Monday, November 24, 2014

So you can win battles. So what?

Continuing our series of blog posts and discussion, this weeks piece by Jill Russell @Jsargentr takes aim at the treasured value of “combat effectiveness.” We take for granted that we understand how to value and measure this quality, what is necessary for achieving it, and what issues positively and negatively affect it. Clearly there is something amiss in our approach, because “combat effectiveness” notwithstanding we are lagging at “war effectiveness.” Read the essay and join the discussion on Twitter at #CCLKOW

In the debate regarding women in combat roles and units, the last refuge of the land-power rejectionist camp in both the US and the UK is combat effectiveness [1], the vaunted tactical prowess of the combat arms, particularly the infantry. [2] The stakes – and the implied potency of the argument – rise as one moves from the basic to the special. And let us be clear, combat effectiveness is deployed in any number of policy debates in military affairs. According to many calculations it would seem they are on to something, as Anglo-American dominance of the elite end of the military spectrum is regularly reckoned to account for the top 3 or 4 of the world’s best. And insofar as the standards of combat arms skills go, the regular body of the land forces seem equally indomitable. Clearly this is an enviable position, certainly one worth protecting, regardless of the issue.
Or is it? Considering the record of the last two centuries, the US and the UK seem to do better with an army whose bulk is created as and when. Bear in mind that this alliance defeated the German army despite being the weaker side insofar as close in fighting technique was and has been concerned. [3] On the other hand, the post-WWII advances in tactical capability have not proved their utility, demonstrating instead increasing strategic irrelevance. Of course, dominance of this space, of being the very best individual and small unit fighters and military campaign planners and executors, seems entirely sensible. In reality, however, the diminishing returns to improve past “good enough” to superior have not justified the cost of the attempt, as this must be reckoned not only by the resources used in the pursuit and the record of success, but the opportunity costs of that which has been forsaken as well. Thus, we must accept that the focus upon combat effectiveness has not served the needs of contemporary war. 
This paradox of tactical success nested within strategic failure is clearly on people’s minds. As the US and UK wrap up operations in Afghanistan, the equivocal nature of the results are giving pause. The latest comment last week from US Army Lieutenant General Dubik (ret) surveyed the issue and put the problem on the civilian-military nexus of strategy and policy. [4] And from that perspective he lays out a very convincing case regarding the problems at that level of war. But he never questions the wisdom of attaining or maintaining that tactical prowess, even as it does not deliver success. Assumed within his argument is that if we can only get the strategy and policy in line then we will be able to bring this capability to bear and start winning wars again. 
I do not agree that this paradox is limited to the strategy and policy problems. In addition to the damage done by those issues identified in the general’s article, I would assert as well that the focus upon tactical superiority – in technique, application, and materiel – has incorrectly shaped our thinking. That is, rather than aiming for effective tactical skills combined with other capabilities that link to and support larger goals, tactical superiority alone as its own unquestioned aim and ideal reigns. So strong is the faith that it assumes the status of explanation, “because combat effectiveness.” Any discussion is meant to be nixed at the utterance of that phrase.  Moreover, the further flaw of this focus is that “combat effective” has been defined in the conventional military wisdom as effectiveness AT the constituent parts of combat. Rather, I propose the more useful and relevant view would be that the ideal is the effectiveness OF combat, to the campaign, strategic and policy needs of the conflict. Whereas the former view of combat effectiveness concerns itself with capabilities in a vacuum, the latter forces the consideration to expand to include the relevance and utility of the capability to the larger goals, as well as what else might serve. That is, the goal is not the greatest infantry or the greatest fighters, but the greatest army, to win wars not battles.
As I have taken the liberty to question the very foundations of conventional wisdom I shall leave off specific questions and simply recommend a discussion along this broad theme: 
Given the recent failure of tactical dominance to win wars, what really needs to be considered when calculating combat effectiveness? 
 “Tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

1 Combat effectiveness, as used in Ango-American military circles, refers to skills and capabilities at the tactical level which are integral to winning battles. These I generally think of as encompassing fighting abilities for the soldiers, cohesion for units, and planning and command for officers. Also referred to as “military readiness.”
2 Richard Kemp, “Female Soldiers Just Lack The Killer Instinct,” November 18, 2014, The Times; Anna Simons, “Here’s Why Women In Combat Units Is A Bad Idea,” November 18, 2014, War on the Rocks.
3 John Buckley has a very strong argument against the manner in which armed forces have chosen to define combat effectiveness in Monty’s Men, pp 13 ff.
4 Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, “Winning Battles, Losing Wars,” ARMY Magazine, November 18, 2014.

