Sandals and Robes to Business Suits and Gulf Streams: Warfare in the 21st Century

Sandals and Robes to Business Suits and Gulf Streams: Warfare in the 21st Century

by MG Michael T. Flynn

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Warfare used to be a bi-polar structure, state on state. Our defense establishment was more concerned with templating our enemies in a force-on-force engagement that was grounded in understood "rules of war." The battlefield was linear and structured, with clearly defined battle lines. We could isolate, contain, outflank, and attack our enemies well into the depths of the rear of their formations. Our enemies had tangible and recognizable infrastructures that, when attacked, could shut down their telecommunications networks and transportation systems. We were able to counter their numbers. There were parallel technologies, and in most cases numerical capabilities that we could quantitatively overcome. There were observable indications and warnings that enabled our high-tech intelligence system the advantage to provide the necessary early warning to detect movement of our enemy's formations. Those were the days.

We are already in the second decade of the 21st Century and find ourselves still struggling to understand what kind of warfare we are in and what kind of warfare we will likely face in the coming years. Although there have been numerous documents written about the environments we are likely to face, seeing and believing in the reality for what it is still causes all sorts of machinations throughout the entire Defense Department. For instance, each of our services is trying to redefine itself as it considers shifting from a bi-polar structure to one requiring incredible agility and adaptability given a highly complex, low contrast cast of adversaries; adversaries who are as comfortable in sandals and robes as they are wearing business suits and flying around the world in gulfstream aircraft. As confident in their ability to defeat our high tech weapons platforms and as cocky to think they can get away with it. This group of future adversaries must be taken seriously.

How should we shape future force structure, how should our intelligence systems be designed to meet future threats, what are the roles and responsibilities of the services, and how does each fit during an era of increasingly growing complexity and where operating within coalition environments is the norm?

While each of these questions should be addressed, this article will narrow their scope and attempt to address what this author believes are the attributes of 21st Century Warfare we are likely to face. For purposes of any debate, this won't be about which specific capabilities are required or what missions are more appropriate for conventional or unconventional forces. It will address several factors worth considering as we think our way down a very murky path.

The evolution to 21st Century Warfare has not come easily, nor is it well understood. Achieving dominance in a battle space requires a number of activities to be brought together at the right moment and place to achieve some desired effect. These activities range from mud to space, and include the cyber domain that surrounds it. They include activities not related to kinetic military only solutions; and they encompass Interagency and Non-Governmental solutions with people who have very little understanding of military operations. They require rapid and effective team building by strong leaders simultaneously engaged with enemy forces. We must be capable of nation building, negotiating and fighting all at the same time.

Download The Full Article: Sandals and Robes to Business Suits and Gulf Streams: Warfare in the 21st Century

Major General Michael T. Flynn, USA, is an active duty intelligence officer with various command and staff positions in multiple tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, and Haiti. Previously, Flynn served as the director of intelligence at Division, Corps, Joint Special Operations Command, Central Command and the Joint Staff. Flynn also holds three graduate degrees: a Master's of Business Administration in Telecommunications from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, a Masters in the Military Arts and Sciences from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College. Previously published reports include the co-authored CNAS report Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.

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Charles (team),

Good string of comments from everyone, especially those in your note above.

I won't disagree with how you see things, I would say that I have had the opportunity (and privilege) to see a lot of intelligence officers at multiple levels in some very challenging circumstances (combat and otherwise), as well as witness a similar number of maneuver commanders (all levels) and there are some very positive examples where the system has worked.

During some tough times in Iraq and AFG (as well as other OEF related operations), intelligence is working very well. It is in fact driving operations. There have been some significant adjustments and improvments made by our SIGINT and GEOSPATIAL agencies--innovations that do provide us with much better insights into the environment (never mind the enemy)...however, there is still a long way to go with different data bases, each agency having their own communications systems, etc...a lot still needs to change in some of these critical areas.

For instance, the issue of getting the best intelligence we have down to lower levels (plt/co/bn) is critical and we have to do a better job of that. Some of that info is over-classified (it only exists at higher levels and thus never gets to the guy who has to execute the mission). This is an age old problem, yet despite vastly better communications capabilities in our force today, we are still challenged to get that intelligence into the hands of our junior leaders.

I am a big believer in the USMC Company intel teams. The Army is moving in this direction (a good thing). This allows our company commanders to lean on smart young "operationally" focused analysts tuned in to the higher intelligence system but still stay directly connected to the company coomander and living, breathing, eating, patrolling, feeling the daily grind unlike those who operate at higher hqs. This is important and our junior leaders empowered with better information will drive additional change in the whole force...

I could go on and on, but suffice to say, we have to constantly work to reform this aspect of our capabilities, it is vital (and you address some good issues for us to consider).

Part of my argument ARE the tactical issues you and others have highlighted very well above. But, there are also large, strategic issues that must be examined as well. One of the things we will require is a much more adaptable, agile, and integrated workforce (not just in our tactical army forces--but across all the three letter agencies--inside and outside of DoD). Driving this kind of cultural change will take time and require very strong senior leadership...but it must be done. As more of our junior leaders make it up the ranks, they will drive this change whether we like it or not (another good thing IMO).

All said, we do need specialists (HUMINT and Cyber are two that come to mind, there are a few others). And, we will rarely know where the next fight will likely occur. Being able to shift our intelligence system to rapidly adjust to those perceived or real threats is something we must be able to do. In the meantime, we have to win the wars we're in and do everything we can that supports that goal (intel, ops, etc...)

I'm spent for now...thanks for the great insights, none of the comments (good, bad or indifferent) are lost on me.

RED STRIP 6 over (-:

Meant nothing disparaging about TS stuff, just that I see MI folks ignore something right in front of them (ie: patrol debrief) for the sake of what they saw in the SCIF.

My old S2 referred to everything above Secret as "orange label stuff"....thought maybe it was MI vernacular.

Thanks again.

Good comments all the way around on this topic.

Charles, good luck. I hope you're right in that change may come from the junior ranks. Never has before, but we can always hope, right? And, BTW, please disabuse yourself of the notion that the "orange label stuff," which I guess is the TS stuff, isn't worth anything. Au contraire, my friend. It can be worth a lot. And, oh BTW, someone like me might have collected it.

Be nice to your collectors, Charles.

Publius, thanks for the kind words. I'm closing in on 20 years with the military.

As for needing "those tickets"...I really can't say. I will say this though, I haven't seen that to be the case. Those high side things seem to be taking place at the O-6 level and above. That higher echelon of leadership is the echelon that takes the most heat for being disconnected from the rest of the military. So, it leads me to believe that the extra information, the privileged access, etc, is not really leading to an increased understanding of the world. However, if and when those doors are unlocked, I may see for myself.

