Monday, December 11, 2006

"Don't Stop with Rumsfeld"

The first article is up!


I will link this on the sidebar, as well as use this post to hod any comments that you wish to make.

From Frank:

With the spate of recent events related to the Iraq War, I thought I’d offer my opinion and analysis. This is the first of a four part series on my analysis of recent events. The first will deal with the removal of Donald Rumsfeld, followed by my take on the Iraq Study Group Report, next will be on the failure of the State Department and finally, where I see the real changes need to be made to put us on the right course for success.


Again, a big thank you to Frank for taking the time to foray into Blogging. Hopefully he won't be the only one to take up the challenge to expand what is available in the local blogosphere.

21 comments:

sirocco said...

An interesting opening volley ... I have the following questions and comments:

1. Typically, special forces commanders are dealing with relatively small unit sizes and different sets of logistics than regular units. Modern warfare consists of intelligence and logistics at least as much (more, really) as tactical and operational planning.

As undoubtedly talented and experienced as the men named by Mr. Antenori are, what in their background and experience shows they are capable of handling the necessary logistical load for theater size forces? It's at least arguable that command of traditional units (batallion, brigade, division, corps) provides a basis for this.

Further, considering we are, at least technically, working in hand with the Iraqi government, there's something to be said about politics being a large part of the job for whomever is in charge there - something Mr. Antenori seems to sneer at.

I'm actually in favor of a change of approach, but for all the strengths someone with a special forces background might bring to the table, lets not overlook the weaknesses they may have as well.


2. I go back-and-forth on the Sadr thing. My gut reaction is to just shoot the bastard and get it over with. Of course, that's just going to lead to a full split with his supporters, greater support for the insurgency, etc.

Then again, on the third hand, it's not like those supporters are doing anything constructive to help Iraq in the first place, so I waffle back to just biting the bullet and shooting him again.


2. Mr. Antenori says:

"Casey and Abazaid have also done nothing to stop the meddling of Iran and Syria who are supplying weapons and money to the enemy in Iraq."

Of course, the enemy in Iraq is not so clearly defined, but the primary source of insurgents seems to be the Sunni's ... and right now, they seem to be getting their funding and backing from Saudi Arabia.

Frank Antenori said...

Sirocco,
Thanks for the comments and the questions. I’d be happy to both clarify and explain some of my opinions, and address the points you raise,


sirocco said...
An interesting opening volley ... I have the following questions and comments:
1. Typically, special forces commanders are dealing with relatively small unit sizes and different sets of logistics than regular units. Modern warfare consists of intelligence and logistics at least as much (more, really) as tactical and operational planning.
Your assumption is the same misconception held by many.

-----Obviously you are unaware of the composition and mission roles of a Special Forces Group, or what is more commonly used in GWOT, the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF –pronounced Jus-so-tif). A Special Forces Group is MTOE’d very heavy in intelligence assets. Besides a Military Intelligence Company assigned to the Group, it also has assigned what are known as SOT-As or Special Operations Teams - Alpha.

SOT-As are National Security Agency level assets assigned to SF Groups to provide ELINT (Electrical Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) to the Special Forces Group all the way down to the A-Team level. Many times they are deployed along with an A-Team.

These guys have assets in their “tool box” that are not available to a conventional infantry or armor brigade. They work closely with other “three-letter agencies” within the U.S. Government to provide an intel asset unmatched on the battlefield.

SF Also works closely with the CIA. They have done this since the days of the OSS. In Afghanistan, we had a CIA country team and all of their intelligence assets, assigned to our safe house in Gardez. The 101st ABN division doesn’t even have that type of intel support, let alone the knowledge of how to use them and work cohesively with them.

You’re also probably unaware of the global reach of SOF units and the complicated logistical challenges they face as well. Unlike conventional brigades that generally deploy with all of their subordinate units (Battalions, Companies, Platoons) as a whole unit, SOF units deploy small units individually. What this means is while a conventional Brigade commander does his logistical planning, he usually does it in the scope of a single unit deployment to a single location. Whereas a SF Group commander had to deploy dozens of teams to dozens of counties simultaneously. There was a time when teams from a single SF Group were in over 20 countries throughout the globe at one time, and Special Forces Command (The division size command for Army SF) had teams that it was responsible for in 105 countries overall.

