Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tactical Operations for Strategic Effect: The Challenge of Currency Conversion

The 48 page report can be downloaded here. http://jsou.libguides.com/ld.php?content_id=16765138

Anything by Colin Gray is worth reading.

I think this is very important:

As Dr. Gray posits, "the concepts of tactics and strategy are ones misused abusively on a habitual and widespread basis throughout the U.S. defense community." The author makes the case that "tactics concern military action, strategy is all about the consequences of such behavior." If there is confusion about these two concepts—and the author believes there is—then charting a sensible relationship between them is impossible. This monograph attempts to clear up that confusion by using historical examples where strategy and tactics have failed each other. One such historical example is the lack of strategy issued by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In fact, Dr. Gray contends that "If any single factor is able to lead in explanation of the failure of the [Confederate States' Army] CSA in the Civil War, most plausibly it was the persisting neglect, even just incomprehension, of strategy." The author argues the tactical action and strategic effect disconnect is repeated throughout U.S. military history including the current conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Tactical Operations for Strategic Effect: The Challenge of Currency Conversion

   


Foreword

            Dr. Colin Gray's Tactical Operations for Strategic Effect: The Challenge of Currency Conversion examines in depth the conversion of tactical behavior with its strategic consequences. This topic should be of great interest to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community because special operations has recently been the 'option of choice' when dealing with various foreign policy crises. SOF are sent on these missions because of their skills and small-scale mission sets. More importantly, however, is the belief that these tactical operations will have a strategic effect. Unfortunately, that conversion does not always happen. Dr. Gray addresses this conversion by breaking down what is meant by using the term tactical versus strategic. As Dr. Gray posits, "the concepts of tactics and strategy are ones misused abusively on a habitual and widespread basis throughout the U.S. defense community." The author makes the case that "tactics concern military action, strategy is all about the consequences of such behavior." If there is confusion about these two concepts—and the author believes there is—then charting a sensible relationship between them is impossible. This monograph attempts to clear up that confusion by using historical examples where strategy and tactics have failed each other. One such historical example is the lack of strategy issued by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In fact, Dr. Gray contends that "If any single factor is able to lead in explanation of the failure of the [Confederate States' Army] CSA in the Civil War, most plausibly it was the persisting neglect, even just incomprehension, of strategy." The author argues the tactical action and strategic effect disconnect is repeated throughout U.S. military history including the current conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

            Dr. Gray's analysis is broken down into three main parts: problem, argument, and solution. The first part, the problem, explores the disharmony between the levels of action and desired consequences. For the SOF community, this problem addresses how "SOF should be conducted with, and in purposeful devotion to, action and other activities that contain or represent strategic sense for the promotion of the desired effect." While this sounds straightforward in theory, Dr. Gray reminds the reader it is difficult to obey in practice. The second part, the argument, distinguishes between the two sets of ideas of strategy and tactics and explains why the distinction is of vital importance. SOF tactical actions are assumed to be highly skillful, yet these actions are often dismissed as strategically insignificant based on the small scale of the operation. Gray argues that strategic is not another word meaning big or large in scale but rather the value of SOF can be found in their ability to strategically target a critically important part of an enemy. In the final part, the solution, the author argues that SOF operations need to be better understood by those outside and inside the SOF community. Dr. Gray states that "neither the SOF community nor the rest of the military establishment, including the allies, really understands the proper roles that should be assigned SOF." The goal is to have the necessary direction and leadership providing solid strategic sense so SOF may achieve the effects needed to advance U.S. policy. This will not be easy, nor will it happen quickly, but getting it right will allow tactical operations to convert to strategic effect for the nation.

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