"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
KABUL, Afghanistan – The ISAF commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, issued his counterinsurgency guidance to his forces here Aug. 26th, which provides direction to ISAF conducting counterinsurgency and stability operations in Afghanistan.
“Protecting the people is the mission,” said McChrystal, who explains the conflict in Afghanistan will be won by gaining the support of the population, not by destroying the enemy.
If you follow the link, you will find the remainder of the press release and the link to the guidance.
In no way, shape, or form is this a detraction to Senator Kennedy's legacy. Whether you personally liked him, or disliked him, he served as a US Senator for generations. Rest in Peace Sir.
Should the passing of Senator Kennedy be ignored in any way? No, of course not. It is news, and people need to know about it.
Should the passing of two US Soldiers be ignored in any way? No, absolutely not. But, that is exactly what has been going on tonight. I have spent the last 2.5 hours observing on Television and the Internet the news that is being covered. For the great majority of domestic news services, there has been little mention of anything from Afghanistan, never mind the casualties.
For example, less then two hours ago there was another explosion in Kandahar City, close to the site of the bombing last night. I have not seen one word about it, never mind our casualties today in Afghanistan. The only way I know about it, is from the BBC and AJE.
Our wonderful Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are conducting offensive operations and humanitarian assistance missions everyday in Afghanistan. They are fighting and dying for a people to have a better way of life, and for all of America to be safe. I believe that deserves at least a sound-bite from our domestic news services.
People ask me all the time, why do I blog. This is the exact reason. The Main Stream Media is not telling you the whole story, and in many cases is not telling you, the American People, any of the story. You have a right to know what your wonderful Sons and Daughters, Cousins and Friends, Neighbors and Co-Workers are doing.
I treat that as a sacred responsibility to tell you those stories. You deserve that, and our Troops deserve that.
God Bless America and may he be with our fallen heroes, their families, and Senator Kennedy and his family.
Many of you, have done so much for all of us service members that I wanted to take a second and simply say thank you. I know many times when we say thank you, you stop us, and say no its we who should be thanking you. But truly, you have no idea how much we do appreciate it.
You see, I grew up with the memories through my Father and Uncles of their generation and how they came home from war in the 1960's and early 1970's. I can not say how much of a difference it makes and how much it means to all of us that you support us, and do all that you have.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
This is not a complete list below, just a wonderful prayer for the Armed Forces from some very wonderful people; and my good friends at Soldier's Angels.
I used that quote earlier this week in the Quote of the Day. GEN David Petraeus uttered those famous words in the beginning days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Those five words are vitally important for us as a Military, and more importantly, the Nation in general.
I can not claim that I arrived at these conclusions and examples that I am going to write about by myself. Much of what I am going to discuss with you tonight was fostered and taught to me by one of my professors here at SAMS, Dr. Stephen Bourque. Huge thanks go out to him for his hard work in instructing all of us.
So, how does this end? Seems to be a pretty easy question to answer. Historically speaking, nation-states have had a very difficult time in deciding how a war should end. Even more so, nation-states usually have a difficult time laying out clear and concise goals to why they are going to war in the first place. Clausewitz talks a great deal about friction, fog of war, and the trinity; but most importantly he teaches us that war is a very messy affair. The situation will change fluidly back and forth throughout the course of the war. A nation that is embarking upon that course of action must have a firm and unwavering goal to achieve or it will find itsef awash and lost with no vantage point to find itself again.
Napoleon was without a doubt a military genius. But if before the Battle of Waterloo you were offered from the Allied Forces everything that you had set out to regain, would you take it? If Napoleon had settled upon a goal that he hoped to achieve he might of. But, there was not a firm goal in his mind. He wanted retribution and he wanted it all. If you asked him to define all, I don't know if he could beyond he wanted it all. Things don't work out so well when you don't have a firm end state.
World War One ended with an armistice. The Germans not having a leader at home, due to the revolts, signed it without guidance. They continued asking for guidance but received none. To make matters worse, the allied forces never discussed during the war what they wanted out of the war ending. Some wanted Germany completely destroyed. Others wanted huge amounts of retribution. To complicate matters mission creep started to enter its ugly head on the Versailles Treaty. By the time the Treaty was completed it totally hammered Germany into the ground with no respect for their people at all. Again, having no clearly defined end-state makes things go very badly.