The logistical planning for a conventional commander is actually easier since the moving parts of the plan are few, but admittedly on a bigger scale. The SF commander has to deal with hundreds of different moving parts since each country and region is different, the aircraft support to deploy those units, the schedule and route planning, and communications planning is far more complicated and elaborate as well.

Also, SF officers learn to lead fast and handle all aspects associated with running large scale operations far sooner then their conventional counterparts. Not to mention the added challenges of operating with non-English speaking host nation soldiers as well as not having access to the latest state of the art C4ISR equipment or having a huge logistical support train to run your operations; you have to learn how to do more with less.

What this does is foster simplicity, efficiency and the need to exploit “in country” logistical assets to accomplish the mission.

The conventional Army has the tendency to pack up everything they own and move it in theater. Then they require this huge logistical support train from CONUS to maintain it. They also have a huge force protection burden to protect all of it. This essentially takes one entire battalion out of the Brigade to “protect the gear in the rear” cutting the combat power by 33% right off the bat. -----

sirocco said...
As undoubtedly talented and experienced as the men named by Mr. Antenori are, what in their background and experience shows they are capable of handling the necessary logistical load for theater size forces? It's at least arguable that command of traditional units (batallion, brigade, division, corps) provides a basis for this.

------As I mentioned in the Op Ed, General Gary Harrell was the SOCCENT. This is the equivalent of a Division level command. General Doug Brown, who I didn’t mention, is currently commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). This is one of five major combatant commands, on an equal keel with Abazaid’s CENTCOM, as well as SOUTHCOM, NORTCOM, EUCOM, and PACOM. Rumsfeld had a desire for SOCOM to be the lead combatant command in the War on Terror, but once again, the “mafia” in the Pentagon subverted it and left Abazaid in charge.-----

sirocco said...
Further, considering we are, at least technically, working in hand with the Iraqi government, there's something to be said about politics being a large part of the job for whomever is in charge there - something Mr. Antenori seems to sneer at.

-----Generals, while they unfortunately need to be political animals, still need to remain warriors and “results oriented performers.” What Casey and Abazaid have done is spend far too much time on the political side, placating their boss, by pumping sunshine up their “you know what,” playing around with the media and members of Congress, and trying to reduce U.S. casualties by limiting operations and building a huge force protection force, rather than an offensive operations combat force. (I'll be covering this in more detail in a future piece).-----

sirocco said...
I'm actually in favor of a change of approach, but for all the strengths someone with a special forces background might bring to the table, lets not overlook the weaknesses they may have as well.


-----If you compare and contrast strengths and weaknesses as applied to the current fight, there is no doubt you will have to come to the same conclusions I did. I’ll admit that I am a bit biased, but I would never suggest a SF officer command an all out armor assault on approaching Soviet tanks, so why would you want an armor officer commanding what is essentially a guerilla war?-----

sirocco said...
I go back-and-forth on the Sadr thing. My gut reaction is to just shoot the bastard and get it over with. Of course, that's just going to lead to a full split with his supporters, greater support for the insurgency, etc.

Then again, on the third hand, it's not like those supporters are doing anything constructive to help Iraq in the first place, so I waffle back to just biting the bullet and shooting him again.
Just think of all the trouble shooting Hitler in 1936 would have saved when we first noticed him building his war machine. Sadr will continue to grow in power and trust me, he will be no fried of any western country, not just the U.S.


2. Mr. Antenori says:

"Casey and Abazaid have also done nothing to stop the meddling of Iran and Syria who are supplying weapons and money to the enemy in Iraq."

Of course, the enemy in Iraq is not so clearly defined, but the primary source of insurgents seems to be the Sunni's ... and right now, they seem to be getting their funding and backing from Saudi Arabia.

-----I disagree. The enemy is clearly defined. The individual soldiers dressed as civilians may be difficult to separate from similarly dressed non-combatants, but the guys pulling their strings, training them, equiping them, funding them and issuing their orders are well known. I have personally seen the Secret “Bubble Chart” of all the players and leaders of the opposition forces (any entity that is not directly aligned with the U.S) currently causing trouble in Iraq.

