Integrating COIN into Army Professional Education

Overdue Bill: Integrating Counterinsurgency into Army Professional Education

by Major Niel Smith

Download the full article: Integrating COIN into Army Professional Education

In the eight years since the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has failed to integrate counterinsurgency (COIN) into Professional Military Education (PME). Counterinsurgency instruction remains uneven in quantity and quality throughout Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) institutions, which have failed to define standards, competencies and outcomes for COIN education. This lack of consistency contributes to ongoing operational confusion and poor execution of operations in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom due to lack of common concept of what counterinsurgency is and what it entails, despite great advances in COIN application and execution by troops in the field.

Integrating COIN into PME is crucial for improving the ability of the Army to wage our current wars. Ideally, two officers or NCO's educated at differing TRADOC schoolhouses should emerge with similar skills and knowledge competencies on doctrine and staff processes. This synchronization is crucial to allowing large staffs with multiple specialties to operate seamlessly using shared understandings of the operational environment. No such standardization exists for the topic of COIN, despite adequate published doctrine and historical military literature.

TRADOC must address this shortcoming in one of its key areas of responsibility. This paper will outline several actions executable within the TRADOC commander's existing authority to address these problems.

Download the full article: Integrating COIN into Army Professional Education

Major Niel Smith is a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He served as operations officer at the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center from 2007 to 2009.

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Ken, our BCST exercises have a tight focus, which includes CP Opns and MDMP, for client unit staffs. Time available to work with the unit may be four days, up to twenty. Total time from when the unit pops up on our screens until mission may be under two months. For a Reserve BCST unit, that's pretty fast.

We work primarily with staffs. When a KFOR exercise spins up, the final MRE has the MNTF staff working with the TFs out on the training areas. The TSB handles the lanes stuff. After the unit completes our exercise, they then go to Hohenfelds, to get it from the CTC there.

If you think the MNTF-E commander, one star, is driving all training his TFs perform, that does not happen. There are Co cdrs and their folks to do that. The cdr knows what is happening in order to enable him to ask leading questions.

If I said that the unit (ranging from BN to DIV staff) figures out what it needs to work on, and we focus on those things, is that clearer? My desire is that what they need and what we prepare to provide are the same thing.

There is a problem with information feeds, where the temptation is for a brigade to track squads.

As a former training company commander (twice), a company training officer/XO a couple times, an instructor, a staff weenie, and a few other roles, I agree with your views of unit training and NCOs.

Someone has to stand up for the staff training folks, seems like the fashionable thing is to talk trash about us. We have to lash together a good product with the doctrine that the Army gives us.

Excellent! My copy of "Understanding Iraq" by Ali Wardi just arrived. Go figure why it took until 2008 to be translated into English.

elric:

"In my happy place, the commander tells us what functions (METL tasks) that need focus, we churn up a task list of things that cover the request, send it back to the commander so the significant players can comment, then we finalize our exercise based on what the unit believes it needs to train on."

Significant players? Weird. The only significant players are all Commanders, the Staff's only comment should be 'Yes,Sir.' The idea of selecting tasks is another flaw of BTMS; the idea that 'one cannot train on all things' is an excuse to be lazy.


Umm, what do those units do when they're confronted in combat with Tasks you didn't select for training?


You say:

"Sorry about the micromanagers. Sounds like CYA, folks are trying to insure that everything is checked off..."

I suggest that is induced by this:

"There has been a long trend towards finally viewing the commander as the trainer for the unit (which is long overdue)"

It's not long overdue -- that flawed idea has raised its head from time to time since WW II, maybe someday a wise CofSA will put a stake in its heart. It contributes to micromanagement -- er, or "engineering success" (as I heard one commander once put it, apparently not realizing the irony of his comment...).

Flawed logic; the commander is the commander -- His NCOs are his trainers; not his company commanders who should be busy training PLs, not their Companies. NCOs train, Commanders command (and they, not the Staff, inspect training...).

Do otherwise and your NCOs will gleefully take the slack given, stack arms, sit on their hands and whine (this causes the Troops to think, correctly, we're all nuts...). Do it otherwise and Commanders will trust only themselves and will not trust their subordinates because they were so busy doing senseless stuff, they didn't get to know their people or what those people could do...

And that unit where the "Commander was the trainer" will not be very well trained -- it'll be one of those mediocre units. At best...

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I have heard of observers with clipboards (read "Commonsense Training"), but have never seen one. Thankfully. As much as possible, I try to keep my note taking to a minimum, while struggling to satisfy the beast (AAR slides being created for the final AAR).

There has been a long trend towards finally viewing the commander as the trainer for the unit (which is long overdue) and the commander has been involved in the daily azimuth checks (internal hot washes) that we run.

