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March 11, 2005

News you can use.

Blogger? Blog from/about work? News you can use.

Strategy Page is chock full of fun this morning.

Dick Tracy, call your office.

Jim hears what I hear about the recruiting picture for the Active Component. I differ with Jim regarding the impact on the Guard and Reserve - I think the paradigm shift of defending the Homeland to Virtual Regular but still Second Team has really started to impact recruiting and retention - and that Household 6 (spouses) are flexing their muscles in this arena. And Jim has a piece up that talks to exactly that. There is also this, about the drop in black recruits, which mirrors analysis I seen elsewhere with friends who work in Accessions Command.

This following has been a topic of discussion at work. Due to intellectual property rights and disclosure agreements, I can't really do substantive posts on this issue out of fairness to the client and (freely accepted and understood) obligations to my employer. That doesn't mean, however, that I can't post other people's work that I substantially agree with - I just can't go into the details of why...

So, here is a post I would have written (in most respects) were I able to - my problem is I couldn't write it credibly without work sneaking into it. None of my work has crept into this piece!

From the fellows at FPRI - worthy of considering joining, if you have an interest in this stuff. The Armorer almost pursued a doctorate in the subject of Foreign Relations.


March 8, 2005

Keith W. Mines recently retired from the U.S. Army reserves after 22 years of active, reserve, and National Guard service, including military and civilian assignments in Grenada, Honduras, El Salvador, Israel, Somalia, Haiti, Hungary, Afghanistan, and Iraq. A former intelligence analyst, he currently serves as a Political Officer with the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. Mr. Mines is a founding member of the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA). These views are decidedly his own and do not reflect U.S.
government policy.


by Keith W. Mines

The United States military has undergone two transformations since the end of the Cold War. The first, from 1989 to 2000, was marked by a simple downsizing of the force, a reduction from 18 to 10 Army divisions, from 2 million to 1.4 million personnel. There was some modernization of equipment and limited transformation of doctrine and tactics, but the end-state was essentially a smaller version of the Cold War force.

The second transition, from 2000 to the present, took this smaller force and made it more effective by capitalizing on new technologies and better management.

While downsizing was an unavoidable response to the demise of Cold Wars mega-threats, and transformation a natural effort to improve and modernize a somewhat stodgy force, the net result has been a near disaster. The current force is simply too small to manage the totality of America's threats, and holding the line on a permanent increase in the future will create a risky window of vulnerability. In short, we are managing a 16-division fight with a 10-division force. Powell was right: we need to be prepared to apply overwhelming force overwhelmingly, and to do so we need a much larger ground force.

The rest in contained in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

IRAQ - A CATALOGUE OF LOSS The catalogue of what we have lost for refusing to increase the size of the force to respond to the post-9/11 world is considerable. It has played out in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the larger war on terror, and is causing structural damage to the force itself.

I served for seven months in Iraq's Al Anbar Province and experienced the net result of the minimalist force structure first hand. The trivialization of the force-size debate that took place during the recent campaign ought to now be revisited in a serious manner. Whether field commander X requested more troops at any given time is less the issue than what a larger force might have produced in Iraq in terms of stability and ultimate success. And the answer is a good deal.

First, a larger force could have stopped the looting that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the allied advance. The absence of a follow-on force to quickly replace the dissolved host country police and security forces allowed a security vacuum to evolve that tainted the occupation and destroyed key infrastructure. It also created a window of opportunity for the insurgents that never completely closed.

Second, the border was left largely unchecked. In Al Anbar, which is one-third of Iraq and has the key Saudi, Jordanian, and Syrian borders, there was a single cavalry regiment (the 3d ACR, about 10,000 troops) to cover the entire province from May to September 2004. This incredibly skilled unit conducted a holding action in Al Anbar that should be studied as an economy of force operation by war planners. But no amount of skill can compensate for simple lack of manpower and large swaths of the border were left unwatched. The arrival of the 82d Airborne Division in the fall of 2004 helped, but even a division was inadequate to cover the province's vast terrain. To date the border has never been adequately defended, and the rat lines of foreign fighters never fully closed.

