The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Welcome to History CGSC Class of 2018

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Just a short a note to welcome the new CGSC class 2018, Staff Section 19, to the blog. As I have said in class, the purpose of this blog is to continue the discussion of the class room topics in another venue.

I will be posting a class specific blog entry for each class . Anyone in the class, actually anyone –other CGSC students as well anyone from the public, military or civilian, not affiliated with CGSC –can comment on what I post.

I do not plan to edit in any way the comments on the posts. However, in the extremely rare case where someone might spam or flame the comments sections, or post anything I deem inappropriate, I will edit those out. The blog guidelines posted on this page should be considered before posting.

If you have something to say relevant to the class that you want to express that does not go directly to the lead in blog, feel free to add that in the comments section as well. In other words, the topics are not limited to the subjects I suggest, but are limited only limited by what is relevant to our history class and your CGSC experience.

A recommendation: be aware of your writing style and grammar in your comments. Like any public writing, including email, people will judge you by how you write as well as what you write. I won’t be concerned about your style –but it is just natural that others will. Do what I do –write your blog comments in word –spell check and proof read them –and then post them. Its not a big deal, but it is an opportunity to practice good communications habits.

That said, ignore all of my style and grammar errors and focus on my content 😉

Again, welcome to the blog for AY 15 and have fun!

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September 1, 2015 Posted by | Admin | Leave a comment

CAC Blog Rules

Use these rules as a guide when posting.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Admin | 2 Comments

H103: The Professionals

The 18th Century saw the perfection of the concept of the professional army. From the point of view of the monarch they were a great asset to the kingdom –ensuring protection from enemies from within as well as without the crown’s borders. The professional army had numerous positive attributes. It also had limitations. Both its attributes and its limitations directly effectived how the Kingdoms and Empires of the 18th Century waged wars. What were those effects?

Today the Western military forces, including the U.S. Army, are considered the finest professional military forces ever produced. As a professional military force, what attributes, both positive and negative, does the U.S. military, and the army in particular share with the professional forces of Frederick the Great’s Prussia?

Do the professional attributes of the U.S. military effect how the U.S. military wages war in a way similiar to the professionals effect on war in 18th Century? If so, how?

September 14, 2017 Posted by | H100, military history, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

H102: Afghanistan: A Contractor Solution

In a recent article Eric Prince (posted in the BB H100 folder), former CEO of Blackwater, proposed using Contractors as an alternative to US military forces to provide expert advice and training to the Afghan military. He asserts that this COA will substantially reduce the cost in both dollars and human resources of pursuing US policy in the region. He also maintains it will be effective.  Is this a viable COA? Do the downsides of mercenaries discussed in H102 apply to the use of contractors in the way described by Prince? Why do you think the idea is not acceptable to the US military and the US Government?

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

H102: The Mercenaries — Back to the Future?

The inability of the feudal system to provide reliable armies gave rise to cadres of mercenaries that at first supplemented the aristocratic warriors of the feudal army, and then replaced them. By the Renaissance period, armies were largely made up of hired mercenary companies. Aristocrats, once the knights of the feudal army, became the owners and officers of the companies. Mercenary companies were a key element of warfare throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries. Many consider that they reached their greatest influence during the Thirty Years War, 1618-1648. Toward the end of the war they began to decline in importance and by the end of the 17th Century they had largely been replaced by national professional armies.

Why did mercenary companies exist in the first place? What advantage did they initially bring to the battlefield?

How were mercenary specialists of the Renaissance different from the contract specialists that we used today?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mercenaries….then and now? Is there an over-reliance on mercenaries today, or are they indespensible for many security tasks that the military simply doesn’t have manpower to accomplish? Are logistics contractors on the battlefield mercenaries?

September 5, 2017 Posted by | H100, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

H101 –Viva la Revolucion!

poster_cheguevara_bigAuthors Knox and Murray, in the textbook, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, analyze the major historical changes in the nature of warfare in the modern period. They call these Military Revolutions (MR). A subset of those revolutions are smaller specific changes in the methods of warfare, they consider these smaller scale more focused changes Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMA). The major military debate coming in the next years is how to structure the American military for the 21st Century. In that debate it is important to determine if warfare currently is in the midst or has undergone an MR based on emerging and existing digital information technologies. Do you think the US Army leadership believes that an MR has occurred or is occurring? What is the evidence of that? Regardless of what you believe the US Army leadership thinks regarding MRs, what is your opinion?

