Small Wars Journal

The New Security Force Assistance Units May Be The Vanguard We Were Looking For…

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 3:26am

The New Security Force Assistance Units May Be The Vanguard We Were Looking For…

Chris Budihas, Kyle Trottier and Steve Deuble

No other service in the Department of Defense, except the US Army can project national power to influence the human dimension that directly influence conflict variables and present options to senior leaders. It is through significant pre-hostility investments the Army is capable of shaping the security environment, dissuading conflict, or better position the US to achieve its national objectives when conflict occurs. The October 2014 Army Operating Concept (AOC), “Win in a Complex World,” marked a major shift in the way the Army perceives itself conducting unified land operations.[1] It boldly declares the Army must regionally engage to shape and prevent, and when required, respond globally to win.[2] This AOC evolved the service from focusing on only two major core competencies, combined arms maneuver and wide area security, in the 2010 version to increasing the number of competencies to a total of seven. The additional five competencies codifies that the Army has an active role in pre- and post-conflict activities, and that it cannot regress back to a pre-9/11 mindset when it defined itself as only conducting offense, defense, and stability operations.

Therefore, about two years ago under the direction of the Commanding General, we formed a futures planning team at Fort Benning to explore, “How does a regionally aligned Army operate across the range of military operations in conjunction with JIM (joint, interorganizational, multinational) partners, to enable situational understanding. A situational understanding that shapes the security environment; sets the theater; prevents conflict; and when required, responds globally to achieve national security objectives?”[3] At the time, many strategic leaders, historians, and armchair generals stated there were two ways to fight the United States Army, “asymmetric or stupid.”[4] If this assumption is true, it guarantees that future operating environments will remain characterized as uncertain, decentralized, and most likely urban with a variety of threats to US Soldiers that operate there.

Both General (R) Odierno and General Milley have stated that the Army must train and be ready to fight both near-peer nation-states, as well as asymmetrical hybrid threats that look to avoid our strengths while exploiting our weaknesses.[5] GEN Milley continues to reinforce that readiness is our #1 priority and that the Army must first-and-foremost be ready to fight existential threats, and those that significantly destabilize our vital and national interests abroad.[6]

The continuities of war (war is an extension of politics, a human endeavor, uncertain, a contest of wills)[7] guided the Team’s assessment of the future operating environment and indicate that multiple nation-states will challenge US interests, while non-state actors will have ever-increasing regional and worldwide influence.[8] Increased urbanization, youth bulges, proliferation of technology, and the inability of governments to provide security, essential services, and unemployment will tip the scales of regional instability resulting in Army forces deploying.[9] The changing nature of the world requires Army leaders to adapt to meet these challenges or be intellectually short-sighted. A lack of innovative thought will produce irrelevant or antiquated concepts that do not meet the projected complexities of future warfare. Therefore, Army leaders must adapt training, formation designs, and systems to ensure the Total Army force cannot only conduct Decisive Action (DA),[10] but also shapes the security environment and appropriately set the theaters to enable power projection.

Over the last five years to the Army’s credit the Regional Alignment of Forces (RAFs) concept, which assigns Corps and Division Headquarters and below to Geographical Combatant Commanders (GCCs), has somewhat permitted the service to be regionally engaged. However, the RAF mission has created a number of challenges. Some of these include Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), the exception being those units assigned to the PACOM/USARPAC Area of Responsibility (AOR), are held within a Forces Command (FORSCOM) rotational force pool and not necessarily being consistently aligned to the same Combatant Command (CCMD) to build long-term continuity and understanding of the operational environment (OE). Also, as directed by the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), BCTs must achieve a C1 DA readiness-level, then RAF designated units must rapidly transition for a mission set which may or may not match with the CCMD they are regionally aligned to support. Additionally, due to the amount of time devoted to preparing for a DA Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation, many units don’t have the optimum amount of time to execute Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture (LREC) training for their GCC. Lastly, many BCTs at the end of their Army readiness cycle or upon redeployment lose regional knowledge, skills, and experience when they are sequentially assigned to another CCMD in their next cycle and large manpower turnovers occur.

To overcome many of these challenges, the Benning Team developed a proposed concept to permit the Army to operate in a synchronous manner with JIM partners, effectively increasing situational understanding to generate and preserve options for senior leaders. The Team’s proposed solution was a Vanguard Force directly assigned to CCMDs or Army Service Component Commands (ASCCs). Such a Vanguard, while conducting security cooperation with foreign partners, would institutionalize regional engagement activities and overtime inculcate a desired Army competency that understands cultures and regional nuances to inform senior leader decision-making. This force not only analyzes mission variables (METT-TC), but also operational variables (PMESII-PT) through their regional engagement and assessment processes to better allow CCMDs and ASCCs to ultimately shape and prevent conflict.[11] However, if armed conflict occurs, this force’s efforts would prevent a cold start when globally responsive forces deployed into theater to conduct combat operations. The Vanguard would enhance regional situational understanding, so CCMDs and ASCCs can more effectively conduct security cooperation activities. It is unlikely that a fielding of a Vanguard Force will occur, but the Army’s current initiative to build permanently standing Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs), two SFA Divisions and a Corps Headquarters may address many of the issues and operational gaps the Benning Team identified with current cannibalization of modular BCTs and the RAF concept. These SFA units can effectively allow CCMDs and ASCCs to proactively shape security, build trust and develop relationships to gain access with foreign partners through multilateral exercise, military-to-military engagements, coalition training, and other opportunities.

Prior to diving into these issues, it is critical to understand how the October 2014 Army Operating Concept and the newest release of Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-0 (Operations) make an intellectual shift from previous ways in which the Army perceives itself conducting unified land operations.[12] Organizationally the Army must collectively learn from our past to inform future understanding of how the AOC’s seven core competencies nest to influence the joint operations across the full range of military operations. The seven Army Core Competencies of AOC 2014 are the following:

(1)  Set the Theater

(2)  Shape the Security Environment

(3)  Project National Power

(4)  Combined Arms Maneuver

(5)  Wide Area Security

(6)  Cyber Operations

(7)  Special Operations

Through this framework, it declares the Army does more than conduct war. The Army provides many unique capabilities, as a member of the joint team, to achieve national security objectives by synchronizing effects across space, cyber, air, sea, and onto the land domain to achieve decisive effects. These collective actions present senior leaders and policymakers with feasible options that lead to favorable long-term sustainable outcomes.

