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Peacekeeping Is Training For War

Peacekeeping Is Training For War

 

CSC 1993

 

SUBJECT AREA - Training

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

Title: Peacekeeping is Training For War.

 

 

Author: Major Robert J. Heatly, Royal Marines

 

 

Thesis: Military support for national goals short of war does, in many cases, provide

realistic, practical and relevant training for combat.

 

 

Background: Many military officers and analysts argue that participation in certain forms

of low intensity conflict, such as peacekeeping, can be detrimental to the military's combat

effectiveness. Deployment on such missions can lead to a reduction in conventional

training excessive time spent away from the home base and a subsequent negative effect

on morale. On the other hand, these forms of military operations have, not only positive,

but training enhancing aspects to consider as well. The British counter-insurgency

experiences, gained through 25 years of peacekeeping operations in Northern Ireland, have

demonstrated that all the operational functions can be enhanced by relevant and realistic

training achieved on operations. Centralized planning and decentralized execution are

practiced daily with a resulting high standard of junior leadership and a coordinated

intelligence system. British military forces have not been found lacking over the past 25

years, having successfully participated in almost the full spectrum of conflict from general

war to humanitarian assistance. This success has been enhanced by their experiences of

peacekeeping rather than despite it.

 

 

Recommendations: Military officers and analysts should acknowledge the positive aspects

of peacekeeping operations.

 

OUTLINE

 

 

Thesis: Rather than reducing effectiveness, military support for national goals short of war

does, in many cases, provide realistic, practical and relevant training for combat. Despite

certain disadvantages, experiences gained conducting peacekeeping operations enhance all

of the operational functions and provide commanders with sound practice in centralized

planning and decentralized execution.

 

 

 

I. Outline of the British Army's deployed forces

 

II. The counter argument

A. Reduction in training

B. Overstretch and the British military drawdown

C. Morale

 

III. How peacekeeping enhances the operational functions

A. Maneuver

B. Mobility

C. Tempo

D. Intelligence

E. Surprise

F. Logistics

G. Leadership

 

IV. Other recent British military experiences

A. General and limited war

B. Peacemaking, peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance

 

PEACEKEEPING IS TRAINING FOR WAR

 

by Major Robert J. Heatly, Royal Marines

 

 

Today, some 11,500 regular British troops and 6,200 members of the Royal Irish

 

Regiment are serving in support of the civil power in Northern Ireland. The young men of

 

all three British services continue the relentless battle against terrorism on the streets, in the

 

countryside, in the air and on the sea. This battle is a test of tolerance, nerves, endurance

 

and sound leadership.

 

 

The modern approach to defeating terrorism has changed much since the start of

 

the current round of problems in 1968. The arrogant and occasionally heavy-handed

 

techniques of the early days have given way to a subtle and calculated approach; the

 

modern way places more exacting demands on the peace keepers. The serviceman has to

 

take on the role of policeman, diplomat, social worker and customs officer as well as the

 

more conventional role of combatant.

 

 

For the Royal Marines the dilemma is similar to that of the infantry. We train our

 

recruits and young officers to be warriors who have the capability to deploy combat power

 

to achieve military aims by aggressive means. Do we then ask too much of these young

 

men by placing them under the microscope and demanding that they run the gauntlet of the

 

media and politicians every time there is a complex incident in Northern Ireland? Perhaps

 

more importantly, is it irresponsible of our leaders to allow warfighting skills to deteriorate

 

during the conduct of missions involving control, caution and compassion when these skills

 

could be called upon at any time to deal with a conventional contingency? These

 

arguments concentrate on the disadvantages of service in Northern Ireland and fail to

 

consider the overall benefits to be gained from operations in the province. Rather than

 

reducing effectiveness, military support for national goals short of war does, in many cases,

 

provide realistic, practical and relevant training for combat.

 

 

 

For the British Army and the Royal Marines there are three principal problem areas

 

associated with service in Northern Ireland. The length of time spent there, particularly for

 

infantrymen, leads to a reduction in conventional training and these two factors combine to

 

contribute to a subsequent reduction in morale.

