Saturday, August 25, 2018

Training For Defeat

h/t My Daily Kona

Excellent essay posted over at MDK today, lifted from a powerpoint  piece by Angry Staff Officer:

"We’re far more comfortable talking about potential victory than we are discussing the possibility and – let’s be honest – very strong likelihood of loss. And even when we are discussing loss, we spend more time talking about mitigating risks than we do how to react should the adverse occur. This means that we have a generation of young leaders who learn about loss only when it actually happens. This is decisively the opposite of how we treat everything else in the Army as regards training. We don’t send soldiers into battle without ever having fired their weapon; why should we send commanders to war without at least having some training on how to deal with loss and defeat?
And yes, we do train for some loss: vehicle recovery, casualty evacuation, and breaking contact come to mind. But how well do those test a unit for a full and total breakdown? Or is it perhaps better to not even put that idea into soldiers’ heads? These are the questions we should at least be asking, as leaders."


If you haven't war-gamed every eventuality in your head beforehand, you'll lose yours when Reality happens to your Cunning Plan.

Like it will.
"Plans are worthless, but the planning process is invaluable." - Eisenhower

Said the guy who launched the Normandy invasion, liberated half of Europe, and beat the Wermacht and Luftwaffe all the way back across the Rhine.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.
And if you failed to plan to fail, you'll turn a setback into a rout, possibly in a Darwin Award-winning manner.

Go read the essay, learn the lesson, and take it to heart.

You say you want a revolution...

What's your Plan B?
Plan C?
Plan D
(P-A-C-E. Not just a thing. Everything.)

What will it take to regroup and counter-attack?
What provisions have you made for that? Not then, but now?
(Two is one, and one is none. But seven to seventeen is options. - Aesop)
What tactics will you use to become the inflictor of grand strategy on your enemies, instead of the inflictee??

If you have no bench, and no fallback, you have no resiliency, no longevity, and ultimately, no future. Might as well kill yourself now, and save a lot of needless suffering.

Or else, crack the books, think the thoughts, and start planning for how to rebound from not just the enemy's Most Likely Course of Action, but also from his Most Disastrous Course Of Action, for you.

You will not pull this out of your hip pocket, nor from between your butt cheeks, on the day.
Telling yourself "The dog ate my homework, and my head is up my @$$" will not get you a pass, or any sympathy when tragedy befalls you. If you're lucky, you'll just die a quick death, instead of suffering slow, lingering torture. Like watching all your people go first, slowly, and screaming at your epic failure.
And resolving merely to taste bad when they turn the lions loose on you is no way to die.

Some names and campaigns you'd better get damned familiar with:

Washington: New Jersey campaigns
Lee: post-Gettysburg
Fertig: after the fall of Corregidor
Hackworth: Steel My Soldiers' Hearts

Being an insurgent is as easy as being the prop master on a movie:
"You just have to have everything!"

You want easy, get a Che t-shirt, loath yourself, cut off your testicles, pull on a pink pussy hat, and flagellate yourself in public, with a barbed wire cat o' nine tails, you hetero-cis-white patriarchal toxic male mouth-breathing evil bitter bible-clinging and gun-toting fascist pig.

Otherwise, assuming that doesn't sound fun to you, you've got some work to do.
And if you're the guy (or gal) who's too old, beat up, beat down, and broke-dick to kick ass and take names any more, or never could, but you can be One Shot Paddy, or can spy, move contraband supplies, squirrel away food for others, acquire and launder funds (hint: armies don't march on their bellies; even Corporal Nappy got that one wrong. They march on their wallets), run a guerrilla hospital or clinic, or hide people in plain sight, to rest, refit, and regroup, you may be the most vital link in the entire chain.

Do you really think the enemy cares if their battalion gets wiped out in one go by Audie Murphy in an hour, or at 5 guys a day by Simo Häyhä over 100 days??
Those guys are just as dead either way. Don't believe me, ask the victims.

"Welcome to Pineland.
Tag! You're the new Guerrilla Chieftain.
So...whaddya got?"

Nobody ever found out from Giap how many people pushing 300# bicycles it took to win at Dien Bien Phu, or what the ratio was between handlebar-pushers and trigger-pullers (and to be fair, a lot of them played both ways), but the fact is, those guys on the handlebars won that 34-year-long war, from 1941-1975.
"America won on every battlefield in Vietnam from 1965-1973."
"Yes, you did. But that is irrelevant." - press interview with NVA general post-1975
And if you can't learn from other people's victories, and turn that around to help yourself, you'll just be another brief chapter in their exploits. Your tale will end on a headstone.
Or in a ditch.

Surrender is not an option. Ask Solzhenitsyn how that works out for you.
But retreat damned well better be.
Because if you can't learn to rebound, you're never going to get to dunk.


Pat H. said...

We called those sorts of plans, "Retrograde" operations. We practiced them far more than any other type.

Aesop said...

5:1 tank odds in the Fulda Gap will do that for ya. ;)

RandyGC said...