Some officers have mistakenly thought when setting the theater and shaping the security environment that logisticians do the former and BCTs are responsible for the later.[13] This assumption is wrong, as all forces across the joint phasing model have a responsibility to support these activities. Setting the theater includes actions to establish and maintain the conditions necessary to retain force freedom of action. The Army combines forward deployed forces and rotational forces to develop, maintain, and operate the theater structure. Joint forces depend on the Army to provide essential capabilities, including logistics, communications, intelligence, long range fires, and air & missile defense. The service’s ability to set the theater is essential in preventing conflict. However if deterrence fails, as the bedrock of a joint force response, the Army then seizes the initiative, protects the force, and restricts the enemy’s options.[14]

In shaping the security environment, “Army forces provide unique capabilities that allow Combatant Commanders to reassure allies, deter adversaries, build interoperability, increasing military capacity of U.S. and multinational partners, thereby strengthening relationships between civil and military leaders while simultaneously establishing conditions that support the potential employment of joint forces.”[15] Additionally, shaping the security environment is a core competency that occurs across the entire range of operations, not just prior to or after conflict. Shaping the environment occurs simultaneously with setting the theater (see Figure 1) and it ultimately involves a comprehensive approach that includes the application of Special Operation Forces (SOF), U.S. Army National Guard (ARNG), U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), and Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF).[16]

Figure 1. The Linkage Between Setting and Shaping Competencies

SOF continuously shapes the security environment through a combination of counter terrorism, counter insurgency, unconventional warfare (UW), Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Security Force Assistance (SFA), Foreign Humanitarian Assistance (FHA), Military Information, and/ or Civil Affairs operations.[17] Complementary to these efforts, the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard shape the environment through special skill-sets and programs that they are uniquely suited for executing. A prime example is the State Partnership Program that has contributed to security cooperation for over 20-years in 71 nations. Through these habitual engagements, ARNG units apply their unique civil-military expertise across military, government, economic, and social spheres to build long-term sustainable relationships.

RAF serves an essential role in shaping security because it engages to build partner countries’ capabilities and the global landpower network outlined in the AOC (See Figure 2). “Improving interoperability with future coalition partners is more complex and perhaps more expensive than teaching individual skills and small unit tactics, but remains a vital investment in our national security and ultimately provides significant and often overlooked cost savings.”[18] The RAF also serves a role in shaping and deterring conflict.[19] The RAF’s policy aim to provide CCMDs with tailored, trained, responsive, and consistently available Army forces, up to and including a Joint Task Force-capable headquarters. Thereby, regional alignment is a Total Army effort, consisting of the Active, Guard, and Reserve forces, ultimately making the US Army the most competent security cooperation partner of choice. 

Figure 2. The Benning Team’s Interpretation of the “Global Landpower Network” to Create Shared Understanding

However, as stated there are many challenges with the current ad hoc nature of butchering modular BCTs to conduct security cooperation can be overcome with the future fielding of Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs). Due to boots-on-the-ground restrictions, BCTs were unfortunately pulled apart to support in-theater security cooperation[20] requirements to build host-nation partner capacity in both Afghanistan and Iraq. These force-level limitations result in BCTs being gutted and only key leaders, staff, and enablers deploying, while as much as 55-70% of their formation remaining at home-station. Though such a methodology was necessary at the time, this fracturing of BCTs severely impacts the aggregate total force readiness posture GEN Milley is attempting to achieve. Creating permanent SFABs that are properly resourced, trained, and equipped, then are assigned to CCMDs or ASCCs can stop this cannibalization of BCTs while optimizing-to-maintain a high rate of readiness for the Total Army.

As mentioned previously, RAFs must train their DA mission essential tasks first and to a C1-level. With new SFA units fielded, CCMDs and ASCCs commanders will already have a LREC-trained force at their disposal, as well as other relevant security engagement skills to support their region. A BCT’s DA CTC rotation remains its capstone-training event, and for some Areas of Responsibility those skills do not necessarily focus on tasks the supported CCMD requires for their regional engagement strategy.

Next, the RAFs alignment of Corps and Division Headquarters from both the Active and Guard Components provides ASCCs continuity. However, not habitually aligning units at brigade-level and below may result in command relationship (COMREL) friction, while the lack of continuity prevents the leveraging of regional experience or established foreign partner relationships. A fictitious example of inducing potential COMREL friction is that of X Brigade, 33rd Infantry Division. While assigned as the RAF to CCMD Z, it will receive taskings and guidance from U.S. Army Y (ASCC), its RAF higher headquarters (34th ID - JTF assigned to COCOM Z), and more than likely its parent division 33rd ID at home-station. Such COMREL designs exponentially increase the risk of generating conflicting guidance, and competing demands for time and resources on the BCT. However, with assigned SFA units working directly for the CCMD or ASCC, these new organizations can concentration on security cooperation and preclude COMREL stress induced on the modular BCT in the current RAF process. Permanently assigned SFABs may absorb many of the CCMD’s or ASCC’s security cooperation tasks, which can reduce operational stress on RAF BCTs and allow them to operate more at the BCT and BN-level while deployed. At this time, depending on the GCC, many RAF are conducting distributed operations at the company and below-level. Depending the partnership tasks they are executing, this may or may not increase the readiness of the American unit.

The challenge with not habitually aligning brigade and below units to specific regions results in having to continually reinvest in LREC training and precludes institutional expertise (See Figure 3). For example, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted a successful RAF deployment to Europe.[21] This involved a CTC rotation with multinational partners at Hohenfels, Germany, and execution of security cooperation activities in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland. However, that Brigade’s next deployment was not back to Europe, but to Korea. Unfortunately, the Army was not able to leverage their organizational knowledge, skills, experiences, and relationships garnered through its previous preparation and execution of its USAREUR RAF tour. By permanently assigning these new SFABs, the CCMDs will have a competent LREC trained force that overtime builds institutional expertise, creates and harnesses foreign relationships, while providing their higher headquarters, deployed RAF forces, joint and foreign partners useful information that shapes security and deters instability.

