Small Wars Journal

The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare

Wed, 04/07/2010 - 3:49pm
The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare

by Lieutenant General Michael A. Vane

Download the full article: The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare

Part of today's challenges within the US Army are the ongoing debates of whether future conflict will require us to continue to develop more robust COIN and irregular warfare capabilities or to maintain our edge in conventional warfare expertise. To settle these debates we must examine the nature of today's wars. Unlike the bi-polar world of our recent past we are now facing many smaller conflicts...conflicts that are not necessarily defined by war, but, rather run the gamut from engagements to confrontations to combat. And while new conflicts aren't necessarily growing at an alarming rate, the old ones are not going away. This presents us an era of conflict, of persistent conflict, where our combined capacity to engage will be greatly challenged. Our solution is to focus on developing our officer and NCO leadership.

The Army needs agile and adaptive leaders capable of handling the challenges of full spectrum operations in this era of persistent conflict. These leaders must be creative and critical thinkers; they must be confident and competent communicators; and they must be capable of operating with a comprehensive approach to meet these emerging challenges. Leaders will be required to contend with offensive, defensive, and stability operations simultaneously as well as integrate combined arms and host nation forces.

This article asserts that successful counterinsurgency relies on an equally developed irregular warfare mindset. Fueling this mindset is change...lots of it...and in various forms and venues. Using the framework of DOTMLPF (Doctrine, Organizations, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, and Facilities) and combining it with a resource- informed, integration-focused, and outcomes oriented approach, a formal holistic effort can be made to confront today's and tomorrow's hybrid threats. Let's examine what the Army has done in the last few years to prepare adaptive leaders for the complexities of irregular warfare and full spectrum operations.

Download the full article: The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare

Lieutenant General Michael A. Vane is the Deputy Commanding General, Futures and Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) of the Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Military Academy and a Master's degree in Joint Command, Control, and Communications from the Naval Postgraduate School. LTG Vane is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College and the US Army War College. He Commanded the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and the US Army Air Defense Artillery Center and Fort Bliss, Texas.

About the Author(s)


Anonymous (not verified)

Sat, 04/24/2010 - 1:22pm

Referencing previous comments by Outlaw concerning open source warfare.

Maybe one should really begin looking at the theory---if one takes the actual writings of John Robb concerning open source warfare beginning in 2004, and then understands the following definition one has a complete package in understanding insurgency/counter-insurgency.

In some aspects the current tools being used to "depict" insurgent networks be it simple link analysis tools or the Carnegie Mellon visualization SNA tool ORA does little more than depict lines between people, places and events---it does not give us cause and effect, does not give us what the insurgency is; learning, growing, reacting to the counter insurgent or what is the counter insurgent doing wrong with their plans or operations.

IE everyone trumpets the killing of the AQI senior leadship but the fight goes on---so what does the social network analysis tool ORA tell us as the next move by the group--it doesn't.

As long as the Army internally is unable to view insurgency/counter-insurgency from a different perspective all IW efforts are actually being wasted-regardless of what direction the Army takes IW in.

One must take the efforts of social network analysis to a higher level---that of understanding the ecology of the insurgency and then in turn understanding the ecoystem of the insurgency. But that requires quantum physics--can the Army handle that?

Ecology of an insurgency:

The scientific study of the way that living "organisms" (in this case "organism" is defined as an insurgency cell, group, or organization) interact with their environment and predators (the counter insurgent).

Ecosystem of an Insurgency:

An insurgent ecosystem is a system whose members (members defined as being either an insurgent group or groups) benefit from each other's participation via symbiotic (mutually beneficial and self-sustaining) relationships.

The main goal of an insurgency ecosystem is to generate common ventures. It forms when many small and potentially diverse (origin, tribe, religious belief, etc.) insurgent groups join together to fight a common predator (the counter-insurgent or state).

Insurgent ecosystems attract and retain members (groups) due to network effects:

• The benefits of the ecosystem (shared ventures) are so great that groups wont leave it (although temporary departures to avoid targeted pressure from counter-insurgents are possible).
• The ecosystems features (i.e. immediate access to shared resources) make it easy for new groups to form and participate.
• The growth of the ecosystem results in an exponential increase in benefits (i.e. more segmentation and specialization) for all of the member groups.

Once an ecosystem is established in a particular region/area, it becomes very difficult for the counter insurgent to eliminate it. The presence of multiple groups means that the counter insurgent must divide its efforts. Operationally, a focus on one group leaves other groups to operate freely and success against one group yields very little overall benefit (the roll-up stops with the leadership of only that group). Strategically, the diversity of the groups in the ecosystem (different reasons for fighting) means that it isnt possible to address a single set of issues or grievances at the national level that would reverse the insurgency (via negotiated settlement, repatriation, etc.).

The driving force of the ecosystem is in fact the open source availability of virtually everything it needs to survive, sustain itself and to grow---even retired Gen. Meigs former Cmdr of JIEDDO states the same thing in a recent DODBuzz comment when he talks about "weapon bazaars" passing on insititutional knowledge to other insurgent groups even on a global scale.

"Weapon bazaars" was first mentioned by John Robb in 2004/2005 and finally after five years even Cmdr's are now using it.

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 8:33pm

What this implies, of course, to wit: (1) the (unprecedented?) transformation of the US military, Department of State and private sector toward (2) accommodating a seemingly massive, extensive and long-term nation-building/nation-aligning project aimed at (3) weak, vulnerable and "up-for-grabs" states; this is not something seen in the world in some time?

Bill C. (not verified)

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 7:55pm

As this thread begins to grow old, I would ask that we again consider that:

a. LTG Vane's "The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare" can best be understood by reflecting on

b. LTG Caldwell and Capt. Hagerott's "Curing Afganistan" (writ larger -- as in "curing"/"transforming" more than one nation/society).

This concept would seem to be reinforced by noting the significant societal transformation/nation-building investments and commitments that are being made today by such major defense contractors as Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, BAE Systems, DynCorp and L-3 Communications. (See link at my Apr 12th, 6:56 PM comment above).

Should we not see the US military's "shift" in the same light as the "shift" being made by the major defense countractors (to wit: designed to accommodate extensive and long-term transforming/nation-building initiatives and requirements)?

Are these not complimentary (hand-in-glove) moves which are being made to "fix" various "sick" nations and better allign these "up for grabs" countries with US stategic interests?

(In this new/old scenerio, the transformed US military's irregular warfare job is to deal with the resistance -- by the local government(s) -- and/or by the population(s), which is often brought forward when transformating/alligning initiatives such as these are undertaken by a foreign power.)

Accordingly, should we not now acknowledge that our new name -- on the DoD side, on the DoS side and on the defense contractor side might be something along the lines of "Transformations-R-US?"

Bob Toguchi (not verified)

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 4:12pm

Dear Anonymous,

I didn't intend to portray a perspective of not being interested in OSW. Also, I am only one of many persons serving throughout TRADOC and the Army, and thus can only represent my individual point of view. Nonetheless, I am interested in delving into the subject of OSW. Since I am not thoroughly familiar with the complete OSW theory, can you share the unique skills, education, and requirements that would be needed to advance this capability.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 3:16pm

Bob---maybe when you make your comment concerning Outlaw's comments maybe Outlaw does know a thing or two about exisiting problems and issues concerning BCTs and TRADOC related issues.

Having been around him off and on over a number of years I would suggest in order to understand where he is coming from you would need the following;

1. 18 months of JIDC/BCT interrogation/MSO efforts in Iraq with a number of outstanding achievement awards as a defense contractor for the work
2. over 34 BCT rotations actually watching and mentoring including countless BCT LPT sessions
3. actually implementing CoIST with the 3ACR at the NTC when Ft. H, a 25ID SBCT, and TRADOC where batting around powerpoints on the subject (2007)
4. actually being the first to start and then observing the initial impact of the JTCOIC at the NTC 2008--actually then predicting the direction it would evolve in
5. attempting to get DOMEX/SSE into NTC rotations in mid 2007 when everyone asked the question why do we need it
6. initiated the first time use of a Corp level MFT with a BCT in the history of any CTC in 2009

So maybe he and many of us really do know-- is where he is coming from and you are right it does not match the world of TRADOC, but maybe that is why TRADOC never has "boots on the ground" at every single worldwide CTC rotation--maybe they do not want to know the actual reality.