In my happy place, the commander tells us what functions (METL tasks) that need focus, we churn up a task list of things that cover the request, send it back to the commander so the significant players can comment, then we finalize our exercise based on what the unit believes it needs to train on.

I'm still struggling, trying to get our folks to shut down the staff when the action/ function is complete (like call for MEDEVAC) so the unit can do an informal AAR while the memory is fresh. My point is pulling aside one or two people while the rest of the section / staff continues to churn is not effective. It may hit the gong, but not help the section clear a gate event.

Sorry about the micromanagers. Sounds like CYA, folks are trying to insure that everything is checked off, so if your unit went and did something unwise, they can whip out the validation checklist. Pencil whip.

Does labeling something "anti-professional" make sense?

Do we really need rhetorical questions?

In the case of TCS, I think it does. TCS is about drill, memorization, and step-by-step procedure. It is the classic case of teaching people what to do and what to think rather than why to do and how to think. And, as Ken points out, it makes trainers lazy. It also allows mediocre trainers to simply abide by a step-by-step ARTEP MTP; no creative thought necessary. It quantifies training, rather than qualifying it.

Example: My first deployment was in a National Guard unit. We showed up to our mobilization station having completed a year of training for our mission - not just weekends. We were doing 4- and 5-day exercises per month and had completed CTC rotations at NTC and JRTC (10 months apart). Soldiers from throughout our Brigade had been hand-picked to form one company. It was as good as any active duty unit that I went on to serve in. We were fully capable of conducting company-level operations. But, so as to ensure they we were "ready to deploy" we were required to spend the first half of our mobilization period being certified on skill level 1 and 2 tasks and the second half being put through the most canned STX's that I have ever seen. Every evaluator had his checklist straight out of the ARTEP MTP. It was beyond asinine, but it was task-conditions-standard, right by the book. On paper, our "readiness" to deploy had nothing to do with our actual competence to conduct squad, platoon, and company level operations. Our "readiness" assessment was based entirely off our ability to jump through hoops and adhere to checklists.

"This thing called language, it creaks and groans, but is mine alone..."

"tasks won't cut it and that's the flaw -- remove "tasks" and substitute "mission and all the tasks needed to do so." That's what most would really want"

I'm game for an 85% solution that is pretty good, but room to improve. A construct is needed to provide a frame of reference. History has enough examples of where the order was misconstrued because of ambiguous phrases. If your "mission and all..." provides unambiguous identification of the mission, that is the important part.

"Lists don't hack it, one has to know what to do -- that takes training."

Lists provide a basis for decent preparation. What is a PCC? For every unit, I never cared if their SOP was right out of the FM. Does it work, and do they keep it current? Seen units without an SOP kick some buttock (arty unit for mech infantry), seen a whole lot more with no/old SOP really hurt themselves.

"...because the Army planners need to have units capable of similar levels of performance."
Whatever method is used for measurement, units need to be able to shoot, move, communicate, and sustain. A unit of such composition is capable of doing a number of things reasonably well. And of course, other tasks as assigned.

Laughter through tears. If you've read "Echos of Battle", there are three types- guardian, hero, and manager. The guardians, eg. active army, is more proficient because they have a lot more time doing it. For managers, you can lead through management, but you can't manage leadership. And then there are those who just want to get it done.

Does labeling something "anti-professional" make sense? It feels like we have a new dogma that cannot be questioned. Show trials of "wreckers" to follow.

Ken wrote:

I do not agree with retaining task condition and standard... The system has some merit for training a large conscript Army so should be put on the shelf as a mobilization technique but it is totally inappropriate for a relatively small professional Army full of smart kids.

Exactly. Training Soldiers by way of TCS is anti-professional.

elric:

We aren't that far apart...

"...where are the O-6s and above to embody the importance of training? The bottom line is can the unit perform the task? Do the implementers understand? Can they sustain it?

They're out there but they are constrained by a system and numerous TRADOC civilians who do not like change and do like the job security provided by the nominal current system.

Agree with your last sentence above to a point. That point is "task." Clear a building is a Task -- Conditions? Empire State Building? NYU Hospital? National Cathedral? Three Bedroom Ranch in Atlanta? Big compound in Paktia or a hut in Viet Nam? Nope, tasks won't cut it and that's the flaw -- remove "tasks" and substitute "mission and all the tasks needed to do so." That's what most would really want.

You want an outcome, not a task completed but a number of tasks melded together (and some of which may prove completely unnecessary in a particular building or situation...) to create that outcome...

I do not agree with retaining task condition and standard because the system allows -- even forces -- trainers to be lazy. It does not provide the objective evaluation of training status that it was 'designed' or purports to do. The system has some merit for training a large conscript Army so should be put on the shelf as a mobilization technique but it is totally inappropriate for a relatively small professional Army full of smart kids. You want those smart kids to say -- all ranks -- you better offer 'em a challenge and NOT a flawed system or process they have to work around.