Figure 3. Tangible Gaps with the Regionally Aligned Force Concept

Permanent SFA units will be a powerful tool for regional commanders, as they will bring a mastery of skill sets that the current RAF concept does not. A functional application of regional engagement, these new SFABs will create and sustain regional expertise while feeding useful information and assessments to their higher headquarters. The Army’s current readiness model does not necessarily provide the optimal time required to build the expertise required to professionally train, certify, and assess a regionally engaging force that achieves long-term sustainable effects that CCMD and ASCC commanders need, but the new SFA units can once properly fielded.

Permanent SFABs can provide, borrowed from SOF with a slight twist, Intellectual and Operational Preparation of the Environment (IOPE). IOPE is defined as developing situational understanding of the operational variables across all domains of a particular region. These SFA units can enable an in-depth understanding of the environment to shape CCMD and ASCC decisions for planning, training, and deployment of forces to address regional drivers of stability or instability. These organizations can generate and preserve options for strategic leaders, thereby setting the conditions for a decisive action response if required. In addition, with the situational understanding derived from IOPE, SFA units can accurately recommend requisite training, education, and pre-deployment preparations required for RAFs prior to them entering theater. Lastly, the SFAB’s understanding of the operational variables while collaborating with JIM partners, Theater Intelligence Brigades, and other regional and national assets, can collectively provide a holistic understanding of regional drivers of stability and instability to inform senior leader decision-making.

There is much to be lauded by the proposed new SFA concept, where key leadership positions are considered broadening opportunities for officers and NCOs who have completed their key development assignments within their respective pay grade and military occupational specialty. As such, this is a powerful investment in these unit and the selected Soldiers. It will also be the nexus to the success or failure of these organizations. These Soldiers will conduct their assignment in the SFA units then return to regular Army formations. Theoretically, their return to regular Army will influence the entire force through their shared experience, understanding of, and lessons learned from executing security cooperation duties. Overtime, this cross-pollination may professionalize the institution to increase its capacity to competently conduct stability tasks that achieve enduring effects.

Figure 4 demonstrates a way the Benning Team proposed for the Vanguard Forces’ career timelines. Modeled after former GEN Creighton W. Abrams’ vision of the Ranger Regiment,[22] it could be adopted for new SFA units to ensure officers and NCOs are not disadvantaged for promotion and command opportunities by serving in these new SFA formations. It is key the Army institutionally avoid the pitfalls associated with the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AF-PAK) Hand and Military Training Team (MiTT) advisor programs that resulted in jeopardizing the career advancement of many officers and NCOs that honorably served in these formations, yet were passed over for promotion. The Army’s leadership must be willing to fill these organizations with the requisite talent to meet the CSA’s vision of these units employment. These SFA units positions will be in direct competition with current broadening opportunities (e.g. Advance Civilian Schooling/ Fellowships, Small Group Leader, CTC, USMA, OCLL, General Officer Aides, etc.). Thus, the Army must follow through to recognize those serving in these units through appropriate levels of promotion, selection for command, and schooling opportunities. This will permit the new SFA units not to be viewed as career killers, but career opportunities.

Figure 4. Proposed Vanguard Officer and NCO Career Timelines for AABs

Success in complex environments is not for the intellectually short-sighted. Hybrid threats, whether in the form of a combination of near-peer nation-states and violent non-state actors, will use their advantages to mitigate our overmatch capabilities and exploit our weaknesses. The Army will remain the only organization in our nation’s national security arsenal that enables the competent projection of national power to directly influence human activity. Therefore, the Army’s fielding of these new SFA units may greatly enable our contributions in a joint effort that operates across the full range of military operations. If properly manned, trained, and equipped, these SFA units will allow the Army to adequately support CCMD security cooperation activities, while preventing the cannibalization of modular BCTs. The past 15-years of war has proven the analysis of mission and operational variables is only valuable if it is conducted through a lens that achieves situational understanding. Every GCC has unique challenges requiring unique solutions. Permanently assigned SFA units can be the critical link between the operating environment, the CCMDs and ASCCs, and those Divisions and BCTs preparing to conduct operations within that region.

End Notes

[1] TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, Army Operating Concept, Win in a Complex World, (October 31, 2014).

[2] Ibid, 17-18.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Conrad C. Craine, “The Lure of Strike,” Parameter vol. 43, no. 2 (Summer 2013).

[5] TRADOC CIRCULAR (TC) 7-100, Hybrid Threat, (November 2010), pp.1-1. ‘A hybrid threat is the diverse and dynamic combination of regular forces, irregular forces, and/or criminal elements all unified to achieve mutually benefitting effects.”

[6] GEN Mark A. Milley, “Changing Nature of War Won’t Change Our Purpose,” AUSA Magazine, vol. 66, no. 10 (October 2016), pp. 12-16.

[7] TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1.

[8] TC 7-100, pp. vi.

[9] Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, Mega Cities and the United States Army, Preparing for a Complex and Uncertain Future, (June 2014).

[10] Army Doctrinal Reference Publication (ADRP) 3-0, Operations, (November 2016), pp. 3-1.

[11] Army Doctrinal Publication (ADP) 3-0, Operations, (November 2016), pp. 1.

[12] TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid, 21.

[15] Ibid, 20.

[16] Ibid.

[17]  JP 3-05, Joint Special Operations, (July 16, 2014), pp. II-1

[18] LTC Hartmayer and LTC Hansen, “Security Cooperation in Support of Theater Strategy,” Military Review, (January-February 2013), pp. 24-29.

[19] MG Wayne Grigsby, COL Patrick Matlock, LTC Chris Norrie, and MAJ Karen Radka, “Mission Command in the Regionally Aligned Division Headquarters,” Military Review, (November-December 2013), pp. 5-6.

[20] Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management; Regional engagement encompasses two major activities: security cooperation and security assistance. Security Cooperation (Title 10) includes all Department of Defense (DOD) interactions with foreign defense and security establishments that build defense and security relationships to promote US security interests; encourage international partners to work with the U.S. to achieve strategic objectives; develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations; and provide U.S. military members with peacetime and contingency access to host nations. Security Assistance (Title 22) is a group of programs authorized by law and under the general control of Department of State (DOS) that provide economic and military assistance to partner nations under DOS Authority; support the US government’s foreign policy and national security objectives; and allow transfer of military articles and services. 