For maneuver guys, most of us don't get to see the orange label stuff. TS material is captivating I'm sure, but I think it serves as a distractor sometimes. Understandable.

Personally, I think real change within the military is going to come from the O-4 level and below, and maybe a few O-5s. Beyond that, we're fighting the status quo and the institution. Obviously, exceptions make the rule. As a result, I find SWJ to be invaluable. It would be rare if ever I get the input and dialog such as we've shared.

Oh, and thanks to anonymous. However, misspelling the word believe may have hurt more than helped - innocent mistake, I'm sure.

@Charles Sullivan: Good for you. A lot of thought-provoking stuff, but it's unfortunately wasted on me. Not that I don't take it to heart, but my day is gone. I do hope General Flynn is still hanging around. He needs to know what you're saying.

And then along come Anonymous @11:33AM and Dan, both of whom agree with you. I'd say you've got a hit here, Charles.

Now, as to where you've disagreed with me, I'll defer to your superior wisdom. I'm dated. However, I will note that if you don't have a TS--I had one for 42 years, BTW--that gets you into some compartments, you can't really know what's happening in MI. Or in infantry or anywhere else, for that matter. That's just the way things are: one needs those tickets to fully understand the world. I gather you're in a junior officer leadership role and are kind of at the beginning of the career curve. It also seems you may not have been too exposed to some of the longer training courses; if you stay, that will come.

I'd say, excellent job. I like what you've written. You've put your finger on a chronic problem of the MI branch. The reason I emphasized some of the more complex work is because that's where I spent my time. But I do agree that an S2 or a G2 should never think he's anything special. He's there to enhance the unit's combat capabilities; if he isn't doing that, he isn't needed. And, yes, he should be technically and tactically proficient. Me, I'm talking about guys you might rarely if ever see. They're in the branch and they might make a real difference.

When MG Flynn's Fixing Intel paper came out I was in RC East. I showed it to the BN S2 shop NCOIC, and he said he'd read it, and that it was garbage. He told me on another occasion that his job was to capture or kill top bad guys, and that was it. I wanted to, but did not, tell him that his job was to support those doing the actual capturing/killing with the best information possible. I'm not an infantryman, but I have lots of respect for them, and expect everyone to support them as much as is humanly possible at all times.

To say that the paper didn't suggest anything different is not true, from the perspective of what was going on at a maneuver BN. It came from the top intel officer in the command, and many an intel soldier was pissed about it or chose to ignore it.

And no, that BN didn't capture or kill a single one of their HVIs the entire year they were on the ground. I dont think the paper had any impact on them deviating from the status quo.

For those of us who have worked at the lower levels in recent years, we know that the intelligence capabilities at the BN level and below are still severely limited, and trying to send up RFIs or getting higher to share information is akin to being a street urchin. You scrape by with what little you are given. There would probably be a mini-uprising if some of the people at BN and below knew about the lack of information sharing or personality conflicts that directly contributes to poor intel support, which in turn left them hanging in the breeze on one occasion or another when information was available that could have better driven their own decision making.

On this last tour, I was only able to have middling success by utilizing back channel communication with people who already knew me at a higher level. While networking gets the job done sometimes, it is a symptom of an overall system that does not work. I felt the paper addressed a need to correct that system by creating an official conduit between the tactical and operational levels with regard to reporting and information/asset sharing. If it seemed obvious to many of you, would it not be that much more troubling that it wasn't happening? The problems might be well known, but the organization isn't addressing them.

I completely agree with some of Charles comments. I saw a GRINTSUM get distro'd every day for over a month without an update to the S2's overall assessment included in the document. It seemed more about updating key products within an already established "template" with what reports/debriefs were available without much "critical thinking" or analysis of any sort. I can search the databases myself and read the reports pertaining to my AO, thanks.

While this paper is different from Fixing Intel, I felt the need to address, from my perspective as a soldier operating at the tactical/maneuver level, some of the criticisms.

Infantry and Intel have an obligation to one another that needs to be facilitated in good faith on both sides. I dont see that happening. What I see are people on both sides telling the other how to do their jobs.

That being said, I dont know much about strategic intelligence, which is perfectly fine with me.

Charles Sullivan,
I beleive you are spot on with your observations.

For Publius....RGR on your comments. I was formerly enlisted in the Navy. I realize the support the USMC takes from the Navy. I can totally see your perspective. However, from my perspective, as an instructor at the MI BOLC I can attest to this: our former enlisted Marines, that are now Army MI 2LTs, are leaps and bounds ahead in understanding tactics and operations. That includes our prior service Army 2LTs, save for those from AR and IN branches. I can only report or state that which I've seen or strongly believe based on evidence I have at hand. Again, RGR on your comments. My perspective is solely based on what I've seen, the 2LTs I have in training, etc. For instance I had a former enlisted Marine, that was a mechanic, and he was locked on to our training regarding tactics, operations, and so forth. His appreciation for small unit operations and the essentials like, "I shoot, you move" were far ahead of our Army 2LTs, especially those that were in support MOSs. Just my experiences, but they number far into the double digits, not just isolated instances.

As for the reform I'd like to see in the MI Corps, I'd like to see them more like "me", if that's a reasonable comparison. In other words, I want them focused on closing with and destroying the enemy. Yes, that's a bit narrow. But, we must realize that all of our Soldiers are targets and all are likely to be engaged by the enemy, etc. A significant percentage of our MI Corps is/has been tagged for duty on transition teams. They are not in a FOB, behind a computer, or protected behind the wire in those roles. They are on patrol, manning the gun, walking the streets, etc. I have seen the folly of misguided and unprepared MI and other non-combat arms 2LTs. It compromises mission accomplishment and jeopardizes lives. Again, I go from my experiences, but they are not random or isolated.

As for MI folks doing their jobs...would you agree that any type of "so what" is part of their job? I would say so. I'm not seeing it. When my patrol brief is composed of, 'look for trash bags that don't blow in the wind', I'd say they're not doing their jobs. When classic, typical AQ tactics are being employed and identified by the maneuver guys and not being recognized by the MI folks, then I'd say we have a problem. Yet again....my observations. Several battalions, several BN and BDE S2 shops. Maybe I've seen the exception that creates the rule.

As for an MI sergeant that speaks several languages, I have about 20 in my AO and none of them speak more than english. I would venture to guess that those sergeants are few and far between. I've seen very few in theater. Mostly I see those "huminers" that want to create ridiculous cover stories, wear fake rank, wouldn't know the definition of tactics if you place FM 1-02 in front of them, and act like pompous idiots that the Iraqi and Afghani people see through rather easily.