The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Leaders Guide to Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful catalyst for learning, and likely has been since humans developed language. Telling and hearing stories enables members to reflect on their own, and others’ experiences and abstract knowledge. It is an effective way for catalyzing learning in any organization.

As leaders we learn from experiences, or to put it in a different way, what we learn is experiences. David Kolb, an educational theorist, said “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984). The best way to convey what we learn is through stories of our experiences. Stories contain many different lessons and are educational for people who were not present for the experience.

If you think about it, how many times have you been in a situation where the rules you learned in class or training applied exactly? Probably never! If you think back to situations you have been in you realize that you found the answers for yourself and did not rely on the "rules", or you remembered a story someone shared with you about a similar experience and applied the methods learned from that story to your current situation.

In order to understand anything, we must find the closest item in memory to which it relates. One thing we do when we hear and understand a story is to make a connection to another experience we have had, or know someone else had. Stories help us recognize patterns.

We index our own stories, and stories we have heard from others, based on how we understand them. When we find a belief in a connected story, no further processing needs to be done (Schank,1995).  We rarely look to understand a story from more than one perspective, which explains why people understand stories differently. Leaders in complex, dynamic, and ambiguous situations make rapid decisions by recognizing how each situation they encounter fits the patterns they have learned (Silk, 2014). The pattern-matching part of their decisions is fast and automatic. It was how they used their intuition to quickly identify an option that was likely to succeed (Klein, 1998). For example, stories based on deployment experiences will convey important lessons to the cadets. In the future, the patterns from these stories will possibly match a situation they are in and they will quickly identify a course of action that is likely to succeed.

Becoming effective storytellers

“Stories illustrate points better than simply stating the points themselves because, if the story is good enough, you usually don’t have to state your point at all; the hearer thinks about what you said and figures out the point independently. The more work your hearer does, the more he or she will get out of the story.” (Schank, 1995)

Stories can bring leadership to life. But to tell a good story takes preparation. The essence of a story is actually what is held in memory, not the words of the story itself (Schank, 1995 ) A story has the richness of details, has a point, provides insights, and has emotional impact. A story is not just a chronology of events; it is the story of the storyteller taking action. The storyteller should keep their first person point of view, sharing what they saw, heard, felt, etc. For example, if the story is about solving a problem, it should provide the details of how the problem was solved. It should be told from the storyteller’s viewpoint so the audience can live the experience with them. Another example; If the story is about an experience as part of an organization or a team, the storyteller should include the behaviors and characteristics of the team and what the team members were doing from the storyteller’s perspective. The audience will pick up the values, behaviors, and characteristics that were part of that team.  Stories can share lessons learned but the storyteller should let the listeners take away the lessons they learned not what the storyteller has learned.

We can learn from the stories of others but only if what we hear relates to something we already knew. We want the listeners to live the story with us, so knowing the audience and the types of experiences they have had, and are familiar with, is an important part of preparation. With good preparation, storytelling can be an effective tool in the classroom.


Silk, J. (2014, January 14). Casting Knowledge: Building an online community of practice with Leadercast. Center for Collaborative Action Research.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The ‘D’ Word

The ‘D’ Word

We continue the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London with a post from Aaron Haubert (King’s College Alum)  - @TheKingsMarine Aaron is a former U.S. Marine, with combat tours in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

Since the creation of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) in 1973, the word draft has been an obscene word that few dare utter in serious political discussion. American leaders have spent the last 40 years convincing the country that the AVF was strong enough to first defend against first the Soviet Union and later against all other threats. The last decade has done nothing to upset this narrative, as the United States has waged two large scale counter-insurgencies, and numerous smaller operations, without seriously entertaining a draft. Leaving questions of stretched forces, decreased deterrence, and an increased reliance on contractors aside, is this reassurance healthy for the country and the military?

            The civil-military divide is a frequent topic in policy circles, and one of the few times the ‘D’ word is ever mentioned. To make myself perfectly clear, I am not advocating for a return to a full or partial draft in the immediate future. While many suggest the draft itself as a way to close the civil-military divide, I believe that simply acknowledging the draft as part of a larger plan will go a long way in those efforts. For the majority of Americans, not only don’t join the military, but cannot conceive of any situation that would result in them serving in uniform. Simply by admitting that there are conflicts that would necessitate the draft will force civilians to grapple with military affairs and uniformed service.