This is where he is coming from-reality as to what is actually on the ground---and maybe that rubs people the wrong way.

Looking forward to his coming book on the subjects mentioned above as well as his experiences in Iraq.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 2:19pm

In reference to Outlaw's comments on open source warfare and to the comments by Gen. Meigs talking about a weapons bazaar in the DoDBuzz article.

This title of a recent Army report which was issued just last week from the OSINT world---which goes to the comment by Gen. Meigs and the open source theory pushed by Johnn Robb.

"Albra Online Materials for Explosives, Weapons, & Other "How To" Re-Circulates to Extremist Clusters on the Web"

Maybe it is time for Big Army/TRADOC to finally recognize that OSW exists--even OSINT supports the OSW theory.

COL Maxwell,

Sir, please pass that on to the boys from Booze Hamilton working in the XVIII Airborne Corp AWG cell that prescribe, "We don't do FID. We don't have a charter for FID."

This discrepency is as futile as those that would still contend that GPF cannot run sources calling the spade a heart or a diamond.

The inconsistencies in definition of words and voice takes away from the practisioners trying to accomplish their given mission. Hands tied if you will.



As an aside, while by law FID is a Title 10 SOF activity ("insofar as it pertains to Special Operations" as the law says); however, it is not a SOF exclusive mission. By doctrine (and implied by wording of the law, all services are to provide forces trained and ready to conduct FID. In fact GPF have contributed to the FID mission since its inception. This is often overlooked and is what necessitated the development of Security Force Assistance - the myth that FID was a SOF exclusive mission for which there was no GPF doctrine led to the development of SFA. Incidentally, USSOCOM has been designated as the Joint proponent for SFA.

Bob Toguchi (not verified)

Tue, 04/20/2010 - 5:21pm

Outlaw 7,

I want to clarify that I am an interested active duty officer concerned with correcting factual inaccuracies. I am not a spokesperson for TRADOC or any other organization. In this regard, I do not feel necessarily responsible for addressing any or all related issues associated with the Army or any particular field organization. The purpose of my blog entry was to address, what I perceived to be, factual inaccuracies.

Your first claim was that "actual changes to MOS training courses to reflect realities did not start taking effect until the 2007/2008 time frame." From my perspective, this is a broad generalization that needs considerable data to be factually accurate. Did you mean "all" Army MOS training courses, or only "intelligence-related" courses? One of my concerns about making assertions, is that, if we blog participants are truly interested in gaining senior leader interest in our comments, we must make our assertions credible. A credible assertion that attempts to prove that all of the Armys' MOS training courses did not effect changes until six years after operations commenced in Afghanistan would include specifics such as: MOS course titles, before and after comparisons of tasks, percentage of Army MOS courses that did not change, student survey results, statistical evidence of large percentage of graduates who identified shortfalls in educational content, etc. Anecdotal information is interesting; but not necessarily compelling. Unless we can follow up with some degree of analytical rigor, it will be difficult to convince decision makers to make investments to solve problems that may or may not exist in fact. From the evidence you provided, it is hard to believe that every single Army MOS training course failed to make curriculum changes for over six years.

Second, in several of your responses, there is a tendency to invoke a "hasty generalization" approach to the subject. With regard to your specific factual assertion that "experience never really allows for BCTs to build their own inherent institutional knowledge bases;" I responded with an observation that the Army has created Warfighters' Forums (WfFs) and used designated repositories for lessons learned to capture specific knowledge associated with BCT rotations. Your response was "then every BCT attending any CTC should walk through them in a breeze -- but this is not the case." Your argument has shifted to an complex outcome, that is only tangentially related to your original assertion. The factual inaccuracy is that the Army has created institutional knowledge base repositories. By having a knowledge repository, this condition does not guarantee tactical success during a CTC rotation. Merely having knowledge does not ensure any form of real-world success. Tactical success may be far more dependent upon sleep deprivation, inadequacies of the personnel system to fill all billets, specific rotation circumstances, OR rates, lack of preparation time, and a host of factors that are completely unrelated to the presence of an institutional knowledge base for units. To apply intellectual rigor, we must keep the argument focused on the original factual assertion.

Third, with regard to the CIED effort, there is an absence of attribution associated with the impact of U.S. policy decisions at the strategic level. You note that 10 articles highlight the face that Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups turned down attacks against U.S. forces. I have argued that you have missed the broader, holistic approach of U.S. policy to engage with tribal leaders, transition to Iraqi security forces, transition to Iraqi political leadership, employ measures to improve regional infrastructure, etc. All of these higher order efforts placed political pressure on Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups. Rather than exacerbate tension and risk isolation from tribal leadership, insurgent groups dialed down the violence. I am arguing that the broader U.S. policy decisions had a more tangible influence.

Fourth, another challenge in this debate, is the tendency to draw upon emotion rather than fact. The factual inaccuracy that I identified was "Regular Army can in fact replace the SF community ... and this is the opening round for RA to claim FID." I stated that there was no stated intent for GPF to claim FID. Your response was "ask any SF officer or enlisted personnel if they feel the Big Army is breathing down their necks and if they feel if Big Army has in fact moved into their battlespace." This discussion highlights the questionable approach of using "feelings" to justify facts on the ground. A compelling counter argument would be to provide an HQDA memorandum that clarifies an Army intent to take organizational responsibility for FID. No such document exists. Hence, there is no factual basis for the above assertion.

Fifth, you have responded with a "bait and switch" approach to challenge factual inaccuracies. With regard to the JTCOIC, I challenged your factual assertion that the COIC/JTCOIC are repetitive. In this area, I provided information that "the JTCOIC has taken on a mission that the COIC could not provide without detracting from war time support. The time and resources needed to train Joint units prior to deployment is somewhat cumbersome and does justify a separate but complementary effort." In response, you commented that your assertion remains factually based since "there is not doctrine as these organizations are not at this time considered to be programs of record." Also, you argued that "now one even hears in the community that JTCOIC does not need the mothership COIC any longer but hay that is just RUMINT." Organizations are not required to have doctrine to explain functional areas of responsibility. Charters, mission statements, plans, policies, and regulations are used to clarify organizational responsibilities. The factual truth remains that the COIC and JTCOIC perform separate functions.

The original purpose of entering this blog was to clarify factual inaccuracies. I believe that I have highlighted more than a few above. Request that if we continue this discussion that we focus only on the factual inaccuracies described in first blog entry.

gian p gentile (not verified)

Mon, 04/12/2010 - 7:09am

M-A Lagrange:

But parts of the American Army have deluded themselves into thinking that we CAN change and entire society at the "barrel of a gun."

To be sure we can occupy, to be sure depending on numbers and tactics we can control, to be sure we can establish programs of development; but to think that in so doing these things within the broader operational framework of population centric coin that we are also doing "societal transformation" is a chimera.


M-A Lagrange

Mon, 04/12/2010 - 3:16am

I do not know if changing a society at the barrel of a gun is possible, I doubt of it. I do not know if the US army still does not get it. But what is sure is that you cannot promote one thing and do the contrary at the same time.
Taking the example of Malaysia, what made the British earn immediatly hearts and minds is the promisse of independance. Insurgents were politically beaten and could not rally the population anymore.
Taking Afghanistan, promissing a better future and putting in place the same old people, accepting electoral frauds to please domestic interrest, supporting corruption by distribuing ridiculous amounts of money for any information... All that did not beat the insurgents on the political field. All that did not ease anyones job.
You cannot ask everybody on the ground to go one direction and undermining their efforts by going on the opposit way when it comes to grand politic. Either you say you are with the people and you do it. Either you say I am the new master and I will rule you by force and you do it.
In both case, military and civilian bodies will adapt. But saying we want you to work for the people and finaly impose and force decisions... Nobody can get it because it just does not work. The societal change and the change of approach has may be to be done somewhere else than in Afghanistan.

gian p gentile (not verified)

Sun, 04/11/2010 - 4:47pm

Wow, "societal transformation" and "nation building" at the barrel of a gun. That sounds much like John Nagl's clarion call of last year for the US Army and the rest of the Defense Establishment to be able to "change entire societies."

Do you really think such adventures are even really possible? Can you provide historical examples of a foreign occupying power since World War II accomplishing such a feat?

