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

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.
Relax - he's a free thinking entrepreneur making ruckloads of money. And following the main characteristic of successful people and telling people all about it.

Strangely concrete answers are lacking.
 
Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.

Lincoln Barnett, attrib: Albert Einstein​
People who fail to come up with a single example and who's every post is a manifestation of deep prejudice born of perceived slight shall be known as bluffers.

Abraham Lincoln
attrib: Socrates.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.

Lincoln Barnett, attrib: Albert Einstein​
'When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.' Cicero.
 
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..
Attempting to reverse engineer objectives for the start of Herrick is a pointless excerise. The campaign was iterative and the desired endstate changed. The thing is it changed reactively rather than proactively.

Quite why you expect me to think up meaningless objectives for a war that started a decade ago beats me.

If, as you claim, military operations are impossible to measure, how do propose to prevent mission creep next time?
 
Attempting to reverse engineer objectives for the start of Herrick is a pointless excerise. The campaign was iterative and the desired endstate changed. The thing is it changed reactively rather than proactively.

Quite why you expect me to think up meaningless objectives for a war that started a decade ago beats me.

If, as you claim, military operations are impossible to measure, how do propose to prevent mission creep next time?
So you can't then?

Interesting.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Quite why you expect me to think up meaningless objectives for a war that started a decade ago beats me.

If, as you claim, military operations are impossible to measure, how do propose to prevent mission creep next time?
Because you've asserted that everything the army does should have measurable, objective assessment criteria to determine success and cost effectiveness. I am countering that this is extremely hard to do and that much, if not most, military activity cannot be measured objectively. It is therefore incumbent upon you to demonstrate how this is possible by coming up with a few of those measurable, objective assessment criteria by which we might judge military activity. Thus far, you've proved unable to do this for HERRICK, influence activity and the nuclear deterrent. It doesn't bode well for your argument that this can be done for all activity if you can't come up with anything for the first three examples chosen.

How do we prevent mission creep? It's relatively simple, although takes a lot of effort. We set clear, subjectively assessed outcomes that we look to meet. Reduction to an acceptable level of violence could be one, sustainable insitituons predicted to last ten years post withdrawal could be another, and the basic application of human rights by the justice system a third. None of those are really objectively measurable, but now the army knows exactly what it's aiming for (primacy of political purpose), can coordinate with other agencies in pursuit of a clear goal and at some point the politicians can turn round and say that the job has been done as all three criteria have been met. It's not as neat as having a simple number that tells you when you can go home, but that's not how military operations work in reality.

There's also an interesting question about when you reassess and change your objectives, accepting that selection and maintenance of the aim isn't an immutable principle, but there's a separate thread for that one.
 
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You won't get an answer because he can't give one.
Apart from wedgiment and skuul, with the added Wupert. Oh not forgetting that the fusiliers are the best infantry in the British army fact.

I think the British Army dodged this bellend.
 
Because you've asserted that everything the army does should have measurable, objective assessment criteria to determine success and cost effectiveness.
No I haven't. All I have said is that, at the start of any endeavour, you have to define what success looks like and develop a method on measuring progress towards that success. Ideally, the measure is objective, but frequently it cannot be. So you have to find a way of assessing and scoring the subjective so that it becomes objective.

I'm not going to rise to your challenge over Herrick. You are asking me to come up with a single objective target that could have been applied at the start to cover the whole mission. The objectives should only focus only on the Herrick 1 deployment; subsequent objectives would be iterative. I'm not going to put up some strawman objectives for an operation I wasn't involved with....

The challenge of measuring Influence Ops is easier to answer and I have done before. Influence Oos are no different to measuring a marketing campaign. If you don't start from a position of knowing who you want to influence, why you want to influence them, what actions you want them to take as a result of your influence, then how do you know where to concentrate your resources? And if you don't find a way to measure the success or failure of your influence, how do you know whether you spent your resources well? How do you know where to follow up and reinforce your influence or where to cease spending resources? To suggest that you can't design measureable metrics for influence is ridiculous; how else do you think business focus their marketing?
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
.. someone has to ask the question is the desired outcome worth it?
.
I'm still waiting to discover what the 'desired outcome' was in the first place.
 
No I haven't. All I have said is that, at the start of any endeavour, you have to define what success looks like and develop a method on measuring progress towards that success. Ideally, the measure is objective, but frequently it cannot be. So you have to find a way of assessing and scoring the subjective so that it becomes objective.

