Thursday, July 27, 2017

Innovation for Future War

I don't have a lot to add to this article on military innovation. But it is an important topic that I've certainly touched on without really going into theory.

On the issue of whether the last 16 years of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism (ignoring the semi-conventional Afghan campaign to overthrow the Taliban and the very conventional campaign to destroy the Saddam regime) harms innovation for future conventional warfare, I have to ask how?

The implication seems to be that without the COIN and CT campaigns we'd have conventional wars to test weapons, systems, and doctrine.

But isn't the more likely alternative to preparing for conventional war while fighting COIN and CT preparing for conventional war while at peace? Without a way to test weapons, systems, and doctrine in the real world?

Mind you, it is very true that we have a generation of troops with little experience in conventional warfare. But we are working to fix that, and when we do we will have a military with combat experience and appropriate training.

The question of whether we are innovating in a war or peacetime environment is interesting. Testing in a war environment is much more rapid.

Basically, we really aren't in a war environment for the purpose of developing weapons, systems, and doctrines. Surely you've heard the expression that "the military is at war, the nation is at the mall."

I'm not sure we will ever see anything different absent a lengthy war against a major regional or global power that requires national mobilization on the scale of the Civil War or World War II.

And then there is the problem of banking on predicting the enemy and type of war a couple decades out. I'd rather not put all my money on that kind of bet.

I'd rather make sure we have high quality personnel (as I noted for the Army) and an officer corps that in training is faced with unexpected situations rather than scripted scenarios (not that there isn't value in scripted scenarios to practice the logistics and command and control systems).

I think we really need to make sure our opposition force training formations for the Army and Air Force are fully exploited; and make sure the Marines and Navy have similar options for testing weapons, systems, and doctrines.

The Army troops who went through both the National Training Center and the Persian Gulf War noted that the American OpFor was far tougher to fight than the Iraqi army.

Anyway, it is an interesting article.

Here is a related article. The officer was a great combat soldier and he has made good points in the past. And in the article. But too often he just seems to needlessly turn his outrage dial to 11.