After 9 years of doing Irregular war and Coin to hear the lament of some folks on this thread, the frustration in their words that they army still doesnt "get it" makes me think that perhaps it is not us. I mean really, are we that screwed up, that stupid, that knuckle dragging that we have yet to master the new way of war?

Or perhaps in a broader sense General Petraeus was wrong when he said "hard is not impossible." Maybe these crusades of societal transformation are hard because they are impossible. In other words maybe it is not us--the Army--but an impossible mission that does not appreciate the limits of what American military power can accomplish.

We have lost track of the meaning of military victory. Now victory for the American Army is found in the never ending process itself of societal transformation.

Such is the nature of the long war.


Bill C. (not verified)

Sun, 04/11/2010 - 9:07am

Might we benefit from viewing LTG Vane's "The US Army's Shift to Irregular Warfare" alongside LTG Caldwell and Captain Hagerott's "Curing Afghanistan?"

In his opening paragraph, LTG Vane asks that we "... examine the nature of today's wars." Later he notes (at "Global Trends") that "... the events of the last eight years of conflict are but harbingers of the emerging security environment."

With this in mind, we can transition to LTG Caldwell and Captain Hagerott's suggestion that the US Army's job (in Afghanistan but I believe this has much broader appeal) is to "cure" "sick" societies, to wit: nation-building (or re-building) and societal transformation ("mind," "body," etc.).

If a major part of the United States military's job, today and in the future, is/will be nation-building and societal transformations, then we will certainly need to have leaders trained in how to do this.

Should we now accept and acknowledge, from reading these two papers side-by-side (LTG Vane's "Shift" and LTG Caldwell/CPT Hagerott's "Cure") that, indeed:

a. The US Army's shift to irregular warfare has very much to do with our new long-term missions, which are seen to be

b. Doing nation-building and societal transformations for a living?

SWJ accepts critical voices, always has, always will. We step in when it appears, and that is a very subjective viewpoint, that the discussion is deteriorating to a point of uselessness. That's all, don't read too much into that - just accept it as a SWJ rule of thumb. Thanks.

Dave D.

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 9:44pm


You hit the nail on the head---the core problem is that it is great to discuss what can be done or not done--until one can safely on this blog ask the more potent question "Why is something not working", then being able to answer that exact question and then to be sit back and propose changes in a safe environment is almost nonexistent.

Gen. Flynn did this recently and took major heat for not publishing in a standard "military fashion" meaning why did he go through CNAS to release it?

The SWJ has actually released a number of articles just in the last two months that should have led to strong discussions but fell into a he said, she said resulting in virtually nothing of substance coming out of the discussions.

Try to bring up 4/5GW tied to open source warfare and all one gets back is "it's been cussed and discussed and found of no interest", but then LTG Oates virtually quotes yesterday from OSW theory, a recent article on the tactics of the Taliban written by a Pakistani LTC draws little or no comments on the thesis which was guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan--I thought at least a major discussion would break out on enemy battle tactics which did not occur, the article on One Tribe at a Time should have really provoked some thoughts on FID, advisors, and the guerrilla war from the lowest level and it evolved into a he said she said with SF eventually pulling out of the blog.

A now you have Red Leg actually pointing out his experiences at the NTC which should have really led to an exchange of why has the CTCs reached this point and how should the training be made more revalent.

Have learned my lesson-- should have left as did SF-really thought there would be more substance and acceptance of critical voices especially when lives of troops are at stake.

Okay all,

Enough is enough. On topic please and I'd like to hear a bit more from the other side of the debate. Not just how screwed up posters who criticize are - what is good about TRADOC as in training and doctrine. As an outsider (Marine background) with a limited view Ive seen some impressive things as well as some not. But this is a BIG Army fighting two wars and attempting to change - it does not happen overnight and there are external factors that the Army has no control over. Id like to see some become part of the solution not part of the problem - critical commentary can only go so far before it is no longer constructive. Lets make this discussion more about the topic and not about "me" or "them" - where this seems to be trending. I'd hate to close comments but we really are "different" here at SWJ and ask for substance not he said, she said.

Thanks, it would help my sanity around here.

Dave D.

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 6:45pm

Wildeagle 11 and Mercury 6:

Facts are facts--disprove them.

Maybe after what 6,7, or 8 years of war why are we still reinventing the wheel at almost every turn and that does not seem to bother people!

Does not the 50 KIA and over 400 WIA due to IEDs just in the last three months give anyone pause to rethink anything--and this after spending a total of 16B on CIED?

A typical BCT now has many "enablers" from multiple organizations on their Staffs and still the IEDs are killing--and how much of the "enabling" is in doctrine right now?

Disgruntled no---just a tad demoralized at the apparent unwillingness after 9 years of war to see that all those lessons learned interviews, supposedly countless enemy TTPs taught to the BCTs is leading one right back into the Afghanistan CIED fight that we are actually "losing" at the moment.

Stand gladly behind my military record for those that think I am "disgruntled" at least I have earned my right to be disgruntled in three wars for this country since I turned 18---three wars not three deployments to the same war and I am headed now to the fourth war.

Have fond memories at watching the NTC change since 2006, but after 34 BCT rotations maybe I have as well earned the "right" to be critical especially when you see over and over the same mistakes! Definitely have enough material for a book on the subject!

What I have learned is actually something cannot change IF it does not want to change maybe that is the reason that the SOF world is far more open to change and challenges.

"All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible."

- TE Lawrence

Wildeagle11 (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 4:43pm

Richard Buchanan. Just come out and say who you are. Disgruntled Postal employee.

Mercury 6 (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 3:47pm

Outlaw 7,
Your comments would have more credibility if it weren't for three obvious points:

1) You are or were a JIEDDO or CTC insider (or both)
2) You are disgruntled
3) You are militarily myopic if not under developed in that you believe any one thing, PME, 4/5GW adoption or JIEDDO will ever be clearly and solely responsible for progress or the lack there of, and..
4) You have obvious personal issues with JTCOIC/COIC, LTG O and it seems any General Officer or military leader who does not have your vast amount of combat, leadership and training expirience. Why they have yet to erect a statue of you in the center of the Pentagon is beyond me.

Your facts are inter-mixed with mud-slinging which makes the whole of your comments sound immature; mentally at least if not in age and expirience.

The humorous part of this is your adoption of NTC's "Outlaw" organization

Oldpapajoe - please do not misconstrue my comments to mean that the CTC's are worthless; rather that they have lost their credibility and thus their relevance. I believe that the CTC's are as important now, if not more so, than ever before. Ask a tanker or infantryman who fought in Desert Storm who he would rather fight, the Iraqi Republican Guard or the NTC OPFOR. The issue is the lack of accountability and repercussions for a "failed" rotation. As I alluded to, and Outlaw confirmed, a successful rotation is not a requirement for a unit to be certified for combat deployment (though the Army says it is, this is not backed up by reality). If the Army wants its leadership to take the CTC rotations seriously, and thus maximize the value of the training received for the vast amount of resources consumed, then the Army must hold its leaders accountable for the unit's success or failure. That means that the Army must be prepared to replace leaders found wanting prior to the unit's deployment, or at the extreme end, decertify the unit and have another ready to takes its place. This has not been feasible under the current ARFORGEN model with the number of BCTs deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. As the number of BCTs deployed to Iraq is reduced, this may be possible once again. But it will take time for the CTC's to regain the awe inspiring credibility they had prior to 9/11.

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 1:10pm

One has to appreciate the open source media these days. Yesterday an article was released indicating the the Taliban are surging their IED attacks to the tune of over 1000 per month and the new JIEDDO Cmdr now indicates it will take another 2B in funding and maybe 8 months to get the CIED efforts even level. And this is on top of the previous 16B pumped into the CIED fight through 2009.

If General Vane was correct on the benefits of both the COIC/JTCOIC in the CIED fight just why is it that we are so far behind in the CIED fight in Aghanistan? Why is the Iraqi based AtN/DtN concepts failing in Afghanistan as seen by the massive recent "rush" to social network analysis (SNA) as it is now being viewed as the be all end all solution for destroying Afghan IED networks.