[21] Maj. Craig A. Daniel and Robin T. Dothager, “Resetting the theater to equip rotational forces in Europe,” as of December 30, 2016;

[22] Colonel Kent T. Woods, “Rangers Lead the Way: A Vision of General Creighton W. Abrams,” (Army War College, Carlisle, PA: July, 2003), as of December 27, 2016;


About the Author(s)

Chris Budihas is a career Army infantry officer with multiple combat and stability operations deployments. His 29-years of military service includes 13-years in the Marine Corps. He currently commands the United States Military Academy's Preparatory School.

Kyle Trottier is an Army armor officer with 11-years of experience, serving in a combined arms battalion, a light cavalry squadron and as a Small Group Leader at the Maneuver Captains Career Course. He is currently attending the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Steve Deuble is an Army armor officer with 10-years of experience, serving in a combined arms battalion, a cavalry squadron in the 3rd ACR, and as a Small Group Leader at the Maneuver Captains Career Course. He is currently attending the Air Command & Staff College and will attend the USAF's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies next year.


Bill C.

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 4:02pm

In reply to by Bill C.

As an addendum, let me attempt to answer my own questions above. Here goes:

Given that the future cannot be known, thus to understand that the "future operating environment," described by our authors above (multiple nation-states and non-state actors standing against us; this, and urbanization, youth bulges, unemployment, etc., likely to produce both real existential danger and massive instability); this such "future operating environment" has been significantly informed by and extrapolated from the "current operating environment" -- and, thus, from the politics/the policies, the related "human factor" problems (both abroad and here at home), the uncertainty and the "contests of wills" which currently exist.

Thus, to suggest that, accordingly, our authors' above suggested ideas, re: dealing with this "future operating environment;" these, also, are likely to have been both informed by and significant extrapolated from this "current operating environment" construct?

This allowing us to understand that -- neither the fundamental purpose of America (to wit: to provide for the wants, needs and desires of the American people) -- nor the related fundamental purpose of American power (in this exact light, to see and understand our related politics, policies, preparations, actions, etc.) -- these have not changed -- and, indeed, these requirements are also unlikely to change?

And, thus -- as our authors' paper above, thus explained, appears to indicate -- to understand that our related human problems, uncertainty, contests of wills, etc. -- which we encounter today in our necessary pursuit of these exact such "fundamental purpose of America"/"fundamental purpose of American power" requirements -- these are, also, unlikely to significantly change? (The "future operating environment," offered by our authors above, appearing to be based on such a premise?)

(Yes. I know. In consideration of current events, I certainly may be going out on a limb here. But the above does appear to address, at least for today, our -- shall we say -- Clausewitzian politics/policy, human endeavor, uncertainty and contest of wills "deficit" problems -- such as those that I address in my earlier comment above. Yes? Should President Trump significantly change things, re: what policies/politics, etc., he pursues to provide for the wants, needs and desires of the American people [nationalism? isolationism? confrontationalism?], then it may be "back to the drawing board" for both me and our authors above.)

Bill C.

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 10:44am

BEGIN QUOTE (from our article above -- see the fourth paragraph)

The continuities of war (war is an extension of politics, a human endeavor, uncertain, a contest of wills) guided the Team’s assessment of the future operating environment and indicate that multiple nation-states will challenge US interests, while non-state actors will have ever-increasing regional and worldwide influence. Increased urbanization, youth bulges, proliferation of technology, and the inability of governments to provide security, essential services, and unemployment will tip the scales of regional instability resulting in Army forces deploying.


My question:

If "the continuities of war" (war is an extension of politics, a human endeavor, uncertain, a contest of wills); if these guided the Team's assessment of the future operating environment,

Then how in the heck did such seemingly unrelated matters ("multiple nation-states challenging US interests, while non-state actors have ever-increasing regional and worldwide influence, increased urbanization, youth bulges, proliferation of technology, unemployment," etc., etc., etc.); how in the heck did these such seemingly unrelated matters come to form the basis of these authors' thoughts relating to this future operating environment?

In sum, might we all agree that -- in the list provided by our authors immediately above -- we can find no "policy and/or politics" expressed, no description of the "human factor" problems related thereto, no expression of the "uncertainty(ies)" that might stem from such conflicts and, thus:

a. No description of the "contest of wills" between the opposed sides (for example, between the West and the Rest) and,

b. Nothing to explain how such a "contest of wills" might allow that, now post-the Old Cold War (and as our authors above take care to point out above) both multiple nation-states, and non-state actors also, have ALL now come to see the U.S./the West as their enemy. And we to see them as our enemy also.

Help !

Ironically within the last week I received a PPoint brief from a peer outlining the MTOE for the new SFAB and an associated IOC date. However, any other details were nonexistent beyond the org chart and a calendar. Does anyone have any info regarding where the first will be stood up, and POCs whom I could query on volunteering? I've searched the myriad official Army websites and with the exception of this article and a few other brief references, I've been unable to get more info.


Bill C.

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 6:03pm

In reply to by Warlock


If the overriding theme in the current National Security Strategy (2015) is simply to "set a good example," then why do we need to have or discuss the New Security Force Assistance Units -- and/or need to consider such units as per the "vanguard" concept suggested by our author here?

Likewise, given that the New Army Operating Concept (2014) was (a) developed and published BEFORE the issuance of this current National Security Strategy (2015) and (b) appears to address matters of importance other than simply "setting the example;" then, based on your logic above, should we not consider that this important document is now out of date and, thus, we should throw it out also?

As a final thought, given that the enduring guidance presented in NSC-68 is that the fundamental purpose of the United States (and, thus, of American power?) is -- as per the preamble to our very own Constitution -- in general, to provide for the wants, needs and desires of the American people -- then can we not "shit-can" these documents and concepts also? (After all, these amazingly broad and enduring concepts/requirements -- contained within NSC-68 and the preamble to our very own Constitution; these certainly fall outside of and well beyond the extremely limited scope of "setting the example" -- outlined in our current National Security Strategy [2015].)


Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:43am

In reply to by Bill C.

