Pete’s Wish List for Combat Warriors

Part 2 is available here

Modern war is forcing the US and her allied forces to rethink how they approach conflict. A large portion of military thinkers focus on the lethal side of the combat equation, and they should. Conversely, people like myself, look at the non-lethal and wonder where’s the doctrine, the attention to detail and the standards that are present when we train for the basic combat tasks? We don’t train like THEY fight and that is a problem.

When the US does deploy, most of the time outside the wire IS NOT, spent in direct lethal contact…most of the conflict is focused on getting the region stabilized and moving forward — it’s not a tank on tank, order of battle, or artillery-based fight anymore. As much as we wish for and train like it is, reality rejects this focus.

Author’s Aside — To improve the bona fides of my list. I’m having conversations with the thought leaders associated with my list on the Break It Down Show. (Show Link) I realize that my network is full of Sheiks, Warlords, farmers and religious leaders so people may not be aware of me or my work. Having these pros on my show is a powerful means of communicating the complexities of modern combat.

The first guest I am featuring is Author of Code of Trust Robin Dreeke. I’ll discuss Robin’s work later in the post. Robin’s book, Code of Trust is a guiding light to help organizations/units like SFABs, Combat Brigades, US State Dept. and the IC (Intelligence Community) realize greater success in the most complex settings.

If we’ve not realized it yet, war has been democratized. It’s no longer nation-states fighting one another as a norm to the point of surrender. That day is gone, and we need to deal with it. As we sort through what is required to “win” we must remember, as Scott Huesing said on the Break It Down Show, “The enemy gets a vote.”

In a spirit of collaboration with John Spencer’s piece for the Modern Institute War at West Point, I offer my own wish list of things service members and civilian augmenters need in combat.

Pete’s Rule of War: Modern combat is hard and we suck at it.

The bulk of what we do in conflict zones is interact (advise, assist, mentor) with host nation officials/residents. Yet, the bulk of our training focuses on skills that are not leveraged once a unit deploys. When we do venture into dealing with our actual job, the details are lost. The doctrine goes silent and the institution runs home to lanyards.

As a combat veteran, I’ve spent years on the modern battlefields. I’ve interviewed 1000’s of people who live in conflict zones. I’ve authored dozens of articles, blogs — recorded hours and hours of content all with the intent of illustrating the complexities and demands of modern wars.

I get and see what dealing with the modern fight means. With an appropriate nod to the traditional practices and techniques required on the modern battlefield…we cannot remain focused solely on the Fulda Gap and Russian tanks.

There are three realities that must be accepted to deal with the modern fight.

1. War has been disrupted and democratized. From Clayton Christensen — As companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers in their market. {snip}

…by doing so, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations” at the bottom of the market. An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill.

Simply, our ability to dominate, outspend, out iterate has made enemies find new ways of accomplishing their goals. While we stand on the battlefield with drones, optics and 5th gen multi-platformed air assets, the enemy takes old ignored munitions and paralyzes a Joint Task Force.

2. The civil population is the Center of Gravity (COG) in modern conflict. — Though it irks my fellows, this remains a fact. If the population supports the stability offered, the “enemy” loses and must adapt to the new reality. When a farmer looks me in the eye and says, “Mullah Omar was born 30 miles from here…I’m supposed to reject him and the Taliban? He’s my cousin!” We’ve got a problem. COG defined traditionally.

The source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act.

As defined by, Dr. Joe Strange, USMC War College and Colonel Richard Iron, UK Army

Centers of Gravity (CG) are physical or moral entities that are the primary components of physical or moral strength, power and resistance. They don’t just contribute to strength; they ARE the strength. They offer resistance. They strike effective (or heavy) physical or moral blows. At the strategic level, they are usually leaders and populations determined to prevail. At operational and tactical levels they are almost invariably specific military forces.

3. Affects dominate Effects. Since the population IS the fight in modern conflict, creating the desired affects is essential for success. Affect as a noun in Psychology and Philosophy provide our guide. Simply, how does the civil population respond to stimuli and which belligerent is creating its desired affects?

Given these three truths, military might, while elemental, is not the sole path to success.

My wish list for modern combatants involves less equipment and more tools to understand creating influence. My list of things is:

Item 1 A mastery of Clayton Christensen’s work — by recognizing the power of disruption, our military service members would have greater insight into how conflict has evolved. It’s one thing to create disruption — but how long does the disrupted continue to focus on their outdated approach. The disrupted often fails to recognize its vulnerability until it’s too late.

The US military has made large-scale, state on state fighting so expensive and ponderous, none of its adversaries choose to fight that way anymore.

Consider the Everitt Aaron Jameson foiled Christmas attack on Pier 39 in Dec 2017. He says he was inspired by ISIS saying in an affidavit, he’d “do anything for ‘the cause,’” We can dismiss this, but Mr. Jameson is not alone in answering ISIS’ call to action. Whether ISIS has direct control or not, Jameson responded to stimuli that lead to a potential conflict. ISIS use affects to create an effect. Did it work this time? YES!

Item 2 A mastery of Benedicte Arsenault’s (Grima) work — Since our stability-centric focus always, and correctly, considers female initiatives, Benedicte’s research and books are compulsory. US forces engaging with host-nation females expecting a sustained positive impact without a command of Arsenault’s research is folly.

From my upcoming academic journal article on the ethical pitfalls of female engagement in conflict zones, “She (Benedicte) provides a first-hand account of women’s conditions, detailing aspects of their lives as defined by Pashtun cultural values, which requires more than simply wearing a headscarf. Pashtun people are generally known for hospitality, which Grima relied upon heavily to conduct her research. However, she learned that “there was a sublayer of rules governing the blanket hospitality that Pashtuns are so renowned for. These rules are complex, organized, and defined by social hierarchy, prestige, and connections.”

It is a mistake to take Bono’s brilliant words and think, “Let’s fix that”…the “Ground Truth” grinds up our current efforts because we fail to work at a professional level. We ignore Benedicte and what it means to be a woman living in a conflict zone.

Item 3 A mastery of David Livermore’s work — David is the recognized leader in the field of culture. He has authored 10 books on the topic — for a force that’s always in someone else’s house David’s work is elemental. An excerpt —

Cultural intelligence is related to emotional intelligence, but it picks up where emotional intelligence leaves off. A person with high emotional intelligence grasps what makes us human and at the same time what makes each of us different from one another. A person with high cultural intelligence can somehow tease out of a person’s or group’s behavior those features that would be true of all people and all groups, those peculiar to this person or this group, and those that are neither universal nor idiosyncratic. The vast realm that lies between those two poles is culture

The DoD has proven incapable of developing a proven institutional capacity to leverage culture. In 2015 the Army’s latest attempt to get culture codified in doctrine was foundered by plagiarism.

Item 4 Basic and advanced skill training focused on Trust — Robin Dreeke’s work. His book Code of Trust is paramount in our operations in conflict zones. We as warriors have a bad habit of showing up unannounced, taking over the agenda and smashing our partner’s plans and schedules. Robin and I submit — That’s bad for business.

From Robin’s Book, “The Five Rules of Engagement are 1. Suspend your ego. 2 Be nonjudgmental, 3. Validate others 4. Honor reason 5. Be generous

I hosted Robin on the Break It Down Show and we talked about what it takes to succeed in building trust.

I’ll take you through items 4–10 on the next post. Enjoy the podcast. Did I get something wrong/right? Comment below and we can have a conversation.

#Podcast #BIDS #TRUSTCode #ModernCombat #AffectsoverEffects