"...because the Army planners need to have units capable of similar levels of performance."

You're kidding, right? Why? They do not now. There are a few good units, a few bad units and a slew of mediocre units (due to mediocre personnel and training policies).

First thing new LTs learn is "know your men." Good Bn Cdrs know their Cos -- the mediocre ones do not and that's why there are mediocre units.

"The AUTL is a bit too little, the MTP is a bit too much (would you like more porridge?)."

Lists don't hack it, one has to know what to do -- that takes training. Until we rectify that shortfall at the Officer and Enlisted entry levels, little will change.

I agree with your bottom line:

* Army planners just need to tell units what to do and not worry about the how. If a unit can't do its job, it's up to that units next higher to know that. There used to be a chain of command that worked and moved things both upward and downward quite well. We seem to bypass it with a lot today..

"If we were really well trained in the basics of fighting -- everything else is secondary -- the numerous add-on training courses and the CTC scenarios would not be necessary as they now are; they would merely be an enhancement."

Can't say it better. But where are the O-6s and above to embody the importance of training? The bottom line is can the unit perform the task? Do the implementers understand? Can they sustain it?

I still support a form of Task, Condition, and Standard (the holy Trinity) because the Army planners need to have units capable of similar levels of performance. The AUTL is a bit too little, the MTP is a bit too much (would you like more porridge?).

When I become the Supreme Leader: Develop and implement CPs that effectively display data, so that BUBs and CUBs are no longer necessary. Cleanse the training guidance of ELOs, TLOs, and LOs. Promulgate training preparation guidance that protects the trainer (unlike the lipservice that occurs). Reward those enlisted, NCO and Officers that question redundant or outdated requirements. Develop a focus on warfighting. I don't mean only force on force, but the mission.

elric:

Sorry about the anonymous -- had to rush yesterday and didn't hit the right button...

Fortunately, I precede BTMS. So I can recall when we really trained to do missions and not the silly, dumbed down sub-tasks required to do jobs.

The Battalion Training Management System is the problem -- aside from the fact it got Bn Cdrs too involved in training Companies and gave the staffs way too much power, the basic premise was to produce an objective evaluation of training, the quality of that training was not relevant -- except to the good trainers and commanders who transcended a poor system.

I agree with you that training isn't hard to understand and I strongly agree that most are not at all too stupid to understand decent training. Many are, however, unduly constrained by a poor system.

In fact, I submit that even though we are better trained now than at any other time in my overlong lifetime -- to include all 45 years in and with the Army -- we are really not well trained. Just look at many stills and video clips from Iraq and Afghansitan; there are good things -- and a whole lot of bad...

If we were really well trained in the basics of fighting -- everything else is secondary -- the numerous add-on training courses and the CTC scenarios would not be necessary as they now are; they would merely be an enhancement.

The fact that we are as good as we are is due to people who were smart enough to bypass the current Task, Condition, Standard stupidity. Being around when that was born and knowing the background, I don't hesitate to call it stupid...

Dogma does indeed kill and resistance to improvement is dogmatic. I'd also point out that doctrine can become dogma. The fact is that OBTE will aid in teaching people how to think and get past the lip service we now pay that due to the BTMS legacy. You may be one of those who overcame BTMS and trained folks well -- everyone did not...

Hey Anonymous, good training is not rocket science. "except embedding the method for everyone not just the smart folks" means what? I've been around since BTMS, and I didn't find that training framework to be hard to understand.
Its a cop-out claiming that some people are too stupid to understand training.
The 3/5/7 is not my rater or senior rater. Unfortunately.

Doctrine saves, dogma kills.

Elric:

No one promised paradise with any of those things -- if some chose to believe that, that would seem to be their problem. OBTE is, as you say, just a term for effective performance oriented training. That's what we should have been doing all along and what good trainers have in fact been doing, so nothing really new -- except embedding the method for everyone not just the smart folks.

"Faced with a lack of interest in concepts and a stock exercise design, why should anyone not in command really make the effort to incorporate all these good ideas?"

So they can never be selected for command?

The G3/5/7 of the Army doesn't agree with you. Fortunately

"The switch to Outcome Based Training and Evaluation which is ongoing will bring a quantum improvement in training and thus in capability. It does indeed require more time and effort -- as well as money -- but the result will prove the value of the approach."

Folks, we were promised paradise through RMA. Then 4GW. Now AGW. From my vantage point, OBTE is just a gussied up terminology for effective, performance oriented training. Where is "more time, effort, and money" going to come from?

Not enough priority is given to effective training NOW (anyone experience "check the box" prior to deployment?). IMHO, the training base is being raided for individual augmentees, and this creates a repple depple mentality. Faced with a lack of interest in concepts and a stock exercise design, why should anyone not in command really make the effort to incorporate all these good ideas?