I'm not going to rise to your challenge over Herrick. You are asking me to come up with a single objective target that could have been applied at the start to cover the whole mission. The objectives should only focus only on the Herrick 1 deployment; subsequent objectives would be iterative. I'm not going to put up some strawman objectives for an operation I wasn't involved with....

The challenge of measuring Influence Ops is easier to answer and I have done before. Influence Oos are no different to measuring a marketing campaign. If you don't start from a position of knowing who you want to influence, why you want to influence them, what actions you want them to take as a result of your influence, then how do you know where to concentrate your resources? And if you don't find a way to measure the success or failure of your influence, how do you know whether you spent your resources well? How do you know where to follow up and reinforce your influence or where to cease spending resources? To suggest that you can't design measureable metrics for influence is ridiculous; how else do you think business focus their marketing?
Bob, you're having the same conversation with Cecilia that I grew so tired of having at HQ LAND nearly 20 years ago.

In essence, it's pretty much an article of faith that "what we do can't be measured, so there!"

Therafter the 'listener' makes no attempt to engage with the exposition of methods proven effective elsewhere, and struts off, head high, convinced that they've won another argument by (effectively) sticking an index finger in each ear and singing 'lalala. I'm not listening', returning thereafter to transforming the Army using the same old toolset with which they've been so industriously digging the present hole.
 
I'm not listening', returning thereafter to transforming the Army using the same old toolset with which they've been so industriously digging the present hole.
I'd argue that the "same old toolset" does include measuring success in a crude way.

I fully get the argument that finding meaningful, measurable objectives for combat is hard and that sometimes they may not be relevant. But that is not an excuse for not using them on the vast majority of Army activity, which is inherently measureable. Let alone changing the metrics half way through to disguise failure
 
Mmm. Musing on the conversations above re measurable outcomes, I wonder if we're discussing a number of discrete issues.

On the personal level, it makes sense for the appraisal process to include negotiation and agreement on a set of measurable personal objectives for the individual, be he or she General, Colonel, Captain, Corporal or private man or woman, against the completion of which he or she will be assessed during and at the end of, the reporting period.

On the unit and sub-unit level in peacetime or garrison, there are some absolute, objective measures, based on training objectives. In wartime or on active service, it's more problematic, of course - which is the 'better' subunit, the company which carries out a company attack, bayonets fixed and takes and holds an enemy position or the company which suffers 60% casualties holding on to a feature in the teeth of an assault by several enemy battalions, or the company which retreats, broken, having suffered 80% casualties in holding an enemy brigade for 24 hours, thus allowing the rest of its parent unit and formation to withdraw in good order?

In terms of measuring strategic outcomes, it seems to me this is only possible if there is a clear, unambiguous, agreed and understood definition of the end state to be achieved. Nowadays this is highly unlikely to be military in character or vocabulary, so must have been interpreted in military terms and the interpretation explained to - and agreed to - by the political sponsor.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Bob, you're having the same conversation with Cecilia that I grew so tired of having at HQ LAND nearly 20 years ago.

In essence, it's pretty much an article of faith that "what we do can't be measured, so there!"

Therafter the 'listener' makes no attempt to engage with the exposition of methods proven effective elsewhere, and struts off, head high, convinced that they've won another argument by (effectively) sticking an index finger in each ear and singing 'lalala. I'm not listening', returning thereafter to transforming the Army using the same old toolset with which they've been so industriously digging the present hole.
Oh, I'm all ears. There's no attempt to ignore it from me. Actually, quite the reverse. I have asked repeatedly for examples of how it can be done but none are forthcoming. I'm not strutting off anywhere; I'm asking, again and again, for an explanation of what you repeatedly assert can be done. Perhaps the problem at HQ LAND was that you never once explained yourself or demonstrated how it can be effective so people got tired of being asked to believe you from a position of faith.

You can't show how it can be done and you pretend that's the fault of the person asking to cover your failure.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
No I haven't. All I have said is that, at the start of any endeavour, you have to define what success looks like and develop a method on measuring progress towards that success. Ideally, the measure is objective, but frequently it cannot be. So you have to find a way of assessing and scoring the subjective so that it becomes objective.

I'm not going to rise to your challenge over Herrick. You are asking me to come up with a single objective target that could have been applied at the start to cover the whole mission. The objectives should only focus only on the Herrick 1 deployment; subsequent objectives would be iterative. I'm not going to put up some strawman objectives for an operation I wasn't involved with....

