An Army That Learns (US)

#1
An Army That Learns
By David Ignatius
Sunday, July 13, 2008; Page B07

The U.S. Army has done something remarkable in its new history of the disastrous first 18 months of the American occupation of Iraq: It has conducted a rigorous self-critique of how bad decisions were made, so that the Army won't make them again.

(I sure hope so!)

Link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/11/AR2008071102548.html
 
#2
Problem was not in the Army but in the civilian leadership... even General Shinseki... that corrupt SOB knew damned well we would have to occupy Iraq properly. Rumsfeld, Paul Bremmer, and an assortment of other assclowns were calling the shots.
 
#4
The only Organisation that has learned anything out of this mess is Haliburton and its subsiduaries, they've learned that creative accounting ie double charging for services rendered etc etc can make the CEO and shareholders a shit load of money at the US taxpayers and Militaries expense.
 
#6
Scoff all you like: the US are so much better at this sort of thing than we are.

The days of giggling like schoolboys at the antics and supposed 'gung-hoism' of our core allies disappeared during the 'Charge of the Knights' debacle, and whilst your average ARRSEr doesn't want to hear it, we actually learn more from them than the reverse these days.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
I have to agree on this - The US army in Iraq is how WE'D like to be - not man skills, but force quantity, backup, funding etc. The hearts and minds things we'd do just as well, if not better with proper manning.

The only difference between the US style of ops and ours at this time is quantity of troops, aircraft and kit.

You have to take your hats off to the septics because they are backing up their ops with plenty of money, and plenty of hearts and minds - and that IS a turnaround for them.

We only wish that we had a proper government ie: one not full of retarded anti-British commies.
 
#10
Ah; you are unaware of the "three block" concept.

Also unaware that the US destroyed the Iraqi Army which fought a conventional campaign unlike the VietCong; any major battle featuring the VC / NVA was won decisively by Uncle Sam; that the "surge" is bringing about major reductions in criminal activity and deaths caused by the Insurgency; that there is now a (rudimentary) democratic process; etc.
 
#11
Bravo_Bravo said:
Ah; you are unaware of the "three block" concept.

Also unaware that the US destroyed the Iraqi Army which fought a conventional campaign unlike the VietCong; any major battle featuring the VC / NVA was won decisively by Uncle Sam; that the "surge" is bringing about major reductions in criminal activity and deaths caused by the Insurgency; that there is now a (rudimentary) democratic process; etc.
Sooooooooooooo when does your green card come through? :wink:
 
B

BambiBasher

Guest
#12
Bravo_Bravo said:
Ah; you are unaware of the "three block" concept.

Also unaware that the US destroyed the Iraqi Army which fought a conventional campaign unlike the VietCong; any major battle featuring the VC / NVA was won decisively by Uncle Sam
Exactly - any major conventional fighting was won by the US. the asymmetric fighting was won by the Other Lot. The intervention ended up strengthening Communist states, just as the invasion of Iraq has strengthened Iran.

Vietnam was fought as part of the US policy of containing China, unaware that the Vietnamese hated and feared the Chinese and had been fighting them for thousands of years. Iraq was invaded as part of the US policy of fighting radical Islam, regardless of the fact that the greatest enemy of radical Islam and Bin Laden in the region was Saddam.
 
#13
BambiBasher said:
Vietnam was fought as part of the US policy of containing China, unaware that the Vietnamese hated and feared the Chinese and had been fighting them for thousands of years
Not China, the Soviet Union. The Soviets were always North Vietnam's primary military and economic supporters. Hardly a mistake, either.
 
#14
Proximo said:
Scoff all you like: the US are so much better at this sort of thing than we are.

The days of giggling like schoolboys at the antics and supposed 'gung-hoism' of our core allies disappeared during the 'Charge of the Knights' debacle, and whilst your average ARRSEr doesn't want to hear it, we actually learn more from them than the reverse these days.
Absolutely true, the US Army has learned a lot, albeit the hard way, while we've lost whatever reputation we had as supposedly being the best at COIN. That doesn't mean they won't still amke mistakes and we won't have successes but we have no right to lecture them. That said I'm a bit concerned about some of the writing in US press and media that Iraq has been woon and the insurgency defeated, let's not overdo the hubris just yet
 
#15
BambiBasher said:
Bravo_Bravo said:
Ah; you are unaware of the "three block" concept.

Also unaware that the US destroyed the Iraqi Army which fought a conventional campaign unlike the VietCong; any major battle featuring the VC / NVA was won decisively by Uncle Sam
Exactly - any major conventional fighting was won by the US. the asymmetric fighting was won by the Other Lot. The intervention ended up strengthening Communist states, just as the invasion of Iraq has strengthened Iran.

Vietnam was fought as part of the US policy of containing China, unaware that the Vietnamese hated and feared the Chinese and had been fighting them for thousands of years. Iraq was invaded as part of the US policy of fighting radical Islam, regardless of the fact that the greatest enemy of radical Islam and Bin Laden in the region was Saddam.
I seem to recall that the NVA/VC were just as unsuccessful in the "asymmetric fighting" as they were in the large, set piece, battles. The Tet Offensive was deemed a military failure by the North Vietnamese but was turned into a communist success by elements of the US and World Press and an extremely well organised anti-Vietnam War movement. The US lost the Vietnam War in the US and Western Europe not in SE Asia.
 
#16
Yank bashing is so easy. But it is terribly misguided.