If you were to delete 'US Army' and insert 'Australian Army' , with one or two other modifications, this paper would also address the Australian situation at present.

Sadly, I must agree with Niel and Mark. Balance of education and training across the spectrum of conflict is important, but we're not there. While some worry about the Army focusing too much on COIN, there is no danger of that based on our current PME.

Mike,

Can you give some examples of what you mean when you say that you saw small units "struggle with the basics of COIN"?

The reason that I ask is that whenever I saw a unit perform poorly in the context of a COIN operation, most of their problems, in my opinion, were really just poor discipline and substandard training on skill level 1 tasks that are relevant to all operations. My opinion was that they would have performed poorly whether it was COIN, HIC, or just marching to the DFAC.

I agree with Niel that there most definitely needs to be some consistency in the instruction. Just like in HIC you should have your doctrine and an enemy template that you can apply to the ground.

Something that has been of interest to me was the lack of basic knowledge found in junior leaders and company commanders. While I was at NTC in 2006-2007 training mission readiness exercises, I witnessed countless platoons and companies struggle with the basics of COIN. For the most part the first time these leaders were exposed any COIN doctrine, history or writings were at NTC from the OC teams and AARs. If Stability Operations are going to be as important as Offense and Defense then leaders need some orientation to it at least during their ROTC, academy, BOLIC, Basic Course, ANCOC, BNCOC time. Kelly Jones and Scott Shaw have been working on this issue with their Pro-Reading Challenge (http://Proreading.army.mil)

Hopefully TRADOC takes notice and makes the needed changes.

Niel,

Good article and appropriate for the force management class, however it has application beyond force management, and beyond COIN. I think you lay out the question of how do develop and institutionalize a capability. Since a capability is the ability to do a task (or set of tasks), part of what is required is a common understanding of what the tasks are (you recommend that in your paper).

The institutionalization piece might be described as: the ability generate the capabilities and capacities, structures and processes necessary to do X in support of U.S. policies and objectives. It does not necessarily mean we have to do all the time, or how much we have to be able to do it, but that when required we can.

One way to consider a plan of institutionalization is through the DOTMLPF framework, again you are hitting allot of it in your article. Using DOTMLPF provides us a conceptual framework that covers the institution holistically, and allows you to consider how changes in one aspect might influence or change another aspect. Broadly with respect to capability development and institutionalization a set of questions might emerge like:

•How does DOD develop and institutionalize X (generating the capabilities and capacities, structures and processes necessary to do X in support of U.S. policies and objectives)?

-How do we develop doctrine that provides the conceptual foundation from employment of SFA as a set of capabilities to develop a FSF in support of military operations and policy objectives?

-How does DoD better organize for X?

-How does DoD best support the training of Individuals and Units/Teams so they deploy with the requisite knowledge to do X in a particular environment? What are the specific tasks (collective supporting, leader, individual) that are associated with task X

-How does DoD gain a better understanding of what materiel and equipment is required to support doing X tasks during both train up and execution of X?

-How does DoD best support the incorporation X into joint and service professional military education and facilitate understanding in the generating force about how X related assignments develop individual leader capability in order to effectively support the execution of current and future missions where X is required?

-How does DoD establish joint and service personnel management system standards that effectively support the ongoing execution of X operations?

-How does DoD develop facilities that support meeting the requirements associated with doing X task in the Operating Force and in the Generating Force

One thing I think is a question we may want to ask routinely with respect specifically to the "LD/E" and the "P" is what do we want our leaders to be capable of at given levels of responsibility. That should affect not only how we assign and educate, but how we recruit and assess.

In that light doing the task analysis is critical. It should tell you: what capabilities are required to do the tasks; where those capabilities reside, and in what capacities. It should also tell you if there are capability gaps and where they are so we can address the domains of DOTMLPF to mitigate those gaps if we decide we need additional capability or capacity. Without defining the tasks all you may have is anecdotal evidence and a suspicion that you have a capability gap. We may find as Schmedlap pointed out that at some levels we in fact have some capability and some capacity in that capability, but without the full list of tasks we think our people and units should be capable of doing, we wont know.

Why I say this process has implications beyond the force management classes and is more than just a esoteric, or arcane skill - well two reasons. First, those in the operating force need to be able to describe to those in the generating force what their gaps are so the generating force can respond. Second, in much of what we are currently doing we are supporting the development of capabilities in our partners so they can do the tasks they must do to change the conditions relative to their (and often our problems). Often when we do this we are placing operating force personnel and units into a generating force role for someone else. Something to think about.

Good article, Best, Rob

Another excellent article Niel. I will submit the next question that must be answered is "What should we be teaching?" I provide some discussion on my thoughts.