You speak of hard skills....aren't those the warrior tasks and battle drills? Cleaning your rifle, being able to navigate, etc? Aren't those the skills that all Soldiers are to know and master as -10 levels? I read your comments to mean that they should be excused from those tasks. While I understand, knowing what crowd this site attracts, you are likely well above my paygrade or retired at well above my paygrade - I am not buying it. If you show up to my patrol OPORD, and you've got straps hanging all over the place, your rifle is dirty, you don't know how to patrol, stay in formation, or find north with a compass - then you're not leaving the wire with me and my Soldiers. I'm not dedicating combat power and trigger pullers to keep those types safe, knowing it's going to jeopardize the safety of my Soldiers. I have 19Ks, 19Ds, 11Bs, and others that can execute tactical questioning, TSE, etc, without bringing others on the patrol. We talk (MG Flynn talks) about bringing intelligence to lower levels, well there's no lower level than a platoon or company on a patrol. A good MI Soldier, a FET member etc - that is squared away - is a tremendous asset. But someone wearing ACUs that thinks his or her place is back at Green Beans is a liability. Call it what you want, but a lack of the proper mindset is crippling. I have seen a poor mindset too often.

You give a loaded question regarding time training to do another's job. But I will answer you with this: when we branch detail officers from MI to Infantry/Armor, etc...how much time or training do we afford those officers in their transition to the MI Corps? The answer is a few weeks. It's going to be hard for you to sell me on the sophistication of the MI Corps when it's the MI Corps that has determined that an IN officer with 4 years of combat arms experience needs only a few weeks to join MI officers with 4 years of experience to start the MI CCC. Additionally, it's going to be hard for you to sell me on this sophistication when my combat arms OBC was the same length as the MI OBC. An Armor officer is expected to work dismounted, in UAHs, in BFVs, or in tanks - all to the same level of effectiveness. But, it seems as though you wish us to grant extra consideration to an MI officer when bouncing from tactical to strategic-level assignments. Again, I'm not buying it.

As for the sophistication required....I don't have a TS, I honestly can't speak of what's going on inside your SCIFs etc. So, forgive me if my ignorance precludes any logical thought here. However, is there really a great deal of sophistication needed to stick to sound, fundamental principles of doctrine? Is there a great deal of sophistication needed to analyze terrain, weather, and give me the "so what" about the IPB products you've created? Is there much sophistication needed to find the significance in the SIGACTs you brief me? I would submit it's all about will power, not brain power. Do I want smart MI dudes? You bet. But it's about the application of those synaptic connections, not their qualitative alignment.

I think you have some great points about what's actually wrong with the MI Corps. However, with respect to your rank and experience, I would say that your estimation of the sophistication is exaggerated. But, I will defer to your experience on that one, which certainly surpasses mine.

Yes....the warrior horseshit....I have many views there. We have certainly lost sight of the forest in lieu of the trees. Without a doubt. I elude to that in my first statement. The perpetual myth that PT scores indicate leadership....ah, the good ole combat arms litmus test. Truer words could not have been spoken by you or any other. The moronic trains of thought that invade our combat arms branches are indeed a topic for further investigation. But, in this we are discussing the MI Corps.

As for my problem....the MI Corps is ineffective. If you'd like to offer evidence to contradict that, I'd be happy to hear it. I invite you to survey the GRINTSUMs and tell me where the sophistication is....or come to my patrol briefs from the S2 shop, and find the pearls of wisdom...or dial into the rubrics used in the education of our future MI officers and find the rigor. But, rest assured, my comments for the combat arms branches are more critical. Overall, the problems I see within the MI branch have come about due to shortcomings in the combat arms branches. Again...another topic.

I sense some resentment of the combat arms branches in your last statements. To that I would simply say: if you think you can seize that objective or attain that decisive point with your pattern plots and your charts, then have at it. Until then, I request you allow us that actually seize, walk on, and own the objective to talk about it, as well as the poor intelligence we receive en route to that objective.

And again....my statements are from my experiences. I don't claim to be the smartest guy around, but I don't base my opinions on isolated occurrences. Given what I"ve seen and what I see now, I have serious reservations about the quality of support that me and my Soldiers are likely to get from the MI Corps.

Lastly...I think the simple fact that many in the combat arms branches are short on confidence in the MI Corps should be a wake up call. I suspect other branches feel the same about the combat arms branches. Our Army has a lot to do, a lot of progress to make, and a lot of damage to repair.

I think our two current wars/theaters have taught us a few lessons above all: we're not done learning, and we should not forsake the lessons of the past in the aims of understanding the present. There are serious problems and we must fix them. Otherwise the next conflict could very well exploit the fault lines that exist and tear us apart.

Thank you for the comments Publius...it does me good.

Team, some seriously good commentary, dialogue and feedback (thanks, it helps me and I'll ensure I share it with other sr intel leaders). Since I'm trying to manage my time trying to be a real MI officer (-: I'll leave my comments short...this is not an easy profession (got it). We have an incredible intelligence workforce (across all services). Many of our senior leaders in MI (and I include LTCs & COLs in this batch) are not only extraordinary leaders, they are also very capable of executing the technical skills of our junior service men and women. I don't have all the answers (and I suspect no one does), I do know that alot has changed in our military and on the battlefield--too much experience to not recognize that. We do have to pick our fights and prioritze what we can change and then laser focus on those priorities. That is my challenge.

Gian; can't answer your last question; To me, that may forever remain the $64K question.

As I read what I last posted, I fear I may come across as being overly critical of General Flynn. This was not my intention. I admire General Flynn.

It seems today's US Army is an out of control train. Smart guys like General Flynn can do nothing. Marty Dempsey will do nothing.

Is there anybody anywhere who doesn't agree with Don Vandergriff? Yet nothing changes.

"Peeling the onion back a bit more, from my perspective we have a community that has largely divorced itself from the warrior mindset. In general, the USMC brings people into its ranks, creates warfighters, then gives them an MOS. The Army does the opposite. The Army gives you an MOS, the warfighter bit is optional in most branches. The Warrior Ethos is nothing more than a slogan to make senior leaders feel good. The overwhelming majority are not living it. I see more lip service with this in the MI Corps, than with any other branch."

Charles Sullivan: Excellent post and the time you put into should be greatly appreciated by those who read it. However, I'm going to quibble with you a little bit about the roles and responsibilities of military intelligence personnel.