A third area was the garrisoning of cities, something which in Al Anbar was destined to be controversial because of the contrarian nature of its Sunni population. While the Sunnis would never have endured a lengthy occupation, there was a window of opportunity in the immediate aftermath of the invasion when they watched to see which way the wind was blowing. A large occupation force which rapidly provided security, rebuilt the infrastructure, provided jobs, and trained host country security forces would have been endured through the middle of 2004 and could have won over a large enough swath of the society to squeeze out the operating space of the insurgents. Absent such a force the coalition ended up with a sitting occupation that garnered resentment.

The training of host country security forces was a fourth key area. The training of the new Iraqi army was handed off to contractors who worked very effectively given their limited mandate, but whose timeline stretched into 2006 before the new force would begin to deploy. A police training program was even slower to materialize so coalition military units were forced to use internal assets to conduct training programs. This effort worked well in some areas but less well in others; it was in any event never something the force was adequately staffed to carry out. In Al Anbar, the absence of adequate forces to conduct police training meant that by the summer of 2004, a full year into the occupation, there was not a single police officer who had more than 3 weeks of training. The Iraqi Civil Defense Force was a further ad hoc effort to create security forces that was hampered by the simple unavailability of dedicated trainers.

A fifth key area was securing lines of communication. The LOCs in Iraq stretched to thousands of miles, and traffic on them was constant -- they have always been vulnerable. Engineering assets were unavailable to improve physical security of lines of communication and special units were unavailable to conduct operations against those attacking them. Hundreds of coalition casualties accrue to the simple inability to provide security to these LOCs.

Sixth, and perhaps the most visible cost of the inadequate force levels in Iraq, was POW management. The reports on Abu Ghraib show a guard force that was overwhelmed and exhausted. A larger force dedicated to prisoner of war duty would not alone have fixed the problems of morale and discipline there, but it would have gone a long way to ensuring the proper conduct of these facilities.

A seventh and final area was the apportionment of civil affairs units. In Al Anbar there was a single company of civil affairs specialists to cover the entire province when I arrived in August of 2003. Like their companions in the 3d ACR they were incredible force economizers, but admitted they were fully unable to conduct the range of governance and infrastructure projects that were required to produce stability. A full brigade of civil affairs specialists (the 304th) arrived during the fall of 2004 and was, for six months, able to carry on an incredible amount of work (this may, as an aside, have had something to do with the stability the province experienced during that period). But this unit was finishing its year-long deployment and transitioned out in the spring, it was replaced again by a much smaller unit.

The minimalist force structure in Iraq has been wrong from the start, and has produced a level of hostility and confusion that may be too late to correct. Given two possible models for successful transitions -- El Salvador with its very small number of advisors and reliance on host country forces designed to deflect nationalist rage, and Germany, with an overwhelming force garrisoned in the country for a decade -- in Iraq we chose neither. Instead we have worked the middle ground, with just enough forces to elicit a strong response from Iraqi nationalists but inadequate forces to make the transition work. It has been a veritable recipe for instability.

Our lack of adequate forces is causing lost opportunities and security vacuums elsewhere. In Afghanistan we similarly fought with the minimal number of forces possible. This was adequate to win the war but inadequate to win the peace, its later reversal was welcome and may have occurred in time to correct the earlier error. In any event it was a concession that nation-building of the kind that is required in the post-9/11 world is manpower intensive and there are simply few work-arounds.

The key gaps in Afghanistan were with the training of host country security forces and extending security into the countryside to strengthen the central government and deny sanctuary to resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The training mission for the new Afghan army was initially given to a Special Forces company, a force multiplier to be sure, but not a force that was large enough to train a national army of such ethnic and geographic diversity. The slow roll-out of this force and unavailability of international forces to cover the gap (which could have been leveraged by a larger U.S. force), left the Karzai government without the forces it needed to extend its control over the countryside, something which is only now, two years later, slowly
beginning to take place.