In some aspect the new JIEDDO Cmdr actaully answered his own problem with the following comment:
"He noted that the Taliban continue to use the domestic black market to obtain bomb-making components and weapons. "If you have enough money, you can pretty much acquire any type of explosive or military-grade capability you need in the world" in Afghanistan, he said. "This is what concerns me about the Taliban, which does not have a historical affinity with Al Qaeda and is now seeking hegemony in Afghanistan. Theyre resourced through the poppy trade and with those resources can acquire lethal munitions and components from all over the world."

What General Oates is talking about is actually a key element of "open source warfare-OSW".…

Is there anywhere in the TRADOC process that OSW is being taught as a 4/5GW concept to Officers and NCOs? And if it is being taught then in fact the COIC and JTCOIC should be the "leading edge bleeding edge of this effort" which they are not as OSW directly challenges their whole CIED analysis effort.

Currently in the last three months of the new JIEDDO Cmdr's time at JIEDDO there have been 50 KIAs and 400 WIAs in IED attacks and the rates are climbing maybe TRADOC should focus on the "whys" and then make their decisions.

The answer lies not in more Officer/NCO education, but in the correct education for the current and coming 4/5GW 21st century wars.

oldpapajoe (not verified)

Fri, 04/09/2010 - 12:50pm

It has been nearly ten years since I have set foot in one of the Army's Training Centers. I have read and have heard how they have changed "to meet the needs of deploying units" for combat. If, in reality, the CTCs have lost their relevance and credibility, I sure hope the Army's leadership is made aware of this fact, as the CTC are an incredibly expensive enterprise--almost unimaginably expensive as a matter of fact. Moreover, they are considered a key pre-deployment event by the Army's senior leadership. If the CTC are as worthless as Outlaw and Redleg maitain, then the Army's senior leadership is indeed living a worls in which the Emperor has No Clothes. As a result, I don't know which is more alarming: the waste of resources at a worthless exerise or the ignornace of the Army's senior leadership on what is worthwhile and what is eye dressing.

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 3:30pm

Red Leg

Both---they have lost both their relevance and/or credibility.

In 2006, the NTC had nothing but railroad box cars, plywood buildings and Home Depot/Lowes garden sheds to replicate an Iraqi town or village, now after 90M plus in construction one would believe you are actually in Iraq--BUT these sites do not reflect now Afghanistan outside of the heat, dust, sand, caves,and mountains. Great for SOF not so much for BCTs.

In 2009, a specific SBCT came through their NTC rotation did poorly during their Leadership Training Program and even more poorly during the actual NTC deployment having at one time three Generals looking at their training (NTC Cmdr, Div. Sr. Trainer, and Div Cmdr), but they were "passed" even though they basically failed every event.

WHY---the US Afghan Cmdr had requested a SBCT and they were available. The SBCT is now in Afghanistan and as expected their losses where way to high and unacceptable and the unit was failing to the point they were reassigned to a new AOR which was quieter.

I know not of a single BCT Cmdr or BN Cmdr or for that matter a S2 replaced for failures during a CTC rotation nor replaced in country if the unit was suffering losses-WHY---one would think that the Command Leadership and especially TRADOC would look at this but they do not.

Ask TRADOC to prove just how many current active insurgent TTPs are being taught to a BCT during a FSO rotation and you will get a blank stare---CTCs have fallen into the trap of simply "getting through the rotation" as they are literally pushing during 2007-2009 a BCT per month.

Ask TRADOC if in fact the LTP program is now teaching guerrilla warfare (IW) in the scenarios---they are not---actually LTP is usually the first time a BCT Staff has actually worked together to come up with their campaign plan for the FSO rotation.

TRADOC has gotton so far away from Tasks, Standards, and Conditions--ask any number of BCTs for their IW SOPs---most BCT Cmdrs, will tell you--do not have the time, personnel, or will to do one as I am on a fast track to deployment--"WHY don't you start a small business and create SOPs" was an answer from a 25ID SBCT Cmdr.

It is time for TRADOC to be brutally honest with itself as the lives of soldiers are literally in their hands--and regardless of what they say publically I do not think they really care.

Outlaw - good comments reference the CTC's.

For those of us who remember CTC rotations prior to 9/11, they were the most hellish experience a commander could endure. Though it was no picnic for those on the ground, for Company, Battalion, and BCT Commanders, it was make or break time. When the O/C team walked in to the mid and final AARs, the apprehension was palpable. The O/C teams held nothing back, and failure was noted.

Since 9/11 can anyone think of a unit that was failed or decertified? By the time a unit does its CTC rotation, it has found the patch chart, corresponded with the RIPing unit, conducted Pre-deployment reconnaissance, and is prepared to pack up its equipment, ship it to theater, take block leave, and get ready to deploy. The CTC rotation is viewed by most, if not all, as an annoyance at a minimum or as additional unit training time at a maximum.

During the Company lanes portion of my last trip to NTC, I remember one AAR where the O/C was incensed that we failed to accomplish the mission set handed to us by the O/C's. I looked calmly at him, explained that I had differing guidance from my BN commander, and I couldnt care less what the O/C's objectives were. I never would have dreamed of that prior to 9/11. By the end of the rotation, we merely woke our O/C's up when we left the wire so they could report our positions, assess casualties, and ensure we didnt lose any sensitive items.

Have the CTC's lost their relevance and/or credibility?

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 1:45pm

Inaddition to Redleg's comments:

Several other points were left out of the General's article.

1. why is it necessary to constantly change out BCT Cmdr leadership--currently a COL tends to pickup the BCT during it's predeployment phase, takes it into deployment and then brings it back before he moves on on his promotion track if that is so determined---there is never a long lenght of time spent which would allow for the institutionalization of gained common BCT experiences to remain inside the unit

2. this goes as well for Company and BN Cmdrs---the gained deployment experiences tend to disappear between the return of the BCT and their next CTC pre deployment rotation reducing the BCT to simply surviving the CTC FSO phase on the concept of "been there done it" so many times that I can do it in my sleep---an attitude that does not bode well when the CTCs are trying to pass on new insurgency TTPs if the CTC is even interested in passing on new enemy TTPs--something I seriously question

3. CTCs have actually since about 2009 tried to install small scenario FSO fire and manuever elements into the 10 day FSO phase---many if not all have been total failures on the part of the BNs involved and on the BCT command leadership which signals that even BN and BCT Cmdrs have literally "lost" that skillset---which I believe with what Sec of Defense Gates is trying to overcome with the proposed longer linger time at home for the BCT Afghanistan bound BCTs

4. critque should be leveled at the CTCs as they also tend to support this reduction of skillsets by "passing" BCTs on elements of the FSO phase in order to have the BCTs certed for deployment when in fact say they are really weak on EOF the sign off block is moved to the right and presto the unit is good to go---
THIS explains to a large degree the problem of EOF Gen MC is having with the very large killed numbers of Afghans involved in EOF issues

When the NTC for example would really hammer during 2007 rotations EOF events to the BCTs one would tend to notice a reduction in EOF issues in Iraq---but with Afghanistan rotations it is all about governance, governance, governance, and tribal, tribal, tribal---very little to no scenario training on the things that are killing troops ie ambush and counter ambush

TRADOC really needs to wake up and smell the coffee and wean itself off of the empire building that has been going on inside the TRADOC/defense contracting world since 2008.

My guess is that they do not want to wean themselves off of it as it has now given TRADOC a new lease on life if one looks at TRADOC as a whole for the period 2003 through 2007 when it appeared to simply disappear from the face of the Army doctrinally speaking

Vito: That is a fair and reasonable, but not moot, point. Like many company grade commanders, I asked my boss for focus as we trained for our upcoming mission to Iraq. As Artillerymen our first question was always, "do we need to focus on an artillery or infantry-mission set?" The answer from our Division and BDE commander was "yes". So as a good Soldier and Officer, I said "yes sir" and took my artillery battery and trained for Offense and Defense, as both artillery and infantry, as well as Stability Ops (we ended up deploying as pure infantry operating from a separate COP). Were we good enough at all those mission tasks - yes. Could we meet MTP standards - no. My question is where is the line between being a good Soldier and just "yes sir" to every mission and being a good steward of national resources and saying "no sir, we are not trained for that"? MTP standards are tough, as they should be. Focused training and hard work are required to meet them. Those standards define success while in garrison in order to succeed on the battlefield. I am a flexible and adaptive leader as are most of the officers and NCOs I know. I am just looking to my leadership for focus and guidance; something a little better than "be good at everything".

