Guide Compound Warfare: An Anthology

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13 Hours: First Assault on U.S. Compound

For a modern commander, however, which one is important? It will take too long and be too laborious to completely recreate the scene. At least two separate information sources could be required in such a scenario: image surveillance to show the banners and the flowers and human intelligence sources to reveal their demeanor.

The prioritization of information is what will give the modern commander the equivalent decision-making power. The Marine Corps preaches a doctrine of decentralization, one which should allow commanders to operate in this informational deficit because each or their subordinate leaders will have a closer view of the conditions in front of him.

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Essentially, they will have the view he is attempting to develop with all of the various information assets he is employing. As commanders seek information, the first place they often go is to their subordinates. This will either be with a task to go find information or a request to relay information back up to the commander. Tasked with gathering information, the subordinate leader is now diverted from making decisions in an area he is already adequately informed about for his own purposes to gathering, processing, and then relaying up to higher information that may or may not be critical.

The over reliance on this dynamic creates a middleman in information development that results in both inefficiency and centralization in a removed leader. Decentralization encourages bold, decisive leaders.

Compound Warfare: That Fatal Knot

Military judgment must be developed in our leaders so that they can quickly adapt and achieve a decision faster than the enemy. Technology is an asset that can aid in our success and decision making. Such an environment should be rostered and encouraged within subordinates. This allows Marines to keep a quick tempo, one that is faster than the enemy and, in the end, is a foundation of maneuver warfare. In the last 30 years, the Marine Corps has tied its warfighting capability ever more closely to the use of computers and the Internet.

This development has had some benefits.


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Unfortunately, it has also created tremendous vulnerabilities potential adversaries may be able to exploit. While no communications system is ever entirely secure, the Internet and other computer-based information sharing systems have proven extremely vulnerable. The Marine Corps now uses computers and the Internet for nearly everything, both in garrison and in wartime.

It seems that virtually every Marine has a computer, Internet connection, and email address. Everything from personnel records to maintenance records, annual training statistics to annual training classes are delivered and shared via the Internet and tracked, cataloged, and stored on computers and servers. When servers crash or the Internet fails for any reason, workflow virtually stops in affected units. Units now drag computers, servers, heating and cooling systems, and associated generators to the field in order to establish Internet connections with other units.

The light, foot-mobile headquarters seems to be a thing of the past.

Soldiers’ Stories

A greater amount of information can be shared more rapidly among more Marines than ever before. Tasks that used to take a great deal of time or manpower can now be automated and conducted cheaply, quickly, and efficiently. Our fascination with technology may actually be detrimental and make Marine units less capable. Commanders are now inundated with information. The increased information requires a corresponding increase in staff to process it.

The plethora of information available is likely to result in a commander experiencing information overload, which may inhibit effective decision making. Information sharing technology may also degrade unit performance in less obvious ways. Nothing can escape the all-seeing electronic eye of Big Brother. Perhaps the greatest drawback that comes with wedding warfighting capability to information sharing technology is that every network is vulnerable. In fact, it is quite impossible to create a network that is impervious to attack. Even the U. Secretary of State cannot be certain that his email is secure, what does this say about the ability or inability to provide secure communications in other areas, particularly where the scale of use is much greater such as the Department of Defense?

In such an environment, what may actually be required is for the Marine Corps to chart an entirely contrary course when it comes to information technology. The most secure option is for the Marine Corps not to use Internet-based technology at all. Given current trends and ever-greater desires for data communication, this is likely an unpalatable option.

If the Corps is to continue to rely on information technology, it should be far more selective than is currently the case in how and when such technologies are employed. Air Force Col John Boyd. The Marine Corps should work tirelessly to find the best people available and then work even harder to incentivize them to remain in the Corps. This group must then identify the equipment required to put the new concepts into practice so that it can be purchased or, if necessary, developed. The preceding description probably sounds fairly logical, so it may be surprising that the Marine Corps rarely seems to follow this model in determining what equipment to buy.

In each case, because no clear requirement existed for these aircraft, the Marine Corps created a concept and attempted to tie the equipment to the concept after the fact-however tenuous the links. Marines need to employ technology in a targeted fashion. Is the equipment compatible with a decentralized philosophy of command and control C2?