1. Tactical Tasks. As stated by Ken White, Schmedlap, and others, one is hard pressed to find any new tactical task in COIN. We just changed the names of old skill level 1, 2, and 3 tasks. For example,

Small Kill Team = Ambush
Occupy a Patrol Base = Estaslish a Deliberate Defense
React to IED = React to Contact/Ambush

2. Course of Action/Scheme of Maneuver. Here's where we can make our money in teaching.

- How do you clear a denied area? Use different case studies (Zaganiyah, Tal Afar, Mosul, Ramadi, and Baghdad neighborhoods). Show how different units achieved success using different maneuvers in different areas (METT-TC).

- How do you win friends and influence people? Interactions with local leaders, political officers, and relief agencies.

- How do you partner with an indigenous security force? Are you kicking in the door and dragging them with you? Are you following in as a combat advisor as the fifth man into the room? Do you stay in a rear area and train? What do you do when your partner unit refuses a mission?

That's just a start. In this manner, you're not teaching a junior leader what to think. Instead, you're showing them how to think. Critical difference.

Finally, I would suggest that we must debate some of the current COIN mantras to determine if they are myths or accurate.

1. Winning/Controlling the Hearts and Minds.
2. Money as a Weapon. Correlation between employment and violence.
3. Practical use of "The" Message and Pyschops.

Those are some initial thoughts. I'm curious to other's opinions.

Mike

Schmedlap,

I think MikeF is on the money with his comments.

I agree that the majority of tactical COIN tasks are the same as tactical HIC tasks and a well disciplined unit is critical to success in any environment. Some things that stand out to me as more uniquely COIN that junior leaders and Soldiers had trouble with are:
Negotiations
Concept of/reason for/common sense application of ROE and EOF
Tactical questioning
Tactical site exploitation
Media engagements
Multinational operations/coordination
Language or use of an interpreter

I think Niel is correctly focused on...
"Analyze Operational Environment and Effects of the Environment"
"Analyze Insurgency Nature, Strategies, and Fundamentals"
Intel collection and processing and targeting are huge COIN undertakings that many units were unprepared for.
"Plan, Prepare, Execute, and Assess Operations in Counterinsurgency environment"
We have yet to figure out operational design or campaign design esp at the company level. Commanders need to have a solid doctrinal and historical background to build a long term plan for their zones.

Mike,

Thanks for responding. I'm bookmarking this now. I think this would make for a really interesting thread of its own, but I am about to embark upon two weeks of time-consuming, non-cyber activity (stupid reality!). Until then, I'll just say the few things below, in hopes that others know where I am coming from / am getting at and can carry the baton for me...

While I can certainly see that today's COIN operations have necessitated greater reliance on Negotiations, understanding of intent for ROE/EOF, Tactical questioning, Tactical site exploitation, Media engagements, and use of an interpreter, none of those things seem peculiar to COIN. I would argue that they are simply peculiar to modern day operations where information conduits (media, camera phones, sat phones, internet cafes, etc) are pervasive throughout the battlefield and, whether on the battlefield or not, can heavily and quickly influence national will of all stakeholders, not just direct participants. I can foresee those skills being highly relevant even in a conventional war against a nation-state, simply due to the speed and flow of information and greater interconnectedness of the world.

That said, I do agree with you regarding the importance of Niel's focus on...
"Analyze Insurgency Nature, Strategies, and Fundamentals" and Intel collection and processing and targeting. I think those are critical in COIN, FID, or any other "small war" (whereas they are arguably "nice to haves" in other, larger operations).

Klugzilla said:

"Balance of education and training across the spectrum of conflict is important, but we're not there. While some worry about the Army focusing too much on COIN, there is no danger of that based on our current PME."

I'm sure that's true -- I believe it also to not be problem because as Schmedlap said:

"...Analyze Insurgency Nature, Strategies, and Fundamentals" and Intel collection and processing and targeting. I think those are critical in COIN, FID, or any other "small war" (whereas they are arguably "nice to haves" in other, larger operations)."

Add to that Mike Burgoyne's list, change "insurgency nature" to the 'elements of warfare' and realize that those attributes or knowledges aren't "nice to have" in other, larger operations" but are true war winners and attributes in any combat operation that should -- and can -- be possessed by all combat soldiers if we provide thorough training in the basics of the profession to all new entrants -- something we now diligently avoid...

All,

Thanks for the great and insightful feedback on this article. It was something of a labor of love for me.

As it neared completion, I actually came to Ken White's conclusion - that the four outcomes really apply to the whole spectrum of conflict, and we are generally hurting on "understanding". That's why there's this big push for design - it is a checklist approach to creating doing what most great commanders have always done.

That said, I still feel our educational institutions are particularly deficient in counterinsurgency fundamentals, as defined by the larger "understand" criteria above.