 

 

 

At present there are six resident battalions in Northern Ireland, that is to say they

 

would be based there in normal circumstances. Four battalions serve six-month roulement

 

tours, normally based in the "harder areas," and there are seven battalions of the Royal

 

Irish Regiment (full-time and part-time members of the former Ulster Defence Regiment).

 

In addition there are presently two additional infantry battalions deployed for a shorter, but

 

as yet undermined, period.(1)

 

 

 

Although training time is allocated within the programs of the resident battalions,

 

in reality the main focus of the unit is on its primary mission. Leadership and individual

 

training does take place but normally very little in the way of collective training.

 

 

 

For the roulement battalions the situation is different. The unit's focus is entirely on

 

the job in hand and almost no conventional trail takes place during the six-month

 

deployment due to the high tempo of the patrolling program. Soldier's memories of rural

 

tours in the border areas of Fermanagh or South Armagh tend to comprise mainly of

 

battling with thorn hedges and bogs with little concrete evidence of success before

 

returning to their bases mentally irritable and physically drained. In addition, the number

 

of specialist skills required by the roulement unit forever increase. For 45 Commando

 

Royal Marines to deploy to South Armagh in 1991 it took 50 man-training days, the

 

majority spent away from the unit's home base location.

 

 

The British Army is reducing from 55 to 38 infantry battalions by 1998. (2) This

 

will include two Gurkha battalions who do not serve in Northern Ireland. The three Royal

 

Marines Commandos join the infantry battalions in the Emergency Tour Plot (ETP), which

 

is the program for deployment of units on roulement tours to Northern Ireland and Belize

 

(where one infantry battalion is deployed) as well as to Cyprus and the Falkland Islands

 

(where fully manned infantry battalions are not deployed.) The management of the ETP

 

has a requirement for a minimum interval of 24 months between emergency tours but this

 

is becoming harder to fulfill. The potentially long term British military involvement in the

 

former Yugoslavia can only add to this overstretch.

 

 

Morale is another problem area. If fighting terrorism was merely a case of shooting

 

gunmen, life would be simple. The complexities of the terrorist machine the British Army

 

faces are immense. The soldier has to endear himself to the local population one moment

 

and at the same time be equally prepared to open fire; these two facets do not provide an

 

environment which is tactically sound. The terrorists are well versed in manipulating

 

events, often via the media. Following an incident the press will cover controversial

 

statements by so-called "eye witnesses" to counter a legitimate action by the security forces.

 

As the matter is sub judice, the Army Information Service and the Police Press Desk are

 

unable to expand on short press releases, leading to much speculation. The soldiers

 

involved then see the national newspapers running dubious interpretations of events and, at

 

times, seriously questioning the integrity and actions of the soldiers concerned. It is

 

difficult for an 18-year-old soldier to understand why the press is making out that he is a

 

murderer and why his leaders do not appear to defend him in public.

 

It has been several years since there were more than 100 murders in Northern

 

Ireland in any single year. Irish American columnist Kevin Cullen of the Boston Daily

 

Globe noted that he was more at risk working at home because "there were almost twice as

 

many murders in Boston than in Northern Ireland last year, even though Boston has just

 

one third of the population." (3:87) Whilst it is true that terrorist tactics have tended to

 

avoid attacks on the general public within the province, the serviceman remains a "valid"

 

target. This creates a dilemma for soldiers and the stress of living and working in this

 

atmosphere can sometimes affect morale.

 

 

 

These problem areas evolving from the peacekeeping role are real and should not

 

be understated, however, a similar analysis is required of the more positive side of the

 

situation. Let us look at the role in the context of the operational functions.

 

 

 

Maneuver is the employment of forces to secure an advantage or leverage over the

 

enemy to accomplish the mission. Tactical maneuver aims to gain an advantage in combat,

 

however, operational maneuver impacts beyond the realm of combat as it aims to reduce

 

the amount of fighting necessary to accomplish the mission. (4:64) With only around

 

17,000 regular and part-time troops this function is exercised regularly in the planning and

 

execution of operations. The British Government bases it's security strategy on the three

 

tiers of deterrence, reassurance and attrition. The "quick fix" approach of the army in the

 

early 70's leaned too heavily on the third tier but as the campaign has progressed a more

 

balanced approach has been developed. Political and military leaders strive to keep security

 

in perspective alongside political, economic and social strategies in the war against the

 

terrorist. Confrontation with the civilian population is not what is required and there is a

 

constant challenge to commanders at all levels to maneuver their forces in such a way as to

 

satisfy all three tiers.