First, I think you're falling victim to the Marine Corps's propaganda. Yes, everybody in the Corps goes through common infantry training, but no, later on in their careers, folks specializing in more technical fields are not infantry first. They are technical people; a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who's an intel guy is not the same as a gunny who's in an infantry unit. Plus, you may have missed that part about how some of the most technical support tasks of all needed to keep the USMC going are actually accomplished by the US Navy. That's right. The Marines are part of the Navy and they therefore get a lot of support, intel and otherwise, from the Navy. From the Army, too, BTW.

Comparing the Marine Corps and the Army is apples and oranges in many areas. Medical is one. Intel is another. You say you want the MI Corps to reform; how would you like to see this reform unfold? Do you want those intel guys to be just like you? A so-called warrior? Or do you want them to actually do their job? Did you ever think that there just might possibly be a little difference between an MI sergeant who speaks a couple of foreign languages and is charged with interrogating bad guys and an infantry sergeant who does infantry stuff and speaks English?

I'd say that if you want MI personnel who've actually got some hard skills--yeah, they actually went to school and everything and also have to keep those skills up--to be just like the infantry guys, you probably ought to pay 'em a little more. After all, if they have to do two jobs, then they should get paid for it.

As a guy who's been infantry and MI, who's done counterintelligence and Humint work around the world and learned foreign languages, I gotta say this: Brush me up for a few weeks and I can do infantry. The intel? I can do that forever. I know it. How long will it take an infantry officer to master the skills that it took those MI pukes supporting him months and months and years and years to acquire?

The real problem with the MI branch is that it's led by wannabes, by officers who don't have the education or the skills to actually perform some of the more sophisticated tasks that their branch needs to do. Generals who grew up in the infantry and armor branch, for example, may not be able to shoot as well or maneuver a tank as well as those serving under them, but they've done it. This is not true in MI branch. Few MI generals have ever actually done cryptologic work; few have ever conducted a clandestine intelligence operation. MI is a branch led by officers who can't do what their troops can do. But they can sure be "warriors."

Charles Sullivan, you want a good MI branch? Or for that matter, a good Army? Ask yourself exactly what's been accomplished by all of the "warrior" horseshit in the 21st century. I'm an old MI guy who's been to war and I'll never be one of your "warriors." My old branch began compromising itself to suck up to "warfighters" years ago. Many of us watched in dismay as senior MI officers compromised our capabilities to cater to those who thought short haircuts and PT scores were more important than technical expertise. We left and so did the entire thing we Vietnam guys inherited from the WW2 guys: that whole intellectual thing. You real Army dudes never liked that intellectual stuff. You were "warriors," after all, and you put your kind of people in charge of us.

And now you're stuck. You threw a bunch of linguists out because you decided to launch a "don't ask, don't tell" hunting expedition and you wanted "warriors." General Flynn, the MI officer who started this, is one of you. So what's your problem?

From my position I see several things that are perhaps relevant to this article and the comments.
1. Tactical skills are waning. Our collective ability to fight tactically while thinking strategically is wilting. Intelligence is not at fault for this: the maneuver side of the military, of which Im a part, is squarely to blame. The same distractions leading to this skill degradation are to blame for our maneuver commanders doing little or nothing to develop their staffs - and that is related to intelligence since our intell officers are on said staffs.
2. I believe some on the site have mentioned the tactical skillset shortcomings that can be seen in films like Restrepo: watching Soldiers mindlessly launch 5.56mm rounds into hillsides, not using available cover, seeing video of convoys with virtually no dispersion, no freedom of maneuver, and no apparent desire or ability to close with the enemy - and that only covers some of the comments from one of our theaters. This has many causes. One of which, I believe, is a failure in our intelligence capabilities. We have suffered from a lack of actionable intelligence, in general. Our warfighters are in a perpetual movement to contact - which is what you conduct when the intelligence picture is incomplete. Hence, our tactics have mirrored what you see in MTC: reacting to contact, developing the situation with hasty and poorly coordinated fires, reconnaissance by fire, etc. Our S2 shops have turned into relay stations to hand off SIGINT & IMINT "data", but they are not driving operations. Commanders are driving operations. Commanders are distracted with their own personal campaign plans, their desire to climb the pay chart, and a struggle to simply understand the fight they are in. This stems from failures, again, in the maneuver and intelligence communities.
3. We have done a huge disservice to all service members by trying to create a new form of warfare. People have always been a part of war, and people have always been on the battlefield. But, to read some of our FMs, to listen to some of our senior leaders speak, youd think it was a new phenomenon. We have hyped up this "new" form of warfare and hyped up the enemies we face. Our junior Soldiers believe that we fight ninjas, capable of mind reading and teleporting. They believe every lingering stare from an Iraqi or Afghani is some form of information gathering for the inevitable insurgent attack. On the flip side, theyve been told so many times that the population is the center of gravity that they are then worried to take action when they see the obvious hostile indicators. The fix for this sits in the lanes of the intelligence and maneuver branches. Intelligence is doing a poor job of getting the ground truth. Maneuver branches are doing a poor job of ensuring that happens, to make sure those Soldiers are getting the truth.
4. Publius made some excellent points regarding the 'rubber meets the road tests for our senior leaders. I would say, from my humble position way down pay chart, that passing grades on those tests are only rarely observed. Otherwise, these topics would not generate the comments we so often see.
5. As Ken White remarked, centralized SA with decentralized decision-making is a recipe for disaster. I will spare readers my uncensored thoughts on that idea. I once heard a Squadron Cdr refer to elements of the garrison command as part of the insurgent network. I think those higher echelons with their enhanced SA will find themselves referred to in similar language from the troops. Of course, those in the echelons above reality will relegate such sentiments as being from the unwashed, and unintelligent masses. As a result, theyll pull all resources in their direction, theyll get their SA - and theyll ruin initiative, adaptive leadership, and subordinates will never have the confidence they can act with the support of their superiors.
6. I would agree with MG Flynns comments about many in his community wanting a return to the 'bean counting days. Indeed that is the case - as an outside observer. While many in the MI community like to discuss pattern plots, SIGACTs, and other products they create - they are unable to address the significance of their SIGACTs, differentiate between insurgent groups based on real-world data (not some academic thesis), or merely give me a patrol brief based on terrain, weather, intelligence collected, analyzed, and relevant to my OE. I have asked for a copy of the current intelligence estimate (or a similar product), many times, in order to get myself some SA. I have yet to receive one. I am merely directed to the latest GRINTSUM - giving me nothing more than SIGACT data and weather, absent of any analysis or "so what". All this being said, until we in the maneuver branches demand better, it will not get any better.
7. To caveat on the above, it sounds like MG Flynn is pushing a system that will end up simply feeding information to maneuver commanders. We dont need intelligence officers for that - we only need a large group of E-4s to hit print. I hear the dialog about critical thinking but Im not seeing it lead to any of the "so what" that is desperately needed. This will not change until Ft. Huachuca makes some changes - along with the maneuver commanders that receive the graduates of Ft. Huachuca training.
8. Some excellent comments were made about fighting a war on an enemys turf and by his rules. Sticking to my established theme, this will not change until both the intelligence and maneuver sides come to grips with this problem. From my perspective, we get such poor intelligence at the ground level that exploiting the gaps in enemy tactics and networks is never efficiently prosecuted. Maneuver people realize this. However, they are too rarely pushing their intell folks to find seams, weaknesses, and gaps - and drive operations to exploit them.
9. Publius made some remarks about getting the right folks in the right places to make a difference. Well, funny thing is, our doctrine calls for this. Our doctrine tells us to tailor our force to the mission. But, it never seems to happen.
10. MG Flynn touched on an issue that must be addressed within the MI Corps. He said, "Over-generalizing a bit, there are some in the IC that believe if it isn't stamped SECRET or TOP SECRET, it isn't relevant..." Very true statement. Peeling the onion back a bit more, from my perspective we have a community that has largely divorced itself from the warrior mindset. In general, the USMC brings people into its ranks, creates warfighters, then gives them an MOS. The Army does the opposite. The Army gives you an MOS, the warfighter bit is optional in most branches. The Warrior Ethos is nothing more than a slogan to make senior leaders feel good. The overwhelming majority are not living it. I see more lip service with this in the MI Corps, than with any other branch. Our senior leaders need to take off their Ranger Tabs, Airborne wings, CABs, CIBs, etc. (They also need to stop issuing "blanket" CIB / CAB orders the minute a mortar round lands in their OE. Its pathetic. It cheapens significance and its directly lead to our awards system being a complete joke.) They need to steer us away from the mindset that what you wear is who you are. How you act, how you lead - thats what and who you are. To extend this, they need to mandate that all of us in uniform be warfighters - not just talk about it, not just go to some schools for some bling and street cred. I see a lot of talk about being integrated, being joint, being coordinated, etc - unless our collective mindset gets integrated, the other facets to integration, networking, and so forth will not happen.
11. A comment from MG Flynns article... Regarding I2 becoming the fire and maneuver of the 21st century. If that becomes the case, then we should go ahead and cede all future conflicts. The minute we decide to place information and intelligence ahead of our ability to move, shoot, and communicate, is the minute we lose all tactical fights. While tactics alone will not win a war, its importance is vastly underestimated by the non-maneuver communities. In todays political climate, sound tactics are an essential element of strategic success. Poor tactics mean more dead bodies. More dead bodies mean a faster erosion of public support, which equates to abandoning or losing a war that can be won. Whats needed is an intelligence community that is able to leverage available information and intelligence to drive productive fire and maneuver operations. That is a combination that cannot be defeated. Fire and maneuver - and more importantly, those that carry out the fire and maneuver missions - will not be supplanted by a community that has practically removed itself from warfighting. You cannot win wars by placing, front and center, a community that is largely absent of a warrior mindset. I feel this is the issue plaguing the MI community, over and above everything else. Without tackling that issue, all other articles and thoughts about the reform or restructure of the MI Corps will be of no benefit.