            For the armed forces, acknowledging the very real potential for a future draft has several immediate implications. For one, it will give future service chiefs the flexibility to admit that the armed forces are in over their heads and need an influx of personnel. The realization that the AVF needs to be augmented by a draft needs to occur, be admitted, debated, and acted upon before it is overwhelmed on some future battlefield. The conversation can start now, shortening the nation’s response time.

Secondly, organizing and equipping a draft military is fundamentally different than an AVF and might come with potential side benefits. Activating the draft would necessitate the rapid promotion for officers and direct commissioning of NCOs. With little time to attend the staff academies and Professional Military Education courses that come with these promotions, the AVF will need to redesign the way it educates junior officers, giving them basic primers earlier in their career, and the way it selects and trains NCOs, preparing them to become junior officers themselves.

            Furthermore, with the ranks swollen with draftees, the services would ill afford the cost or production time inherent in much of today’s arsenal. As just one example of how this might look; the Air Force might decide that only career pilots, who have the experience and training, will fly the most sophisticated airframes, with the primary job of clearing the skies. Draft pilots would then be placed behind the controls of less sophisticated airframes like Textron’s new Scorpion and the A-29 Super Tucano, planes that are easier to build, maintain, and learn to fly. Splitting the mission profiles between high-end and low-end airframes is perhaps impossible in a purely professional military, but makes sense in a draft military.

            All of this is contingent upon there being a threat that the AVF cannot handle, a threat which would require a draft. The United States could probably still, even after a decade of war, fight most nations around the world and win. But there are a few wars whose complexity or sheer size would require more manpower than the AVF can provide. Countries like Russia, China, and India have massive populations to draw upon. While countries like Indonesia present a logistical and operational nightmare. The counter of “a war with ___ would never happen because of ___” falls flat because history is full of wars that could not and should not have occurred. We are not talking about whether a war is likely, we are talking about what would need to go into preparing for every scenario. After all, nuclear war is incredibly unlikely, yet we put massive efforts into preparing for it.

The US military is arguably much better prepared and equipped then the potential adversaries I listed, but how good are those margins? Most of those nations would not hesitate to begin a draft and field a force that would dwarf and overwhelm the AVF.  It is clear that scenarios that would require a draft exist, the question then becomes how do we prepare for it?

Questions for discussion:

How do you prepare for a war with a potential adversary without naming that adversary (something that is politically perilous)?

What other ways could the armed forces prepare for an influx of draftees?

Which of these preparations would strengthen and which would weaken the AVF?

Would admitting that a draft is necessary under some circumstances engage the civil populace or would their fear of military service only grow?

How would you redesign a PME program to handle massive and rapid promotions?

Is beginning this discussion a military responsibility or a political one? It certainly falls under the purview of preparing the armed forces (Joint Chiefs) but has clear domestic political implications.

 “Tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

Aaron Haubert served in USMC from 2006-2012 and deployed for OIF 2008, OEF 2011-2012. He has a BA in Political Science (2009) University of Mary Washington, and MA in War Studies (2013) King's College London

 The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Blogshop: Mike Denny's "Forgetting Hate: A quick lesson on battlefield conduct from the Légion Étrangère"

This CCLKOW piece was originally posted on the Kings of War blog but is posted here to ensure that the US military participants have access to the post as well. 
The flowering of writing within the military community is commendable, but with reservations. Without wishing to spoil the enthusiasm, I do want to offer the caution that simply putting pen to paper (so to speak) is not sufficient, not the end, but rather the beginning of a process which, for the best works, requires seemingly endless and brutal cycles of revisions. Ideas and the frameworks within which they are constructed need to be rigorously challenged, questioned, poked and prodded, and then brought back to the drawing board. A process which I have referred to elsewhere as a good intellectual rogering, a necessity both to keep "bright ideas" from going too far as well as to allow brilliance to justly emerge. And so, in this week's CCLKOW installment we are introducing the Blogshop, a variation on the academic Workshop, wherein the writing itself is presented for critique. We have a piece provided by one of the regular participants in the weekly dialogue. However, rather than the usual question and discussion upon the substance of the piece, our purpose in this case is critical commentary, which the questions at the end are intended to generate. Additionally, I have recruited colleagues to provide more in-depth responses, which I will post tomorrow in the comments section. So, enjoy the piece, consider the questions, and join the conversation on Twitter at #CCLKOW.