You need to do this "justification and evidence stuff" because you've presented little of either. You've presented a wealth of concepts, ideas, and opinions as national policy. They're not. NSC 68 was the defining strategy for the Cold War because presidents and their national security staffs continued to refer to it, as documented by amendments and endorsements over the years, until the National Security Strategy process took over in 1987. A vital point of NSC 68, and of the first few National Security Strategy documents published before the end of the Cold War, was that they directed action to oppose and undermine Soviet activities and those of their client states, and to fundamentally alter their behavior and political structure. NSS published since have steadily evolved to a less activist stance emphasizing influence through international organizations and partnerships rather than direct action. The overriding theme in the current document, published in 2015, could be summed up as "set a good example." But I encourage you to read it for yourself -- this *is* U.S. national policy (until the new President publishes his own):

With that, I'm taking Dave Maxwell's advice and departing the target. :)

Bill C.

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 6:19pm

In reply to by Dave Maxwell


I think that we both know that the real problem here is that the authors of our papers/articles today -- and the thoughts of those who review/comment on these such papers/articles also; these folks routinely fail to address either (a) the strategic context within which their ideas are being presented or (b) how their concepts will help the U.S./the West (1) achieve its strategic objectives and/or (2) overcome the obstacles presented thereto. (How in the heck can anyone understand and/or evaluate ideas in this manner?)

In stark contrast, back-in-the-day, I believe one would most often be required to present one's ideas in such a strategic context. And to present one's argument, in fact, only within such a strategic "frame." And one certainly could not expect to "sell" one's ideas to others (it would not even make it pass the boss) unless one could identify exactly how one's ideas, thus, (a) "fit" into this strategic picture and (b) helped the U.S. achieve is strategic objectives therein.

Thus, unfortunately, it comes to SOMEONE/ANYONE, I believe, who may be more familiar with this process/these requirements, to (a) propose such a strategic context and to (b) ask if the author's ideas "fit in," "help out" and/or can otherwise be understood somehow therein. (Obviously this is not done to "high jack" the discussion, etc., but, rather, to address the deficiency/the deficit outlined in my first paragraph above.)

And I do not believe that I do this in any arrogant and snotty manner. Just look at all the ????? that I routinely present throughout my arguments. Herein, looking for a substantive positive/ confirmation or negative/rebuttal response from guys like you. (In my earliest days here at Small Wars Journal, Ken White used to get all over me about this. He wanted me to be less humble and more assertive -- he wanted to know exactly what were MY ideas.)

So I do not think I am going to publish a "manifesto," etc. (One might easily argue that my ideas are already "out there" sufficiently in Small Wars Journal anyway.)

I will, however, henceforth attempt to be exceptionally brief and concise. (A very important and a very good exercise for me anyway, yes?) Indeed, I will actually try for just a couple of paragraphs. (An excellent goal I believe.)

After all, and as I have noted above, my "strategic context" ideas -- these are already sufficiently "out there," I believe, for the audience that I am concerned with. Thus, they need only be referred to/be re-presented -- in the future -- in some more-brief and concise way.

Dave Maxwell

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 6:52am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C:

I would like to make three suggestions. First, you should write an article that outlines your worldview and submit it for publication. Publish your manifesto.

Second, when you write the manifesto do not cherry pick writings to support your worldview. Much of your commentary with what you call evidence is merely cherry picked from others' writings to support your agenda and does not include an objective analysis or an acknowledgment that there are other viewpoints that differ with yours. Your writings come across as you writing as if you are the only enlightened one with the only real knowledge.

Third, after you write your manifesto and get it published confine your commentary to the subject of the published articles and if you must refer to your ideas in your manifesto then simply provide a link so as not to divert attention from readers who want to focus on and discuss the ideas that the author has submitted rather than hijacking the commentary to highlight your single focused view.

Since I am batting 1000 with COL Maxwell, Bill M. and Warlock below ;), I will make an additional attempt to explain and support my "U.S./Western Post-Cold War Grand Strategy to Advance Market-Democracy = New/Reverse Cold War" thesis.

In this effort, I will attempt to use (a) LTG McMaster's "Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War;" (b) GEN Cleveland, et al.'s "Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone," (c) the TBO GEN Votel interview "Gray Zone Conflicts Far More Complex to Combat," (d) COL Maxwell's own "Unification Options and Scenarios: Assisting A Resistance" and (e) Andrew Mack's "Why Big Countries Lose Small Wars." (This latter item to explain why state and societal "transformation" efforts -- such as those that the U.S./the West has been involved post-the Old Cold War -- that, over time, these such policy efforts can and often do lead to big country home front revolts; exactly such as those that we are witnessing in the U.S./the West today.)

a. Looking at LTG McMaster's "Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War," I believe we can find the horns of our dilemma:

"First, War is Political. Army forces are prepared to do more than fight and defeat enemies; they must possess the capability to translate military objectives into enduring political outcomes. ... With these lessons in mind, the recently published U.S. Army Operating Concept (AOC) observes that “compelling sustainable outcomes in war requires land forces to defeat enemy organizations, establish security, and consolidate gains." (Thus, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, this has meant -- as we can all see in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq -- transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.)

"Second, War is Human. People fight today for the same fundamental reasons that the Greek historian Thucydides identified nearly 2,500 years ago: fear, honor, and interest. ... The cultural, social, economic, religious, and historical considerations that comprise the human aspects of war must inform wartime planning as well as our preparation for future armed conflict." (Thus, when the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War of yesterday, and the U.S./the West in the New/Reverse Cold War of today, sought to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along their/our alien, profane -- and, thus, amazingly threatening -- political, economic, social and value lines [in both the Soviet and our cases, for example, think educating women/girls schools]; then one must expect -- in such an amazingly confrontational setting -- to run headlong into this exact such "human" aspect of war.)

b. In explaining the "conflict environment" of today; GEN Cleveland, et al., in their "Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone," referred no less than seven or eight times -- for comparison it would seem -- to the Old Cold War of yesterday. (Supports my thesis of a New/Reverse Cold War conflict environment today?)…

c. In the GEN Votel interview "Gray Zone Conflicts Far More Complex to Combat," GEN Votel appears to define both the effort -- and the indication of "success"/"winning" -- in exactly my "advancing market-democracy" terms:

“They’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “It’s certainly not perfect. It is Somalia and they’ve had a lot of challenges for a lot of years. But, today, they’ve got an elected president. They’ve got a parliament. They’ve got a constitution. They are now establishing a national army. And those are all good and positive things.

