Showing posts with label targeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label targeting. Show all posts

Friday, March 28, 2014

Targeting Discussion

The relationship between operations and targeting is an interesting one. In theory the commander would come up with an over arching vision. Within a conventional context it might be 'Attack the enemy via their western flank' and in a COIN context it might be 'Target the enemies IED production and undermine their support with the local populace.' The operations guys would go into a room to start making plans. The intel guys should be in the room to paint the picture of the enemy situation. It might go something like this. Within a conventional context "Intel guy we want to destroy their anti aircraft capabilities, then their heavy artillery, C2 and armor." The intel guy would say "I template the enemy AA assets as being located here based on their doctrine and the terrain. We are working with XXXINT assets to confirm this."The operations guys would then target said assets in support of the plan.

There is really so much interaction between ops and intel that it's pretty much a fusion type thing.

The old methodology for targeting was D3A for decide, detect, deliver, assess. The new one adds in F3EAD. Honestly the difference is at least half superficial. Folks have to reinvent things to get good evals and justify budgets so acronyms rotate at an almost predictable interval.


I think it is worth noting that targeting is a continual process. This is admittedly mushier in a COIN context than a conventional one. In a conventional one things tend to be fairly linear. You would have stuff in the pipeline but it would be for the next phase. EX While I am attacking the enemy air assets we would be trying to locate their BDE/ BN level arty assets and working on the next phase after that. You get the idea. On the other hand in COIN we might be juggling several entities all at various stages of development that are an issue NOW.

Here are some thoughts on each step of F3EAD:
Decide- This is where CARVER is handy in my mind. You've got a bunch of potential targets and need to figure out which make the most sense. Do some CARVER stuff to help give clarity on what could make the most sense. Also as noted before this could be a handy tool for looking at your own situation through the enemies eyes.

The interesting part of targeting is that if you really break it down the most important targets might not be the most flashy ones. An organization or group of organizations might have a single point of failure with some mundane middle manager type. A benefit here is those folks tend to not be as well protected.

Within this step it is important to take the time to actually figure out what the desired effect you want on the target.  On this one we can get way too kinetically focused. The saying that 'when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail' comes to mind. Look at multiple options both lethal and nonlethal. Maybe there is an influential person who is a problem for my organization. We want him to stop being a problem but killing him has problems attached. Could be we support another local power broker who will undercut said influential person's influence. Maybe we can get some dirt that will let us publicly discredit him or even better lean on the guy which gets him doing shady stuff for us then expand on that in time. Maybe we facilitate him meeting a new lady friend so he is too busy to complicate our lives (also more dirt). To bring the tangent full circle the point is there are a lot of ways to reach the ultimate desired affect. Sometimes non lethal means are the only viable option and other times there are specific advantages to leaving somebody alive. Moving on.

Find- Saying you want to destroy the enemies anti air assets/ C2 nodes/ Armor or shoot Tom Smith in the face is fine and dandy. Focusing your assets to intentionally locate the desired target is the way forward.

Fix- Knowing where something WAS or even IS has value but finding the stuff in a timely enough manner with an accurate prediction it will stay there so you can action it is the real problem here. Establishing patterns is what matters here.

Deliver/ Finish-  From a conventional perspective this is the easy part. We are really, really good at killing people and breaking stuff. From an insurgent type perspective this is a bit more problematic. The best I can say is to be ruthlessly honest about your organizations capabilities in terms of training, numbers and equipment. If there is a doubt that you might not be able to pull off an operation you should probably not execute it. Remember that most insurgencies do not end with the G's killing all the regime guys; the ultimate goal of insurgents is to stay relevant while outlasting their regime enemies.