@MikeF - yes, we should debate the things you listed. In my ideal world, soldiers would receive education on the various methods/theories of COIN, combined with context/case studies, so that when an unstructured problem presents itself they know what to do. Not an original thought, others (such as Ken and Wilf) have been parroting that for awhile)

@Rob - thanks for the detailed assessment. You hit the "what next" for this paper, which is a surprising amount of nug work by a TRADOC team. Developing the above takes time, effort, and most importantly knowledgeable personnel, plus "buy in" from senior leaders. I think we have addressed the DOMPF of COIN well enough, the "T" is okay, but our "L" is the problem. (For the uninitiated - DOTMLPF = Doctrine; Organizations; Training; Material; Leader Development & Education; Personnel; and Facilities)You and I can probably get together and talk TRADOCian all day long.

Thanks for all the comments, on and offline.

Niel

Ken,

I certainly agree that you have to have an in-depth understaning of the OE regardless of type of operation. To that end, we'll have to see where design shakes out and how it is related to JIPOE and assessment. Regardless of where the doctrine ends up (yes, Niel, I'm saying it), we need to push the training and education and then adapt in the field. That being said, there are major differences in the conditions for tasks, which require more time and effort to train; I think therein lies the challenge. It is also a difference of degree that results in having to adjust the balance of training effort.

Schmedlap,

Think you're spot on with respect to poor units performing poorly regardless of situation; however, good units perform better on tasks they train and for which they are prepared, regardless of the setting. One would hope that the time and effort we take in preparing to go somewhere specific and do something specific (like tailoring home station training and going to a CTC for a MRX) are useful.

Rob and Niel,

A group of us are drilling into NTM-A/CSTC-A's assessment process. If you have any personal thoughts, especialy on MoE/MoP, would appreciate them via AKO. I've got the doctrine (shock!) and JCISFA's final draft of the planner's guide. There are some difficult MoEs that we could discuss away from SWJ, if you have the time and inclination.

Cheers!

Niel correctly notes that most outcomes (note that word...) apply to the entire spectrum of conflict; the key is in the application and that requires the old "not what to think but how to think" mantra be truly applied instead of receiving lip service (that merits even more parroting ;) ).

Klugzilla mentions design and JIPOE / assessment. With respect, I'll confine myself to saying I've seen a number of silver bullets couched as "this is not a silver bullet but it will assist us in warfighting..." introduced over the years.

All have been an asset to a few people; none have solved the problem of making Everyman a competent combat leader or commander. Some can do that job well, most can do it adequately if decently trained, some cannot do it at all yet the 'system' says all are equal. They are not and metrical aids and effects based stuff won't change that. Some of those approaches are helpful, most are not as they are subsumed into the bureaucracy and tend to stifle intuition and innovation -- and flexibility...

He also mentions, quite correctly, that there are major differences in tasks -- as we define tasks -- and that is the major flaw in our training process. The Task, Condition and Standard system is inherently and terribly flawed simply because conditions do vary so widely -- we can never in training replicate all conceivable conditions (so we dumb down the standard...).

We are not really a well trained Army and that we are as moderately well trained as we actually are is due to having really good people who have managed to train troops to a higher standard than we have been able to reach short of a major war in spite of a flawed training system.

Soldiers, leaders and commanders do not perform tasks in combat; they meld numerous tasks, skills and knowledges to achieve desired outcomes in varying situations as every war, every action is different.

The switch to Outcome Based Training and Evaluation which is ongoing will bring a quantum improvement in training and thus in capability. It does indeed require more time and effort -- as well as money -- but the result will prove the value of the approach.

One would hope that the time and effort we take in preparing to go somewhere specific and do something specific (like tailoring home station training and going to a CTC for a MRX) are useful.

It is moderately useful but only moderately. Tailored home station training prior to deployment to an active theater makes sense but what if we do not know where the next theater will be? We do not. Theaters come and go -- training is forever.

The CTC's bureaucracy plus compression of time and space breed bad habits as well as good but both they and tailored home station training are simply partly compensatory for poor initial training in the basics of soldiering.

Ken,

Interesting points. I would suggest that any system will be flawed if it is only paid lip service. JIPOE, assessment, etc. are only supporting processes. While they may help conduct operations, they certainly cannot make Everyman a competent combat leader or commander. How could any single process or system do that? Some of what is required for that is learned over the years and some is natural, IMHO, but there are ceilings to both.

You raise a good point on task, condition, standard having inherent issues when you do not know what theater to which you are or may be going. Without an operational focus, the quality of the training then depends on what the leaders want to emphasize. Similarly, I think you make a good point in that you perform multiple tasks to achieve an outcome, which CTCs and similar training events attempt to replicate. As I am in Afghanistan, I am not familiar with the ongoing outcome based training and evaluation efforts you mention. I will be curious to see what it truly brings to the table once implemented across the table, and if it will last given its apparently large time and resource requirements. If it improves training and we can sustain it--great.

