For the Army, the new doctrine means a seismic culture shift. It will still have guns and tanks, but it will also need more people skilled in languages, public affairs, economic development, even anthropology. Instead of grudgingly accepting the task of nation building, as it did in the Balkans and in Iraq at first, the new Army for the most part will have to embrace the role....But the best news of the day arrives via Inside the Army:
Though it is too early to tell precisely what the ramifications might be in general defense policy and the budget, most experts think the Army will not get a big budget increase, but will have to reorder its priorities, shifting money from, say, high-tech hardware to personnel.
The Army, for example, would probably invest less in technologies such as sophisticated sensors to gather data about electronic intercepts or heat signatures, and more money on spies. It would probably scale back its plans for a lightweight new class of vehicles and other high-tech gadgetry in the $200 billion Future Combat Systems in the interest of diverting some of that money to personnel accounts and battlefield supplies needed now. There would be additional procurement costs associated with maintaining war stocks of materiel not only for U.S. forces but for the foreign militaries and militias the United States would equip as partners. An Army set for small wars would spend less of its money on tanks and artillery and more on infantry units.
The Army next month will make a key doctrine shift by changing its emphasis from conventional operations to a "full spectrum" that places post-conflict stability operations on par with offensive and defensive engagement, a shift that is already influencing high-level deliberations about weapon system investments in the service's new six-year spending plan.If CSA Casey means even half of what he says, we're in for some big changes. And changes for the better at that. (Btw, is he suggesting that there's life for Nagl's Advisor Corps?) Charlie will be watching the budget requests carefully. There are major muscle movements afoot. Stay tuned.
The chief of staff, who commanded U.S.-led operations in Iraq from July 2004 to February 2007, said 21st-century conflicts are likely to be complex and require that the military be much more flexible both in its ability to deploy and to intellectually master the new battlefield.
"I see a conflict that's a mix -- a hybrid of irregular warfare, conventional warfare. I see it being fought primarily in a lot of urban areas," he said. "It's going to be fought with more non-state actors and individual groups than it will with state actors." Casey said such an environment will demand flexibility on the part of the military. "We are not very agile as an institution," he acknowledged. "But we are working to transform our Army."
Instead of fighting around a city's population, he said, the Army will be fighting among civilians. As a result, the ability to gather accurate intelligence and to apply lethal effects precisely will be crucial skills for the future Army.
Further, the Army will be more reliant on other government institutions, as well as on indigenous forces, for success in irregular conflicts. "No great power has ever won a counterinsurgency without indigenous forces,"Casey said. "So we have to develop our skills to work with other forces and to influence these other forces."
After the president signs the defense authorization bill into law, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) is prepared to send a letter urging the Defense Secretary to redraw the roles and missions of the Pentagon in a way not done since 1948.Why this isn't part of the QDR process is beyond Charlie. Then again, that review is so fubar that a separate track isn't necessarily a bad idea. Either way, keep your eyes open, Rep. Skelton is a big player in the COIN world.
Truman brought the leaders of the services together in Key West in 1948 and created what has become the U.S. Air Force, Skelton said.
Now that the Defense Department presides over so many missions and technologies not available in 1948--or the 1950s, when the agreement was slightly amended--it is time for DoD to start the review. According to Skelton the review will be a "major undertaking, underlined."
Skelton has kick-started the process with the authorization bill, which directs the Pentagon to start a roles and missions review every four years--the first one starting this year. Last year, Skelton also created a roles and missions panel that is due to publish a study in about three months, panel member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said at the National Defense Industry Association's Precision Strike Association meeting yesterday.
As part of that study, Sestak has been advocating joint staff control of funding for command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“DUMB and Dumber”, one of the modern classics of American comedy, tells the story of an affable idiot, Lloyd Christmas, who falls in love with a classy beauty, Mary Swanson. In one scene he asks her the chances of “a guy like you and a girl like me” ending up together. The answer is “Not good”. “Not good like one out of a hundred?” asks Lloyd. “More like one out of a million,” Mary replies. Lloyd pauses for a moment, then shoots back, “So you're telling me there's a chance?”That is the American spirit.
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was paid $100,000 to endorse a veterans charity that watchdog groups say is ripping off donors and wounded veterans by using only a small portion of the money raised for veterans services, according to testimony in Congress today.
Gen. Franks' involvement was revealed as members of Congress questioned Roger Chapin, who operates Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, charities that congressional investigators say spend only 25 percent of the money they raise on projects for wounded veterans.
The charities were graded "F" by the American Institute of Philanthropy because so little of the money is used for actual charity projects or services.
It is Hallowe’en as I write this, and I amAfter that, there's really not much more for this blogger to say.
being visited by ghosts, friendly little
ghosts who go away when I give them a
piece of candy.
