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Thread: Old Culture And New Mission

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    Old Culture And New Mission

    A very interesting read from The Strategy Page Blog

    http://www.thestrategybridge.com/the...nd-new-mission

    Old Culture and New Mission in the U.S. Army

    Daniel W. Clark · May 12, 2016

    The prolific Tom Ricks offered an essay contest recently on his Foreign Policy blog Best Defense. The question was, "What is the single most important thing the U.S. Military should do to adjust to the emerging realities of the Information Age?”

    It baffles me that in the 21st century the U.S. Army, the most professional fighting force on the face of the earth, is still infatuated by a future of combat centered on tank battles in the fields or valleys of Eurasia.

    While I applaud Mr. Ricks' recognition that adjustment to the Information Age is necessary, he is asking the wrong question. There is no "most important" thing; there is no single magic lever to pull that will solve the world's problems. To claim otherwise makes one sound like they are trying to hock a diet pill.

    The key instead is to pull multiple levers, to varying degrees, at different times. Therefore the better question might be, "Where is a good place the U.S. Military can start to adjust..."

    The best place I can think of to start, at this particular moment in history, is with a change in Army culture.

    It baffles me that in the 21st century the U.S. Army, the most professional fighting force on the face of the earth, is still infatuated by a future of combat centered on tank battles in the fields or valleys of Eurasia. Truly no one, myself included, knows what the next war will be; and the U.S. Army should absolutely be prepared for large scale conflict. However, in the information age surely we can accept as a planning assumption that neither the Russians nor the Chinese are likely to be so foolish as to take on the United States Army in a tank on tank, soldier to soldier, missile for missile ground war. The tools for much less costly and far more effective conflict are readily available in commercial off-the-shelf applications, advanced narrative delivery—through diffuse social media applications and whole of government efforts—and cyber warfare. Only after having crippled the U.S. information infrastructure would these potential foes mount a physical assault—if at all necessary.

    As the Army refines Army Doctrine Publication 1, The Army, our core competencies should include information warfare in addition to the current list of combined arms maneuver and wide area security. Warfare in the information age is being fought for superiority in the information domain. A quick search of the media will reveal a host of articles on ISIL, Russia, China, and others conducting superior information warfare while U.S. strategic leaders struggle to understand Twitter. As the most technologically advanced force on earth, information warfare should be a primary method we employ in combating our enemies.

    Because doctrine is the basis from which we develop our methods in practice, and because Army Doctrine Publication 1 effectively defines Army Culture—what the U.S. Army is about—it stands to reason that this is an important step in changing the Army’s culture to more adequately address the likely challenges of future conflict. One of Ricks’ respondents, Col. Chip Bircher, supports this same conclusion in his essay, stating simply, “Doctrine defines how we operate, and even how we think about ourselves.”

    But what to me seems obvious is somehow lost in the bog of bureaucratic defense modernization. The former Commander, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Gen. Robert Brown regularly discusses people as the most important advantage for the U.S. Army. Still, the Army spends more than $1.6 billion on development of materiel capabilities while only investing approximately $50 million on developing human capabilities; and there appears to be serious discussion to lower even that number.

    This is not surprising given that our leaders have made their careers through tactical command positions where success was defined by how well they maneuvered against a superior force at a combat training center. To the majority of senior Army leadership, a focus on "decisive action" (in what used to be referred to as high intensity conflict) remains the key to success, because it was the key to their success. Our most senior leaders are combat arms professionals and they are good at it. Direct conflict won through superior tactics is bred into the Army's DNA, as is evidenced by the swift victories in Operation Desert Storm and the initial ground invasion phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. However, no matter how many tactical battles we may win, I doubt you will hear a resounding “yes” if you ask any soldier who was there if we won in Vietnam, if we won in Iraq...or if we're winning in Afghanistan.


    The problem is that we have become so demonstrably good at tactics that no other force on earth would stand a chance going toe to toe with American military might and ingenuity; and they all know it. So, they find ways to avoid our strengths while attacking our weaknesses. The same ingenuity that helped mold the U.S. Army of the 20th century now seems so lacking in our culture that we have become mired in 20th century thinking. Imagine a combat training center iteration where a successful information campaign prevents the opposition forces from even crossing the international border—inconceivable.

    Currently the Army maintains an inventory of approximately 300 personnel whose expertise is the coordination and synchronization of information related capabilities. Beyond that, field-grade officers receive a mind-boggling one-hour long block of instruction during Command and General Staff Officer School (intermediate level professional military education) while most company-grade leaders receive no formal education or training in information operations.