The challenge of measuring Influence Ops is easier to answer and I have done before. Influence Oos are no different to measuring a marketing campaign. If you don't start from a position of knowing who you want to influence, why you want to influence them, what actions you want them to take as a result of your influence, then how do you know where to concentrate your resources? And if you don't find a way to measure the success or failure of your influence, how do you know whether you spent your resources well? How do you know where to follow up and reinforce your influence or where to cease spending resources? To suggest that you can't design measureable metrics for influence is ridiculous; how else do you think business focus their marketing?
Yes you have. You did so repeatedly on the learning culture thread. You actually went as far as suggesting that the army should be justifying its pool of standing manpower by showing day-to-day cost effectiveness.

Again, no explanation for HERRICK from you or @Stonker. 'It can be done' you state, but then go a bit fuzzy when asked to demonstrate how.

Influence ops aren't always about realising an immediate effect. If your measures were used then we'd withdraw most of our DAs overnight because they're there to generate influencen for when we need to call on it. It's not just a marketing operation and we don't judge things by sales anyway, so you're looking at non-numerical outputs. It's not measuable.

But that is not an excuse for not using them on the vast majority of Army activity, which is inherently measureable.
Then demonstrate how. One of you, back up your assertions with a worked example. You've refused to do it for HERRICK (because you can't) so do it for influence or the nuclear deterrent, which were the other two previous examples. What would be the clearly defined, measurable outcomes required to demonstrate cost effectiveness/success with either of those?
 
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[snip]In terms of measuring strategic outcomes, it seems to me this is only possible if there is a clear, unambiguous, agreed and understood definition of the end state to be achieved. Nowadays this is highly unlikely to be military in character or vocabulary, so must have been interpreted in military terms and the interpretation explained to - and agreed to - by the political sponsor.
And this in turn requires the military (a) to learn thinking disciplines to enable them to achieve that clarity of expression, and (b) to foster in those headed for the nominally grownup roles cojones of sufficient calibre to negotiate effectively with their political sponsors, instead of roaring off to war, with not a scoobie what they're trying to do (other than get promoted/knighted)

In Carter you are seeing yet another example of what happens if neither of these things are in place.

Damage is caused to the organisation

The damage is branded as success

The vandal responsible for the damage will be rewarded, and move on to be Black Rod/Constable of the Tower/president of the Royal British Legion or some such else

And the hamster-wheel will spin again with a new incumbent in situ

Rinse and repeat.
 
And this in turn requires the military (a) to learn thinking disciplines to enable them to achieve that clarity of expression, and (b) to foster in those headed for the nominally grownup roles cojones of sufficient calibre to negotiate effectively with their political sponsors, instead of roaring off to war, with not a scoobie what they're trying to do (other than get promoted/knighted)

In Carter you are seeing yet another example of what happens if neither of these things are in place.

Damage is caused to the organisation

The damage is branded as success

The vandal responsible for the damage will be rewarded, and move on to be Black Rod/Constable of the Tower/president of the Royal British Legion or some such else

And the hamster-wheel will spin again with a new incumbent in situ

Rinse and repeat.
Is there any reasons you won't answer the questions asked? Are you not intellectually equipped or is there a deeper reason?

I'm genuinely interested. You claim all this ability to learn thinking disciplines, and to be a master or critical thinking and to speak truth to power yet there is simply no evidence of it.

Your military career shows no evidence - almost extravagantly unsuccessful. You claim massive civilian success (as does almost everyone on ARRSE - indeed judging by most posters an Army career is an almost guaranteed passage to wealth, plaudits and beautiful wives) but cannot provide a single answer to a question - instead attempting to belittle the Questioner and cover up with bluff and bluster about people's schooling.

Not sure if it's woefully misplaced arrogance or something different.

Fascinating.
 
Is there any reasons you won't answer the questions asked? Are you not intellectually equipped or is there a deeper reason?

I'm genuinely interested. You claim all this ability to learn thinking disciplines, and to be a master or critical thinking and to speak truth to power yet there is simply no evidence of it.

Your military career shows no evidence - almost extravagantly unsuccessful. You claim massive civilian success (as does almost everyone on ARRSE - indeed judging by most posters an Army career is an almost guaranteed passage to wealth, plaudits and beautiful wives) but cannot provide a single answer to a question - instead attempting to belittle the Questioner and cover up with bluff and bluster about people's schooling.

Not sure if it's woefully misplaced arrogance or something different.

Fascinating.
He'll put you on ignore, he usually does when he's backed himself into a corner and looks a bit of a tit.
 

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