We know exactly who the trouble makers are and have a pretty good idea where they are. If the politicians (Both U.S. and Iraqi) would allow our forces to dispose of them, things would dramatically settle down.

What it seems many don’t understand is that war is not a game of compromise to the middle, but an absolute; there’s a winner and a loser. We haven’t been playing to win, our troops have been fighting by an over-burdensome set of rules (while our enemies ignore all rules and laws of warfare), and we continue to allow people who are not in positions of authority or elected to shape policy and strategy.

Imagine what would have happened if Roosevelt had asked a “blue ribbon panel” how to fight WWII, if Eisenhower let members of Congress shape his strategy and if we fought with the goal of obtaining “an exit strategy” instead of either destroying the enemy or obtaining his surrender?

We’d all be speaking German right now and Al Gore would have never been able to invent the internet for us to have this debate on.
Frank

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Frank:

Delighted to see you are posting here. Read your original post as well as your response, and it makes me angry, not at yourself, but at the GD politics that crippled military reality, reminds me of Vietnam.

I remain furious with what occurs to me as frankly arrogance and laziness on the part of Cheney and Rumsfeld, who failed to exercise the extra effort and pure "elbow grease" to recognize the new situation and who could best address it. Instead, they pushed the status quo buttons, but even then, they disputed the recommendations of the status quo.

Just like Vietnam, we had arrogant politicians unwilling to listen to those on the ground who understood reality.

It boils my blood, so I can only imagine what it's like for you.

As a lefty, must note that if the dems pull the plug on this thing, note that the republicans had four years to get their shit together about this. Instead, we flounder around and drop like flies.

This engagement, this entire affair, called for new, creative thinking, and old school boneheads prevailed.

It's obscene.

By the way, posted about you at my place today, and for what my tiny opinion is worth, you might want to become a State Senator for a couple years. I think you could do it. Out of my league to discuss LD 30, but LD 26? I hear there are some places for sale that might work for your family.

Anonymous said...

What the ?! Sorry about the multiple posts. Blogger glitch.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating discussion. Thanks Frank for bringing your expertise into the forum.

Framer said...

Congratulations x4mr, you are the first blogger I have had to use my "delete comments" stick on :) I would upgrade to Blogger Beta, but your reaction after your upgrade has frightened me off.

Conversely, Sirocco's questions were very good, and he was very brave to post them, as most everybody else, including myself looks to be intimidated wading into the ring here. His questions, and Frank's response above are just as informative as the original article. If it is OK with you Sirocco, I would like to format your questions and Frank's responses up as another article. That is too much good information to languish in a comments section.

Let me know if that would be OK, Sirocco. I will give both you and Frank the opportunity to "revise and extend" if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Framer,

While not intentional, glad to be of service regarding your opportunity to delete comments.

Regarding the request of Sirocco's permission, you are so courteous. My view is that if someone posts something on a blog, it is fair game for anything.

On those occasions where a comment of mine was copied from a thread and posted in a main story, I was flattered. While I cannot speak for him, I am sure Sirocco would not object to your reproducing his remarks in whatever fashion you deem best.

I think you would be fine with upgrading to the beta now if you wish. The issue with Lefty blogs has been resolved as has (obviously) the issue with posting comments.

sirocco said...

Framer,

You of course have my permission to format my comments and use them in any way you feel would be informative.

Frank,

Thanks very much for the response. I have some follow up comments/questions I'll post later, and I really appreciate the time you took to reply to my first ones.

Also, since I've now seen you post as "Frank", I'll refer to you that way in the future rather than the more formal "Mr. Antenori", assuming that's not objectionable. :)

x4mr,

Just in case you read this ... I've tried to post a couple things at your site yesterday and this morning, but for some reason they aren't being accepted. I'll try again this evenig from another computer.

Framer said...

x4mr,

I concur. I cannot post at your site either. I suspect I will have to upgrade my Google account.

Liza said...

x4mr,
I cannot post at your site either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know this, folks. I will do what I can on my end, but one issue I have discovered involves different browsers. When I upgraded to IE7, the entire posting menu at blogger completely changed. One could not preview a post, use images, and I scratched my head. Using Firefox, the menu was fine.

