The Missing Operational Level

CAAT and Red Team

ISAF has a Counter Insurgency Assistance and Advisory Team (CAAT) as an in-theater think tank about the conduct of COIN. This CAAT could provide the vital link between the conduct of the campaign and the appropriate theory and doctrine behind COIN, in order to point out the lack of a cohesive operational plan. Instead, the CAAT conducts courses for low level coalition force commanders in COIN tactics, as noted above. This is no doubt influenced by the conclusion that COIN, in its current conception, is only a tactic, lacking an operational aspect. CAAT thus becomes a lessons learned and teaching center for tactical level COIN.

The red team, of which one is attached to IJC, analyzes operational plans in order to identify critical and decisive points, and to point out those where the risk or the consequence is highest. The analysis of the plan is still based on the soundness of the general plan and concept, not questioning the approach as a whole, but rather identifying the points of severe risk. All analysis is based on the premise that assumptions and facts of the original order are correct. The Red Team can thus not alter or suggest changes and flaws in the overall campaign concept, but only point at individual parts of the plan that are associated with risk or grave consequence at failure. This stays well in line with the rest of IJC focus on singular efforts and tactical level operations.

Where the CAAT and the Red Team effectively could have provided a sanity check to the overall concept, or pointing out the lack of cohesion in plan and the lacking overall operational plan, it becomes, rather as the rest of IJC, predominantly focused on individual, isolated efforts.

Not only a “sanity check”, but the gaming between the CAAT and the Red Team (which is really what the above article is talking about) produces a re-orientation of anyone Observing.

The Destruction, caused by the feed-forward of critical and decisive points not Observed by CAAT, by the Red Team, combines with theConstruction, caused by feed-back of the advantage observed by the Red Team, by CAAT’s Action of  re-orienting to that advantage (the D&C in the OODA loop).

As the above narrative in quotes is telling us that there is no reorientation by CAAT in the environment of the game. My guess is that this is not a mistake, but a tactic.

In other words, the Small Wars Journal isn’t explaining a flaw in the plan, but a tactic in the strategy of those Observing the environment of the war.

For whatever the reason, those observing don’t want the CAAT to reorient. This tactic (of limiting the Destruction and Construction in the processing of the OODA loop) is a way of controlling reorientation in the operation of the war.

via The Missing Operational Level | Small Wars Journal.

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