In Desert Storm we all watched CNN and witnessed the ground-shaking 100 hour War. Tactically our great Troops were without comparison. They performed their mission in an exemplary manner, and won every tactical fight they undertook. At the strategic level though, what was our end state? Was it to push Saddam out of Kuwait? Was it to execute what the UN said? Was it to bring them back to the negotiating table with the Kuwait Government? I don't know. There was never a clear end-state given beyond we're gonna push them out and destroy his army. Great, but then what?
To make matters worse, we had a historical coalition that undertook this operation. Who was talking to them diplomatically while the war was going on? Someone should have been discussing and negotiating with the coalition as to its objectives, and how this would all end. There was not though. None of this happened. Thus on the road to Safwan we begin seeing huge question marks about what are we going to do? We never ask for coalition POW's back, only ours. The Shi'ite start to revolt and our troops have no guidance on what to do; and thus the Shi'ites are brutally oppressed and harbor feelings of resentment through today.
"Tell Me How This Ends"
Now I understand these are all negative examples, so let me give you a positive one, World War Two. The Allies in Europe laid out a concrete set of end-states that they were going to achieve. They had numerous small and large conferences discussing war termination, end-states, culmination, and most importantly what Germany was going to look like after the war. The diplomats were laying out all the plans and endeavors at the same time as the military was fighting. That way when it did end, everyone was prepared and ready for it. GEN Marshall and the Marshall Plan was worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. That is how things should be done.
"Tell Me How This Ends"
Why do I bring all of this up? The reason is quite simple. We are engaged in numerous combat operations in Iraq, and Afghanistan. We must always remember how this should end. What are our end states. How are we going to clearly and concisely articulate this end state. How are we going to work with our Allies in achieving them. What does the nation itself want. What does Iraq and Afghanistan want. All of these questions must be addressed and answered to be successful. Tell me how this ends is the most important question that we can answer right now.
"In the defense of our nation, a president must be a clear-eyed realist. There are limits to the smiles and scowls of diplomacy. Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation. They are held in check by strength and purpose and the promise of swift punishment"
"Leadership is solving problems. The day Soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership"
Excerpt included below, please see link for entire article:
For the second time in three days the Taliban has demonstrated its ability to hit Afghanistan's capital, including the city's most secure zone - the presidential compound. And a bombing on the outskirts of the city has killed at least five people and wounded more than 50. The latest incidents come just two days before Afghanistan's presidential elections.
"Above all we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, that is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have"
"Hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure"
As NATO Secretary General, it is with great sadness that I recognise that over 200 brave and professional British servicemen and women have now lost their lives in Afghanistan.
I feel these losses keenly, as I feel the losses of other nations serving in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. My thoughts go out to all the families affected, as does my gratitude to the troop contributing nations as a whole for the essential contribution they are making to the international effort in Afghanistan.
This is indeed a heavy price to pay. Even in this time of sadness, I hope people can understand that these losses are suffered in a cause vital to the security of each of the 42 nations who comprise the NATO-led ISAF. ISAF now stands at over 64000 personnel and the Afghan National Security Forces continue to grow in strength and stature, taking an ever-increasing responsibility for their own security. They, and many of our ISAF Allies, have also suffered losses for which we share both pride and sorrow.
Stabilising Afghanistan to prevent the return of terrorism that threatens us all remains a critical security task. In recent months, the hard work and sacrifice of ISAF nations in support of the Afghan National Security Forces has focused on improving security to allow Afghans to participate in elections to be held on 20 August. Helping Afghans to take greater control of their own destiny is both the right thing to do and is an important step in ensuring our shared goal of achieving sustained peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. This will be the biggest tribute we can make to those who have lost their lives. NATO’s resolve will remain strong in the challenging months ahead.
CALL is the Center for Army Lessons Learned and is based here at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They do tremendous work, and have published some great manuals and pamphlets in the past. I can not wait to get my hands on this one.
More than a year has passed since an Afghan police commander turned on coalition forces and helped insurgents carry out a surprise attack that killed nine Americans, wounded more than 30 United States and Afghan troops and nearly resulted in the loss of an allied outpost in one of the deadliest engagements of the war.