 

Mobility, the second function, is a key ingredient in maneuver. The capability to

 

move from place to place while retaining the ability to perform the mission is vital. (5)

 

Heavy use of helicopters by significant forces provides operational mobility and these

 

assets are put to good use in Northern Ireland with 45% of the Royal Air Force's helicopter

 

hours taking place there. (1) Due to the terrorist's possession of surface to air missiles and

 

heavy machine guns (three helicopters have been shot down or sustained serious hits in the

 

past three years) no better training scenario could be produced for our pilots or planners.

 

 

Tempo is a rate or rhythm of activity. (6:72) The mobility prodded by support

 

helicopters and vehicles allows for multiple tactical actions to be undertaken in rapid

 

succession in support of local operations. In addition, rapid response to potential situations

 

often stops them before they can develop. At certain times in Northern Ireland, troops

 

work at a high tempo for sustained periods which tests the endurance of men and

 

equipment--another facet of combat that is difficult to stimulate in peacetime.

 

 

Intelligence is without doubt the key function in a peacekeeping or insurgency

 

operation. In Northern Ireland, as in most other similar situations, the Government forces

 

are clearly unbeatable in the field. The problem is that this is not a match-up that will ever

 

take place. Defeat of the British Government's present aims could only ever come about

 

through the democratic process or public opinion. As a result the silent, intelligence war

 

continually moves on at a high tempo. The cards that intelligence collectors, collators,

 

analysts and operators play with may be different, but the mental and physical processes of

 

assessing the opposition's capabilities are the same as for war. When we fight we fight to

 

win.

 

 

Another key facet of the intelligence war in Northern Ireland is the experience that

 

is being gained daily in terms of inter-agency cooperation. As terrorists are legally

 

criminals with no special privileges, the lead agency on a day to day basis is the Special

 

Branch (SB) of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). They liaise at every level with

 

military intelligence personnel in the planning of joint operations. At the highest level the

 

Prime Minister has appointed a Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (DCI) who is the

 

right hand man of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland regarding intelligence

 

matters. He takes the lead in strategic intelligence and provides the Chief Constable of the

 

RUC and the Army's General Officer Commanding with advice on, or taskings for,

 

national intelligence assets. Military forces are used in a wide variety of levels of conflict,

 

often as part of the diplomatic process, and inter-agency operations could be as much a

 

feature of the 90's as joint operations were of the 80's.

 

 

 

Surprise is a state of disorientation which is the result of unexpected events and

 

which degrades ability to react effectively. (7:75) Surprise, be it the product of deception

 

or speed of mobility, is as important in Northern Ireland as in general war. Troops have

 

been deployed in support of the police for nearly 25 years and commanders have to work

 

hard not to fall into the "same old routine." Deterrence, as mentioned earlier, is one of the

 

three tiers of the British security policy and random helicopter inserted patrols and snap

 

vehicle check points are among the methods used to contribute to this tier through surprise.

 

 

 

As in general war, logistics often determines what is and is not possible. Certain

 

security force bases on the borders of South Armagh are only resupplied by air to avoid the

 

manpower-intensive and pattern-producing route clearances required by convoys.

 

Resources may not be as limited; however, responsiveness and anticipation are as

 

important as ever.

 

 

 

Leadership is the personal ability to influence the performance of others in pursuit

 

of a goal. (8:82) In Northern Ireland, the difficulties of identifying the enemy lead to

 

uncertainty. With inexperienced or poorly led troops this can in turn lead to one of the

 

extremes of under-or over-reaction. The stakes are different--one fatality can mar an

 

otherwise faultless six-month tour of the province--but the ability to energize and unify the

 

efforts of groups of men continues and the "loneliness of command" syndrome can weigh

 

heavily on some commanders' shoulders. The campaign in Northern Ireland is a classic

 

example of centralized planning and decentralized execution. At the tactical level fire

 

teams operate independently either as the principal or supporting element of a patrol of

 

about half-platoon strength. This has tested the corporals and lieutenants to a high level

 

and these junior leaders, with their operational experience, are seen as one of the strengths

 

of the British Army.