The first time I served in Iraq I was embedded in a US HQ in 2004. There were several Brits there and we spent a lot of our time tutting amongst ourselves at US "gung ho-ism". We congratulated ourselves on how well the Brits were doing in Basra and half the time we spoke to the Yanks we opened with "of course, what we found in Northern Ireland was.." We were shocked at them using fast air over cities and dismayed that they fired artillery into built up areas.

Fast forward to 2006 and I was a Coy commander in Basra. The situation had piled in and we were regularly in contacts. Fast air was beginning to be used and we prayed for artillery to counter the IDF threat. The yanks even sent down some Apaches to deal with the IDF which we couldn't counter. We had arrived where the yanks were 2 years before.

The city which in 2003 we had congratulated ourselves on managing so well was now the most dangerous place in Iraq. Well done us. We then pulled out, the UK withdrawal guaranteed by the release of JAM internees and then watched the city plough in (this was after my tour). At the same time the US surged in Baghdad and turned the situation around. They beat the enemy, we bought them off. The situation in Basra is much better now, but it was a close run thing and we were lucky that the Iraqi Army sorted it out.

For most of the occupation the US had by far the worst AOs. We sat back, congratulating ourselves on having an easy patch and then let it all go.

Northern Ireland? 30 years and we finished it by a) letting the murderers run the country and b) ensuring everyone was so bored of it that they couldn't be bothered to go on. We used to congratulate ourselves on how capable our enemies were. The IRA were keen amateurs. The JAM turned around counters to our capabilities on a weekly basis; the IRA never really managed it. The IRA wouldn't fight us; the JAM couldn't wait to. In the North of Iraq the US were dealing with Al Qieda as well as the JAM.

We are very good soldiers, but so are the yanks. They say "Hua" and stuff and we find it funny. Their webbing looks funny to us. But you don't defeat Iraq in several weeks by being rubbish. They may drop the odd bomb on us, but it is generally felt that the USAF are better at CAS than the RAF. And if the RAF dropped as many bombs they'd have just as many blue-on-blues. Don't forget, we have plenty of blue-on-blues of our own.

The Yanks fund their war properly; their population respects the Armed Forces. It is a sad fact that a British soldier in uniform gets a significantly better reception in the US than in his own country.

Read "House to House" and tell me if we have done anything like that in Iraq. And in Afghanistan the US have been in the bad AOs since the start. We are the new kids on the block in Helmand.

The Yanks are good blokes; I've worked with them. They have proved themselves much more flexible and adaptable than us at the operational level. They are motivated, they have stamina (as in they are in for the long haul) and they have the gear. If I had to choose one nation to be my flanking forces it would be the US.
 
#17
Proximo said:
Scoff all you like: the US are so much better at this sort of thing than we are.

The days of giggling like schoolboys at the antics and supposed 'gung-hoism' of our core allies disappeared during the 'Charge of the Knights' debacle, and whilst your average ARRSEr doesn't want to hear it, we actually learn more from them than the reverse these days.
And didn't Barack Obama let us know by turning up in London after various hotspots, Israel, Berlin and Paris...

We are a small island with a lot of people on it. Nothing more nowadays.

msr
 
#18
BedIn wins my nomination for 'Post of the Year'.

It's too easy to 'bash septics' - and it's really easy to clock people who have no clue about the world we're in when they do it - and mean it - as opposed to understandable yank-baiting. They are all over their game right now and only a fool thinks otherwise.

However, they are having bigger problems with their version of 'the Comprehensive Approach' as the latest report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) demonstrates...comments?

The U.S. Embassy and MNF-I did not respond and SIGIR continues to believe that there is a need for joint action by the Ambassador and Commanding General, MNF-I, to fully address our recommendations.
Hmmmm...I sense much water is still to pass beneath the bridges on the Euphrates....

[It's 1.2MB @85kbps]
 
#19
Proximo said:
BedIn wins my nomination for 'Post of the Year'.

It's too easy to 'bash septics' - and it's really easy to clock people who have no clue about the world we're in when they do it - and mean it - as opposed to understandable yank-baiting. They are all over their game right now and only a fool thinks otherwise.

However, they are having bigger problems with their version of 'the Comprehensive Approach' as the latest report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) demonstrates...comments?

The U.S. Embassy and MNF-I did not respond and SIGIR continues to believe that there is a need for joint action by the Ambassador and Commanding General, MNF-I, to fully address our recommendations.
Hmmmm...I sense much water is still to pass beneath the bridges on the Euphrates....

[It's 1.2MB @85kbps]
So just like DFID and the MOD in Afghan?

Plus ca change...

msr
 
#20
Ignatius' article 'An Army that Learns' brings to mind 'Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife' by US Army LtCol John A Nagl. It covers the differences in approach between US and UK over Vietnam and Malaya essentially concluding that the British Army of the day was a learning organisation capable of adapting to circumstances whereas the US wasn't and was fixated on superior firepower. 'When your only tool is a hammer, all your problems come to resemble nails'. That's where they went wrong in Vietnam and although arguably superior firepower is still a key element of their business they now do understand what hearts and minds means and don't just bandy it round to try and win buzzword bingo. Not only do they understand it, but they are innovating; further they're creating a new counter insurgency doctrine that's not being created as a rigid template as they'd be used to in conventional ops, but one which means that they have adapted different approaches to the similar problems of COIN in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is what we used to do very well in the different insurgencies of the post imperial years, and perhaps we'd still be able to do well if we had the necessary resources and a government taking it seriously enough to provide properly unified leadership across the relevant departments and agencies.
 

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