A reasonable argument could be made that if we had addressed Afghanistan with the same level of forces and attention that we did in Iraq, things never would have progressed to this state.

A similar argument exists that just because trench warfare happened in WWI, Peal Harbor and Huertgen forest in WWII, TF Smith in the Korean War, and Search and Destroy and body counts in Vietnam...that does not mean any such events are likely in the future.

Mechanized and aerial warfare precludes trench warfare. Modern radar and satellites (not to mention MAD) preclude a Pearl Harbor on American soil if not elsewhere. No potential foe has the power/need to seize a continent such as Europe. Our joint services are for more capable and the foe is far weaker in Korea. And hopefully we have learned that it is not enough to seek and kill an enemy that won't stop coming just because we kill many of them.

Hopefully we also have learned that SF and Airpower alone cannot quiet an insurgent hiding in the complex and urban terrain of an area the size of Texas.

That said, the recently proferred alternative of AirSea Battle being a suitable option because it addresses the Chinese threat is an ill-considered move...particularly since we are so unlikely to fight China. We can practice wishful thinking and hope another land war is unlikely, but that is just politician and public wishful thinking.

Guess the idea, IMHO, is to find a means to make the Army more relevant in the context of matching the early deployability and deterrence of Air and Sea Power, while making the clean up afterwards far less painful that Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps, IMHO, an early surge as an example...

Reading the excellent comments on this thread, and especially the input from General Flynn, and thinking about some of the things Publius said, I am thinking to myself, how far should we take the idea of better intelligence through its reform and the acquisition and development of better leaders.

I mean just because you have good intelligence does not mean automatically that you win wars, no?

General Flynn Sir, would you argue that if the US Army had in place the kinds of transformation in intelligence that you have been calling for in Afghanistan in 2004, that we would have won the war by now?

thanks

gian

Go get 'em, General. But I've got a little problem with using folks outside of the IC without building in some safeguards. Yes, use all sources of course, but I think a little cynicism would go a long way.

Frankly, I'd judge some of the sources you all have used--those from think tanks, etc.--as D or E 4 or 5. Unfortunately, the NCA has acted upon these judgments, often due to the faith military officers and members of the intelligence community have placed in them. One wonders just why some people who are making serious money from their work have such credibility in today's military.

This old soldier/spook has been wondering for some time why y'all do some things and why Afghanistan and Iraq have become the toothache that never ends. You've helped me understand. Good luck. You need it. Our nation needs it.

Bobby Adams:

Glad to hear from another Rhode Islander.

Being from a large irish family and such a small state, It's always good to talk to someone with similar stories about RI, especially those about "Nawt Pravidenz" (-:

On your points, what we do require is much better advanced analytic training and we should do it up front in their careers. I understand that roughly 65 percent of our intel community was hired post 9-11. Most are OJT, and I do believe we do need to strengthen this part of our capability...txs.

Publius:

You are correct about where good intelligence can still come from and why bad intelligence still exists--both come from a combination of factors (leadership may be the number one factor). In today's environment however, we have a lot more places where "information" that can enable better analytic judgements can come from. Over-generalizing a bit, there are some in the IC that believe if it isn't stamped SECRET or TOP SECRET, it isn't relevant...I'm not among them. Using many more sources and different types of people (outside the IC) to help us understand what the heck is going on must become the norm more than the exception it was in the past.