Within days of the attack, Army historians and tactical analysts arrived in eastern Afghanistan to review the debacle near Wanat, interviewing soldiers who survived the intense battle, in which outnumbered Americans exchanged gunfire for more than four hours with insurgents, often at distances closer than 50 feet.
Now, that effort to harvest lessons from the firefight of July 13, 2008, has contributed to a new battlefield manual that will be delivered over coming days to Army units joining the fight in Afghanistan with the troop increase ordered by President Obama.
The handbook, “Small-Unit Operations in Afghanistan,” strikes a tone of respect for the Taliban and other insurgent groups, which are acknowledged to be extremely experienced fighters; even more, American soldiers are warned that the insurgents rapidly adapt to shifts in tactics.
In page after page, the handbook draws on lessons from Wanat and other missions, some successful and some that resulted in death and injury for American and allied forces. The manual can be read as an effort to push the nuances of the complex counterinsurgency fight now under way in Afghanistan down from the generals and colonels to newly minted privates as well as to the sergeants and junior officers who lead small units into combat.
Copies of the 123-page handbook, produced by the Center for Army Lessons Learned, are being distributed throughout the service and are available to NATO allies and other nations with troops in Afghanistan. A copy was provided in advance to The New York Times by an official involved in the distribution, who said consideration was being given to a broader public release.
My goal tonight is to talk about a couple of comments made in the various discussions. Most of you know from my first article about this subject where I personally stand. Just to re-cap though:
1. It is imperative and part of our duty as Professional Military Officers to tell the stories of the American Soldier to the American People. 2. The American People deserve to know what their wonderful Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are doing for them. 3. Social Media to include Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are imperative to accomplishing this. 4. Cutting off access is not the answer, fixing the security problems and providing proper education on usage are.
One of the arguments that has been made is that cutting off access to social media sites on government systems is no different then corporations that do this. That service personnel can still access these web-sites from home, so there is no impact.
Well this might be true if we were a corporation that was not forward deployed to all four corners of the world. I can only speak on this matter from my own personal experience, but I did not see many purely civilian computer services in Iraq in 04/05and Afghanistan in 07/08. I would say that 90% of my time spent on the Internet in theater was accomplished through government systems.
Now, I'm sure that someone is going to write to me and give a list of where civilian Internet cafes are in theater. That info is probably all true. As an Infantrymen though, who has spent much of his time in small Forward Operating Bases and Combat Outposts, I didn't see many of those Internet cafes. The only ones I knew of to be honest were in Kuwait, and at Bagram at the USO Facility. For me, I would not have been able to access Social Media Sites 90% of the time in theater on my deployments.
The second argument being made is that Public Affairs Officers and Specialists (PAO) will have special computers that will still be able to access social media sites. What the people making this argument do not understand, is that is not the point of social media. That is not why I became a military blogger. I am not a PAO person. Nothing against them at all, I think they are doing great work, and I have the utmost respect for them. It is just not what I want to do. I'm an Infantrymen. I enjoy leading my men, finding and fixing the enemies of our nation, and closing with and destroying them through close combat. I have just as much of a sacred responsibility to you, the American People, to tell you what our wonderful Soldiers are accomplishing, as a PAO person does.
Social Media is truly about "EVERYONE" being able to share their stories with the rest of the world through sites such as Blogger, Wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. This is not about who is the PAO person. Social Media is about everyone being able to tell these stories to the American People, and also the world.
Third and lastly, if the Military ignores the social media revolution then we are going to fall woefully behind. I have seen in comments section of blogs and in blog posts themselves people stating that: who cares about social media? Well first off, I do. Secondly and much more importantly the American People care about Social Media. Third the rest of the people of the world do also. Just look at the Iranian Election on Twitter if you need an example. Fourth, our Soldiers and their Families do. Fifth, our enemies do. If we want to be successful in this new world, whether it is telling our story, our narrative, recruiting, or even disseminating information to families we must embrace social media. To ignore it and try to down-play its importance, is short-sighted.
I was going to do something entirely different tonight, but humor is not called for right now.
Over the last 24 hours we have lost 5 brave young men in Afghanistan. 1 US Army Soldier yesterday afternoon, and 4 US Marines today. The News story is linked below.