Cheers!

re: "@Rob - ...hit the "what next" for this paper, which is a surprising amount of nug work by a TRADOC team. Developing the above takes time, effort, and most importantly knowledgeable personnel, plus "buy in" from senior leaders. I think we have addressed the DOMPF of COIN well enough, the "T" is okay, but our "L" is the problem. (For the uninitiated - DOTMLPF = Doctrine; Organizations; Training; Material; Leader Development & Education; Personnel; and Facilities)..."

COIN doctrine only drives the training reqs, and is not where we'd find the real doctrinal issues that are preventing us from building a better COIN training system.

1. Consider what the qualifying factors are for becoming an instructor within the training system. The 23 year old Sergeant in the Reserves, police officer at home, and trainer of Iraqi forces when deployed, with no degree, is not qualified. The Ph.D., who has not studied in the Area of Operations (AO) in 15 yrs is qualified, and proceeds to teach COIN using examples from Algeria and Ireland. While these lessons learned may be useful in some contexts, at the end of the day training must be operationally relevant. Which of the two, from our Sergeant and our PhD, is more qualified to give operationally relevant training? Salmoni & Holmes-Eber from USMC CAOCL address this when they say: "Instead of generalist historians, religion specialists, and journalists, younger personnel who combined recent operational experience with academic study, site visits, and debriefing of returning units conducted the training. In this respect, cultural trainers have been working to shorten the lessons learned feedback loop from deployment to deployment... he or she must be a Soldier or Marine who has recently deployed operationally to the AO in a job requiring ongoing interaction with the indigenous population- the division combat operations center watch officer...will not do. MOS is not important here; interaction with Iraqis on a regular basis is." You could say the same for COIN training.
2. COIN lessons learned are not getting back into the training system. Why? 1)They are learned by junior enlisted. 2)Many of these lessons are intercultural communication techniques, & are so incremental & so quickly integrated into behavior that AARs won't reveal them. 3)They are absorbed by Intelligence. 4)We are also not harnessing the power of tech very well, at all. Which brings me to
3. Knowledge Management (KM) doctrine (even after the overhaul) does not support gathering & redistribution of COIN Lessons Learned necessary to build the training system we need. AKO is a big dump. If you unlocked every file cabinet in there today, you still could not get out decent search results. And KM doctrine has relegated cultural knowledge and social networks info exchange to their informal, low investment, discussion board-type tools. While thousands upon thousands of soldiers blog/twitter their experiences, nothing is being done to pull lessons learned out of their posts or focus their efforts (as is very, very common in other online communities).
4. Training Evaluation doctrine- Ugggh. Contractors that view their evals as intellectual property...the fact that even when COIN training does occur, no one is following up to find out if that training is operational...AARs and ad hoc handover teams do not reliably record and store COIN info for use in the training system. The Peace Corps has been doing this for more than 40 years, and the Strategic Studies Institute noticed it. No one else has.
5. Acquisition: Is the DoD challenging the assertion of the Mod/Sim contractors that they are presenting culturally correct interactions? And that the interactions neccessary for COIN are appropriate for Mod/Sim?
6. Each branch of Service has chosen a different academic or philosophical underpinning for the cultural centers they are building as we speak. It is these cultural education centers that will be the seat of COIN training. It makes sense to pursue different approaches initially, and the nature of the branch can also necessitate different approaches, but we are reaching the point where better coordination is required. Does anyone else find it interesting that these coordinating efforts will (and must) occur outside doctrine as it is currently written? What's the point of doctrine then? Before you answer...

In 2003, Colonel Clinton Ancher, III and Lt. Colonel Michael D. Burke said this in the conclusion of a piece about doctrine & asymmetric warfare: "To what extent is current frustration with asymmetric opponents
and operations the product of Industrial-Age theory attempting to direct Information-Age operations? Are there indications that older doctrinal concepts are becoming invalid?" Yep. Most of the people reading this are aware of the evolving view of doctrine- and the move away from a view of doctrine as law. And we are aware of the growing requirement for COIN training that is occurring simultaneously. What is interesting is that it is taking a long time for us to realize the obvious: it's COIN that is exposing the weaknesses in almost every aspect of doctrine: acquisition, training systems, KM, and evaluation. In addressing our COIN needs, we will also get to a more functional doctrine overall. That's how it should be: doctrine should not drive requirements, requirements should drive doctrine. Or, as Fastabend and Simpson said in their description of how doctrine should work: "Instead of process constraining products, products drive process- the process is inherently adaptive."

Gee, I wish some of ya'll would have come to my I/ITSEC presentation last week...

Sorry to chime in with this, but what if "COIN" is not actually the problem.
The title "Integrating Counterinsurgency into Army Professional Education" assumes that COIN needs to be integrated into Army PME. - and CAV does a good job explaining that. If that is the human and organisational need, of the US Army, then OK.