When I was conducting replacing the outgoing Infantry battalion in eastern Afghanistan in 2010, an outgoing staff officer and I were casually discussing life, combat, and the year ahead. He said something that stuck with me throughout my second deployment, “You know, if you want to be successful here (in Afghanistan), you have to keep hate in your heart.” This statement to civilians seems spiteful and monstrous, resonates with many Veterans that I have discussed our views on combat, the enemy, and our way of war. Hate viewed as a motivating force, a driving factor to defeat the enemy, overcome internal bureaucracies, and the numerous distracters to mission accomplishment. Often these statements might not come out until after a few beers and heated discussions, often in hushed tones and maybe with a little shame. It’s not an official doctrine, but in historical examples vilification of the enemy to the point of hatred seems to be a part of the American way of war, and maybe any nation’s way of war. Theorists often look at the role of hate towards the resistance for killing, that aversion to killing enemy forces is often driven by several factors proximity to the killing and aversion to the act. A strong training foundation and organizational culture can assist Soldiers in overcoming the aversion to the act of killing throughout the recruit process. When creating a service culture there are several necessary facets: Integrity, Selfless Service, Teamwork, Generating Organizational Loyalty, and in my mind, you have to mention the enemy. The French Foreign Legion does this well, recognizing the inevitability of killing enemy combatants, they engrain in new recruits the important of conduct against the enemy in combat.  In evaluation of creating a service culture in new recruits and developing battlefield ethos, what really matters in creating a Soldier from a civilian?
Why the Legion? I discovered a series of documentaries on YouTube on the modern French Foreign Legion covering troops in combat in Afghanistan and recruits during their basic training. I witnessed the professionalism and capacity of these troops in Afghanistan, and have always held the Legion in high regard. As a small all-volunteer force with incredibly high standards always embroiled in conflicts in undesirable lands they certainly hold some valuable lessons for our all volunteer force. In the American way of war, it seems easier to conduct operations against an enemy you hate. Hate of an enemy combatant allows a Soldier to dehumanize or detach from the involvement with the acts of war. A quintessential tenant of American warfare is to be the combatant in the right protecting the world or allied nation from the evils of the opposing force. Detaching our military from the emotion of killing enemy combatants has been discussed fully in various texts including SLA Marshall’s Men Against Fire and Grossman’s On Killing and On Combat. Grossman wrote in an early article, “If we understand the role of hate in the soldier’s dilemma than we can use it to obtain an understanding of the psychological underpinnings of maneuver warfare.” [1] Many of the battlefield indiscretions of U.S. forces over the years are often blamed on the emotional toll of war. I am not suggesting that the creation of robot like soldiers would make war easier, but simply evaluating how other forces mold their recruits and enforce their battlefield standards. The US Army Soldier’s Creed and the Legionnaire Code of Honor share several key themes on duty, mission, and battlefield conduct. One missing point of the Soldier’s creed is captured very aptly by the Legion.
Au combat, tu agis sans passion et sans haine, tu respectes les ennemis vaincus, tu n’abandonnes jamais ni tes morts, ni tes blessés, ni tes armes.
The seventh stanza of the Legionnaire code d'honneur: In combat, you act without passion and without hate; you respect vanquished enemies….. This emotional detachment from the situation is important. This code brings a complete focus on mission accomplishment, and even when we vanquish an enemy, to hold them in respect as our defeated adversary. This mindset is instilled starting in basic training and carried forward into combat operations. No cheering as CAS hits enemy positions, no joy in the death of an adversary; merely a continuation of a necessary part of the mission. When a target pops up, the legionnaire knocks it down and continues on towards a cold beer at the end of a mission (regardless of the country of operation). The Legionnaire does not hate his enemy; they are two parts of a transactional relationship necessary for survival in war, and in the life of a Legionnaire. This focus on eliminating a major part of the psychological underpinning of combat certainly improves their productivity and strong espirit de corps. Unlike the US Military Soldier’s Creed or Airmen’s creed, the Legion does not mention “I” as an individual in their code of honor. The code is addressed more in a third person, removing the individual identity and contributing to the group identity. The American society particularly in this era, values the individual and the US Army overly focused on this point in the past during the Army of One Campaign (well intentioned as a team ethos, created an overt focus on individualism). If we shed the individual identity in basic training, and create a team or organization ethic, how do we expect Soldiers to display an Army ethic on the battlefield instead of allowing their individual thoughts and ethos to govern their actions? Admitting to the realities of warfare from the beginning is an important first step because it instills respect for the enemy combatant as a means to maintain vigilance from hubris and prevent battlefield indiscretions.