“Again, it’s not perfect, it’s far from perfect, but it is about identifying those types of opportunities and getting them teed up and then trying to move forward on them.”…

d. In COL Maxwell's own recent (re: Korea) "Unification Options and Scenarios: Assisting A Resistance" (which, for some reason, I am no longer able to pull up and thus I am operating from memory), COL Maxwell appears to indicate that (re: the Clauswitzian "policy" side/horn of our worldwide dilemma; addressed at my "a" above); that this unification effort must be undertaken along modern western political, economic, social and value lines. (Thus, as per the S. Korean construct.) And that a central problem we are facing -- vis-a-vis the N. Koreans in this regard -- is as per their (the N. Korean) regime-instilled fear and hatred of such alien and profane Western ways of life, Western ways of governance and Western values, attitudes and beliefs. This, COL Maxwell acknowledging, making "transformation" and "unification" very difficult. (Thus, exemplifying the Thucydidian "human problem" horn/side/arm of our worldwide dilemma; which is likewise outlined at my "a" above.) Thus, in an effort to bring pressure to bear on the N. Korean regime, COL Maxwell suggests that we logically send forces forward to interact with those N. Korean populations groups (I believe he said, for example, black marketeers) who are, indeed, more familiar and more comfortable with, for example, our capitalist/market concepts; these, to possibly be formed into resistance groups. (COL Maxwell, I hope I got this somewhat right and did not screw it up too bad. Can you help by bringing your document back up for us?)

e. Lastly, and as per Andrew Mack's "Why Big Countries Lose Small Wars," note that when great nations undertake such outlying state and societal transformation projects as the U.S./the West has in recent decades -- then revolt at home (especially if "progress" is slow in coming, fleeting, costs too much in blood and other treasure, and/or appears will never be realized); that this such home front revolt is, indeed, (a) commonplace to these such efforts, (b) often provides the exact reason "Why Big Countries Lose Small Wars." This, in fact, being (c) the exact basis upon which "resisting transformation" entities plan and develop their "political attrition" strategies. (The populations of the home front get highly pissed off that enormous resources, which could and should, they believe, have been applied to their own individual and direct wants, needs and desires; that these such resources have been siphoned off and used -- to try transform and incorporate the outlying states and societies of the world.) Thus, to suggest that, with the President Trump victory, that certain of the "resisting transformation" states, societies, individuals and groups will believe that they have, in fact -- and specifically as per their exact such "political attrition" strategy -- "won?"…

My Bottom Line:

Thus, I believe that, re: the U.S./the Western effort in recent decades, to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines; that the lessons learned in these such efforts have resulted in an New Army Operating Concept which:

a. Seeks to dispel and discard notions which do not admit that "policy" (such as "advancing market-democracy) -- and not simply fighting and defeating the enemy -- is indeed our job. (Thus, best for the U.S./Western Armies to do this "policy" bit -- for example re: "advancing market democracy" -- in some "Phase One" fashion; this, rather than in some latter, and thus much more difficult, "phase?") And a New Army Operating Concept which:

b. Seeks to embrace rather than reject the idea that -- re: these exact such "policy" projects (for example, fundamental and complete state and societal transformation more along modern western lines) -- adequate respect for the obvious "human problem" related thereto (the threatening nature of our such state and societal "transformation" efforts); that this such acknowledgement of the "human factor" -- and not erroneous/ridiculous "universal Western values" notions -- must inform our planning, preparations, operations and actions.

Guys: What do you think?

(Whew! Why is it that only I have to -- get to -- do all this "justification" and "evidence" stuff? And you guys -- you seem to get a "pass?" ;)

Bill C.

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 6:32pm

In reply to by Dave Maxwell

COL Maxwell, Bill M. and Warlock:

Appreciate your thoughts/your critique.

In order to get more room, I have placed my reply -- my attempt at further justification -- at the top of this page.

Dave Maxwell

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:43am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill M: I tried to give Bill C the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that we all are one trick ponies. However, your exchange confirms your views and others. I am reminded of this quote: "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” Thomas Paine, American political activist, writer, and revolutionary.

Dave Maxwell

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:49am

In reply to by Bill M.


Dave Maxwell

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:50am

In reply to by Bill M.


Dave Maxwell

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 11:51am

In reply to by Bill M.


Bill M.

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 4:15pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C.,

You seem to be confusing bricks and apples with one another. First off, you stated two documents (NSC-68 and Bill Clinton's NSS) that are no longer current, and haven't been for some time. Second, you are confusing broad national level ambitions to advance human rights and free government (which I certainly support in theory), with the purpose of the army, FID, or everything else you tend to peg your conspiracy theory to. Case in point, in your response above you wrote:

"this such Army Operating Concept did not seem to see as its mission/its purpose the transformation (contested or otherwise) of the outlying (i.e., non-western) states, societies and civilizations of the world; this, more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines."

Really, the Army Operating Concept should be seen as a means to transform the world? The U.S. has a number of levers it uses to "gradually" pursue shaping the international system and components within it like nation-states, the military is largely focused on deterring and defeating threats to our national interests, not transformational policy. That is a larger grand strategy view that the military supports by promoting, not imposing, human rights, and other shaping activities, but it is not the useful to view everything the military does through this lens. Furthermore, even an amateur historian would realize our grandiose ideas are often compromised to pursue more pragmatic goals in the short term. You may recall the Cold War adage, that "he may be a bastard, but he's our bastard?" It wasn't quite as simple you make it out to be during the Cold War, and it is more complex now. Granted our over arching desired goal is a world that where human rights are respected, there is free trade (that may be changing based on expanding populism globally), and governments are largely democratic.

I think the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created the perception that we're trying to "impose" democracies around the world. President Bush and his team were overly ambitious, but had to do something after removing to regimes that were, or alleged to be, threats against the U.S. His team seemed to embrace that democracy would magically emerge as a natural social-political condition. Clearly a more clear eyed and pragmatic approach where we installed a strong government that could effectively maintain control (relatively), and then gradually transition to a more modern form of governance would have been preferred in hindsight.

The bottom line is that purpose that these many SWJ articles are addressing does not revolve around transforming the world, but achieving specific military objectives that ideally should facilitate political ends, which more often than not do involve transforming the world.