It is Hallowe’en as I read this, and
I am being visited by ghosts, some
friendly, some not, whom I have kept
away, locked inside me for years, but
Brian Turner, Ghost One-Three Alpha,
that son of a bitch, he is calling them
I have put them away, kept them
inside, the ghosts of the lieutenants and
the Captain and the First Sergeant, their
bodies torn by shrapnel or a sniper’s
bullet or gone, just gone, into hundreds
of shreds of flesh the size of my stillliving
hand, but Ghost One-Three Alpha
speaks to ghosts, he calls to his ghosts,
and they bring mine along for company,
and now they will not go away.
One of the Army's most prominent younger officers, whose writings have influenced the conduct of the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq, said he has decided to leave the service to study strategic issues full time at a new Washington think tank.More commentary from both of your faithful bloggers later in the day.
Nagl said in a brief telephone interview yesterday that he has filed his papers requesting retirement. "I love the Army very much," he said, but he added that he decided to leave after discussing his future with his family. "It's not the strain of repeated deployments," he said, but "a belief that I can contribute perhaps on a different level -- and my family wants me to leave."
He said he plans to become a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a centrist think tank recently founded by Kurt Campbell and Michele Flournoy, Clinton-era Pentagon officials. Nagl said he looks forward to working with them. "I hope to focus on national security for the remainder of my days," he said. "Obviously you don't have to do that in uniform."
Nagl's departure is a serious loss for the Army, said retired Marine Col. T.X. Hammes. "He's a serious student of warfare, he's smart, he's articulate, he's successfully led troops in combat, and he's worked at the highest levels of the Pentagon," said Hammes, himself the author of a book on contemporary war. "The Army just doesn't have that many officers with his set of qualifications."
Sgt Hicham Benkabbou has been served with an order to stand trial for deportation as soon as he arrives home, despite the fact that he has been on active service in Afghanistan for almost two years with the 508th parachute infantry regiment, known as the Red Devils.
ZEROK, Afghanistan -- The villagers handed out red roses. The elders lined up to welcome guests to their ancient tradition, the shura. And John Gibson, a U.S. Army captain with sunburned cheeks, warmly embraced Haji Taday, a tribal leader with a black Abe Lincoln beard.
But what looked like a reunion with an old friend last month was really a political ambush of a bitter enemy.
"He takes us for fools," Capt. Gibson, smiling slightly, said minutes after hugging Mr. Taday. "We just got enough evidence to move against him."In Afghanistan's insurgency, politics is warfare by other means. U.S. officers knew that if they wanted to take down Mr. Taday -- both a major figure in the local Taliban and chief of Zerok's council of elders -- they would have to avoid cultural missteps that could hand propaganda victories to their enemies.
So for the next hour, U.S. and Afghan officials used the shura, a traditional Pashtun gathering of respected senior villagers, to discredit Mr. Taday before his peers and engineer his downfall.
They succeeded, but not in the way they expected.
Capt. Gibson's boss, Lt. Col. Michael Fenzel, commander of the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, set the snare hours before the elders arrived at the Zerok district center. In a private meeting at the adjacent American combat outpost, the colonel laid out the case against Mr. Taday before a few trusted Afghan officials, including both the chief of intelligence and the head of shura for Paktika Province, where Zerok is located.
Lt. Col. Fenzel had a receptive audience. The Afghans had their own suspicions about Mr. Taday, not least because his nephew is Commander Sangeen, widely known to lead one of the Taliban factions in the area. Mr. Taday has provided safe haven for foreign fighters who cross the Pakistani border, some 20 miles away, and move into Zerok District, according to U.S. and Afghan intelligence reports. Mr. Taday also arranged the theft of a green Ford Ranger pickup truck from the Afghan National Police and delivered it to his nephew to use as a suicide car bomb, according to U.S. intelligence reports.
At the pre-shura meeting, Lt. Col. Fenzel told the Afghan officials he wanted the police to arrest Mr. Taday immediately. But Nawab Waziri, the provincial head elder, argued that such a move on shura day would cause an uproar. The colonel agreed to hold off, and the group headed next door to the shura at the district government office, a single-story building with broken windows, surrounded by a stone wall topped with razor wire.
Mr. Taday was waiting for them in the courtyard, lined up with the other elders. Appearing to be in his 60s, short and rotund, he wore a gray tunic and loose trousers, with a long brown vest and dirty white turban, striped delicately in black.
Despite the friendly embrace, Mr. Taday knew he had been in the captain's sights for months. In July, insurgents ambushed two U.S.-Afghan troop convoys near the Zerok outpost, leaving a pair of Afghan soldiers dead. Afterward, Capt. Gibson summoned the Zerok elders, pulled Mr. Taday into a room and yelled at him for 20 minutes, pausing only so the interpreter could translate the obscenity-laced tirade into Pashto.