CCLKOW Blogshop Questions:
1. Last week Tom Ricks posted on the quality of the writing in the Army's institutional publications. Who writes institutional publications? You do. Taking one of the "sins" identified in his work, upon what unexamined assumptions does his argument rest?
2. Is the comparison between organizations - the US Army or armed forces and the French Foreign Legion - reasonable? If the two are not well matched for comparability, does this fatally weaken the argument? 
3. Does the problem he sets out to address in the piece exist? Is it worth critical attention within the military community? 
My thanks to Mike Denny for being a good sport in allowing me to use his piece this way. He has set a standard here for future and further intrepid warrior scholars. 

1 David Grossman, "Defeating the Enemy’s Will: The Psychological Foundations of Maneuver Warfare," Maneuver Warfare: An Anthology, R.D. Hooker (Ed), Presidio Press, 1994.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Eagle vs The Wolf: Leader and Character Development for Complex Environments

This post continues the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London. If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

The Army Operating Concept (AOC) explains leader development and human performance optimization under section C2 as“Advancements in decision sciences will allow faster, better-informed decisions in an increasingly complex environment. These advances must focus to produce young leaders with the experience, maturity, and judgment previously expected of a more senior and experienced leader.”

But how do we develop character in leaders? Or is it up to leaders to develop their own character? Everyday young leaders make decisions that show the quality of their character. The 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps , GEN Charles Krulak said “Success in combat–and in life–has always demanded a depth of character. Those who can reach deep within themselves and draw upon an inner strength, fortified by strong values, always carry the day against those of lesser character.”

Consider the poem The Eagle and the Wolf by Eddie D. Wilcoxen

There is a mighty battle
– it rages deep within.
the winner is as yet unknown – will it be good or sin?
On one side is an eagle knight, with vision long and soaring flight,
his talons sharp and judgment bright, a winged warrior for the right!

All actions made in honor, all notions straight and true,
lend wind beneath these mighty wings and lift me with the few.
For paths of rightness never need
to fear the
surging crowd.

It's cold and lonely, yet bright and
clear, where the angels sing aloud!
It's there my eagle flies alone,
with cares and trials below.
From valleys deep he soars alof
t to mountains capped with snow.
The other warrior in this fray is
dark and fright to see.

A wolf in visage - raging wild
- the worst inside of me!
He feasts upon my failures and gorges with the pack -
his allies in this darksome meal - they feed upon my lack.
When kindness fails, and wisdom fa
lls, and love forgotten lies,
these snarling demons leap to pul
l the flesh from hope that dies!
Wolf led, this cold-eyed pack stalks my weakness and my need,
their numbers strong with names to fear: sloth, hate, jealousy,
and greed.

There is an epic battle,
its outcome still unknown.
Wolf or eagle - who will win?
Which one will reign alone?
Within me lies the answer, the answer that I need.
I know the one to claim my soul will be the one I feed! 

For discussion:

How do we develop our subordinates to feed the eagle and not the wolf?

How does a complex, dynamic, ambiguous environment impact a leader’s ability to influence
his/her Soldier’s actions?

“Tweet” your response with #CCLKOW


The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Leader Competencies for a Complex World

We continue the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London with a post from Ryan T. Kranc - @rkranc Ryan is an Army cavalryman assigned to Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, VA.  The views expressed in this post are his alone and not representative of US Army or DOD. If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

On October 7, 2014 the Army published TRADOC Publication 525-3-1, The US Army Operating Concept, Win in a Complex World[i].  The Army Operating Concept explains how the Army must operate in the future, describes the Army’s contribution to globally integrated operations, and provides focus for future force development.  The Army Warfighting Challenges within Appendix B of the Operating Concept detail the first order capabilities the Army must possess to win in a complex world.  Army Warfighting Challenges 8, 9, and 10 speak specifically to those capabilities required  of our Soldiers and leaders to thrive and succeed in environments of complexity and uncertainty.  
 They are[ii]:

8.   Train Soldiers and leaders to ensure they are prepared to accomplish the mission across the range of military operations while operating in complex environments against determined, adaptive enemy organizations.

9.   Develop resilient Soldiers, adaptive leaders, and cohesive teams committed to the Army professional ethic that are capable of accomplishing the mission in environments of uncertainty and persistent danger.

10.  Develop agile, adaptive, and innovative leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos, and are capable of visualizing, describing, directing, leading, and assessing operations in complex environments and against adaptive enemies.

Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization (FM 6-22).  What are the “mission essential tasks” for leaders at echelon?  What are the tasks or skills that allow leaders to succeed in environments of uncertainty and chaos?  What are the core tasks that build the foundation and baseline for excellence in leadership in the profession of arms?