    None of this is to say that kinetic operations are a thing of the past. In fact, the Project on Asymmetric Narrative Approaches argues correctly that, “a bullet still sends a message.” However, the aforementioned lack of understanding leads to information as an afterthought when planning operations. Other nations plan and execute actions to create information effects; the U.S. Army sprinkles “information operations fairy dust” on operations after-the-fact. Even the officers trained in information operations have been removed from the Army's primary tactical formation, the brigade combat team. The value of this decision can only be positive if the rest of the organization understands the powerful impact of information. The whole team must understand how to synchronize their words with their deeds and images to send a coherent message that can break through the static and counter the onslaught of effective enemy efforts. Increasing the amount of commissioned and non-commissioned officer education and training in the field of information warfare, at least on par with that of maneuver tactics, would develop a force that thinks about and understands the impacts of information on the operational environment. Without that capability, no amount of tactical success will ever again lead to strategic victory.

    By changing our culturally biased thought processes to better balance our predilection for direct tactical combat with the consideration for the impacts of our actions on the information environment we stand a better chance of being prepared for the more likely future of conflict. By delineating information warfare as a core competency and increasing the number of personnel trained and educated in understanding information warfare the U.S. Army can begin to truly develop its capacity to manage the changing realities of the information age. Perhaps then we will move from a force trapped in the industrial age to one capable of winning our nation’s wars in the information age.


    Daniel W. Clark is a U.S. Army information operations officer and the director of communications for a civilian flight training and flight services corporation. The opinions expressed are his own and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

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    No software line of code has ever taken or held ground.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    No software line of code has ever taken or held ground.
    No disagreements, sir.

    But I do think we have become too hardware centric in our approach in DOD and less on personnel centric.

    The Big War you and I trained for is not likely to come. We need the forces to deal with that but they have to be able to handle the more likely scenarios which are more liable to occur.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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    I submit that we've been doing that since WWII. Substitute "INTEL" and "SIGSEC" for "information age." Then clearly, we're not that ignorant of the technology. In fact, we're light years ahead of the rest of the world. The reccee battle is the most important engagement - to find the enemy, to blind the enemy and what's more, the collapse of our cyber systems did not stop us. Ice Storm 98 and Blackout 2003 saw 20,000+ Canadian and American troops mobilized overnight and delivered to trouble spots within 48 hours.

    And do we really want to be responsible for the grocery store's delivery schedule? Do we really want to ensure a head of lettuce arrives in store 48 hours after harvest?

    I can see us being vulnerable but not towards hacking but the good fashion SIG denial. Chaff to disrupt our radios. An EMP burst to fry our electronics. All much more effective and delivery much more ensured than a computer virus or a back door hack into our SIGS.
    Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 12 May 16, at 18:07.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    I submit that we've been doing that since WWII. Substitute "INTEL" and "SIGSEC" for "information age." Then clearly, we're not that ignorant of the technology.
    Colonel, 10 years ago decision support systems were deterministic models built and codified on expert-opinion and historic-data. About 5 years ago, we started seeing less and less ROI after refining the models over 30+ years and throwing more hardware at the problem. At the same time machine-learning and neural networks have started maturing from computer science department to the systems engineering department. It is already forcing a massive culture change here... and it will have even more impact on the warfighter/end-user.

    For me SIGSEC is a supporting function -- very important for the proper functioning of the system, but as you said it is not very novel. INTEL is one possible output -- albeit the output that requires the least cultural readjustment; the more interesting output is in the CONTROL space.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus View Post
    Colonel, 10 years ago decision support systems were deterministic models built and codified on expert-opinion and historic-data. About 5 years ago, we started seeing less and less ROI after refining the models over 30+ years and throwing more hardware at the problem. At the same time machine-learning and neural networks have started maturing from computer science department to the systems engineering department. It is already forcing a massive culture change here... and it will have even more impact on the warfighter/end-user.

    For me SIGSEC is a supporting function -- very important for the proper functioning of the system, but as you said it is not very novel. INTEL is one possible output -- albeit the output that requires the least cultural readjustment; the more interesting output is in the CONTROL space.
    The problem is not with the system. The problem is believing the enemy's propaganda. The author mentions that we have no clue about twitter. Why the hell should we?

    They pump out a lie and everyone goes ape shit believing it's the truth. I rather pump out their bodies into mass graves.
    Chimo

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    Why is there always the notion that there won't be a big war you dinos trained for?

    There might not be the war you've trained for, but there will be a (big) war. It's just in the human nature.
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    Thing with IO of the recent times is that they make lil' green men appear they're not really in existence.Or good old fashion demoralization of the enemy,ISIS style.Or same old style EW,albeit at lower levels than before.

    Big wars decide big problems and the world is full of big problems and they're increasing in numbers.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    We are in a big war...and it will be multigenerational.

    I speak, of course, of the fight between the West and the Radical Wahhabis. I am not saying this is a new Crusade v Turks. But for a lot of reasons it will be some time before the Judeo-Christian civilizations of the West will be able to coexist with Islamic civilizations if the radical elements within BOTH are not defeated.