"You say you're in charge and that there is security in Zerok, but there's not," Capt. Gibson said at the time. "Either you're lying to me or you're working for them. Which is it?"
At the shura last month, Afghans delivered the message. An Afghan army officer opened with a verse from the Koran, an effort to show that the Taliban, known for their fierce interpretation of Islam, don't have a monopoly on faith. "For 30 years we've been fighting and killing innocent people," said Mr. Waziri, the provincial chief elder. "It's time we stop fighting."
"Innocent people get killed when the Taliban attack," said the provincial intelligence chief, Yaseen, who uses only one name. "Every day they fire rockets. They put bombs in the roads. Where are the fighters coming from? You elders are helping them. Don't sell out your country for five rupees."
The Afghan officials urged all of the elders to come forward with information about insurgent movements. "You don't care about your country," Qadar Gul, the subgovernor for Zerok District, chided them. "You don't care about your area. You are Taliban."
As the Afghan officials spoke, Capt. Gibson, his lip full of Copenhagen snuff, took care of side business. He quietly radioed his men to order a symbolic artillery and mortar barrage intended to ward off potential attackers in the ridgelines above the base. He relayed Lt. Col. Fenzel's orders that the guns fire only illumination or smoke rounds, not explosive munitions that might endanger civilians -- and only after the shura ended.
From across the room, the village doctor asked Capt. Gibson when he would receive $1,500 in promised compensation for four cows and four chickens killed in a firefight between Taliban fighters and U.S. soldiers. "It will be next week," Capt. Gibson assured him.
Meantime, the Afghans began to direct their comments more pointedly at Mr. Taday, and his body spoke of his discomfort. He crossed his arms tightly, and, at one point, dropped his beard to his chest and his head to his hands.
"I know you," Mr. Yaseen said.
"OK, you know me, but I'm not an insurgent," Mr. Taday responded.
Mr. Yaseen and other Afghan officials interrupted Mr. Taday on several occasions, a rudeness meant to diminish his stature before his peers. Mr. Yaseen challenged him to provide the names of Taliban fighters to the intelligence service, while Mr. Taday continued to protest his innocence.
"I support the government," he said. "Everyone knows Sangeen is a bad guy, but we can't do anything about it. He lives in Pakistan. There are no insurgents living here in Zerok."
Last to speak was Lt. Col. Fenzel. "We will always conduct ourselves with respect for your culture and your religion, Islam," he promised the elders.
"As your guests, we would ask for your protection," he added. "My pledge to you is that our forces will always conduct themselves as guests. When you know the Taliban are coming, let us know so we can provide security."
The colonel then looked directly at Mr. Taday. "You can't be on both sides," he warned.
Mr. Taday stared glumly at the floor.
The next day, Lt. Col. Fenzel got word that other shura members -- who U.S. officers say had long remained quiet for fear of Commander Sangeen -- now planned to depose him. At the same time, the colonel began working to secure orders from the provincial governor, Akram Khapalwak, to have the police arrest Mr. Taday.
They never got the chance.
Three days later, Mr. Taday, his son and three bodyguards traveled from Zerok to a nearby town where he met with the local head of the Afghan intelligence service, according to a U.S. intelligence report. Another son told a local official later that his father also met with American intelligence agents that day.
On the way home, as the sun went down, Taliban insurgents ambushed Mr. Taday's vehicle, blasting it with rocket-propelled grenades and killing all five men inside.
Insurgents then launched rockets at the Zerok outpost, but missed their target by a couple of hundred yards. U.S. troops counterattacked with a barrage of mortars and artillery, killing 10 Taliban fighters, thought to be the same group that had ambushed Mr. Taday, according to a U.S. intelligence report.
Using live images from an unmanned spy plane, the U.S. soldiers later watched as three trucks carried the corpses of Haji Taday, his son and bodyguards along mountain roads and dried riverbeds back to his home village. When they arrived, the drivers sprinted into the houses to deliver the news, and dozens of men swarmed around the bed of a pickup truck, apparently to glimpse Mr. Taday's body.
Lt. Col. Fenzel was stunned by the turn of events. He didn't think the other shura members would be bold enough to have Mr. Taday killed. So he surmised that Taliban loyal to one of Commander Sangeen's rivals had seen Mr. Taday meet with the government spy boss and assumed that he was betraying them.
One Afghan official with access to intelligence reports said that the killers had left a letter with the bodies, accusing Messrs. Taday and Sangeen of betraying the Taliban cause. Days later, insurgent factions in the area battled each other, leaving two fighters dead, the official said. His report couldn't be verified.
That night, Lt. Col. Fenzel called Gov. Khapalwak and told him of Mr. Taday's fate. The governor said he would inform the local media that the Taliban had murdered one of Zerok's respected village elders.