition, even with units that can drop 155mm in 25 meter intervals, the blast area itself would prohibit use close to friendly troops or civilians. Remember Wanat where very rapid 155mm response and B-1B a half hour out could only shoot far from friendlies. Do you project we will again reach a point where carpet bombing and large suppressing fire-for-effects will occur near urban areas that smart current and past enemies hug to prohibit such fires?

Not sure where you are getting your HVI targeting cycles considering what we have been seeing in Pakistan nearly daily against vehicles with bad guys. Did you read today's Washington Post article about Reaper Gorgon Stare? Are you aware of the Army's MQ-1C that can carry up to 4 Hellfire? Block III Apache is right around the corner. F-35 and ground combat vehicle arrive in the outyears when some new bigger threat might magically materialize.

Anonymous (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 2:31pm

Actually more painful as the battle drills based on speed took years to master---what COIN has done is to convince an entire generation of NCOs/Officers than time is on your side and let's say the targeting cycle for a HVI is somewhere around two weeks vs a MCO targeting cycle driven by multiple meetings everyday and only focusing 36 hours out.

Let's see for example a 155 arti unit drop in increments of 25m and stop 25m out and fire for effect without hitting their own troops.

Another example---we now have an entire HUMINT Collection generation that is focused on COIN-now shift that mindset to tactical questioning/interrogations, handling CED and screening hundreds of refugees when since 2008 most CTCs stopped pushing interrogation scenarios favor of MSO.

Painful is an understatement.

Brian Wolford (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 6:25pm

How are we going to continue the ARFORGEN model (regardless of dwell time) if we are getting back to FSO? If getting back to real "war-fighting" will be a painful five to ten year process, how can we possibly retain the current ARFORGEN model (or the CSAs future goal)? Reason would dictate that select HBCTs (HBCTs because if we are really being honest, FSO to many translates directly to high-intensity conventional offensive operations and nothing else) are exempted from the cycle and return to a training/manning-cycle model that could sustain a unit in a "band of excellence" over the years required to again gain dominance over the hordes of enemy armor scenario as alluded to by anonymous above. But then again, why would we? As Move Forward suggests, why move again to the complete opposite end of the spectrum? If MI WOs are rusty or untrained on select tasks we have not required of them in the last decade--does it matter if they are proving exceptional at fighting todays war? The answer is a balanced force. Unfortunately, COIN will again be regulated to the dustbin of history until another generation is left to improvise while under fire when the enemy refuses to lend himself to a tidy execution checklist circa 1999-2000.

Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 2:46pm

Move Forward---ask many BCTs in Afghnistan if in fact they can "shoot" at their HVIs' if he even comes up on the radar screen and how long the development of the target folder is on him.

The SOF is the opposite as they move with speed and can pull the trigger on their targets as they answer to a totally different command structure.

Even if you argue for a blended hybrid model just how many personnel even understand dynamic targeting the core to FSO?

Dropping arti in 25m increments is a skill set not an art--and I still stand by the comment that skill set has indeed been lost. Even if the opposition hugs the edge of an urban area you still have to effectively adjust fire if necessary.

Ask many of the ISAF BCTs what is the ROE for incoming rifle fire from a building if that building is in a village or in a group of buildings--can they return fire with 40mm grenades, 60mm or 120mm mortars or can they simply throw cans at the building--ask the troops on the ground what the reality is.

Brian: you are right a balanced force is necessary---but right now that force only knows and can function in a COIN environment.