I thought preparing to handle defeat (and, eventually learning not to be defeated) was the reason for the OPFOR at the National Training Center?

Or has that been dumbed down since the 80's like so much else.

I do know that the Aggressors at Nellis (Fighter pilots and the ground crews manning radar and "missile" (Smokey SAM) sites were not giving anything away for free in the 80's. Many pilots (fighter, bomber and transport) learned a new concept called "humility" as a result of their interactions with the home team there.

Of course, these experiences are at the tactical/operational level. Often those lessons do not stay with those that get up into the strategic level.

Aesop said...

Not really.
Humility was taught, incidental to the main purpose: how to win.

Baby Brother has a shiny AAM, for whacking an entire battalion and trains single-handedly as part of the OPFOR. He rolled over a ridge, there they were, and he and his VISMOD Sheridan T-72 went to town. He even whacked an hovering Apache with a tank round, and got dusted by the pissed off pilot as he waved the one-fingered salute afterwards, while Ol' TopGun headed back to respawn with his kill light flashing. I've seen the cite. (Wish I could get a copy of the video replay God-view.)

His report was that the LTC at the AAR shook his hand, and some humility was definitely issued that day, but not so much the regrouping part.

NTC was a cycle, to teach Combined Arms and joint forces warfare, (just like Red Flag, AFAIK) so that at the beginning you'd get your ass kicked, but by the end of the rotation, you'd be kicking OPFOR's ass.

Humility was a by-product, early on, but not the primary lesson plan, and flexibility and resilience as described in ASO's essay was not really the point.

The pay-off was a 72 hour war in 1991 where we rompy-stomped a numerically much larger force, but we don't have that military any more, in size, capability, or frankly, even fighting spirit. If it were a do-over today, I suspect we'd be hard-pressed to come close to that.

And then teaching resiliency in the face of set-backs would be a really good club to be able to pull out of your bag.

Another clue as to why things aren't what they used to be is over on Z-Blog today:

"As of the last census, the majority of people under-18 are non-white. By the next census, it will be distinctly non-white. War fighting is a young man’s game. A military built to run on smart white guys with a sense of duty is not going to function when it has to rely on non-whites, who despise their host population. Inevitably, the military is going to start looking like a Chicano version of Stripes. No one says it, but everyone in charge sees the problem."

If he's right, yikes.
It's Rome, replacing conscription with foreign mercenaries bearing no abiding love for the Empire, just for the bennies they could milk from it.
We know how that ended.

AB.Prosper said...

The people in the country on the Right who want a revolution don't even have a "what if we win" plan much less what if we lose.

If you have a revolt and defeat the other guy, you broke it, you bought it and you don't get to play Cinncinatus or run back to Monticello 2.0 -- you have to run a country now and you don't get to palm it off on someone else

Its decades of boots on necks, telling people what to do, telling business what to do and in short being a huge dick to make sure everyone has taters. Its signing death warrants for 14 year olds or arguing if that's too young but 16 is not.

In short its ugly, merciless and horrifying.

It reminds me of a quote from the Operative of Parliament in Serenity (paraphrased)

I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

That's you and yours and the peaceful and dare I say White run society you are building is for your kids maybe your grandkids not for you . Its the foundation for a homogeneous enough religious and moral people to have a future, 3/4 Hallmark Movie 1/4 Forged in Fire if you will.

Worse no one waging the war will truly get to live there , too much pain, blood, scars and nightmares.

But if you want a future like that where maybe you get to see the glimmerings and your descendants get that shot, that's what you fight for.

But until people want it enough they won't get it. Deplorables need to learn to organize for a common goal again.

Now as to what Z said, the US military hasn't defended the US since 1941, really had we minded our own affairs 1861 or hell 1812 . If it gets weaker its not something that matters. It makes the military less of a threat to the citizenry and the world and the sooner Team America World Police packs it shit up and heads home, the better for the US . It does no good to go to war when your house is on fire

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aesop;

I appreciate the plug, I have been visiting your blog for a while but just lurk. As far as training goes, I remember the training in Hohenfels and Graf, when we were trying to work the combined arms to disrupt the 2nd and 3rd echelons before they came through the Fulda Gap. And yes the payoff was the Desert Storm. We kept saying that we recovered from Vietnam but it still hung over us like a spectre, We were a few years past "Desert one" and Grenada was a vast improvement but there were still a bunch of issues. Luckily we worked them out in time for Panama and the Gulf. It took the Storm to get past the ghost of Vietnam. But then Somalia cropped up.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say Fertig was an anomaly and was blessed by a courageous local populace. Most folks went into the bag. There were other folks who were contemporaries of Fertig and his bunch but I'd have to spend time in my shelves to find them.
My own hero in defeat was LCDR Morrill, a minesweep Skipper who got out in a 36' motor launch. Kemp Tolley and the Lanikai also come to mind.
I expect though the grey-clad experience of 1863 is the most useful