Bill Moyer (not verified)

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 1:02pm

The author's finger must have slipped off the trigger when he "fired" this article as he pretty much missed the target. He completed his first paragraph with the sentence, "Our solution [to Irregular Warfare] is to focus on developing our officer and NCO leadership."

Then we get three paragraphs halfway thru the article detailing what we want our future leaders to be, but nary a word about the HOW of how we will develop company and field grade officers and NCOs.

Clearly we're going to develop these future leaders by offering full spectrum operations training at HS, at CTCs, and while deployed; we're goin to offer an innovative educational approach, and continue to assign leaders to challenging assignments. I would have liked to hear more about this approach to bring leader development back into balance. My guess is we haven't figured that one out yet.

Vito (not verified)

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 12:18pm

What if, just what if, we actually need to be "good at everything"? Regardless of the term "whole of government" and the infatuation with it in reference to its replacement "comprehensive approach", if the whole rest of the government does not show up to play at H-hour, or H + (your guess here), then whatever we call it, as the stuckee, is a moot point.

Red Leg

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 11:36am

As Outlaw points out above, this article misses much of the reality of the field, and is indicative of not just TRADOC, but the Army and our military as a whole. As Outlaw already hammered home the lack of technical issues addressed, I will focus on the larger ideology.

Sec Gates and GEN Casey's quoted statements are as innocuous as the series of Capstone operational concepts that have been recently published. Sec Gates wants us to be "balanced" and GEN Gates wants us to be "versatile". Even our capstone doctrine, FM 3-0 Operations, focuses on Full Spectrum Operations. All of these terms are just another way of saying "be good at everything". Taking a stand at the General Officer / Cabinet level must be hazardous to one's career. Just try counting the number of times the words "balance", "versatile", and "Full Spectrum Operations" are used in six short pages. I seem to recall a rather well respected military strategist who said "to defend everything is to defend nothing". The tone from on high seems to be "we told you to be good at everything, so dont blame us if you fail".

We also seemed to have changed our strategy from "whole of government" to a "comprehensive approach". One of the few times I was proud of our military leadership for calling out the other federal departments to put up or shut up has just evaporated in yet another politically correct back peddle.

The statement "Establishment of organizations to conduct just stability operations are not only cost ineffective, but put mission and soldiers at risk" must be directed at Congressional appropriators. While I do not believe that we must have units trained for only Offense, or Defense, or Stability, we need focus at the BCT level. Specialization is the ultimate goal for any organization, and with one as large as DoD, you would think we could get to that level. I wouldnt want a plumber fixing the electrical system in my house, but the government wants our Soldiers to be ambassadors, school teachers, construction workers, and killers all at the same time.

This is possibly the most buzz-word/term filled article I have ever read. I have no doubt that "resource-informed" will become the next buzz-term poster plastered on the walls of company headquarters and barracks. Training is also a zero-sum gain. Every day spent increasing our effectiveness at Stability Operations is a day not spent on Offensive and Defensive Operations.

Chris Ives (not verified)

Thu, 04/08/2010 - 10:25am

Much of the article focuses on the army's institutional response - more centers, more (re)organization, etc - with too little discussion of what it is that the army thinks makes leaders "adaptive and agile."

How do training and education interact and reinforce? Are the same? Many folks use these terms interchangeably but emphatically training must teach (positively and negatively) while it reinforces what education taught.

Soldiers remain fungible but in fact they are capital, the human capital, of an all-volunteer force. If abused the value of the capital degrades. Investments must often be made to maximize the value of capital assets.

Professional military education for officers and NCOs must begin earlier and have more intellectual rigor. How much cheaper is it to study military history for example and game out possible outcomes - in seminar or through electronic games - than to learn on the ground based on often too-quickly transmitted doctrinal products. Learning and inculcation be understood as different as well.

Bill C. (not verified)

Wed, 04/07/2010 - 8:34pm

If the imperative of a nation, or group of nations, is to provide an environment that is conducive to the rise of 3 billion new capitalists,

This, so as to preclude the horrors associated with the complete and catastrophic failure of one or more of the nuclear-armed great powers,

Then this will obviously entail the transformation of certain "servicing" societies -- this so that these "servicing" and resource-providing societies might adequately accommodate the needs of this vast new group of market-oriented, market-dependent people.

It is within this context that that we can understand why we must expect, and plan for, an "era of persistent conflict" and a "permanent state of war." (Certain individuals, groups, nations, cultures and religions will resist this transformation and this "servicing" role).

Likewise, this context also helps us understand the US Army's shift to Irregular Warfare. (So as to address the types of conflicts that will ensue as these various individuals, groups, nations, cultures and religions resist the required transformation.)

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Wed, 04/07/2010 - 8:30pm

This article brings up a number of interesting items that seem on the surface to actually miss the reality of the field which is why many view the current problems as actually being problems within TRADOC.

1. when one looks at the actual changes made to MOS training courses to reflect the realities of Iraq and Afghanistan those changes did not start taking effect until the timeframe 2007/2008 which was how many years into both wars

2. with the BCT Arforgen/Intel Arforgen programs in 2007/2008 we were asking BCTS and Division staffs to both receive equipment and training while deployed in the middle of the fight or to receive the equipment just prior to deployment and not even use the equipment due to the lack of training on it

3. due to high ops tempo returning BCT Staffs and NCOs were being ripped out of the returning BCT and reassigned to the new deploying BCT---which if one understands officers/NCOs--their experience never really allows for BCTs to build their own inherent institutional knowledge bases--all KB resides with the individual and not the unit

4. have we really reached a point that the CIED fight is actually winning--not based on comments currently coming out of Afghanistan and when one really looks at the CIED fight in Iraq we were getting hammered by EFPs and RKG-3s until the insurgency decided to slow down the pace when it appeared we were in fact actually going to leave Iraq---the slowdown in
IED attacks in Iraq cannot be really contributed to our CIED "win"

5. a critical piece of the article seems to infer that the IW mission of Regular Army can in fact replace the SF community which traditionally had the role but in the coming years of lower budgets maybe this is the opening round for the Regular Army to claim FID

6. there is currently no centralized IW training center-everything is to this point is ad hoc training, most officers and NCOs can not even give a defintion of the insurgency attack TTP "swarm", if Red Teams were to exist in all BCTs which they currently do not then they would just be another "enabling" group such as WIT, MFTs, CEXC, LEPs, HTTs, PRTs, COIC reachback etc. that fight for the attention of the BCT Cmdr--not really sure that many BCT Cmdrs would "accept" constructive critisim of their plans by a Red Team

7. does TRADCO fully recognize that Afghanistan is a true guerrilla war and is it prepared to teach "open source warfare (4/5GW)" as a standing doctrine of IW?

8. JTCOIC--was originally designed in 2008 to teach the BCTs "reachback" to the COIC in the CIED fight but has evolved at the CTCs to become a notional Division Intel Cell "hand feeding" information to the BCT in order to help them "find" the notional insurgency---which in a large number of cases the JTCOIC had at the CTCs to virtually handfeed the info because the BCT had not "seen" the insurgency from the data flows being provided them--being able to replicate an exisiting combat envirnoment is really what some would say is "mission prep" and should have been provided to deploying BCTs years ago--a large number of BCTs have in the past linked into their RIP BCTs to get this info so finally after how much money, time, and personnel cost is it finally happening in 2010?---building two empires (COIC/JTCOIC) to do this might be to some as repetitive and overly costly to the taxpayer

Currently there is nothing from either the COIC or JTCOIC that allows a BCT, BN, or even Company Cmdr to test their COIN plans against the exisiting insugency in their AOs---there is not a single tool that allows for the following:
1. Ground-level decision support:
EXAMPLE: I have identified key nodes or centers of gravity of a specific cell... if I take those nodes out what is the overall 2nd or 3rd degree of effects on that cell. Does the cell stop all activities or does it as the model says splitter and then reform with an even stronger cell? What might be the psychological impact on 1) the cell and 2) other cells.
2. Understanding the insurgent ecosystem:
EXAMPLE: Insurgent systems are difficult to understand, with many different moving parts, evolution and feedback loops (OODA). We can use the model of the insurgent ecosystem to trail different strategies to see how the insurgency responds.
EXAMPLE: Any "model" that can help us understand the enemy's communications structures, decision making process and group dynamics can, if given to the right people be a true "game-changer"...
3. Scenario Analysis:
EXAMPLE: Does picking off the "low hanging fruit" of let's say the Haqqani or hurt...I always struggled with this we hit the guy emplacing the IEDs or be patient, watch him, and follow the trail? In the meantime, he is emplacing IEDs that are killing US soldiers?
EXAMPLE: Information is transmitted using both global signals (media) and local networks. The local networks are formed through the coalescence and fragmentation process that results from the group dynamics within the insurgency. We can seed the systems with different informants or pieces of false intelligence and then watch how this information spreads through the system. We can also try different strategies for rumor transmission within the model - e.g. is it better to have one large group of spies/agents, or multiple smaller cells within the larger population. Which organizational strategy would be more effective at transmitting information?
4. Future event planning:
EXAMPLE:... can I use/leverage this type of model to help drive say tribal engagements to isolate single cells or multiple cells that were identified by the model?
EXAMPLE: For a peacekeeping scenario, where you have two opposing groups and one peacekeeping force. What is the best organizational structure for reducing violence? Do you split your forces up into many small groups or is it more effective to instead have a few very strong groups?