And the new generation fellas are NOT any smarter, like my old man used to say, "the older I got, the smarter my father became." This still rings true (at least for me)...txs.

General Flynn: Thanks for being a good sport and showing up to discuss your product. Stand-up thing to do. But I'm just an old guy and I'm having a hard time following what you're saying.

Are you really trying to reform the MI community? FWIW, I always thought intelligence was pretty simple: get the right folks on the problem and let their minds start working. Why it was called "intelligence," is what I always thought. And I always wondered why "reforms" invariably lost sight of this. It always seemed to me that good intelligence might be produced by smart and well trained folks working in a good command environment and that bad intelligence might come from...well, you know.

Maybe you're right. Maybe you new generation fellas are smarter. Maybe the rules have changed. Fair enough.

MG Flynn,

I saw you spoke yesterday at the AFCEA event and was greatly impressed. So much so, I wanted to learn more about you...and then stumbled across this article. I enjoyed it, along with your "Fixing Intel" paper I read today. I also learned you are from Rhode Island, as I am (Johnston). Great to see someone from RI doing great things!

I agree that understanding the enemy and their culture is extremely important and unfortunately overlooked. With that said, at a macro-level, how many analysts within the Army (or IC for that matter) have read the writings of UBL and Zawahiri (or possibly Qutb)? How many have studied the Koran and Hadith? I honestly have no idea and am just hoping it is a very high percentage. If so, the overthrow of Mubarak may have not been a surprise at all (Zawahiri said a few years back that he was going to re-focus on this goal...and AQ has met many of their goals...they state them and then achieve them...either directly by them or through influence..or just luck, but their goals are being met...scary). I ask this because I believe until one understands AQ and Salafi jihadists motives, we will have hard time defeating them. It may be that AQ has successfully used the media/internet to influence Salafi jihadists that the US is violating, or supporting apostate governments that violate, the Koran and Mohammed's teachings. Right or wrong, the spreading of this ideology can be very persuasive and difficult to defeat.

With leaders such as yourself and LTG Zahner, I believe their is reason for hope and optimism that we will have great success in the near future. Thank you for protecting our country! Maybe I will bump into you in RI someday and we can grab a Del's Lemonade? Again, thanks and great job!

Bill M., Below is a follow up to your points, thanks for each of them (I've placed my comments after yours):

Addressing a couple of points in your article,

1. I agree with some others above who question that intelligence and information are the fire and maneuver of the 21st Century. I think intelligence will continue to play the critical role it always has, but once a problem/threat is identified then we need to act appropriately. Acting appropriately will require understanding the problem in context, not just a 10 digit grid location of a target.

[FLYNN] I think our actions will be much more limited therefore our need for understanding why we take action is much more important. If we can prevent a kinetic action (or reaction), that is more a measure of success than than having to go to war (my opin).

2. While we still have many industrial age weapons, we also have many information age weapons (anything enabled by GPS and other forms of information beyond plugging in coordinates manually or eyeballing the target). Intelligence has always improved the use of "fire" and manuever forces, but I think you are assuming future wars will look like Afghanistan. Perhaps, but if we get in a tougher conflict we'll need lots of industrial age weapons to apply sufficient suppressive fire to enable maneuver. CAS doesn't replace the value of artillery in all cases (or even most cases).

[FLYNN] I think in general you're correct, but the reality of applying more and more precision weapons to reduce casualties or other physical damage at least appears to be the direction our policy makers want to go. I know war is not that clean and you certainly can't plan on always hitting the right target. But with better, more precise questions, my expectation is that we can get better, more precise answers...whether for kinetic targeting or disaster relief.

3. I'm not sure I agree that causes of war will be more complicated, what I do agree with is that it may be harder for the intelligence community to assess who to blame for specific terrorist attacks or cyber attacks, and "legally" it may be more difficult to determine how to respond.

[FLYNN] Honestly, I'm not sure i agree with this either. I do know that identifying where a cyber attack came from is very difficult (near impossible).

4. Goals will be more limited? Sir, I hope you're right. I thought we were going down that path with the so called Powell Doctrine (which I didn't like, but now I'm becoming more fond of it). However, our recent experience indicates we have some rather grandiose goals. Maybe the reality of economic limitations will lead to more intelligent policies and objectives. We can only hope.

[FLYNN] I want it to be right. However, reality doesn't usually play out that way. And I do strongly believe that our economic conditions will be a factor, but the with our "intervention" into Libya says otherwise.

5. You wrote, "Are we focused at staring aat the gerbil on the wheel whil massive global trends are shifting underfoot?" For one, I definitely agree with that statement, and remain frustrated with an IC that limits its focus to a relatively few items of high interest instead of organizing to have a more holistic understanding of global events.

[FLYNN] completely agree!

6. Duration of war may be shorter, but there are also those that believe we will remain in perpetual state between war and peace, so although not technically at war, we will be stressing our military forces for many years to come.

[FLYNN] Agree. And the challenge for our military forces is to maintain a warfighting edge in areas other than COIN. Although our ground forces are experienced in combat, I'm concerned that we lose other aspects, other skills that will be necessary in future wars. By completely focusing on AFG & IRAQ for a decade now, we may not be as good as we think for other fights. That said (and among my points), i don't see that fight on any horizon I'm seeing (and I know that is dangerous).

7. Please explain why psychological damages are likely to increase compared to the past? Maybe it is we simply recognize them now.

[FLYNN] We do, and it is much easier in the age of information to turn this into an advantage using smart informations operations or strategic communications--things we still can't seem to overcome our adversaries at...they have been doing this very effectively and not just on the battlefield of Iraq and AFG, but back here in the states.

This is getting too long, so I'll cut it off here. Best of luck to you in trying to reform the military intelligence community. They're already defending the status quo, so it will be an uphill fight against a foe with lots of industrial age weapons :-).

[FLYNN] thanks, very much appreciate the time you took.

Bob I'll go out and a limb and guaruntee you we'll see more wars similiar to those in the 20th Century. Counterterrorism will get relegated back to CIA and SOF (where it should have remained), and the services will have to re-learn how to warfight.

This doesn't mean that irregular warfare will become less important to general purpose forces, irregulars will almost always play a role in future conflict (just as they did in the past).

For those who yearn for the "good old days" they may get their wish sooner than many pundits of a changed world might lead them to believe.

