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Friday, July 22, 2005

American military shows evidence of pervasive training, leadership and discipline problem

Recent discussions from GITMO shed light on a training, discipline, and command problem within DoD.

This note outlines the basis for increased Congressional scrutiny into DoD training, discipline, reserve commanders, and Ft. Huachuca interrogator training.Recent reports indicate that there is a breakdown in troop discipline, training, and commander competence.

Information from GITMO indicates the troops are emotionally reacting to misinformation. This is of a concern because interrogators are supposed to be emotionally detached, well disciplined, and able to formulate interrogation plans.

The information emerging indicates that the problem is not simply a training issue, but also relates to the poor command leadership overseeing the American military. These commander issues are compounded by the lack of sufficient funding for both equipment and training.

Moreover, the leadership, personnel, training, and equipment problems are compounded by the problem of using troops that are not fresh, emotionally reactive, and are not all that well educated.

Although American troops and their commanders may have advanced degrees, we see little evidence this higher education is translating into reasonable discussions about the information they have. Rather, the American troops show that they are willing to engage in emotional outbursts based on misleading information; and that despite their training, they are not able to translate the lessons from one scenario to another one.

This is a breakdown of leadership and training. The goal of leaders is to lead. Their job is to ensure the troops are properly trained and prepared.

The troop peformance to date suggests otherwise. The troops are emotional, easily manipulated, not encouraged to think, and their commanders are equally incapable of advanced thinking. Rather, the American military is relying on checklists and training scenarios that are no longer applicable.

We see an adaptation problem. Should the weather cooperate, perhaps Congress and the President might wish to visit these issues.

This not outlines the concerns related to these issues and goes into some discussion on the problems related to troop morale, training, and their poor ability in translating lessons learned from one training scenario to another.


The "fine" American troops at Guantanamo don't like it when their party photos get released.

Indeed, they have a credibility problem. But what do they do? Do the arrogant American soldiers do anything to fix their credibility problem?

No. They continue to lie to young recruits.

Here's a hint: DoD has a credibility problem. It's up to DoD to fix that. If the troops are "not happy" with their credibly problem, then perhaps the troops might come forward and offer "their suggestions" on what they will do to address their credibility problem.

Here are some suggestions

  • Share what you know

    Go to the Congress and tell all about what you know about the run up to the war. If you are part of the JTTF or CIFA teams that committed torture in GITMO and can corroborate what the FBI has said, you might be on the nice guy list.

  • Choose the right side of the law

    Remember that it's been years after the Nazis committed war crimes. If you, in 2005, have an "attitude problem" about what your organization has done, tell the world where we might go to get the information to bring this to a resolution. If you do not freely cooperate, then we sill simply have to spend decades hunting down the arrogant American soldiers, just as the world has spent ages hunting down Nazi war criminals.

  • Read Durbin's entire speech

    It's interesting to hear reports that the troops are "upset" that Durbin compared the US to Nazis. Well, let's put that matter aside for the moment.

    If the troops had read the actual speech, they would know there is a key phrase in there. It is called an "if-then" statement.

    For the troops that are no familiar with "if then" this means that if you speculate about something, then you conclude something else.

    This is another way of saying that you are imagining a scenario, and then pretending what you might do. You do this all the time when you are going through simulations.

    Remember, when you storm the beaches or engage in simulated bombing runs or go through training scenarios using your M16-blanks, you are not really shooting real bullets. [That is unless you are in a live fire exercise, but that's a separate matter.]

    The point being is: Every day, you as a combat soldier, sailor, airman, or marine practice [that is, if the White House gives you the money].

    Your job as a training professional is to practice something. Your job is to look at "what might happen" and then go through some simulations. For example, let us suppose you are in a training exercise with the 82nd Airborne. As you hook up, you are given a final word by your jump master.

    What is going on? You are not actually jumping into enemy territory. Rather, because this is a training mission, you are pretending to jump into enemy territory.

    As you approach the ground, you see smoke. That is not real fire nor are there real dead enemy around you. Rather, those are smoke grenades going off. That means this is training. It is practice. This is not real.

    You were probably told something like, "You are going into hostile territory. The forces from the Zandar forces [your simulated enemy] are approaching form the north. We have no other information. Your job is to protect this embassy. Go."

    And then you're off and running.

    Notice what your commander has said: He has given you a simulated enemy. He has given you simulated conditions. And then you are asked [ordered] to take action to achieve that objective.

    Then, after you accomplish your mission, you go into debriefing. Hear feedback. And then learn what could have been done differently.

    They told you, "If you were in this situation in real life, then we would conclude that your probability of survival is poor. Next time, here are some options. You can increase your chances of success how?"

    And then you talk about your options. Hopefully, with enough practice, you'll move with more confidence and recognize the indications that something is going wrong and adjust.