The General has only begun to scratch the surface of needed TRADOC answers to field realities.


Not sure it is so much nation-building at the point of a gun. Rather, it's a robust ground component providing essential security for stabilization activity that the host nation, NGOs, UN, and state department could never accomplish due to threats from insurgents that have been "cleared," but return to hide in plain sight.

Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is more rural making it impossible to install concrete barriers and checkpoints around densely populated areas that do not exist accept in Kabul and Kandahar.

Your cited article sounds somewhat ideal when the Afghans are sufficiently prepared to provide homegrown security from their own population-oriented FOBs and COPs. But we don't appear to be there yet.

The Pakistanis launched a major offensive yesterday that has sent 200,000 refugees fleeing in return for a relatively low number of killed insurgents. They seem to have the "clear" down to a blunt-instrument art form. But the recurring nature of these attacks in the same/adjacent territories indicates a lack of "hold" capability or will.


I've read much of his (Cavguy?)and your work here, to include in the recent "Azimuth." The point about transition from "enemy-centric" to "population-centric" seems somewhat intuitive. As he points out, the primary unknown is whether your typical Army/Marine junior leader can recognize that point and be sufficiently diplomatic while avoiding being played in shuras.

Even when he can, can his boss be convinced and will his turtle be equally skilled. Are there sufficient interpreters for Soldiers to interact and do we really know what they are saying? The ANA might lead/assist...provided they are not Tajiks trying to secure Pashtun areas.

That last point seems key to me. Not sure the Afghanistan problem can ever be completely solved as long as the Durand Line problem remains and there aren't many local non-corrupt Pashtuns securing/governing the south.


Mon, 04/12/2010 - 11:32am

Leaving aside the question of whether or not societal transformation via military force should be attempted; how useful are arbitrary lines drawn in the historical sands of time which claim that societal transformation is not possible after World War II? Did mankind evolve into a different species, one which is immune to the transformative effects/ravages of War, after this arbitrary date?

<i>"Do you really think such adventures are even really possible? Can you provide historical examples of a foreign occupying power since World War II accomplishing such a feat?"</i>

Rome certainly transformed societies via the <A HREF="">Macromannic Wars</A> and <A HREF="">Gallic Wars</A>.

The thirty years war and the resulting <A HREF="">Peace of Westphalia</A> transformed European societies and impacts us today.

Japan and Germany, among many other nations, were profoundly affected and <A HREF="">transformed</A&gt; by World War II and the effects are still very visible and some continue to unfold today.

Wars are transformative events for all involved, irrespective of arbitrary dates. To claim otherwise is disingenuous.

As to the Iraq War it is still to early to say if the desired tranformative objectives (assuming there are some which can be agreed upon) will be met.

gian p gentile (not verified)

Mon, 04/12/2010 - 12:18pm

But surferbeetle that question shouldnt be set aside because it is an essential one of strategy: that is to say can military force in a short amount of time even come close to doing "societal transformation"? And then if we conclude that it might then we must ask based on what the stated policy goals are is it worth the cost?

Germany and Japan were crushed militarily and surrendered unconditionally to Allied powers. That certainly had something to do with their "societal transformations" afterwards.


Mon, 04/12/2010 - 5:32pm


<a href=" ">Pearl Harbor</a>, <a href=" ">Hiroshima</a>, and to a lesser extent <a href=" ">9/11</a> and the <a href="">2003 Fall of Baghdad</a> are all events in which the planning phase was longer than the execution phase and all are an example of an outsize magnitude of effects (both intentional and unintentional) resulting from an operation executed in a short space of time.

Each of these four examples can be seen as case studies of different methods of warfare. LTG Vane and others are articulating what many of us have both studied and lived through...although the <a href=" ">Nature of War</a> and <a href=" "> Principles of War</a> remain constant, methods of warfare continually change.

To put it another way, many cadets were once taught that "Good commanders maximize their options." To me, this means acknowledging and internalizing that the skill sets of offense, defense, and stability operations are each part and parcel of full spectrum warfare...that task which we are duty bound to execute to the best of our ability. As to <a href=" ">Grand Strategy</a> perhaps GEN Patton said it best: "I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight."

gian p gentile (not verified)

Mon, 04/12/2010 - 6:26pm

There is a difference between tactics and strategy. In tactics obstinacy, perseverance, tenacity in the face of difficulty are all essential qualities. But as Clausewitz noted in "On War" the very important qualities that are so important for a regimental commander of the line at the tactical level become less so the higher up the levels of command one goes to a point where qualities such as reflection, willingness to consider alternatives, distance and strategic patience, and the ability to chose not to fight become essential.

Clausewitz also said that it was genius that knew the rules and principles of war but it was also genius that knew when to discard them. The problem in the American Army today is that we have accepted the principles of Coin to a point where they have become the rule. E.g., the people are always the "prize" in ANY Counterinsurgency. Well with such immutable rules, our tactical and operational methods are already set and determined for us.

No creativity equals no strategy.

What might have occurred in Japan and Germany following WWII if not for the Marshall Plan and MacArthur's administration over Japan?

Aren't extended stays in Korea and Europe just as responsible for continued peace there...and at a high cost and commitment?

What enemy-centric strategy is anticipated in places like Afghanistan and Iraq? Should we carpet bomb Kandahar since so many Taliban are there? Attack Pakistan Pashtuns? Burn all the poppy fields since some of that money finances the Taliban? Is the enemy standing out in the open in uniform asking us to engage him? Do we continue the night raids that so often have resulted in civilian casualties...and a propaganda win for the insurgents?

Examine Wanat and the kinetic activities of 173rd ABCT in 2007-2008 to understand that we cannot kill our way out of Afghanistan either tactically or strategically. In contrast, MAJ Nate Springer's squadron in the similar timeframe and proximate location demonstrated that a more restrained approach could prove efficient, given a sufficient committment to COIN population-centricity.

Bill C. (not verified)

Mon, 04/12/2010 - 7:56pm

This idea of nation-building and societal transformation would certainly seem to be THE very hot thing.

Consider the investments being made by defense contractors under the guise of "smart power":

(From Wall Street Journal Article of March 23, 2010, entitled: Defense Industry Pursues Gold in "Smart Power" Deals):…

Part of the lead-in:

"Smart Power - blends military power with nation building to boost stability and American influence in far-flung places like Liberia."

M-A Lagrange

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 3:35am

I think that taking WW2 as an example of societal transformation made by war is not acurate.
My experience of societal transformation in post conflict contries tells me that it is not the military power that change the society but the people who do change the society because of what they experienced during war. To illustrate this, I will take the exemple of Liberia. Liberia became the 1st African country with a woman as president after 20 years of bloody crazy war. what made the peole choose that women is not the military power but the fact they were tired of being abused by crazy soldiers. Her predecessor, Charles Taylor, did impose his power, and to some extend societal transformation (cf The Mask of Anarchy by S. Ellis) through terror and military means. and the people rebel and kept rebelling.
The bottom line is very simple, military power search for short term effectiveness while societal changes are, at the best, mid term based. Societies are transformed internally by their people and not externaly by outsiders. Certainly not in a 4 to 8 years time duration.