How will this piece of equipment actually be used in both peace and war-how does it fit into the way in which Marines will fight in anticipated future conflicts? Some may argue that these questions are already asked and exhaustively studied, but such a claim would seem to have little merit, as the preceding examples indicated. Among other attributes, war is chaotic, violent, and a clash of hostile, irreconcilable wills, each seeking to impose itself on its opponent. The enemy will seek to compromise our use of the electromagnetic spectrum or turn our use to their advantage.

Networks that rely on the electromagnetic spectrum can be compromised in numerous ways. The codes they use to keep information secure can be broken. Servers can be attacked with malicious code or distributed denial of service DDOS attacks. Such attacks do not require an enemy with the same level of technology and resources as the United States; such capabilities are becoming increasingly available to Fourth Generation Warfare 4GW adversaries.

Marines must prepare for a battlefield where the enemy seeks, and is able to interrupt or compromise any use of, the electromagnetic spectrum. Ever more complex and costly defenses are unlikely to be able to keep pace with the threat. The best security against disruption of the electromagnetic spectrum is to use it as little as necessary.

There is, perhaps, a simple answer to this dilemma. We should prepare Marines to rely on the oldest network in existence: the network that exists between individual human beings. These connections can be extremely difficult to disrupt, can be surprisingly resistant to major shocks, and at their best can often be broken only through physical destruction.

The resilience of human networks is maximized when paired with a decentralized C2 philosophy that allows individuals the autonomy to make decisions in an atmosphere of trust. Unfortunately, one cannot simply buy an improved human network; connections between people must be built over time. Once forged, however, a unit utilizing decentralized C2 can function much more rapidly and effectively than a highly centralized network.

A decentralized, less rigidly hierarchical organization that trusts its people will be more effective in combat-with or without the aid of the electromagnetic spectrum. If the Marine Corps is to succeed in the future, Marines must take a more thoughtful approach to the acquisition of technology.

The role of technology is to serve Marines, not enslave them or overmaster them. Over reliance on technology can be dangerous and can have devastating consequences. This is particularly true in the realm of Internet-based information-sharing technologies. The best method to safeguard information in a digital world is not to use computers or the Internet at all. Since it is unlikely that the Marine Corps will turn away from informationsharing technologies entirely, the best option remaining is to limit the use of such technologies and to target their use carefully. Such an approach will help reduce potential vulnerabilities and allow the Marine Corps to focus limited resources on securing the systems it procures.

Full text of "U.S. Marines And Irregular Warfare , Anthology And Selected Bibliography"

In the end, though, it is people that matter. The most powerful information-sharing network that can be created is among people, and so long as war is waged by human beings, it will remain so, no matter how technology changes. Anything that human genius can create, human genius can penetrate or destroy. The military establishment once hoped that the drawdowns from Iraq and Afghanistan marked the end of irregular warfare as a driving force behind the manning and equipping of the Nation s military forces. The emergence of ISIL Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant , as well as Russian irregular operations in Ukraine and the Crimea, have made it clear that the adversaries of the United States are not going to let the United States have any breathing room to pivot or reset.

The Marine Corps is caught between the world it has planned for and the world as it actually is. What is the likelihood of conflict and, equally important, the type of conflict with which they will confront the United States? Many would contend that the most dangerous enemy course of action is a large-scale, state-on-state conflict with a near-peer competitor. Russia or China are often thrown out as potential adversaries.

Still, the United States prepares for such a fight in a manner disproportionate to its likelihood. The most likely enemy course of action is a continuation of what the United States is dealing with right now, or something very similar. The United States is simultaneously waging a conventional battle against ISIL, especially in regard to fire support, while also conducting unconventional warfare through proxy fights via allied state and non-state actors.

ISIL fights with a combination of semi-conventional warfare on the ground as well as terrorism and subversion in both its immediate area of operations and in Western nations. While the fight against ISIL has been a slow grind with the United States steadily increasing combat power on the ground, battlefield defeat of American units has never been at issue.