    But I do not see a Big War as we believed we would see in Europe in the Cold War...and believe me, we thought it was happening in the early to mid 1980s. It will continue to be a long, hard, nasty fight. And much of the future success will only come when the various nation states recognize they can have tribalism but it has to work towards collective national goals. In the Muslim world this means Shias and Shiites must agree to disagree over their differences and agree to work together to defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, ... just as in the West the various faiths....and political systems...agreed to disagree and live together. It is sometimes imperfect and there have been horrific examples of where has not worked in recent decades but we are still holding our societies together.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
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    "...But I do not see a Big War as we believed we would see in Europe in the Cold War..."

    Ummm...Buck, the war for which we were preparing wouldn't have been a "Big War". That would have truly been the "mother of all battles". Kursk times twenty at tempos unimagined twenty years previous.

    A "...Big War..." is eminently possible in a variety of places today. Korea is a very real consideration. So too any of the various archipelagos currently being eyed by a hegemonic CCP. Then there's the Lebanese-Israeli border. Georgia and eastern Europe, of course. Pakistan-India-CCP. Finally, perhaps the Arctic? All of these would immediately engage one or more great powers possessing modern armed forces in some number and skill.

    For myself, I most fear open combat in the South China Sea. It would almost certainly place America and the CCP face-to-face as the primary antagonists. Such a war would likely demand America's engagement as a practical, if also ultimate, challenge to the U.S. Navy's raison d'etre- defense of global commercial sea-lanes. Worse, it would be fought on turf in our antagonist's backyard while really far from our shores. Our survival is premised upon free and unfettered access of the earth's sea-lanes by all. That is, as a matter of CCP policy, being eroded daily while met with meaningless diplomatic victories, public vitriol and tacit practical acquiescence to an evolving status quo suggesting the Chinese own new ground upon which they never intend leaving.

    Then there's the matter of this issue becoming an emotional point-of-pride for the Chinese. Anything from cynical "crazy Ivan" bluffs, internal CCP struggles or even cries of Chinese manifest destiny could trigger something from which neither side could back away.

    Big wars, IMV, remain a very real danger. That danger is exacerbated by those who'd dismantle our efforts to prepare for such. Should we see overmatch erode (and we are) we'll almost certainly enter a more unstable, unpredictable world.
    Last edited by S2; 08 Sep 16, at 07:12.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post

    For myself, I most fear open combat in the South China Sea. It would almost certainly place America and the CCP face-to-face as the primary antagonists. Such a war would likely demand America's engagement as a practical, if also ultimate, challenge to the U.S. Navy's raison d'etre- defense of global commercial sea-lanes. Worse, it would be fought on turf in our antagonist's backyard while really far from our shores. Our survival is premised upon free and unfettered access of the earth's sea-lanes by all. That is, as a matter of CCP policy, being eroded daily while met with meaningless diplomatic victories, public vitriol and tacit practical acquiescence to an evolving status quo suggesting the Chinese own new ground upon which they never intend leaving.

    Then there's the matter of this issue becoming an emotional point-of-pride for the Chinese. Anything from cynical "crazy Ivan" bluffs, internal CCP struggles or even cries of Chinese manifest destiny could trigger something from which neither side could back away.

    Big wars, IMV, remain a very real danger. That danger is exacerbated by those who'd dismantle our efforts to prepare for such. Should we see overmatch erode (and we are) we'll almost certainly enter a more unstable, unpredictable world.
    absolutely, for me the big 2 are the south china sea and the east china sea.

    russia is also testing canadian (and by association the US if you do a long draw of the bow) resolve in the arctic waters as she's redrawing international claims on borders based on climate change impact and by triggering the issue of definition based on continental shelf issues. russia is pouring money back into the northern fleet and is reactivating old cold war bases with almost indecent haste

    the finger pluck date for conflict with china used to be circa 2030'ish, I think that probably been bought forward 10 years as they consider the US to be feckless (as do the russians)

    in absolute terms, IMO its already started, its just that they're positioning their pieces and nobody is paying attention because there has been no shooting. Unfort I think there will be kinetic happening within 5 years

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    Steve, I get your point. You and I both know that during the Cold War the Big War would have been in Europe and as you describe.

    And I see your point over the South China Sea. Totally agree with you guys.

    I guess what I was trying to say is that for the Gen Xers & Millennials and their progeny the fight against Wahabiism, etc, would be their multigenerational fight...and they better prepare for it.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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    I get a bit worried. Kinetic was not on the map for the last, well almost 30 years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post

    I guess what I was trying to say is that for the Gen Xers & Millennials and their progeny the fight against Wahabiism, etc, would be their multigenerational fight...and they better prepare for it.
    depending on which analyst you speak to - the worst I've heard was that this will go on for 3 generations. - we're almost at the end of the 1st generation already.

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