Coming back to WW2 and Germany.
the Franco-German friendship is something that was forced and imposed by both sides, not something the people wanted. But it was not military choices, it was political choices made in the perspective to stop a cycle of Franco-German war which lead to 2 world wars.

Also, taking the Roman empire as example is not so much useful as Roman did rule the places for decades and the people became Roman subjects.

For me the key is not military but in the sequence of civilan and military actions and into the implementation.
Stop taking people for fools, US army or any army in the world can do all the changes in the world, as long as you do not respect the people, their culture and choices, then you will fuel anger and ennemies. Protecting the people efficiently, making them less poor... to impose a government they hate, dislike and do not recognize as legitimate will never bring any societal changes and certainly not rally anyone to your cause. It is as counter productive as indiscriminated killings.


"Examine Wanat and the kinetic activities of 173rd ABCT in 2007-2008 to understand that we cannot kill our way out of Afghanistan either tactically or strategically. In contrast, MAJ Nate Springer's squadron in the similar timeframe and proximate location demonstrated that a more restrained approach could prove efficient, given a sufficient committment to COIN population-centricity."

I can't speak for Nate directly, but we've had many discussions on this topic. What Nate was refering to in his paper was a transition point- when (and if) conditions are set to begin engagement and reconciliation. Several conditions must change to facilitate the two differing courses of action- time, enemy, and civilians. Clausewitz would refer to this change as breaking the enemy's will to fight. In other words, there is a time to kill and a time to heal.

This distinction is important. The art of knowing when to transition is a key qualitative skill of a good commander and small wars practisioner. Note that I stated qualitative not quantitative- the metrics are not easily measurable. One must refer to intuition, instinct, and gut-feeling. The analogy that I prefer is the one of playing a poker game and knowing when to hold, when to raise, and when to fold given pocket Aces.

We (Nate, myself, and several other majors) are currently working on a combined paper to explain how to conduct leadership engagements with friendly, neutral, and hostile actors given different conditions in both Afghanistan and Iraq. If this essay is helpful, then we will then do another one on the use of violence in small wars.



gian p gentile (not verified)

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 6:28am


Why is it than when anybody challenges the assumptions and principles of population centric counterinsurgency (aka nation building, or societal transformation, at the barrel of a gun) individuals like you immediately proclaim that in so questioning these things us folks want to do Tamerlane or Bomber Harris and begin the systematic slaughter of civilians in what is often then labeled "enemy centric" coin?

You should have a look at an alternative military method to nation building in Afghanistan to achieve the President's policy objectives by scholar Austin Long of Columbia University. Here is a link to it:…

You may not agree with his plan or that it would work, but note that you wont find anywhere in there about "carpet bombing" Kandahar.

Your post betrays the deep seated assumption that operates within much of the American Army and other parts of the defenese establishment that there is some kind of theory that links cause to effect in population centric coin. You assume that by being nice to people, by showing restraint, by building bridges over streams, by treating their sick children, by establishing emotional relationships with them, that all of these causes will add up to the effect of them being nice to you in return and will then come to your side and help you fight the enemy. Perhaps in the case that you mention above the enemy in the area just decided to leave, maybe they had some training planned in Pakistan so the resultant lowered enemy activity had nothing to do with the processes of Coin.


Bill C. (not verified)

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 1:11pm

The US military certainly needs to have highly trained leaders and other capabilities to deal with the wars that it is likely to encounter -- be these nuclear, conventional or irregular wars -- or some combination of the above.

However, today's move to embrace and push forward irregular warfare (often at the expense of other capabilities) may best be understood as follows:

a. Today, the emphasis and investments being made the United States and its allies -- in nation-building and societal transformation projects -- are seen as being required to adequately deal with and provide for the rapidly expanding global economy.

b. In this regard, our national leaders have embraced the concept that (1) in order to provide for the rapidly expanding global economy (2) the more-troublesome and more-abarrant societies of the world must be "cured" (brought to be more in-line with our way of thinking, our way of working and our way of life).

c. The United States sees "security" in this light and, accordingly, has adopted "transforming whole societies" (many/most of these now in the Third World) as its strategic imperative.

Other arguments for "shifting" to irregular warfare so as to "cure" "ill" societies (for example: the often-heard "the most likely threat, an American city poisoned or reduced to rubble, will likely emanate from fractured or failing states) -- these arguments are less-convincing.

This, because many/most people seem to realize that such threats are more likely to emanate from a city within the United States, within Europe, or from one or more of the more-viable states with controversial ties to the United States (such as Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Egypt, where 18 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from).

Thus, if "weak and failed states = 9/11 No. 2" cannot explain the United States' "shift" (to irregular warfare, nation-building and societal transformation) what can?

An alternative (and more-convincing?) idea is offered above.


"Even when he can, can his boss be convinced and will his turtle be equally skilled. Are there sufficient interpreters for Soldiers to interact and do we really know what they are saying? The ANA might lead/assist...provided they are not Tajiks trying to secure Pashtun areas."

Good point. Intervening in small wars is similar to getting involved in a friend's divorce. Lose/Lose situation b/c you never really know what's going on behind closed doors in the family, tribal, and sectarian feuds. That's why most serious analysts would recommend avoiding small wars whenever possible. Hard may not be impossible, but hope is not a method.

LTG Caldwell recently published an article in Foreign Policy comparing A'stan to a medical patient. This is one of my rare disagreements with a man that I greatly admire and respect. These issues are psychological- matters of the heart that figuratively require marraige counselors, substance abuse specialists, and trauma psychologists not simply a primary care manager.

"As he points out, the primary unknown is whether your typical Army/Marine junior leader can recognize that point and be sufficiently diplomatic while avoiding being played in shuras."

That's why we're writing the article: to provide junior leaders with several ways not to be played.

Only point of criticism is enemy/pop centric warfare. I view the decision points (break, tipping, intervention, and transition) as changes in power between the host nation, insurgency, and external coalition throughout the lifecycle of an insurgency. Killing bad guys and securing the population are merely tools a commander applies to force security.

Ultimately, long term security is a process of good governance, real economic reform, conflict resolution, reconciliation, or divorce, and time.

I believe that many human interactions follow the laws of physics. In that regard, our intervention in Iraq and A'stan will have lasting change. We have flooded a system with external factors and stakeholders; however, the final outcome or "change" will not likely be equal to our initial foreign policy goals. Or, as COL Gary Anderson recently wrote, what we're seeing in Iraq is "as good as it gets."



Bill C. (not verified)

Tue, 04/13/2010 - 8:48pm

Continuing from my comment immediately above:

The problem, however, with this line of thinking (attempting to transform entire societies -- so as to better provide for the global economy = greater US security) is that such thinking and initiatives may well place the global economy (and the security of the United States) in much graver danger.

One would think that there is no better way to court peril than to galvanize a people against you because you threaten their culture, their central beliefs and their way of life.

"Transforming entire societies" would seem to do exactly that -- in spades.

In such instances, not failed and failing states but, rather, the more-strong, more-viable and better-resourced states of the threatened culture -- and those similar states which represent and/or act as the cultural heart-land and/or cultural "bodyguard" -- these would seem to be the places where the "transform entire societies" fight would be won -- or be lost.

In such stronger, more-viable and more-determined places, one might suggest, will actually be where the "war for the hearts and minds" and the "war amongst the people" will, likewise, be determined.

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 04/14/2010 - 1:08pm

To all commenters on the IW points mentioned here.

This goes to the heart of Outlaws' comments that some found too critical. If Big Army is making the move to SFA/FID to counter IW--would it not be also wise to truely understand IW?

The following comments indicate just how important "open source warfare-OSW" is and if Big Army does not understand OSW then it will never "win" at IW.

JOURNAL: An Update on how OSW is driving innovation in IEDs

Greg Grant over at DoDBuzz has an update on open source warfare and the global bazaar of violence as it relates to IEDs. Some items of interest from the article:

• took the Irish Republican Army 30 years to progress from command wire bombs to remotely triggered devices. "By contrast, it took about six years for militants to make the same improvements in Chechnya, three year for fighters in Gaza, and about 12 months for insurgents in Iraq.
•The IED bazaar is found on the Internet, said retired general and former commander of the Pentagons counter-IED task force, Montgomery Meigs... How-to manuals and an extensive video catalog of attacks are readily available on the internet. The IED phenomenon has gone global, Meigs said, with drug cartels in northern Mexico now using the weapons.
•Nearly 80 percent of all casualties in southern Afghanistan are caused by IEDs. The attacks in Afghanistan are deadlier than they were in Iraq because troops patrol on foot more in Afghanistan than Iraq. Even a small bomb can wreak bloody havoc on dismounted troops while it would have no effect against heavily armored MRAP vehicles.

