Thursday, May 03, 2007

State of the Army

A great post up at deadissue discusses the state of our military and our occupation of Iraq.

Al does an excellent job of taking modern military doctrine (Field Manual 3-24 Counterinsurgency) and making the differences between concept (doctrine) and reality (Iraq / Afghanistan).

Field Manuals are abundant in the Army. If there is a subject area, it has a FM. FM's lay out the basics of military doctrine around these subjects.

FM 21-20 outlines Physical Fitness training in the Army. It even shows a step by step synopsis of some of the demented exercises we used to do for "fitness".

FM 21-10 outlines Field Sanitation and Hygiene issues. Ever dug a "slit trench" before? Man those things are fun!

Old FM 7-8, The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, outlines those operations. How a platoon creates a patrol base, manning an Observation Post, basic patrolling, formations, good stuff like that.

I can say I have not read all 242 pages of FM 3-24.

I do not know that doctrine, but I know soldiers.

First, in this time of Internet security and the global war on terror, I question the appropriateness of widely disseminating our counterinsurgency doctrine.

Al makes some great points about the ability to actually implement the doctrine as well.
Without too many words I can sum up the problem with General Patraeus’ work
(which by the way, I found to be fascinating on a lot of levels and consider to
be a brilliant piece of military literature) and that is the simple fact that
the stated preconditions and environmental resources required to carry out the
prescribed tactics, that according to the manual are necessary to achieve
victory, are impossible to meet and/or obtain. The overall strategy put forth in
FM 3-24 relies on tactics that cannot be applied at all to the situation in
Iraq, and I will highlight a couple for you here:

Pg3: “Conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign thus
requires a flexible, adaptive force led by agile, well-informed, culturally
astute leaders”.

Our military leaders invaded without an understanding of the culture,
and today it is practically impossible for our soldiers and marines to be
“well-informed” and/or “culturally astute” on either a micro or macro

Pg. 48: “3-1. Counterinsurgency (COIN) is an intelligence war…3-2.
Intelligence in COIN is about people. U.S. forces must understand the people of
the host nation, the insurgents, and the host-nation (HN) government. Commanders
and planners must have insight into cultures, perceptions, values, beliefs,
interests and decision-making processes of individuals and groups. These
requirements are the basis for collection and analytical efforts. 3-3.
Intelligence and operations feed back on one another. Effective intelligence
drives effective operations, which produce more intelligence. Similarly,
ineffective or inaccurate intelligence produces ineffective operations, which
reduce the availability of intelligence.”

Intelligence gathering within Iraq is as close to “Mission Impossible”
as it gets. Not only does the military lack personnel that can speak Arabic
fluently, but there is absolutely no incentive for locals to risk helping U.S.
forces, as they will not be provided protection for themselves or their
families, nor will they be allowed to immigrate to the United States. They will
either be dead or forced to flee into Jordan, Syria or another Middle East
nation that is already overrun with refugees. Not to mention the fact that
upwards to 3/4 of the population now views U.S. forces as the enemy, a sentiment
which was cemented following the Abu Gharib evidence becoming public.

Pg 112: 6-1. Success in COIN requires the establishment of a
legitimate government which has the support of the people and is able to address
the fundamental causes that the insurgents use to gain popular support.
Achieving these goals requires the host nation to defeat or render irrelevant
the insurgent forces, uphold the rule of law, and provide a basic level of
essential services and security for the population. Key to all these tasks is
the development of an effective host-nation (HN) security force.“

This doctrine was written by Generals so we know the Bush Administration will simply ignore the doctrine and push status quo.

Secondly, knowing soldiers, they always find a better way to do things. Once I knew the doctrine behind FM 23-1, the former Bradley Gunnery manual, the nuances I learned from other gunners enhanced training.

In talking to Veterans who have served in Iraq, the ability for soldiers to improvise has been severely hampered. As Al points out, its due largely in part to senior officers and enlisteds protecting their careers and future opportunities, at the cost of those junior to them.

We have written about how the Bush Administration is destroying our Army, piece by piece and soldier by soldier. Equipment shortfalls coincide with personnel shortages that force units to rotate back to the sandbox quicker and quicker.

4 years after "Mission Accomplished", I am now gaining a greater understanding that it truly means destroying our modern military and replacing it with a privatized military via the military industrial complex.

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