The following are proposed fundamental organizational leader skills.  The mastery of these skills are required successfully lead and improve organizations and are built upon to develop additional skills later in one’s career (i.e. fluency in Troop Leading Procedures (TLPs) and Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) later assists in developing competency in the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP)):

1.     Training Management

2.     Troop Leading Procedures

3.     Counseling

4.     Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield

5.     Writing and Delivering an Operations Order

6.     Actions on Contact

7.     Reporting

8.     Maintenance Management

The list of 8 competencies above serves not necessarily as an authoritative or definitive inventory but as a conversation starter.  What on the list above resonates?  What should be replaced? What would you add?  If you were a company commander receiving a new lieutenant what do you expect?  How many are applicable to both officers and non-commissioned officers

“Tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

Ryan T. Kranc is an Army cavalryman assigned to Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, VA and has served as a combat engineer platoon leader, tank platoon leader, scout platoon leader, cavalry troop commander, armor and reconnaissance tactics instructor, squadron and Regimental operations officer, and Cavalry Doctrine branch chief.  The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

[i] Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC PAM 525-3-1, Army Operating Concept, US Government Printing Office, Fort Eustis, VA, October 7, 2014

[ii] Ibid, p30


The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. The views expressed in this blog are not representative of US Army or DOD

Monday, October 6, 2014

Does the United States need a capacity to conduct a strategic raid?

We continue the Twitter based professional conversation between military leaders in the United States and faculty and students at Kings College in London with a post from Paul Tanghe - @pftanghe Paul is a U.S. Army Cavalry Officer and Doctoral student at Denver University’s Korbel School.  If you’re interested in participating just “tweet” your response with #CCLKOW

Does the United States need a capacity to conduct a strategic raid?

Contingency in the world is nothing new. However, recent national security crisis such as Ukraine, ISIL, and Ebola illustrate a paradox in our knowledge: we seemed to know very little in foreseeing such events, then suddenly the event is everywhere in our 24/7 news and information overload. Such events seize our national attention and interests in a single news cycle.

Yet our military response to such events is far less nimble. On the one hand, special operations forces and modern lines of communication enable the U.S. to reach out and touch almost any area of the globe with ease. However, that special operator touch is by its nature light and critically dependent on the desired behavior of fragile networks vulnerably subject to threats ranging from Anonymous cyber hackers to bad weather grounding flights. The risk in this is tragically illustrated by the Mogadishu debacle. US forces were dangerous vulnerable, and ultimately reliant on a decisive intervention by Pakistani and Malaysian armored forces (although this aspect is downplayed in the film Blackhawk Down and thus excluded by pop culture’s imprimatur and our memory of the event). Compounding the tragedy of Somalia was a decade of US aversion to military action, including the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, that ended only in the brutal reality of 9/11. Even so- would a strategic raid to punish the Taliban and degrade their military capability have been preferable to our decades of occupation and nation building? How would such a calculus bear on the questions of Syria and ISIL?

Our military is built to be heavy- massive logistic requirements and clumsy operational configurations like divisions, support brigades, and Reserve and National Guard soldiers ensure a high cost to operations, and ideally, an aversion to bearing such costs without deep public support. This was appropriate for an era when war was inseparable from the risk of interstate nuclear holocausts.

However, is this institutional inertia- seen mostly clearly in our inability to strategically raid- appropriate in the face of postmodern security challenges?

Two significant aspects of globalization should make us reconsider this. Strategic raids have historically been a neglected policy option due to their reliance on accurate intelligence and the aversion to violating state sovereignty (see Adam Elkus’ 2011 study examining the failures in the punitive expedition to capture Pancho Villa ( However, our intelligence today enables (while not assuring) unprecedented knowledge about security challenges. Moreover, sovereignty today is a far more permeable concept, or as Stephen Krasner calls it, is “organized hypocrisy.”

Have increased informational velocities and shifting notions of sovereignty enabled a return to the strategic raid as a feasible end? Can our military capabilities provide such means?

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Paul  Tanghe is a PhD student in International Studies at the Korbel School. His research interests include environmental governance, comparative politics, and Southeast Asia. A cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, Paul has led reconnaissance and tank units in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea. Paul is a native of Edina, Minn., and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004 with a BS in political science. In his free time, Paul enjoys firefighting, exploration, transportation, and design.


The Quadshot Warrior blog is hosted by Jonathan Silk, who is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year  2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.