SO to go back to a previous comment made on the SWJ blog concerning OSW---"cussed, discussed and found of no interest" by a number of SWJ commenters---do we need to quote Gen. Meigs again?

Outlaw 7 (not verified)

Wed, 04/14/2010 - 1:41pm

Mercury 6/Wildeagle 11"

Both of you need to read the DoDBuzz article and then tell me I am too critical/disgruntled of JIEDDO, COIC/JTCOIC and the CTCs.…

WHERE is the training on "open source war-OSW" anywhere in the system? Even the latest tool being used by both COIC/JTCOIC (ORA) does not answer OSW. It is simple advanced math and does not even push the realm of quantum physics---which actually has produced a peer tested model to answer OSW in near realtime---WHICH for some strange reasoning is not being looked into by DoD/JIEDDO?

So yes, I stand by the comment of 16B later and what has it gotten us?---40KIA and over 400WIA and now JIEDDO wants another 2B and eight months time.

What have the CTCs done in the last four rotations to lower these numbers?

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 04/16/2010 - 1:18pm

For those that do not believe there is such a thing as open source warfare read the links below and then ask one's self if the info can be tied to the two COIN FMs?…

8 IEDs seized by the Mexican military. This is a follow up to a cache found earlier this month. "The Mexican military disabled an IED in Oaxaca, Mexico in February. Another IED blew up in Nuevo Leon last month."

Then the simple grenade attack on an American Consulate this week similar to the typical RKG3 grenade attacks in Iraq.

Bob Toguchi (not verified)

Fri, 04/16/2010 - 3:06pm

I will respond as an interested TRADOC active duty officer. In particular, my concern is to address potential inaccuracies with the first entry by Outlaw 7. I am a firm believer in the use of the dialectic; hence the truth to many of these issues may in fact be in the middle ground. I will provide information that comments on several of Outlaw 7 major points.

First, he claims that actual changes to MOS training courses to reflect realities did not start taking effect until the 2007/2008 timeframe. I have interviewed numerous officers and soldiers that have attended TRADOC MOS courses. They claim that changes began to occur much earlier in the 2001/2002 period. Officers who attended the Captains Career courses noted that much of the regional context from Afghanistan entered the curriculum. Later, Iraq cultural perspectives and regional info entered the curriculum. The plethora of new automated programs to include CPOF, CIDNE, DCGS, ABCS, etc. were incorporated into new curricula. Information on the new operational environment and counterinsurgency tactics were brought into the classroom instruction. Additionally, the rotation of combat veterans from OEF/OIF assignments have increased the knowledge base in all schoolhouse instruction and richness of discussion. To argue that Army training courses did not change until 2007 is not accurate. If I may ask, which specific training course does Outlaw 7 refer to concerning 2007/2008 changes? I attended the National War College in 2001 and our curriculum changed that same year during our Core Courses on the Nature of War and Joint Operations to reflect OEF realities.

Second, he notes that "in 2007/2008 BCTs and Divisions received equipment and training while deployed in the middle of the fight." This comment does not give credit to the Army for providing the latest technology and capabilities to units in the warfight. The Army is committed to making operating units as successful in their mission as possible and that normally means providing the best equipment possible to units engaged in operations as a priority. We have made a concerted effort to provide familiarization training prior to unit deployment and then ensure sufficient equipment is in theater for operational employment. The reader does not distinguish the operational concept of Theater Provided Equipment where most of the equipment required for a given mission is prepositioned in theater for units to draw. To many units this may feel like a new fielding, but is actually a means to tailor equipment requirements to the specific warfight, i.e. Afghanistan vs Iraq and tremendously increases the combat effectiveness and protection of our soldiers. While the old Army would have attempted to standardize these capabilities and institutionalize the training prior to operational employment, in reality the enemy and our countering capabilities are constantly changing and rapid movement of capabilities into operation outweigh the time needed to follow institutional processes. Our soldiers have demonstrated an incredible ability to incorporate state of the art equipment into their operations quickly and effectively. This ability clearing demonstrates success of the Armys stated purpose of growing flexible, adaptable, and capable leadership.

Third, concerning comment that "due to high OPTEMPO ... experience never really allows for BCTs to build their own inherent institutional knowledge bases - all KB resides with the individual and not the unit." This statement is not factually accurate. Since 2005, FORSCOM and TRADOC have developed the Stryker, Infantry, Heavy, and Functional Warfighters Forums (Wffs) that regularly share information directly from theater and returning units to other BCTs preparing for their deployments. VTCs and briefs are conducted on a routine basis. After reports are shared across the forums, TRADOC developers leverage these discussions, databases and portal repositories to work doctrinal, TTP, and material solutions for existing problems across the force. Moreover, the Army has kept a detailed repository of Comprehensive lessons learned, CALL lessons learned, and CSI/MHI interviews with literally thousands of items for units to review. This notion that the knowledge base resides solely with individuals and selected units is not accurate.

Fourth, his claim that "CIED slowdown in attacks in Iraq cannot be really contributed to our CIED efforts" is also inaccurate. One could argue that the holistic approach to engage with Sunni tribal leaders, provide decision to transition to Iraqi security forces, make decision to transition to Iraqi political leadership, improve local and wide area security, field IED resistant vehicles (MRAP, M-ATV, JLTV), deploy enablers such as TF Odin, employ EW capabilities, and the wide range of initiatives across JIEDDO, Army and other service initiatives contributed directly to the reduction in IED capabilities. No individual piece of the puzzle provided the complete solution. However, operating in concert, these broad range of political, stability, CIED and security initiatives arguably have made a difference. From my perspective, question to Outlaw 7 is please "show us the data."

Fifth, author claims that the "Regular Army can in fact replace the SF community ... and this is the opening round for RA to claim FID." I would argue that this is also not accurate. The conduct of tasks to train foreign forces such as the Afghanistan National Security Forces and Iraqi Security Forces were missions that expanded to GPF due to lack of SOF capacity. Significant capacity shortfalls led the General Purpose Forces to also develop skills in MTT areas. Moreover, building partner capacity is important to all forces (GPF or SOF) for future engagements. There is no stated intent for this to occur.

Sixth, the comment that "there is no centralized IW training center" may be accurate, however, also not necessarily relevant. In keeping with the need for the Army's generating and operating forces to become more adaptive; it would not make good sense to create a new training center for each new threat. What makes good sense is to continue to improve the Combat Training Centers which use the military decision-making process (MDMP), red teaming, war gaming, and expertise from functionals such as WIT, PRTs, MTTs, HTTs, DOMEX, and others to practice complex, realistic, and demanding training in an operational environment that not only confronts BCTs with challenges with insurgencies, but with realistic combined arms situations. However, in fact, COM-ISAF has ordered BCT leadership to attend COIN training center in Kabul.

Seventh, he claims that the Army does not teach "open source warfare" as a standing doctrine of IW. Many officers that are knowledgeable of open source warfare techniques would note that these skills have been a backbone of training for some time. Officers are taught to review open source materiel, large agencies regularly report on open source (DIA, NGIC, CIA) information. Threat use of open source material is observed and monitored. IO, to a significant degree, has been a part of OSW. While DoD may not specifically call these activities OSW, the skill sets are certainly being advanced today.

Eighth, Outlaw 7 notes that the JTOIC is involved with "hand feeding information to the BCT" and that the COIC/JTCOIC are repetitive. This information appears to be about two years old. During the early 2007 stage, the CTC scenarios were not robust or in depth enough to properly replicate the complex INTEL environment required to conduct a thorough AtN. In early 2008, these comments would have had credibility. Today, the CTCs have in-depth scenarios, uses historical reporting, and multi-INT threads that assist the BCT in better identifying and targeting the insurgent network from both a lethal and non-lethal stance. Concerning duplication of effort, the JTCOIC has taken on a mission that the COIC could not provide without detracting from war time support. The time and resources needed to train Joint units prior to deployment is somewhat cumbersome and does justify a separate but complimentary effort.