Exploit- This is probably the biggest real adaptation to D3A. Exploitation of targets breeds intel that provides a better picture of existing targets as well as new targets. The real jump is when an organization has the capacity to rapidly analyze and act on intel gathered from a target. Hit one guy, grab everything useful, use it to find 2 more targets, hit them, gather, hit, repeat. This has to be done rapidly because people will realize their buddy got hit and adjust accordingly. I hate to use the cliche phrase but if you can act fast enough to get inside their organizational OODA loop a whole lot of ass kicking can be handed out. This is how we got guys like Uday and Kusay or their dad.

Additionally beyond the immediate potential for follow on targeting you can get stuff that is useful to answer important questions (PIR) or give background that could be generally useful.

Assess- Did your action achieve the desired effect? Maybe a 155 round landed a few feet from the enemy C2 node but it was a dud. Maybe the HVI wasn't home and you rolled up a house full of people who do not matter. Maybe your attempt to marginalize the annoying power broker failed? The point is that if you did not achieve the desired effect it is time to reengage. Maybe a new method is needed or maybe you can just fire for effect again.

Analyze- This is where we look at the bags of stuff, electronics and pictures gathered from the hit (or whatever applies). Figure out what it all means so to speak.

Disseminate- The end results of the analysis should be pushed out to like minded folks. Also an environment of sharing breeds well more sharing. Tell them the stuff you find and they'll probably share the intel when they hit the motherload. You might have the proverbial puzzle piece they are looking for and they might have the one you need too. There is some risk to giving everyone access to everything (Cough Snowden Cough) but in my mind if it doesn't compromise sources and methods then widely disseminate it.

Anyway I sort of wrapped up where I plan to go today. May write more on this later.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts on Insurgencies # Whatever Targeting by CARVER

CARVER is an accronym used for targeting. In this post I am going to go through it in plain language laymen will understand. If you want more formal stuff as well as the scoring matrix click here. Use this method of targeting to look at potential options from your pattern and link analysis.

CRITICALITY- Obviously the point of attacking a target is to hurt the group whose personnel or equipment (infrastructure, etc) you are targeting. No point in going to all the risk and hassle to conduct an attack that will hardly impact the enemy. Lets say you destroy the enemies resupply of underwear, so what. On the other hand if you blow up their fuel it will hurt. This is one significant problem with the 'Shoot the enemy Joey's in the face' plan. Joey is a fine upstanding young man but he is not critical to the mission. 

ACCESSIBILITY- Sure it would be nice to kill the enemy President while he has dinner with all the top military leaders and the head of their intelligence agency but that event is probably very secure. No point in planning a mission where you can't reach the target, execute the mission and successfully exfiltrate. To me this is the reality check question.

RECUPERABILITY- How quickly can the enemy recover, repair or bypass the damage? No point in damaging a city road if they can take 2nd instead of 1st. On the other hand knocking out a bridge might take them months to fix, making a 20 mile trip to mess with your safe area into an 80 mile trip and giving you freedom of maneuver for awhile. Recuperability is another reason the shoot Joey in the face plan sucks. Sure folks will get bummed, they will have a ceremony for him, etc but there is a negligible impact on the big picture. 

[If you haven't picked it up I do not think much of shooting the enemies junior soldiers as a plan for success. Insurgents cannot risk their lives for a stupid goal of killing some 20 year old kid who only matters to his family and buddies. I am not saying there isn't a reason to engage the enemy in combat, just do it towards a goal. Attack to deny the enemy freedom of movement, harass them and push them out of an area or to capture supplies, for propaganda purposes, knife them in dark allies to put fear in their hearts or whatever. Sort of like exercising if you can't clearly state the reason for doing something it's probably good to question it.]

VULNERABILITY- Can you destroy the target with skills or weapons the team possesses? Not much of a point targeting things you cannot destroy or damage enough to meet your goals. Any redneck could knock a cell phone/ radio tower offline. On the other hand a steel and concrete bridge is a bit harder and the right equipment (explosives, det cord and detonators) really help. 