The US has enjoyed two bubbles of "State Dominance" or "State Hegemony." The first was roughly 1945-1950. The second began in about 1990 and is coming to a close soon. During such eras major state challenges to US desires and interests are largely deterred. Non-state actions being largely unaffected by state power continue rolling along.

Key indicators of a return to "the good old days" of greater state on state competition and warfare will be small challenges by emerging states to test limits and exert growing power to move toward long suppressed state interests. After 20 years of suppression many of these issues are potentially explosive. Given the current economic and resource competition environment, doubly so. I hope I am wrong, but warfare on the magnitude of those that defined the last century may well be in the foreseeable future.

MG Flynn,

Thank you for the clarification on what you meant by "those were the days." I agree that is generally true regarding our MI community, but it sure as heck never reflected the reality of war. I think Gian is right that our current crop of officers need a heavy dose of humility. The wars we're fighting now are not more complex, the only thing that is more complex is our bureaucracy. I'll make the argument that our officers are poorly educated and trained in "war" compared to their peers a few years ago. Perhaps it was the focus on business degrees that diverted our focus from understanding war, and now we're focused on anthropology, development and everything but understanding the nature and character of war. Both of which continue to evolve, so I'm not arguing against change, but we change built upon the basics. We have a lot of self identified clever people (officers) that are failing their nation with their social experiments, without first understanding war.

I think your article would generate more discussion if you challenged the Joint Operational Environment (JOE), which written approximately two years ago. It is an excellent document that logically proposes what the future operational environment "could" be, and the implied task is to organize and train appropriately to address them. It addressed environmental, irregular, conventional, WMD, cyber, natural disasters, and a host of other factors that will be part of our future. It is actually one of the more intellectual products developed by DOD. It reflected clear thinking for a change.

Addressing a couple of points in your article,

1. I agree with some others above who question that intelligence and information are the fire and maneuver of the 21st Century. I think intelligence will continue to play the critical role it always has, but once a problem/threat is identified then we need to act appropriately. Acting appropriately will require understanding the problem in context, not just a 10 digit grid location of a target.

2. While we still have many industrial age weapons, we also have many information age weapons (anything enabled by GPS and other forms of information beyond plugging in coordinates manually or eyeballing the target). Intelligence has always improved the use of "fire" and manuever forces, but I think you are assuming future wars will look like Afghanistan. Perhaps, but if we get in a tougher conflict we'll need lots of industrial age weapons to apply sufficient suppressive fire to enable maneuver. CAS doesn't replace the value of artillery in all cases (or even most cases).

3. I'm not sure I agree that causes of war will be more complicated, what I do agree with is that it may be harder for the intelligence community to assess who to blame for specific terrorist attacks or cyber attacks, and "legally" it may be more difficult to determine how to respond.

4. Goals will be more limited? Sir, I hope you're right. I thought we were going down that path with the so called Powell Doctrine (which I didn't like, but now I'm becoming more fond of it). However, our recent experience indicates we have some rather grandiose goals. Maybe the reality of economic limitations will lead to more intelligent policies and objectives. We can only hope.

5. You wrote, "Are we focused at staring aat the gerbil on the wheel whil massive global trends are shifting underfoot?" For one, I definitely agree with that statement, and remain frustrated with an IC that limits its focus to a relatively few items of high interest instead of organizing to have a more holistic understanding of global events.

6. Duration of war may be shorter, but there are also those that believe we will remain in perpetual state between war and peace, so although not technically at war, we will be stressing our military forces for many years to come.

7. Please explain why psychological damages are likely to increase compared to the past? Maybe it is we simply recognize them now.

This is getting too long, so I'll cut it off here. Best of luck to you in trying to reform the military intelligence community. They're already defending the status quo, so it will be an uphill fight against a foe with lots of industrial age weapons :-).

Ken said this (twice actually):

"Observation throughout the spectrum still leaves me asking why anyone would advocate taking on an opponent on his turf using his rules."

This is an excellent point and reflects Ken's extensive service in peace and war. It also reflects accurately I think a basic point that all warfare by nature is asymetric. As Ken asks why should we put ourselves down on the ground on "his turf" and play by his "rules"? If we do we are then fighting a symetrical war, not a good thing to do, and giving up all the advantages that we have as an American military. And arguably that is exactly what we are doing now in Afghanistan.

gian

FLYNN:

I appreciate your taking the time to write the article and appreciate even more that you read and responded to comments. Thank you.

However, I'm still struck by the fact that much of the article repeats current wisdom on what might be faced in the future, that it accepts if not urges continuing along much the same path we've been following since 1991 / 2001. I think that unwise -- and unnecessary.

In your latest comment you state we are pushing more intel down to lower levels -- that is a good thing. Provided we unleash the units and allow them to use it...

Several other old retired birds and I noticed in the 2001-03 period the tactical competence and fire discipline of the troops seen in video clips. That seems to have dissipated -- instead of better, we now seem to do worse. When one today sees Troops behind a sandbag wall firing rather promiscuously at targets above their heads, something is amiss and is bothersome to say the least.

That seeming diversion into the tactical and training arenas has a point that coincides with your desire to encourage reflective thinkers who consider the seriousness of your higher level topics:

Observation throughout the spectrum still leaves me asking why anyone would advocate taking on an opponent on his turf using his rules.

Many years of service and observation convince me that we do that on the basis of "we do not get to pick where and who we fight." Sorry, I disagree with that. We the Army may not be able to make that a choice as opposed to an automatic response but the policy makers can change that. We can and should encourage them to do so.

With better Intel, more active Diplomacy, targeted SF assistance where indicated and a total reluctance to commit the GPF to FID and similar operations (because they will never do it well. Nor should they...) we can be smarter and do better...

Thanks again.

gian,

Thanks for this great response. I completely agree with your notion about maintaining an historical framework whenever we talk about aspects of war. Candidly, I believe we should demand that it be part of any campaign development process.

The phrase..."those were the days", was meant more for those who wish for a return to the past where we were able to more easily bound our enemies. That said, I realize that is not the case in all wars in the past, but many, especially in my community, would like a return to the days where "bean counting" enemy formations was the norm, and that is where I depart. I know that is somewhat over-generalizing our problem, but to some degree, it is also a fundamental reason why we are having such a difficult time changing the way we view intelligence and information and executing that component of our mission set.

I believe that in tomorrow's wars, there will be so much more information available, that our problem will be less one of intelligence collection, and more likely to be one that requires greater precision in the types of questions we should ask and certainly those that need to be answered. This will require commanders to be more attune to the incredible volume of information available to best support their decision making--you most likely experienced this in your own time as a commander in combat.