Elsewhere we are also losing opportunities, less dramatic but no less important. We have all but stopped our engagement with host country forces in the new democracies of Central Europe and those we conduct with our new Central Asian allies are done in a seriously reduced scale, there are simply not enough U.S. forces to conduct exercises. Similarly engagement with traditional allies has also ground to a halt and we have attempted unsuccessfully to outsource engagement with African militaries. This key piece of alliance building and interoperability has been crucial to our ability to work with and develop allies, and for decades has been a major factor in keeping other countries in the game and focused, while promoting the western model of civil-military relations for emerging democracies. It is also key to the next phase of the war on terror, much of which will be fought not through large-scale regime changing campaigns like Afghanistan and Iraq, but in the shadows, and generally not by blue-eyed Farsi speaking Americans, but by host country forces. Engagement with these forces is crucial to this piece of the campaign. At our current pace of operations, we will not have the ability to conduct traditional exercises and engagement for several years.

The minimalist force structure is also creating structural problems in the force itself. The very nature of service in the National Guard and Reserves is changing in such a way that makes sustaining the force an impossibility. Guardsmen and Reservists have lives, families, careers. The unwritten understanding has always been that reservists would be deployed for six months at a time in peacekeeping missions such as the Balkans and Haiti, or up to a year in wars such as Gulf I. Contractually, they know that they can be called up for as long as two years and are prepared for that possibility in extreme cases. But few reservists and even fewer soldiers and officers leaving active duty are prepared to be used as filler for an inadequate active duty force over a twenty year career. And the best of our officers and NCOs, the ones who have real jobs that provide them the valuable experience they bring to the guard and reserves when they are called up, will not be able to sustain constant long-term call-ups. Having spent the past two
decades rebuilding the force from the hollow army of the 70's, we are hollowing it out again, and doing long-term structural damage to the force in the process.

What size force then, does America need? It has become almost clich to say that the greatest threat the U.S. faces is of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists. It is perhaps more accurate, and more helpful, to consider that the world is in the throes of the greatest geopolitical revolution in three and a half centuries. As Michael Ignatieff puts it "the ascendancy of the modern state might be closing. Since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, ending the Thirty Years War, international order has
depended on states possessing a monopoly of the legitimate means of force within their own territory and having this monopoly recognized by other states." He says that despite the failure of the system to stop the orgy of interstate war that nearly destroyed European civilization between 1914 and 1945 "such order as there is in international relations has depended on the fact that states alone possessed the capacity to make war, and that holders of state power could reliably assume that other holders of state power would desist from aggression if presented with a credible threat of force. . . The success of deterrence has encouraged us all to believe that states could be presumed to be rational enough not to engage in surprise or preemptive use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons on any occasion... This era may now be ending." Ignatieff then goes on to examine what the new era could do to liberal democracies and their free institutions if it plays out that non-state actors do acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, a vital question. But the operational question is what kind of force is required to successfully manage international security in this new, revolutionary age.

If the Cold War threat was of a single freight train which the Free World needed to stop in its tracks and contain from laying track elsewhere, the post-9/11 threat is of a thousand Passats driving undetected around the world, some with components for weapons of mass destruction and some with terrorists. The security of the civilized world depends on reducing the number of these Passats while stopping new Passats from being built. It requires a wide range of operations -- a combination of alliance building and engagement, nation-building and training of host country forces, direct action missions by special forces (generally with a large conventional support structure), and most importantly, direct confrontation and the threat of occupation. The latter is one of the most compelling tools the United States has to manage this unsettling world. It can be a deterrent that dampens the enthusiasm for weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism, and can be used as it has been in Iraq and Afghanistan to directly change threatening regimes. But the deterrent is no better than the force that would carry it out. And there can be little doubt that the deterrent value of the U.S. force is less today than it was in 2002, before the display of our minimalist force structure was made in Iraq.

All of these are manpower intensive tasks, and taken together are just as daunting as the task of containing Soviet communism. All can be supported by better technology and transformation, but technology applied to assisting human beings, not as a stand-alone component. Hence the limits of transformation when applied to smaller force levels.

Precisely how much larger the military needs to be I leave to the experts. But one would hope it would be left to force planners, not ideologues. The battle of Fallujah, but for the presence of precision close-air support, was fought
not all that differently than the siege of Stalingrad or Antwerp. In such fights there is no substitute for adequate numbers. The current U.S. military fights better than any force in history. It is owed the simple quantity to match
its quality.

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