It appears you're on a high horse, and must preach to everyone on this site that only you understand the real truth, and all articles should evolve around this truth you have found. Most officers and many NCOs understand our national security ends, and the broader aims of what we promote, but they also understand, better than you seem to, that not everything revolves around this.

Bill C.

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:45pm

In reply to by Warlock


You said: "There is no (post-Cold War) U.S. grand strategy; no NSC 68 to impose the 'American way of life' across the world ... (Rather) we seek to minimize change ..."

First, we must understand, I believe, that the fundamental "the world must change so as to support the wants, needs and desires of the U.S.;" that this such rationale/ reasoning is indeed found in NSC-68 -- a rationale/reasoning, thus, that appears to transcend both the Old Cold War of yesterday and the New/Reverse Cold War of today:


The fundamental purpose of the United States is laid down in the Preamble to the Constitution: ". . . to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." In essence, the fundamental purpose is to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.

END QUOTE (See Page 5 and the section entitled "The Fundamental Purpose of the United States.)


The objectives of a free society are determined by its fundamental values -- and by the necessity for maintaining the material environment in which they flourish.

END QUOTE (This time, look to subparagraph "B" on Page 9)

Thus, consistent with such enduring NSC-68 rationale/reasoning above, post-the Old Cold War (with the global threat posed to market democracies by the Soviets/the communist and communism having been overcome), it was determined that the manner in which the U.S. would meet the requirements outlined in NSC-68; this would be by promoting -- not the "status quo" -- but, rather, massive, and indeed NSC-68-demanded, "global change:"


Throughout the Cold War, we contained a global threat to market democracies; now we should work to enlarge their reach, particularly in places of special significance to us.

The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement -- enlargement of the world's free community of market democracies.


(Introduces and explains the U.S. grand strategy of "Engagement and Enlargement" -- formally put forward by then-President Clinton in 1995 -- and provided in the link immediately below.)

Since that time, I suggest, we have indeed been attempting to move forward -- by steps and stumbles -- along these NSC-68-reasoned "outlying state and societal change"/"engagement and enlargement of market-democracies" lines.

Herein, such experts as Sir Adam Roberts, for example, and in such things as his "Transformative Military Occupation: Applying the Laws of War and Human Rights," noting both (a) this outlying state and societal "change" direction and (b) the difficulties/the problems the U.S./the West has encountered in pursuing this objective via -- as you might say -- "coercion."… (I found the section, beginning on Page 603, and entitled "International Military Actions Since the End of the Cold War" to be most interesting.)

(Sorry for so many inches of text -- and evidence here --but it appears that you, like Rip Van Winkle, have been asleep for quite a while and, thus, seem to have missed what has been going on in the last decades.)

Lastly, and attempting to come full circle now, let us look at the guidance given in another Security Cooperation document; in this case, relating to Foreign Internal Defense. Thus, a sister document (??), one might say, to the Security Force Assistance document referenced above -- and one which confirms, might we agree, that -- even now -- "changing" the way of life, the way of governance and the values, attitudes and beliefs of others (more along modern western lines) that this is indeed what the U.S./the West -- and, thus, often U.S./Western military forces -- are all about today. (We will have to see, of course, if the U.S./the West and its military forces, now under President Trump et al., will be able to continue in this direction; this, given the revolt of our/their own populations currently.)


The IDAD (Internal Development and Defense) strategy is the full range of measures taken by a nation to promote its growth and to protect itself from subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency. Every nation’s strategy is specific, but the end state is universal—a responsible and accountable local, state or provincial, and national government that ensures the personal safety of its citizens by providing a climate and institutions that demonstrate the ability to improve their material well-being. In addition, those governments must ensure the basic freedoms that the world community has come to regard as fundamental. For the Army planner who has been born in or naturalized into a nation founded on those principles, one of the fundamental truths he must remember is that the above end state is frequently contradictory to the government the HN has experienced in the past or even from its inception. In some cases, one of the objectives may be to help formulate an appropriate IDAD strategy. This may mean instilling values that heretofore have not been present.


(Find the above quote at Appendix B. Herein, look at the offset, introductory paragraph thereto. In this contemporary [2015], presently in-force and apparently up-to-date document, note the outlying state and societal "change" requirements -- and the identification of the differing "value" difficulties related thereto.)

Bottom Line:

Warlock (and Bill M also if you wish to pursue this further): Should you still disagree, then might I ask that you provide a similar effort such as that that I have made above -- and provide similar or more compelling evidence such as that that I have presented here -- this, so as to adequately explain and support your alternative/opposite position. I (we here at SWJ?) need to better know and understand why and how it is that, given the above, you might still see these critically important matters so differently.


Fri, 01/20/2017 - 1:42pm

In reply to by Bill C.

9 inches of text to say, "How do *you* explain it?"

I explain it as: there is no U.S. grand strategy. No NSC 68 to impose the "American way of life" across the world. At best, there's a common direction over the post-Cold War administrations to preserve the dominant post-Cold War position of the U.S., not for the sake of domination, but to maintain the comfortable status quo the U.S. found itself in through the '90s. Implicit in that "strategy" was to encourage partnering to promote globalization and international trade, and to minimize the cost of U.S. security.

That "strategy" continued post-9/11/01, in the expectation of short campaigns, minimal mobilization, and deployment of small forces. The intended goal of the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns was not to impose free-market democracy on those countries (although there was a rather naïve belief they'd automatically reach for it), but simply to remove disruptive elements and return to a stable status quo. Since senior leadership didn't pay attention to the history of post-colonial conflicts, or even the relatively recent disintegration of Yugoslavia, instead of leaving stable, "newly liberated" countries, we rapidly found ourselves refereeing factional conflicts. Attempts to introduce American ideas and institutions weren't part of a deliberate strategy, but simply reflect an unwillingness to repeat the traditional solution of setting up our own strongmen, and lack of temperament to simply walk away and let the conflicts burn themselves out. And continuing to try and do it all on the cheap, coupled with internal dissention on how to apply the U.S. budget, damaged our economy and opened opportunities for others around the world who weren't necessarily satisfied with our desired status quo.

U.S. "grand strategy" is the strategy of unintended consequences, as we seek to minimize change, even when change is inevitable. It's jumping from one short-term objective to another, which is why authors at SWJ and elsewhere do not frame their missives in the context of a "new Cold War" strategy, because such simply doesn't exist.