What I can attest to from my most recent experiences in AFG, is that we are pushing more and more information down to even lower levels (for good or bad--it is what it is). Therefore, we are going to have to fine tune our current commanders to be more prepared for what they'll experience and we'll need to develop future leaders for what I believe will be an even more demanding environment.

Thanks for the dialogue, really appreciate it.

Sir:

I appreciate your comments on this thread. My point was that as we tackle the important issues that you raise, we should start off with a historical understanding that appreciates the complexity of war and its difficulty and that we do not reduce warfare in the past into a caricature of simplicity and ease, which your opening paragraph seemed to me to do. My point is not just an academic one of history but also of how we view contemporary and future conflict. If we make conventional war in the past, or war at the higher end of the conflict spectrum sound simple and easy, then as we think about how to organize for the future folks may say well we dont have to worry about combined arms competencies because that stuff is easy, after all General Flynn stated in his article that "those were the days," implying their relative ease. Warfare by its nature is not easy, but very difficult and complex. To be sure some wars are easier and less complex than others. But just because we find ourselves today fighting a war of state building in the Hindu Kush does not mean, a priori, that that campaign is more difficult and complex than say MacArthurs island hopping campaign in the Pacific in World War II. To assume such things seems to me to represent the arrogance of contemporary experience, which if one is not careful can blind us to the problems that we face today within our army and how we tackle in the years ahead the issues that you so correctly raise.

Thanks and v/r
gian

What I believe we need is senior leadership (or those intending to be senior leaders) to be reading (and thinking) about these sort of issues.

What I am trying to highlight has more to do with our own core values of character building, organizational readiness, intellectual capacity building, the serious nature of threat to the world's survival, our own national security, and so much more.

Additionally, this article is as much about the inclusion of a number of questions not to 'tell' readers how to, but to allow them to become reflective thinkers collectively on the seriousness of what these important topics address.

If it stimulates thinking along those lines (and to a degree it has), then it is well worth it.

I appreciate the feedback and look forward to continuing to debate these type of issues. I definitely don't have all the answers.

Hmm . . . I liked all the comments so far and I have just read the summary. I especially like what Gian Gentile and Publius said.
Apparently, some people are intent on carving out some new, special importance of intelligence because of the nature of wars we have been involved in the past 10 years.
Sometimes people forget that different echelons need different kinds of intelligence. But the one thing that hasn't changed is, if you haven't got the means to do anything about the intelligence, its not much good to you either strategically or tactically.
About 40 years ago, we were studying and applying COIN tactics and strategies. Too bad that we forgot them.

I think the General is steering the argument down the wrong road when he throws in the statement "Achieving dominance in a battle space requires a number of activities to be brought together at the right moment and place to achieve some desired effect." If that is our goal then we will be forever clueless as to where we are going because we must focus on the destruction in our wake. Maintaining dominance in a peaceful space requires presence.

What the three prescient gentlemen above said...

I got several chuckles. I loved this one:

"Warfare will require more decentralized decision-making but an increasing need to centralize situational awareness"

A route to disaster if I ever saw one. Reads like an effort to talk about decentralizing while maintaining an 'adequate' SA quotient at echelons above reality in order to be able to interfere at the slightest provocation.

In fairness, such a comment need not necessarily lead to that but, as all those MI types say, "indications lead me to believe."

I'd also point out that military forces have a reason for existence -- and wandering around the souks hitting the chaikhanes isn't one of them. We will continue to engage in such aberrant versions of what is supposed to be warfare only if we are foolish. The fact that we have been foolish enough to engage in such ventures in the past is not an adequate reason to continue to do so.

Yet again, I'm forced to wonder why anyone would advocate taking on an opponent on his turf using his rules...

Haven't read the article yet, but I was put off by the same verbiage. That world never existed in reality, even if we may have come close to it in Desert Storm (only relatively). That world did exist in our school house and our national centers, so maybe that is what he was making reference to?

I formed an impression of General Flynn as being political back when he published his intelligence solution to Afghanistan through a civilian think tank. As a guy who became a member of MI branch back near the beginning, I've wondered why he did it, especially since there was nothing all that earthshaking that I could see. I don't see where it affected the war effort one bit, just like I don't see where the vaunted work of McChrystal's study group did much of anything positive for either the U.S. or Afghanistan.

Although we may be underwhelmed by the performance of senior officers in these 21st century wars, I doubt any of us will be greatly surprised if we don't see much of that humility that Gian Gentile longs for.

General Flynn is a master of the obvious, which seems to be kind of emblematic of those who rise to power in my former branch. What I've yet to see is any explanation of why it is that critical personnel shortcomings persist over the years and why it is that civilian government agencies and contractors now seem to be doing the heavy lifting for the MI branch at war.

General Flynn tells us how short-sighted we were in the past and how perceptive he and his contemporaries are in the present. What he doesn't tell us is how their brilliance translates into the age-old rubber meets the road test and why it is so many Americans believe these brilliant folks are losing these wars.

"Those were the days", this essay starts off by saying with regard to warfare of the past. Perhaps I should have been an American infantry battalion commander in the Hurtgen Forrest in December 1944 rather than a cav squadron commander in West Baghdad in 2006 because the former was easier than the latter.

Warfare was never as simple and easy as the General posits at the beginning of this essay. To say that it was fought with knowable and understandable rules, as if it was like a football game, is not to understand the nature of warfare in general, and of military history specifically. And does anybody really think that the New Way of American Counterinsurgency warfare is not dominated by rules to the point of dogmatism?

I wonder if Ike thought his upcoming invasion of the European continent on the evening of 5 June 1944 would be a relatively easy, straightforward and linear affair because his enemy was structured like his own army.

I wonder if then Captain HR McMaster as troop commander of Eagle Troop, 2nd ACR, and his Squadron S3 then Major Doug Macgregor thought that their crossing of the LD into Iraq in early 1991 would be a cakewalk because Sadam's Army had tanks and mechanized infantry similar to our own.

I wonder if a British rifle battalion commander on the morning of 1 July 1916 going over the top in the lead attack at the Battle of the Somme and then within an hour had close to 90 percent of his battalion slaughtered in front of his eyes thought that it was the undergraduate level of war he was confronting.

I mean come on, to be sure it is important to think about warfare today and in the future, how to organize for it, how to conceptualize it and so on. But at least we should start from a baseline of humility, that while we have gained combat experience in Iraq and Astan over the last nine years, that does not mean that we are masters of other forms of war.

And most importantly before giving thought to the future of war we should start grounded in history, and not as this piece does from the plane of a-historicism.

gian