    Which leads us back to the Durbin comments.

    This is what Durbin did. He said, "If you didn't know who wrote these FBI memos, then a reasonable person might conclude that these were stories about war criminals like the Nazis."

    Did Durbin call US military personnel war crimes? No.

    Durbin used a training analogy: If [your scenario], then [a reasonable conclusion about that scenario].

    The point being: Durbin's comments were directed at a general audience. His effort was to show that if someone were to arrive from Mars [the training scenario] and they stumbled upon these documents [the situation] and they didn't know what they were looking at [conditions applied to your situation], then [the conclusions based on that information] the reasonable Martian if they wanted to find out who most likely wrote these documents would begin to search where?

    Answer: A reasonable Martian, if they didn't know where to search for the source, would start to look [a decision] in places that are authoritarian. [a reasonable conclusion]

    Twist: Here's the surprise. Remember how during your training scenarios there are always these little "gotchas" they throw in there? You're going along some simulated exercise; you've seen it all before; and then out of the blue they throw in some bizarre thing that "would never actually happen."

    That's what Durbin did. He threw the world a surprise. Because unlike the "reasonable expectation that these documents are from an authoritarian regime," the actual answer is that the documents are from the United States.


    Did Durbin call the Americans Nazis? No.

    What Durbin did was throw the world a training if-then scenario. He asked the world to imagine something. He wanted the world to see that a reasonable conclusion about these documents was that the world would first suspect that these documents are from an authoritarian regime.

    Here's the surprise: The documents are not from a nasty place.

    They are from your own units.


    Based on the way the US troops are "reacting" to the Durbin Speech and the comments from various commanders, I conclude there is a major training problem in the US military.

    Specifically, troops have been not been adequately trained. They have been given short funding.

    Troops also do not how to differentiate between simulated scenarios and actual problems.

    Also, the general intelligence of even the most scenario commanders proves wanting.

    Further, the troops are unable to formulate simple if-then statements. This shows that the logic-levels are very poor.

    We're also seeing the costs of the US military recruiters lowering their standards. Troops who are brought into training do not understand simple logical inferences.

    Also, based on an illusory statement, we're seeing that the American troops are easily manipulated. This shows there is a discipline and leadership problem.

    The commanders have not explain well enough to the troops the nature of if-then statements; and the commanders are allowing their emotions to take control of their actions.

    This is a discipline problem.

    Moreover, we would reasonably expect the same types of problems to occur in Ft. Huachuca. Specifically, if the American Congress wants the abuses to end, then they need to understand why US military interrogators are allowing their emotions to take the best of them.

    Interrogators are "supposed" to be unemotional and objective. The current outbursts by the American troops shows that they are easily ruffled by illusions.


    An army that is not disciplined is doomed to fail. And commanders who have to rely on troops who are poorly educational, emotional, and not all that well versed on 'if then' statements demonstrate more than a leadership problem.

    It shows that the training structures have completely broken down. Thus, we could expect that there will be more accidents; delays; and excessive numbers of botched operations.

    Thus, it is absurd to believe that the Iraqis are adequately being trained by the Americans. If the Americans truly were competent in their training, then they would ensure that their own troops were trained well and disciplined.

    Thus, based on the American combat soldier and interrogator reaction to the Durbin speech, I conclude that the Iraqi security services are not only poorly trained; but are trained by methods and sources that are disconnected from reality, and not all that well disciplined.

    It remains to be understood what methods of training US troops are getting [if any] and what relationship this has with the contract-training going on Iraq.

    Training is what the military does. When its commanders show signs that they are not willing to lead and getting emotionally agitated by illusory problems, then there is a far wider problem.

    I suspect the problem is that the American commanders have to rely too much on poorly trained, and rusty commanders who are poorly equipped, not getting the type of leadership they need, and are moving more on the basis of chasing fires, than in actually supporting a well formulated strategy.

    In short, it is telling that the American soldiers are reaching to an illusion. They are not all that bright; they enjoy venting their emotions because they are powerless; and they are poorly disciplined.

    Yes, this war "on terror" is going to be a long one. Not because the enemy is strong, but because America has no national strategy, a poorly trained military, and conducts unlawful operations.

    What's America's solution? It blames those who use if-then statements. Indeed, we have evidence the American military is not all that bright, and easily confused by simple logic statements.

    They are easily manipulated. They are likely going to be targeted by lawyers and salesmen hoping to sell them things that they really don't need. What defense will the Americans give to protect US troops from the "evil manipulators"?

    I'm sure they'll pass new laws requiring the troops to be insulated and protected from the very things the enemy does all the time: Thinking.

    Other reading

    If you want to read more about the Durbin Memo and what he was actually saying, go here:

  • Analysis of Durbins comments here

  • Troops reacting because RNC likes emotional reactions without thought here