Gen Nick Carter - a year in post as CGS. Give us a progress update?

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I think we could have done. The London Agreementand its predecessors set a pretty clear objective view of what success would look like in Afghanistan. From that itnought to have been possible to extract a clear definition of what military success would look like and then to plot a road map for getting there. One with measurable objectives and resource budgets to get there. Of course such a plan needs constant review because no plan survives contact.

Turn it around the other way. How do we know whether Herrick was a success or a failure if we can't measure it?
Subjectively.

We need to separate the lack of a clear, articulated end state from the concept of objective measurement. That we never went through a process of selection and maintenance of the aim prior to embarking on the campaign is criminal; finding objectively measurable outcomes is extremely difficult.

An obvious possible desired outcome would be 'reduction to an acceptable level of violence' (the Malaya end-state) and something along the lines of 'institutions strong enough to be likely to survive at least ten years'. Are either of those objectively measurable? No. You could have a stab at trying to throw some numbers at acceptable violence levels but there would be so many confounding factors and reporting errors that it'd be almost meaningless. You'd end up with a magnified version of the arguments about recorded crime statistics in the U.K.

What would your objectively measurable outcomes have been, were you in a position to set them at the outset of the campaign? That question remains open to @Stonker as well, although he seems unable to answer it despite claiming that it's simple to do.
 
Subjectively.

We need to separate the lack of a clear, articulated end state from the concept of objective measurement. That we never went through a process of selection and maintenance of the aim prior to embarking on the campaign is criminal; finding objectively measurable outcomes is extremely difficult.

An obvious possible desired outcome would be 'reduction to an acceptable level of violence' (the Malaya end-state) and something along the lines of 'institutions strong enough to be likely to survive at least ten years'. Are either of those objectively measurable? No. You could have a stab at trying to throw some numbers at acceptable violence levels but there would be so many confounding factors and reporting errors that it'd be almost meaningless. You'd end up with a magnified version of the arguments about recorded crime statistics in the U.K.

What would your objectively measurable outcomes have been, were you in a position to set them at the outset of the campaign? That question remains open to @Stonker as well, although he seems unable to answer it despite claiming that it's simple to do.
Not to mention the fact that there is a significant reduction in violence in an area could be due to EF having complete control. Or mustering FEs elsewhere.

Kilcullen wrote an article on the use of metrics in COIN and the false lessons which can be drawn from the wrong ones.
 
That question remains open to @Stonker as well, although he seems unable to answer it despite claiming that it's simple to
Simple as in the logic is simple - starting with define your aim clearly.

I never once used the word easy.

That these things are not easy, is because people are involved in their doing.

If you can't be clear about your goal, you can't be clear about the intermediate achievements needed to get there.

If you can't be clear about them, and how you'll identify that they're happening/not happening, then you can't build a plan with any hope of knowing if it's working, much less of learning by your mistakes.

But if you want to go through life believing that soldiering is somehow exempt from the basic laws that impact on pretty much all human efforts at collective enterprise, you crack on.

If it works out for you, you'll make history.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Simple as in the logic is simple - starting with define your aim clearly.

I never once used the word easy.

That these things are not easy, is because people are involved in their doing.

If you can't be clear about your goal, you can't be clear about the intermediate achievements needed to get there.

If you can't be clear about them, and how you'll identify that they're happening/not happening, then you can't build a plan with any hope of knowing if it's working, much less of learning by your mistakes.

But if you want to go through life believing that soldiering is somehow exempt from the basic laws that impact on pretty much all human efforts at collective enterprise, you crack on.

If it works out for you, you'll make history.
So no answer yet again? A cynic would suggest that you simply can't do it and you're trying to throw smoke.

One more time: what objectively measurable goals would you have chosen prior to engaging on Op HERRICK?
 
Simple as in the logic is simple - starting with define your aim clearly.

I never once used the word easy.

That these things are not easy, is because people are involved in their doing.

If you can't be clear about your goal, you can't be clear about the intermediate achievements needed to get there.

If you can't be clear about them, and how you'll identify that they're happening/not happening, then you can't build a plan with any hope of knowing if it's working, much less of learning by your mistakes.

But if you want to go through life believing that soldiering is somehow exempt from the basic laws that impact on pretty much all human efforts at collective enterprise, you crack on.

If it works out for you, you'll make history.
So no actual answer?
 
So no answer yet again? A cynic would suggest that you simply can't do it and you're trying to throw smoke.

One more time: what objectively measurable goals would you have chosen prior to engaging on Op HERRICK?
Skuleboi question. Not worthy of a response.

Are you really the holder of an Uxbridge degree?

You'd do better to try to understand the underlying reasons for the failure of those responsible for the operation to do so.

Soz.
 
Skuleboi question. Not worthy of a response.

Are you really the holder of an Uxbridge degree?