If you need an army capable of fighting regulars and irregular threats, then it MIGHT set you on the wrong path.
So called "COIN" is not a usefully distinct body of warfare.

@ Jenniferro10:
Good comments. I second Klugzillias comments as well.

You state:
On Point 1: ""Instead of generalist historians, religion specialists, and journalists, younger personnel who combined recent operational experience with academic study, site visits, and debriefing of returning units conducted the training. In this respect, cultural trainers have been working to shorten the lessons learned feedback loop from deployment to deployment... he or she must be a Soldier or Marine who has recently deployed operationally to the AO in a job requiring ongoing interaction with the indigenous population- the division combat operations center watch officer...will not do."
The key nugget in here is "combined with academic study".

We have plenty of instructors who can tell you what they did at summer camp. We have few who have made at least a cursory study of the field figure out those lessons in context. I came back from Tal Afar and Ramadi thinking I had this stuff figured out. Nearly 3 years later, all I know is I am sure of very little when it comes to COIN. The difference was reading broadly on the subject and understanding that "what works here, may not work there" We have to create instructors with the operational background and give them at least some immersion in the theory to get good at this. Right now, it tends to be "Best Practices", which is code for "whatever didn't kill me last deployment, whether it was a good idea or not".

Points 2-3:Good points on lessons learned integration. One good thing the Leavenworth COIN center did was attempt to facilitate crosstalk from theater to training base. Its hard thing to do. I know the COIN training centers downrange struggle to get their lessons incorporated both at the CTCs and in the training base. It doesnt help, as you say, that both BCKS (Tomoye) and AKO Files are pretty much unusable to find relevant product quickly. I can never make AKO search actually give me what I want either. Thats another discussion. A second challenge is generational - many senior field grades and GOs remain uncomfortable with online KM tools. This will mitigate with time, but hurts KM emphasis. Finally, CALLs L2I program works, but it generates so much info finding the actual useful nuggets is nearly impossible.

Thanks for your comments.
Niel

Amen. Doctrine should never be treated as law, but as a framework. Unfortunately, the "gotcha" approach to doctrine in some past events and by some people/organizations undermined this notion. Doctrine even says that it is not some prescriptive law--FM 3-0 talks about this, as does JP 1. We're in a period of change, so the fact that doctrine is struggling to keep up with the change is no surprise. The Wiki effort is one example of trying to increase the speed of doctrine production and updating, although I'm sure how much positive impact the Wiki effort will have.

As far as the services being on separate theoretical sheets of music, doctrine is a distillation of theory. Consequently, the services first have to sort out the theory before they can have joint doctrine, which I think goes back to requirements driving doctrine.

I strongly agree with William f. Owen, "'COIN' is not a usefully distinct body of warfare." It envisions to many the application of mass to what is essentially a requirement for a small body of specialists. What occurs is that the relatively untrained and unsophisticated mass creates distinct problems of its or their own. It is a flawed concept that has really never worked (and that includes Malaya). In a few places where it was said to work when GPF were employed, techniques not acceptable today were used.

That said, Mr. Owen acknowledges that 'COIN' tactics and techniques may -- I would say do -- need to be integrated into US Army PME. It is at this time an organizational need.

However, it should merely be a way point in the transition to a flexible PME that encourages rather than stifles initiative, innovation and, most importantly, the acceptance of risk and develops judgment to manage risks. Such education must encompass the total spectrum of warfare in the current era and must be provided all ranks. That will be expensive. It will pay for itself and then some...

Klugzilla:

"...they certainly cannot make Everyman a competent combat leader or commander. How could any single process or system do that? Some of what is required for that is learned over the years and some is natural, IMHO, but there are ceilings to both."

True on all counts. Questions:

- Then why does the Personnel system force Everyman into command even though he may not be suited for it, may not want it and is an impediment rather than an asset?

- If no single process can do a thing; could multiple processes logically applied resolve the problem?

- True but are those ceilings natural or systemically imposed?

I'd suggest that the ceilings are both inherent and systemic. I think the key is to recognize that, remove the systemic problems and acknowledge the natural issues which are quite real and important.

No need to answer any of those, they're rhetorical -- but some people in the US Army really ought to be thinking about them.

Bottom line is we have a flawed training system and an excessively competitive personnel system biased toward the chimeras of subjectivity and equality.

Those are, in the military art (and it is an art, not a science...) truly chimeras. Not at all imaginary and truly dangerous chimeras at that...

Neil,

This evolution of a wider field of developing decision making including COIN scenarios is already included in several courses and at DMI at USMA. So the evolution is on going. The emphasis is more than just COIN, it is providing a broader base of problems to solve to build more experience earlier in younger leaders and Soldiers.

To get some of the articles written, email me at vandergriffdonald@usa.net

Don