 

 

The United Kingdom has participated in military operations overseas throughout

 

the past 25 years whilst the problems in Northern Ireland have persisted. These operations

 

have covered almost the full spectrum of conflict, from general war to humanitarian

 

assistance, and on no occasion has its armed forces been found lacking. In Northern

 

Ireland a peak occurred in the level of violence in 1981, during the IRA's hunger strike

 

campaign, when ten convicted terrorists died in prison due to self-imposed starvation.

 

Despite an increase in troop levels over the following months, Britain was able to mount a

 

large scale amphibious operation to recapture the Falkland Islands, some 8,000 miles from

 

home bases. Junior leadership was again cited as a key factor and a large proportion of the

 

landing force had previously served in the province. Likewise in the war in Southwest

 

Asia, a large number of the British troops had Northern Ireland experience.

 

 

By definition contingency operations occur at short notice. This was again the case

 

when the Royal Marines' 3rd Commando Brigade was deployed to carry out relief

 

operations in northern Iraq, as part of the multi-national coalition, in April 1991. These

 

operations were essentially humanitarian in nature, but due to the threat, significant combat

 

power was included lest robust peacemaking became necessary. Reassurance to the Kurds

 

and deterrence to the Iraqis were features of the operation that were nothing new to the

 

British servicemen. Robin Ross, the Royal Marines General in command of the British

 

forces stated "that our experience in internal security operations gave us an excellent

 

understanding of how to cope with the problems in a highly volatile situation." (9:208) A

 

volatile situation is exactly what the 2,000 British troops deployed in the former Yugoslavia

 

are facing now.

 

 

 

Participation in peacekeeping operations is not as alienated from conventional

 

combat as some would have us believe. When planning to conduct these operations,

 

degradation of skills in certain specialist skills in areas such as armor, artillery and fixed-

 

wing aviation may be unavoidable, but the overall military functions can be tested at all

 

levels to a greater or lesser degree.

 

 

 

In whatever form it comes, leadership is leadership, teamwork is teamwork and

 

operational planing is operational planning. Morale can be affected by excessive or

 

unnecessary separation but when a real job is there to be done, when real danger is a

 

possibility or when a noble cause is being engaged in with the benefits clearly visible,

 

servicemen are not only happy to do the job but will receive realistic training for their

 

primary mission. Outside the combat zone, the decision-making and logistic processes

 

during conventional military operations are not that dissimilar to those for peacekeeping for

 

the military and civilian high commands. Sometimes the matter of training needs to be

 

considered for them as well as for the foot soldier.

 

 

 

Defense of the national security rests first with the concept of deterrence and

 

secondly with winning the nation's wars. Military support for national goals short of war,

 

be it general military service to the nation or any of a wide range of actions abroad in

 

support of foreign policy, should not be viewed as a problem in itself. On the other hand it

 

can be looked at more as a training exercise, providing relevant and realistic training to the

 

military, however undesirable the overall situation is. As long as specialist training is not

 

forgotten and the military keeps the flexibility to change roles quickly, most operational

 

functions can be enhanced by the experience gained during peacekeeping operations.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. Milne, Major S. S. Military Situation Briefing. Headquarters Northern Ireland. 15

February 93.

 

2. The British Army Of The Future. Pamphlet published by M.O.D. October 91.

 

3. Cullen, Kevin. "Northern Ireland: Safe -- And Worth Seeing." Boston Globe 21

January 93: 87.

 

4. FMFM 1-1 Campaigning. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990: 64.

 

5. JCS Pub. 1-02. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1987.

 

6. FMFM 1-1 Campaigning. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1990: 72.

 

7. FMFM 1-1 Campaigning. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1990: 75.

 

8. FMFM 1-1 Campaigning. U. S. Government Printing Office, 1990: 82.

 

9. Ross, Maj. Gen. R. J. "Operation Haven." The Globe and Laurel July/August

1991: 208.

 



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