By the way, Framer, I got an error message at the 9:20 post this morning, but apparently it took after a delay.

Annoying. I just modified to allow anyone to post. You might also try using different browsers.

In case it isn't obvious, comments are most welcome at my place. If trying a different browser works, please email or comment about it so I can spread the word.

thinkright was able to post yesterday. Not sure what was different about him.

Anonymous said...

That 12:07 post took perfectly.

Two key suspects:

1. Must upgrade to google sign in.
2. Which browser you are using.

sirocco said...

Frank,

Thank you very much for taking the time to respod to my comments ... now my response to the response. :)

First, I don't think I made clear in my original post that, in terms of intelligence, I think a SF/LI commander might be advantageous. It's my understanding one of the primary purposes of any SF unit is intelligence gathering and interpretation. Of course, this is true for any unit, but moreso for SF units.

However, on the logistics issue I remain unpursuaded. I don't think there is any question I understimated (probably still underestimate) the complexity of logistics involved for SF units. However, my concern there wasn't just the complexity, but also the type of logistics involved.

There's a difference between supplying many small units, however scattered, and supplying large forces of troops. Particularly given that a large part of our role in Iraq (and Afghanistan) involves helping provide logistical support for the nation itself, it seems impossible to get away from this matter, even if we were to largely re-organize our force structure there along light infantry lines.

The amount of materials and manpower involved is mind-boggling, and I do believe that, on this issue at least, a more traditional military background will be advantageous.

Having said all that, I agree a change at the top is needed, and your quote:

"I would never suggest a SF officer command an all out armor assault on approaching Soviet tanks, so why would you want an armor officer commanding what is essentially a guerilla war?"


... beautifully sums up why.


Regarding the "clarity of enemies" issue, I think we are arguing different things. I don't dispute it's well known who is in charge of and funding the insurgents. Finding them is a different matter (and quite likely something a SF-commander might be better at).

As you note in your response, the standard street fighter can be hard to pick out, unless he has a gun in his hand, and can fade into the populace when he isn't armed. This capability makes things difficult, and emphasizes the need to develop relations with the civilians in the area to help drive the fighters out into the open.

However, the real point to my original comment was that, while Syria and Iran are certainly meddling in affairs, they are meddling on the side of the Shiite factions, who, at least allegedly, are our allies in attempting to form a stable Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, you now have Saudi Arabia, our prime Arab ally in the region, openly declaring it may need to support the Sunnis in Iraq, and is apparently already providing funding under the table to them. The Saudis are afraid of a potential genocidal campaign against their co-sectarionists.

Remember, those Sunnis comprise the majority of the insurgents, and are associated (really, were driven to associate with by our invasion) al-Qaida. So one of the effects of our policy is we find ourselves supporting a government faction also supported by Iran and Syria, while our ally Saudi Arabia is funding the insurgency in the country, and even indirectly supporting al-Qaida, which itself advocates the overthrow of the Saudi ruling family.

What a freaking mess.

swremwin said...

Frank...except for the title and first paragraph, the article makes some good points. I like SecDef Rumsfeld and it is a huge mistake to replace him with a intel/spook like Gates. Anyone who gets all those Demo. Senators to vote for his confirmation is the wrong guy to "boss" uniformed personnel!

A major problem is that Wash.D.C. sent a civilian( Bremmer) over there to do what a military General/Governor should have been tasked with. Example would be Gen. MacArthur in Japan.

Intel said...

Frank-- Thanks for cutting to the heart of the matter. Agreed on all points.

ABigFoot said...

Sounds like Nam all over again. I agree with most of your comments, but especially about using SOF, and Light Infantry. Afganastan proved that, and why the Commanders who instigated those programs were ignored only verifies that "He who works outside the Box, Stays outside" (My quote) Thank you for your input, and for keeping up with this whole mess.

Anonymous said...

NOW if only the "people in charge" would L I S T E N!!!
What a concept. Kudos on your article and thoughts, I couldn't agree more.
Yes, also very Nam-like but who the H listened then? Pain still felt by many of us to this day. Nough said.