EFFECT- What will the impact of this target be on the political, military, social, economy and in particular the civilian populace? This relates to criticality; how I separate them (maybe wrongly so) is that criticality is the effect on the enemy while effect is on the larger situation. Example, You knock out a bridge that limits regime movement within the AO so it is an obvious criticality win. However this also prevents farmers from getting their crops to market easily and the flow of normal goods/ services are adversely effected. The end result is the economy being seriously hurt which makes lots of otherwise sympathetic people angry with your group. 

AND RECOGNIZABILITY- In realistic combat conditions or bad weather can the folks executing the mission quickly and accurately identify the target? Grabbing a 6'3" skinny teenager with short hair and an earring wearing a baggy t shirt, shorts and sneakers at a high school basketball tournament is going to be problematic at best. 

Well I hope this gives you something to think about. Use
pattern and link analysis then CARVER and, assuming a decent foundation in small unit tactics, there is reasonable chance of success.

I hope you enjoy this post and have a wonderful Friday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Targeting Families

AM wrote an interesting post that talked about this. He hits on the rather important point that it just doesn't work. This is not how folks win wars.

AM's post was about cause and effect. If you hurt somebody's family they will have a serious vendetta against you and might not value the lives of people around you very highly. Even in pretty ruthless criminal organizations they generally leave families off limits. This is largely for functional reasons that even scumbags have people who they love and nobody wants to go down that road. Think about it for a minute. If somebody hurt my family I wouldn't have much to lose and the life expectancies of people around them would be low. Lots of folks probably think the same way.

Something Matthew Bracken touched on is death squads formed by cops or various paramilitary types. Basically it goes like this. Some cops or whatever are doing their jack booted thing. They face some effective reprisals by some guerrilla types. Instead of waiting to get shot up by some rednecks with deer rifles the cops decide to get pro active off the books. They know more or less who the people they are up against, especially in a small town or a place with good proactive intelligence gathering. These cops get together off work and do the old snatch and drag to the woods to kill in a ditch routine. Maybe it is unofficially sanctioned by their bosses in an "I know you know, you know I know but we don't talk about it" sort of way or maybe it's just that no cops look very hard when a rabidly pro freedom gun shop owner vanishes. Also it isn't exactly too hard for a group of cops to make sure an investigation doesn't go anywhere.

Of course the G types are doing the same thing more or less; it might have developed on it's own or as a response to the regime death squads but it doesn't really matter.. They quickly realized that instead of waiting for a bunch of guys with body armor and automatic weapons to stack outside the door at 2 am it's better to get their own group of guys and hit some houses of their own, snag a guy coming out of a bar or whatever.

This is bad but it happens with almost predictable regularity. Look at the various dirty wars in South America throughout the 70's and 80's or Iraq circa 2006-2008ish. Like they say history doesn't repeat itself but sure rhymes.

I do not think that lethally targeting families is a good idea first because of the slippery ethical slope it puts you on (pretty quick you're bombing random civilians Bagdad 2008 style to destabilize the security situation) secondly because of reprisals and third because it doesn't gain the desired effects. I just think it is a bad idea.

That does not mean you should not target families (non lethally). Shunning is very powerful in isolated insular communities which a lot of small towns sort of resemble. Imagine a guys morale if his wife can't get her hair cut, the family has to drive 90 miles to find a doctor or dentist, the grocery store stacks the canned stuff on top of the bread every time, the son can't make a friend to save his life, the daughter isn't asked to the dance despite being a beautiful and charming girl, the bank messes up their account causing overdraws or freezing their money almost weekly, the mechanic won't look at the family car, you get the idea. Pretty quickly that guy is going to move or find another job.Shunning takes a high percentage of the community.

However there are still things a smaller group can do. Not much says you aren't welcome like burning someones house down. Also that has the benefit that you can find a time when it is unoccupied and not harm anybody. A group that has a reputation for action gets to the point where they don't even have to do these things. They just need to drop a night letter saying to leave or they will do whatever. Worst case if the night letter is accompanied by a Godfather style animal head it will probably be taken seriously.

Anyway those are my .02 cents on that.




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