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

H100/101 Critical Thinking and Military History

One of the recent popular books that delves into the subject of critical and creative thinking is Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. This book y is a fairly in depth discussion of intuitive decision making. What is interesting is that I was not expecting Gladwell to talk about the military, but he does. The following is one excerpt from the book:

“Of all the interviews I conducted while researching Blink, the one that made the most lasting impression on me was my interview with General Paul Van Riper –the hero (or villain) of the Pentagon’s Millennium Challenge war game…. I remember being surprised when he took me on a tour of his house by the number of books in his study. In retrospect, of course, that’s a silly thing to find surprising. Why shouldn’t a Marine Corps general have as many books as an English professor? I suppose that I had blithely assumed that generals were people who charged around and “did” things; that they were men of action, men of the moment. But one of the things that Van Riper taught me was that being able to act intelligently and instinctively in the moment is possible only after a long and rigorous course of education and experience. Van Riper beat Blue Team because of what he had learned about waging war in the jungles of Vietnam. And he also beat Blue Team because of what he had learned in that library of his. Van Riper was a student of military history.”

So, given the above and the readings for H101, consider the following questions:

Do you agree that military history is a critical tool for the professional officer? If so, how do you rate the army as an institution, providing and emphasizing that skill? Why?

If you think its an important skill, is it only important for senior leaders and field grade officers? Does it have uses for the company grade officer and NCO as well?

If it is an important skill –what can the Army do to teach the skill better than it does?

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

H306: Doctrine After Vietnam

Lieutenant General John H. Cushman, Combined Arms Center (CAC)Commander 1973-1976, and General William E. DePuy, US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Commander 1973-1976, had dyametrically opposed views of the purpose and nature of army doctrine. Ultimately, General Depuy’s view won out, resulting in the ineffective 1976 FM 100-5 focused on the concept of the “Active Defense.” General Cushman’s opposing view which included a nuanced view of war-fighting; emphasized education over training; and focused on creative thinking over predictable solutions, was the loser. Depuy’s view is largely credited with setting the conditions for the transformation to the successful “Airland Battle” doctrine of the 1980s. Did the army make an error following Depuy’s doctrinal view, and how does this debate provide insights into the on-going doctrinal transformation of the 21st Century? Was Depuy just “Lucky” that his active defense doctrine was never tested in battle? Should doctrine be focused solely on its warfighting utility or should it be a multi-demensional tool of the institutional army that facilitiates training, force development, procurement, and leader development as well as warfighting?

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

H303: Duke Nuke’em

21168During the Korean War US forces were caught in a bloody stalemate because the US, as a matter of policy, choose to keep the war limited. Why did the US not escalate the war and unify the Korean peninsula? Were nuclear weapons a viable option for use in the war? What role do nuclear weapons play in the US strategy in Korea today?

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

H304: The Korean and Vietnam Wars

Arguably, the US was successful in achieving its desired end state in the Korean War: stopping the expansion of communism in Asia and preserving the existence of the Republic of Korea. Given this success, many US analysts in the early years of Vietnam did not see any serious problems with repeating that success in Vietnam. Was that a correct analysis? If so, then why didn’t the US repeat its success? If not, what were the significant differences between the two situations?

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

H302: Its the Economy Stupid… Comrade!

Maoist revolutionalry war theory puts the priority of effort on the political line of operations. Our experience with our own domestic politics indicates that the key to successful politics is the economy. Therefore… maybe:

COIN = Politics

Politics = Economy

.’. COIN = Economy

 

Consider this:  Do populations whose economic aspirations are being met ever revolt?

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

H302: Mao and Current Insurgencies

There are a wide variety of insurgent groups who have operated against U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Very few, if any, have followed a Maoist strategy. Some analysists believe that this fact proves that Mao’s Revolutionary War theory is not relevant to the type of adversaries faced by the U.S. in the GWOT. Are these analysists correct?

As the US military moves forward many believe that the age of Revolutionary war is past, and even if its not, it does not represent an strategic threat to US national interests. Therefore, the US military should leave revolutionary war to special operations forces, and the bulk of the US military resources, to include doctrine, training and organization, should be focused on opposing conventional and nuclear threats from China, Russia and North Korea.

How important to future war is revolutionary war, and to what degree should the US military establishment prepare itself to fight revolutionary war?

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments