On an office door at the United States army's Command and General Staff College someone has scrawled: "You can't see the forest if you burn down all the trees."Alongside is another titbit of advice to the hundreds of officers studying how to wage a counter-insurgency: "It should be obvious that there is a gigantic difference between defeating an army and running a country."Fort Leavenworth, a sprawling base on the Missouri River, is in ferment as the army frantically tries to learn the harsh lessons from Iraq. This is the cauldron of a revolution in the US army's psyche. . .In the words of a colonel at the staff college, officers during the Cold War era were taught what to think. Now they must be taught "how to think".Critical to the army's hopes is Col Kevin Benson, the head of the School of Advanced Military Studies, also at Fort Leavenworth, which each year picks the army's top 78 majors to train as war-planners. -- US army officers learn harsh lesson in history, London Telegraph, 3 June 2006.
COL Kevin Benson, 2006. (Photo credit, London Telegraph.)
Before we plunge into this column, a little background is in order. The first thing for the reader to understand is where this ill-thought, offensive and dangerous article appeared:
The Small Wars Journal (SWJ) is an electronic journal and website focusing on counter-insurgency. Aside from its online journal, SWJ hosts an accompanying blog and the Small Wars Council discussion board. Other site features include an online reference library, recommended reading and event listings.Contributing authors to SWJ include Gary Anderson, Matt Armstrong, Robert Bunker, Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, General Martin Dempsey, Thomas Hammes, Jim Gant, Gian Gentile, Robert Haddick, Frank Hoffman, David Kilcullen, Robert Killebrew, Peter Mansoor, William "Mac" McCallister, John Nagl, Malcolm Nance, John Sullivan, Bing West, Paul Yingling and Michael Yon among others.The title Small Wars Journal is a reference to the 1940 Marine Corps Small Wars Manual, which used "small wars" as a catch-all term for unconventional and guerrilla warfare, also encompassing foreign internal defense (FID), military operations other than war (MOOTW) and military operations in urban terrain (MOUT). -- Wikipedia.
To say that the Small Wars Journal is influential in current military thinking circles is an understatement. SWJ has this caveat lector up front:
Small Wars Journal publishes contributed work from across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We look for articles from serious, authentic voices that add richness, breadth and depth to the dialog that too often occurs in cloistered venues. We do not screen articles for conformance with a house view; our only position is that small wars are wicked problems warranting consideration of myriad views before action, to inform what will no doubt be imperfect decisions with significant unintended consequences. On the continuum from paralysis by analysis, to informed action with recognition & maybe mitigation of cascading effects, to bold & ignorant decisiveness, we strive to help our readers find the middle ground.
Next, you need to know who the authors are. First, from the SWJ thumbnail:
Kevin Benson, Ph.D., Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, is currently a seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, an M.S. from The Catholic University of America, an MMAS from the School of Advanced Military Studies and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. During his career, COL Benson served with the 5th Infantry Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps and Third U.S. Army. He also served as the Director, School of Advanced Military Studies. He works for AECOM.
AECOM is no fly-by night military consultant company:
AECOM Technology Corporation is a professional technical and management support services conglomerate. Ranked in terms of revenue from design projects, the company was the number one design firm for 2010 and 2011 by Engineering News-Record and ranked number one by Architectural Record for 2008. It provides services in the areas of transportation, planning, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees in 2012, AECOM is listed at #353 on the Fortune 500 list. The name AECOM is an acronym for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance. -- Wikipedia.
Retired Colonel Kevin C. M. Benson (USMA, 1977), is currently employed as Senior Analyst for defense policy and business development as AECOM's Seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military & Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth.
The School of Advanced Military Studies, of which Benson was Director for 3 years and 10 months from August 2003 to May 2007, educates commanders and general staff officers for US Army divisions and corps as well as officers from other US services and international armies ranging from Great Britain to Egypt.
Benson's last operational job in the U.S. Army was as Director of Plans (J5) for Third US Army/CFLCC (June 2002 to July 2003) where he was, according to his LinkedIn biography, "Director of plans for the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom."
A May 2011 graduate of the University of Kansas with a PhD in American history, later that year Benson was named the Summer 2011 Fellow at the Dole Institute where he developed and presented a series of five study seminars on warfare in the 21st century.
And what is the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies where Benson currently works as a seminar leader?
The University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS) at Fort Leavenworth is an Army-directed education, research, and training initiative for Army organizations, joint organizations, and other government agencies.Red Teaming is a structured, iterative process, executed by highly trained, educated, and practiced team members that provides commanders an independent capability to fully explore alternatives to plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities in the context of the operational environment and from our partners’ and adversaries’ perspectives.UFMCS educates Red Team Leaders, Members, and Practitioners; researches best practices for Red Teaming tactics, techniques, and procedures; and develops a reach-back capability to provide commanders and staffs alternative perspectives. Graduates of Leader and Member courses receive an additional skill identifier (ASI).UFMCS offers four courses of instruction: An 18-week Leaders Course, a 9-week Stop-Gap Leaders Course, a 6-week Members Course, and a 2-week Practitioners Course (no ASI).
"Red Teaming" requires further explanation for the uninitiated:
A red team is a independent group that seeks to challenge an organization in order to improve effectiveness. The general idea of Red Teaming can be described as a bright light we shine on ourselves to expose areas where we can improve effectiveness. This light starts out white for everyone, under the banner of Red Teaming, but it goes through the prism of the particular organization and takes many different forms in its application. Some of these forms are as different as black and white. Sandia National Labs uses teams that attempt malicious entry in both the physical and cyber world, while the intelligence community has teams that speculate about alternative futures and write articles as if they were despotic world leaders. . .The idea of using Red Teams has been around for a long time. Private business such as IBM, and other government agencies like the CIA and Sandia National Labs have long used them to help improve their organization. Red Teams in the military got a boost after a 2003 Defense Science Review Board recommend increasing the use of Red Teams to help guard against the shortcomings that led up to 9-11. Largely in response to 2003 report, the Army stood up its service-level Red Team, the Army Directed Studies Office, in 2004. This was the first service level Red Team and until this year was the largest Red Team in the DoD.One type of Red Teaming can take the form of penetration testers that assess the security of an organization, which is often unaware of the existence of the team or the exact assignment. This type of Red Team provides a more realistic picture of the security readiness than exercises, role playing, or announced assessments. Red team may trigger active controls and countermeasures in effect within a given operational environment.In wargaming, the opposing force (or OPFOR) in a simulated military conflict may be referred to as a red cell (this is a very narrow form of Red Teaming) and may also engage in red team activity, which is used to reveal weaknesses in military readiness. The key theme is that the aggressor is composed of various threat actors, equipment, and techniques that are at least partially unknown by the defenders. The red cell challenges the operations planning by playing the role of a thinking enemy. -- Wikipedia.
A UFMCS-trained Red Team is educated to look at problems from the perspectives of the adversary and our multinational partners, with the goal of identifying alternative strategies. The Red Team provides commanders with critical decision-making expertise during planning and operations. The team’s responsibilities are broad—from challenging planning assumptions to conducting independent analysis to examining courses of action to identifying vulnerabilities.Red Team Leaders are expert in:1. Analyzing complex systems and problems from different perspectives to aid in decision making using models of theory.2. An analysis of the concepts, theories, insights, tools and methodologies of cultural and military anthropology to predict other’s perceptions of our strengths and vulnerabilities.3. Applying critical and creative thinking in the context of the operational environment to fully explore alternatives to plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities.4. Applying advanced analytical skills and techniques at tactical level through strategic level and develop products supporting command decision making and operational execution. -- Wikipedia.
The UFMCS Red Teaming handbook is found here.
Benson, in short, is no lightweight in his circles, although the same cannot be said about his thinking, but more of that in a moment. First, a bit about his co-author:
Jennifer Weber. The bloody irony of a Civil War scholar writing a planning scenario for a second civil war is apparently lost on this academic.
Jennifer Weber is an Associate Professor of History (Ph.D. Princeton, 2003) at the University of Kansas. Jennifer Weber specializes in the Civil War, especially the seams where political, social, and military history meet. She has active interests as well in Abraham Lincoln, the 19th century U.S., war and society, and the American presidency. Her first book, Copperheads (Oxford University Press, 2006), about the antiwar movement in the Civil War North, was widely reviewed and has become a highly regarded study of Civil War politics and society. Professor Weber is committed to reaching out to the general public and to young people in her work. Summer's Bloodiest Days (National Geographic), is a children's book about the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath. The National Council for Social Studies in 2011 named Bloodiest Days a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Dr. Weber is very active in the field of Lincoln studies. She has spoken extensively around the country on Lincoln, politics, and other aspects of the Civil War. -- SWJ thumbnail bio.
That's it for the background, here's what these two big brains wrought -- Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Future.
The U.S. Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 was issued in August 2010 with three goals. First, it aims to portray how future Army forces will conduct operations as part of a joint force to deter conflict, prevail in war, and succeed in a range of contingencies, at home and abroad. Second, the concept describes the employment of Army forces at the tactical and operational levels of war between 2016 and 2028. Third, in broad terms the concept describes how Army headquarters, from theater army to division, organize and use their forces. The concept goes on to describe the major categories of Army operations, identify the capabilities required of Army forces, and guide how force development should be prioritized. The goal of this concept is to establish a common frame of reference for thinking about how the US Army will conduct full spectrum operations in the coming two decades (US Army Training and Doctrine Command, The Army Operating Concept 2016 – 2028, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, dated 19 August 2010, p. iii. Hereafter cited as TD Pam 525-3-1. The Army defines full spectrum operations as the combination of offensive, defensive, and either stability operations overseas or civil support operations on U.S. soil).A key and understudied aspect of full spectrum operations is how to conduct these operations within American borders. If we face a period of persistent global conflict as outlined in successive National Security Strategy documents, then Army officers are professionally obligated to consider the conduct of operations on U.S. soil. Army capstone and operating concepts must provide guidance concerning how the Army will conduct the range of operations required to defend the republic at home. In this paper, we posit a scenario in which a group of political reactionaries take over a strategically positioned town and have the tacit support of not only local law enforcement but also state government officials, right up to the governor. Under present law, which initially stemmed from bad feelings about Reconstruction, the military’s domestic role is highly circumscribed. In the situation we lay out below, even though the governor refuses to seek federal help to quell the uprising (the usual channel for military assistance), the Constitution allows the president broad leeway in times of insurrection. Citing the precedents of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and Dwight D. Eisenhower sending troops to Little Rock in 1957, the president mobilizes the military and the Department of Homeland Security, to regain control of the city. This scenario requires us to consider how domestic intelligence is gathered and shared, the role of local law enforcement (to the extent that it supports the operation), the scope and limits of the Insurrection Act--for example maintaining a military chain of command but in support of the Attorney General as the Department of Justice is the Lead Federal Agency (LFA) under the conditions of the Act--and the roles of the local, national, and international media.The Scenario (2016)The Great Recession of the early twenty-first century lasts far longer than anyone anticipated. After a change in control of the White House and Congress in 2012, the governing party cuts off all funding that had been dedicated to boosting the economy or toward relief. The United States economy has flatlined, much like Japan’s in the 1990s, for the better part of a decade. By 2016, the economy shows signs of reawakening, but the middle and lower-middle classes have yet to experience much in the way of job growth or pay raises. Unemployment continues to hover perilously close to double digits, small businesses cannot meet bankers’ terms to borrow money, and taxes on the middle class remain relatively high. A high-profile and vocal minority has directed the public’s fear and frustration at nonwhites and immigrants. After almost ten years of race-baiting and immigrant-bashing by right-wing demagogues, nearly one in five Americans reports being vehemently opposed to immigration, legal or illegal, and even U.S.-born nonwhites have become occasional targets for mobs of angry whites.In May 2016 an extremist militia motivated by the goals of the “tea party” movement takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina, occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council, and placing the mayor under house arrest. Activists remove the chief of police and either disarm local police and county sheriff departments or discourage them from interfering. In truth, this is hardly necessary. Many law enforcement officials already are sympathetic to the tea party’s agenda, know many of the people involved, and have made clear they will not challenge the takeover. The militia members are organized and have a relatively well thought-out plan of action.With Darlington under their control, militia members quickly move beyond the city limits to establish “check points” – in reality, something more like choke points -- on major transportation lines. Traffic on I-95, the East Coast’s main north-south artery; I-20; and commercial and passenger rail lines are stopped and searched, allegedly for “illegal aliens.” Citizens who complain are immediately detained. Activists also collect “tolls” from drivers, ostensibly to maintain public schools and various city and county programs, but evidence suggests the money is actually going toward quickly increasing stores of heavy weapons and ammunition. They also take over the town web site and use social media sites to get their message out unrestricted.When the leaders of the group hold a press conference to announce their goals, they invoke the Declaration of Independence and argue that the current form of the federal government is not deriving its “just powers from the consent of the governed” but is actually “destructive to these ends.” Therefore, they say, the people can alter or abolish the existing government and replace it with another that, in the words of the Declaration, “shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” While mainstream politicians and citizens react with alarm, the “tea party” insurrectionists in South Carolina enjoy a groundswell of support from other tea party groups, militias, racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, anti-immigrant associations such as the Minutemen, and other right-wing groups. At the press conference the masked militia members’ uniforms sport a unit seal with a man wearing a tricorn hat and carrying a musket over the motto “Today’s Minutemen.” When a reporter asked the leaders who are the “red coats” the spokesman answered, “I don’t know who the redcoats are…it could be federal troops.” Experts warn that while these groups heretofore have been considered weak and marginal, the rapid coalescence among them poses a genuine national threat.The mayor of Darlington calls the governor and his congressman. He cannot act to counter the efforts of the local tea party because he is confined to his home and under guard. The governor, who ran on a platform that professed sympathy with tea party goals, is reluctant to confront the militia directly. He refuses to call out the National Guard. He has the State Police monitor the roadblocks and checkpoints on the interstate and state roads but does not order the authorities to take further action. In public the governor calls for calm and proposes talks with the local tea party to resolve issues. Privately, he sends word through aides asking the federal government to act to restore order. Due to his previous stance and the appearance of being “pro” tea party goals the governor has little political room to maneuver.The Department of Homeland Security responds to the governor’s request by asking for defense support to civil law enforcement. After the Department of Justice states that the conditions in Darlington and surrounding areas meet the conditions necessary to invoke the Insurrection Act, the President invokes it.
There is much more in this article, but consider these paragraphs:
At this point military operations will be on the downturn but the need for more politically aware military advice will not. War, and the use of federal military force on U.S. soil, remains an extension of policy by other means. Given the invocation of the Insurrection Act, the federal government must defeat the insurrection, preferably with minimum force. Insurrectionists and their sympathizers must have no doubt that an uprising against the Constitution will be defeated. Dealing with the leaders of the insurrection can be left to the proper authorities, but drawing from America history, military advice would suggest an amnesty for individual members of the militia and prosecution for leaders of the movement who broke the law. This fictional scenario leads not to conclusions but points to ponder when considering 21st century full spectrum operations in the continental United States. The Insurrection Act does not need to be changed for the 21st century. Because it is broadly written, the law allows the flexibility needed to address a range of threats to the Republic.What we must consider in the design of homeland defense or security exercises is translating the Act into action. The Army Operating Concept describes Homeland Defense as the protection of “U.S. sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure against external threats and aggression, or other threats as directed by the president” (TD Pam 525-3-1, p. 27. Emphasis added.) Neither the operating concept nor recently published Army doctrine, FM 3-28 Civil Support Operations, goes into detail when considering the range of “other threats.” While invoking the Insurrection Act must be a last resort, once it is put into play Americans will expect the military to execute without pause and as professionally as if it were acting overseas. The Army cannot disappoint the American people, especially in such a moment. While real problems and real difficulties of such operations may not be perceived until the point of execution preparation will afford the Army the ability to not be too badly wrong at the outset.Being not too badly wrong at the outset requires focused military education on the nuances of operations in the homeland. Army doctrine defines full spectrum operations as a mix of offense, defense and either stability or civil support operations. Curriculum development is a true zero sum game; when a subject is added another must be removed. Given the array of threats and adversaries; from “commando-style” raids such as Mumbai, the changing face of militias in the United States, rising unrest in Mexico, and the tendency to the extreme in American politics the subject of how American armed forces will conduct security and defense operations within the continental U.S. must be addressed in the curricula of our Staff and War Colleges. (The Kansas City Star, 12 September 2010, “The New Militia.” The front page story concerns the changing tactics of militia movements and how militias now focus on community service and away from violence against the government. Law enforcement agencies feel this is camouflage for true intentions. The story covered armed paramilitary militias in Missouri and Kansas.) (MBV NOTE: The Missouri Militia responded to the article cited above here.)The Army must address the how to of intelligence/information gathering and sharing, liaison with local law enforcement and conduct of Information Operations in focused exercises, such as UNIFIED QUEST, given a wider range of invited participants. The real question of how to educate the Army on full spectrum operations under homeland security and defense conditions must be a part of an overall review of professional military education for the 21st century.
Why is it that the longer I live, the more prescient the 70s comedy troupe of Firesign Theater seems?
We're bringing the war back homeWhere it ought to have been before!We'll kill all the bees And spiders and fliesAnd we wont play in iceboxes lying on their sidesWe'll wash our hands after wee-wee.And if we're a girl, before!And we'll march,march,march, et cetera!'Til we never do march no more!(All together, now, boys!)
Not to put too fine a point on such an article, Small Wars Journal helpfully included this at the end for a link: "Related Content: A Knife into the Heart of the Confederacy: How General Sherman’s Georgia and Carolinas Campaign Helped Empty Southern Hearts and Minds of the Will to Wage Insurrection."
At least some wag at SWJ understands the bloody road down which this article points.
The reactions of SWJ readers were not universal acclamations of approval. Here's one:
Congratulations to COL (Ret) Benson. You have just hit the national political scene via Free Republic. The headlines will read: "US ARMY PLANNING TO QUELL TEA PARTY INSURRECTIONS." This article should be a thoughtful discussion on the process of suppressing potential insurrections and Military/Defense Support to Civil Authorities. However, your scenario using the TEA Party, combined with your credentials as a Seminar Leader at Ft Leavenworth, has a high potential of causing a major political firestorm on the national level. Your scenario could easily give the President, the SECDEF, the CJCS, the SECARMY, and the CoS a political black eye. You have given credibility to the conspiracy theorists who believe the President is preparing to implement martial law to stay in power, and have undermined the faith which so many of the TEA Party members place in the United States Military to support and defend the Constitution. For an author who discusses the importance of information operations your article, you have demonstrated your utter incompetence in this area.
This socialist/progressive retired Col. and his sidekick sure missed the boat on this analysis. They miss reality to the point of being creepy/otherwordly.How about this 1000 times more likely scenario:In November 2012 the communist progressives fail to reelect Obama by a very small margin. Major riots break out in 15 major cities nationwide with disenfranchised-feeling blacks, Islamists, and Latinos expanding their destructive protests into the suburbs. The governors of three of the most liberal states refuse to take action to quell the disturbances.These clueless writers fail to understand who tends to be violent and who tends to be peaceful. They are either disconnected from reality or are driven by an ideology that ignores reality.
As a retired Marine and as a retired cop, I find the authors' fictional scenario quite disturbing and not well thought out.What the heck happened to the Posse Comitatus Act?Your scenario is clearly a law enforcement action. One that can and would be handled by state and local police -- and the state's National Guard if need be.Roll federal tanks and APCs down main street, and you would have more than your fictional, evil Tea Party to contend with. You'd have everyone from high-school kids to retired folks running around shooting up your tanks and troops, while screaming: "Wolverines!"
As one retired military guy I talked to said, "This is the ultimate mission creep. The Pentagon bright boys understand that we're not going to have the money anymore to project force overseas so they're planning to fight in the one place that doesn't require it: 'the Homeland', which is a damned socialist term anyway."
What strikes me is that this retired big-brain colonel has so little grasp of reality that he should choose the Tea Parties and "extremist militias" for his offensive action scenario. I guess it must be true what folks have been saying for some time -- that white Christian "bitter clingers" are the only politically correct evil enemy anymore.
Benson touches only tangentially on the National Command Authority's principal problem in his scenario:
Once the Fifth Army commander determines he has a complete picture of activity within the town and especially of the insurrectionists’ patterns of behavior, deployment of combat, combat support and combat service support forces will begin from Forts Bragg and Stewart, and Camp Lejuene. Commanders will need to consider how the insurrectionists will respond. Soldiers and Marines involved in this operation, and especially their families will be subject to electronic mail, Facebook messages, Twitters, and all manner of information and source of pressure. Given that Soldiers and Marines stationed at Forts Bragg and Stewart as well as Camp Lejuene live relatively nearby and that many come from this region, chances are they will know someone who lives in or near Darlington. Countering Al Qaeda web-based propaganda is one thing, countering domestic information bombardments is another effort entirely.
Yet Benson seems to think that individual troop morale is his only problem. He ought to be wondering whether his orders will be obeyed at all, or, more to the point, which way the military's weapons will be aimed.
As ridiculous and faulty-premised as Benson's article is, we must take it seriously. At least some Pentagon planners are considering how to wage "anti-insurrectionary" operations against that class of folks that Obama sneeringly referred to as "the bitter clingers." That such military tyranny would be both a violation of their Constitutional oaths and treason seems not bother Benson and his ilk a whit. Thus, if the Pentagon is going to consider us potential enemies, we must give some thought to the application of Fourth Generation Warfare techniques in righteous self-defense against tyranny.
Now there's a nugget around which Benson can build his next article.
Benson lectures on future military threats. "The real enemy is the Tea Parties. Those blue-haired grandmas can be treacherous."