So I'll retract my suggestion to re-shoe the pony -- send it to the glue factory, instead.

Bill C.

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 4:57pm

In reply to by Warlock

Bill M., Warlock, etc:

During the Old Cold War of yesterday, many/most U.S. actions abroad could, indeed, be explained by a master strategy -- this such master strategy being, of course, to "contain and/or roll back communism."

Thus, in the professional papers and articles authored during this time, it would often have been considered "intellectually laziness" -- and gross error -- for these such authors not to have, in many/most instances:

a. Consistently began and ended (i.e., "framed") their such documents/proposals in this such exact, accurate (and, over time, certainly "boring") Old Cold War grand strategic context. And, indeed, for these such authors not to have:

b. Justified their ideas/their recommendations/their positions, contained therein, via an explanation of exactly how their such ideas/suggestions/proposals, etc., would, in fact, help to facilitate the achievement of this/these master strategic goal(s). (Again, back then, "boring" containing/rolling back communism.)

Thus, for simple variety's sake -- or simply because we had become tired of reading about the strategic framework within which these such authors were actually making their observations/ their recommendations/etc., ("boring" containing/rolling back communism) -- would it not have been better for these such authors -- or indeed the reviewers/the critics thereof (much as we are at Small Wars Journal today) -- to:

a. Discredit or disavow the reality of this such strategic context? (These folks neither offering nor justifying a replacement thereto.)

b. "Re-shoe this pony" or

c. Simply omit this critical strategic content -- within which these such authors -- and indeed their reviewers/their critics, etc. -- were (or should have been) actually REQUIRED to present their ideas, their suggestions, their reviews, their critiques, etc.?

My Bottom Line:

Likewise today, I define "intellectual laziness" -- and indeed gross error -- in either our Small Wars Journal authors/presenters -- or our Small Wars Journal reviewers/critics -- as these such folks failing to:

a. Adequately explain, articulate and, indeed, "frame" one's suggestions/one's proposals/etc., in the grand strategic context of our day. (However "boring" this might be). And/or in these such personnel failing to:

b. Carefully explain/justify/etc., the validity of their such suggestions/their such proposals/etc. -- via this exact such grand strategic context. (Again, however "boring" it might be.)

(As a reasonable concession, however, in the future, might I simply use the term "advancing market-democracy;" understanding, herein -- and certainly after all this time -- that you, and others, will surely get my drift?)


Thu, 01/19/2017 - 10:59am

In reply to by Dave Maxwell

Yes, but....

This idea -- that all U.S. actions abroad can be explained by a master strategy to actively transform the rest of the world into copies of America -- has become a universal tool for the proponent. While it had some traction in original application, it's now a square peg pounded into holes of every other shape. Lots of writers have mentioned this before, to no effect. Want to know the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan? Transformation! Want to know why we're trying to maintain freedom of navigation within the South China Sea? Transformation! Want to know why I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast today? TRANSFORMATION!

It's true that U.S. national strategy seeks to promote U.S. political and economic values...that's a long way from coercion. Nor is it the underlying reason behind every national security action we undertake. Nevertheless, it appears in the replies to half the articles SWJ posts. It's intellectually lazy, not to mention a poor explanation in most cases (I eat cereal for breakfast because it's convenient).

So for all of us who've been reading it over and over and over and least re-shoe this pony! It's getting lame!

Dave Maxwell

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 8:41am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill M: most of us are guilty of being one trick ponies (myself included - guilty as charged).

"Attack ideas, not people." - Anonymous

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

Bill M.

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 6:47pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C.

I can't help but think you have driven many people away from SWJ discussions with your cut and paste response to every article posted. Yes, we have a national security strategy, you should read it, it doesn't say what you imply. We don't need to look at every article through the optic of transforming the world. Enough is enough.

Cleaned up just a bit from my earlier offering:

To understand the Army Operating Concept today, one must understand, I believe, the following:

The U.S. Army Operating Concept which prevailed at the time of the Old Cold War -- and, indeed, at the time of the First Gulf War -- this such Army Operating Concept did not seem to see as its mission/its purpose the transformation (contested or otherwise) of the outlying (i.e., non-western) states, societies and civilizations of the world; this, more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines.

Likewise, at the onset of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., the U.S. Army Operating Concept, which prevailed at that time, this also appears not to have seen significantly as its mission/its purpose the transformation of the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western lines. (This, however, as we all now know, soon became the mission that U.S. Army was given.)

(We must remember, that -- at the onset of the recent Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., campaigns, and due to such things as the erroneous/ridiculous "universal western values" thinking which prevailed in certain circles at that time -- that, at that time, many of our national leaders believed that these such "transformation" missions, following "regime change," would not be significantly contested. These such U.S./Western national leaders, of course, were soon proven to be terribly wrong.)

Thus, the current U.S. Army Operating Concept -- the one that we have become more familiar with today -- this such U.S. Army Operating Concept appears to have been developed so as to directly address and adequately deal with the errors that I have outlined above. This by:

a. Accepting that U.S. Army's mission in the 21st Century will, indeed, be to help transform the outlying states, societies and civilizations of the world; this, more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines. And by:

b. Accepting that this such effort -- in the New/Reverse Cold War of today -- will, indeed, be contested (much as the Soviet/the communists similar "world transformation" efforts were contested in the Old Cold War) -- this, by both great nations (in our case today, think Russia, China and Iran) and small, and by both state and non-state actors (in our case today, think ISIS, AQ, etc.); ALL OF WHOM are determined to prevent the U.S./the West from:

1. Transforming their states, societies and civilizations more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines. And to prevent the U.S./the West from, thereby,

2. Gaining greater power, influence and control throughout the world.

(In this exact "contested world transformation mission" light to properly see the U.S. Army's shift from two -- to seven -- "core competencies;" such shift being both pointed to, and addressed, by our authors above?)

With this background now before us, to suggest that it is only now that we are able to properly understand, and adequately contemplate in the proper light, both (a) the new Security Force Assistance units and, re: these such units, (b) the "Vanguard" concept suggested/offered by our authors?

I'd heard of these "Vanguard Brigades" a few months ago (didn't know about the SFA division or corps). I'm curious to see how these units are going to be organized and the number of personnel to be assigned. Sounds like a good move.