Instead of what I was going to write, I am simply going to ask for your prayers for them, their fellow Brethren in Arms, and their Families right now. Somewhere there is a mother or a young wife who just did, or will, get a knock on the door. Please remember them in your prayers.
God Bless America, our fallen Heroes, their Brethren in Arms, and their Families.
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
I have been asked this question a great deal lately, and decided it was probably time to explain it a bit further. If you read GEN (R) Colin Powell's biography about the Gulf War in 1991 he refers to a group of Army Planners, that planned the entire war as the, "Jedi Knights." SAMS very simply put was the school that trained those men.
The School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) graduated its first class in 1984. The mission of SAMS is to educate the future leaders of the US at the graduate level to be agile and adaptive leaders who think critically at the strategic and operational levels of war to solve complex and ambiguous problems. To put this simply, SAMS educates the Army's future leaders to operate in the complex and complicated environment that we now find ourselves in within Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond.
A Major who completes ILE at the Command and General Staff College and is accepted into the program spends an additional year at SAMS. He or she is educated in National Strategy, Design, Operational Art, Planning, and the Elements of National Power. It is also a fully accredited Masters Program and graduates receive a Masters in Military Art and Science. Part of that Masters is writing a Monograph that is equivalent to a Masters Thesis.
Upon graduation these Majors return to the Army and fill planner positions within the Division and Corps Level Commands, such as a Division Headquarters or ISAF Headquarters for example.
SAMS is not just a planners course though. It is a leadership course that teaches young field grade officers how to be better commanding officers. It shows how design and a Commander's Vision is critical to success and how to mentor and bring out the best in your subordinates.
The greatest strength of SAMS is in it's faculty though. The Instructors (most are PHD's) and the Small Group Advisers are the best of the best. I have been challenged, and learned more from them, than at any other stage in my life. I can not say eneough about them.
SAMS also has a Fellowship Program that does similar work with Lieutenant Colonels that are post-battalion command. These men are the best and the brightest of their year groups, and instead of going to the War College, they return to SAMS to complete another year of intensive education and then spend a year helping to educate the Majors as Small Group Advisers.
To any young officer, I would highly recommend attending SAMS. I have learned more personally and professionally in this one year, then the rest of my Military Schooling combined. As a professional military officer, this is where you want to be.
Army Live, the United States Army's Blog, featured a very good article today about the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable Pete Geren's farewell. I highly recommend checking it out. The honorable Pete Geren was and is a great leader who I have a great deal of respect for.
I had the distinct honor of sitting down today with COL Peter Newell in the Army Blogger's Round-Table. He is currently the Brigade Commander of 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, TX currently serving in Iraq in the southern AO. There was a lot of great questions asked of him, but I am going to concentrate on my two questions.
The first question I asked of him, was as a Brigade executing an advise and assist mission, was their additional resources, or force multipliers that he thought he needed to accomplish the mission. In layman's speak this translates to: what else do you need that you do not have. I asked this question because I was curious as to his thoughts on how much inter-agency support he thought he needed.
I was not disappointed, COL Newell was dead on the money with his assessment. The United States Army has set them up for success. They have what they need from an Army Perspective to accomplish the mission. From an inter-agency perspective they are currently working with and have up-coming meetings with inter-agency partners in defining what additional resources are needed. This is exactly the answer that is needed. Every area of operations is different, and every Commanding Officer needs to do his own assessment to determine what is needed. COL Newell by working with the inter-agency is doing just that. My hat is truly off to them!
The second question I asked dealt with command and control over the large area of operations that 4th Brigade has been given. Specifically, how are they dealing with command and control over this large of an area. COL Newell's response did not surprise me to be honest. They have been dealt a huge area of operations, but the key to success is their junior leaders. Their Company Commanders, and senior NCO's are truly stepping up and executing operations in a complex and complicated environment.
This is not shocking to me. Our junior leaders are incredibly prepared and incredible leaders. Success in Iraq does not rest upon the shoulders of our senior leaders, but rather with our junior leaders. I am completely impressed with 4th Brigade, they are truly doing it right.
Advise and Assist Brigades are the future and I am truly happy that we have leaders such as COL Newell leading them.
God Bless American and 4th BCT / 1st Armored Division.