You'd do better to try to understand the underlying reasons for the failure of those responsible for the operation to do so.

Soz.
Classic. Give no answer to a direct question then crack straight on with the ad hominems.

Evading the question whilst claiming it's beneath you doesn't make you look like the fearless critical thinker you profess yourself to be. It makes you look like a bluffer.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Skuleboi question. Not worthy of a response.

Are you really the holder of an Uxbridge degree?

You'd do better to try to understand the underlying reasons for the failure of those responsible for the operation to do so.

Soz.
So it's a schoolboy question to ask you to back up your unsubstantiated assertions? Right.

As expected, you've proved my point for me. All you can do is snipe and say how simple it would be to follow your alternative, but actually you can't explain how it can be done and you hide behind ad hominems and 'it's beneath me' when challenged.

You're talking utter b*llocks and you've been found out.
 
What would your objectively measurable outcomes have been, were you in a position to set them at the outset of the campaign?
To be honest, I don't know. I didn't do Herrick and don't know enough of about the operation to suggest objectives. That isn't dodging the question; setting the objectives for any complex program is a major task

What I do know is that a programme that doesn't have a clear "business case" is doomed to failure from the outset. The same is true of an operation like Herrick. It may not be a business case, but someone has to ask the question is the desired outcome worth it?

In reality, I think it would have been near impossible to define objectives for the entire campaign at the beginning. An iterative approach would have been more appropriate. Eat the elephant in chunks, deciding on which chunk to eat next when you know that you can digest the last one.
 
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Classic. Give no answer to a direct question then crack straight on with the ad hominems.

Evading the question whilst claiming it's beneath you doesn't make you look like the fearless critical thinker you profess yourself to be. It makes you look like a bluffer.
You're looking a little hypocritical there when it comes to the ad hominems.
 
To be honest, I don't know. I didn't do Herrick and don't know enough of about the operation to suggest objectives. That isn't dodging the question; setting the objectives for any complex program is a major task

What I do know is that a programme that doesn't have a clear "business case" is doomed to failure from the outset. The same is true of an operation like Herrick.

In reality, I think it would have been near impossible to define objectives for the entire campaign at the beginning. An iterative approach would have been more appropriate. Eat the elephant in chunks, deciding on which chunk to eat next when you know that you can digest the last one.
Not sure I agree, unless you're saying the initial position coulda been 'Take a punt - define a clear goal based on what we think we know, then test and adjust as our understanding shifts'

Bottom line is that to embark on any enterprise, with nothing resembling a clear goal to guide the actions of those involved is madness.
 
So?

I don't portray myself as a fearless critical thinker who could have solved all problems with application of logic and consultancy buzzwords.
So?

You're a hypocrite.
 
Not sure I agree, unless you're saying the initial position coulda been 'Take a punt - define a clear goal based on what we think we know, then test and adjust as our understanding shifts'

Bottom line is that to embark on any enterprise, with nothing resembling a clear goal to guide the actions of those involved is madness.
So What would your objectively measurable outcomes have been, were you in a position to set them at the outset of the campaign?
 
You won't get an answer because he can't give one.
I wouldn't expect him to be able to. I would expect the commanders and staff officers who were responsible to do so.

You noted earlier that we didn't go through the process of selecting and maintaining the aim. Think about that; the might of doctrinally pure intellectual horsepower, carefully selected and honed through years of training didn't even follow the rudimentary process for defining an aim laid down in the organisations doctrine.
 
I wouldn't expect him to be able to. I would expect the commanders and staff officers who were responsible to do so.

You noted earlier that we didn't go through the process of selecting and maintaining the aim. Think about that; the might of doctrinally pure intellectual horsepower, carefully selected and honed through years of training didn't even follow the rudimentary process for defining an aim laid down in the organisations doctrine.
He's pretty vehement about how it should have been done and how easy it is. Yet strangely reticent about putting his money where his mouth is. Which can only lead to the conclusion that he is like most of his profession - a complete bluffer.

I wonder who's job it is to decide foreign policy aims. Let me think.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
You noted earlier that we didn't go through the process of selecting and maintaining the aim. Think about that; the might of doctrinally pure intellectual horsepower, carefully selected and honed through years of training didn't even follow the rudimentary process for defining an aim laid down in the organisations doctrine.
Yeah, I get that bit*. What I don't get is how two people who insisted that clearly measurable objective outcomes could be arrived at, against all common sense, think it a reasonable line of argument to say that they aren't expected to provide a single example.

That the staff officers and commanders should come up with aims is undisputed. That those aims should be objectively measurable is a much more significant claim that needs to be substantiated. The first part of doing that is providing examples of objectively measurable outcomes that we could have used.


*it's up for discussion though. Op ANACONDA was actually successful against a set of defined objectives, we just allowed mission creep after that.
 

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