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The Rand Corporation had a look at the factors which led to effect war fighting, and found that ability was a key factor. Thanks to commentator Mac Tonight for the link.

Determinants of Productivity for Military Personnel: A Review of Findings on the Contribution of Experience, Training, and Aptitude to Military Performance
Jennifer Kavanagh
Prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Approved for public release; distribution unlimited, 1981.

https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2005/RAND_TR193.pdf

The report reviewed previous studies where experience and training had been evaluated while service personnel carried out various tasks. The historical trends they identified were towards a more cognitively demanding, technically sophisticated type of warfare, which will have made their conclusions even more relevant to today’s warfare. The report illustrates a general principle that holds up in all settings: success is more likely in any enterprise if you recruit bright people.

We know from previous work on training, summarized by Linda Gottfredson, that brighter recruits complete training faster, better, and then go on to apply that training more quickly into new situations. Brighter recruits are faster learners and better appliers. For that reason, training is not quite what is seems. It is not a uniform causal variable. It can be completed faster by brighter recruits, and applied faster and more widely. For that reason, although training is required, it does not follow that more training will boost lower ability recruits to the levels of brighter persons, not in this lifetime anyway. Nonetheless, training has an effect, and skimping on it reduces performance.

All recruits take the Armed Forces Qualification Test, and this can be used to sort soldiers into five categories, from the brightest downwards: I, II, IIIA, IIIB, IV. The first three grades are above average, the last two below average.

In the carrier landing exercise, for example, individuals were scored on a seven-point scale, ranging from dangerous to excellent. The effect of a career decrease in training hours of 10 percent led to a 10 percent increase in the number of unsatisfactory landings, from 14 percent to 24 percent of the total, and a 5 percent decrease in the number of excellent landings, to 28 percent of flights.

Winkler, Fernandez, and Polich (1992)looked at the relationship between AFQT and the performance of three-person teams on communications tasks, including making a system operational and troubleshooting the system to identify faults. They find a significant relationship between the group’s average AFQT score and its performance on both activities. On the first task, they find that if the average group AFQT is lowered from the midpoint of category IIIA to the midpoint of category IIIB, the probability that the group will successfully operate the system falls from 63 percent to 47 percent. Similar results are found for the troubleshooting task; the probability that a group would identify three or more faults falls drastically as average AFQT score fell. Another important observation is that the effect of AFQT is additive, meaning that each additional high-scoring team member increases the overall performance of the team. This is particularly important in the military context, given the number of group-centered tasks the armed forces are required to complete.

On page 27 the author turns to mental ability measures. Once again, the Armed Forces Qualification Test sorts soldiers into five categories, from the brightest downwards: I, II, IIIA, IIIB, IV.

AFQT and experience appear to be fundamentally different measures of quality. While AFQT measures an individual’s innate ability, experience considers personnel performance and skill level as developed and manifested over time. This relationship is an important one from the perspective of our discussion because AFQT as a proxy for personnel quality can be used to guide military recruitment and requirement determinations and can aid in the development of a more effective and cost-efficient military structure.

Tank crews do better when the drivers and gunners are brighter:

For example, they find that an increase in AFQT score from category IV to category IIIA leads to an improvement of 20.3 percentage points in performance. A similar increase in AFQT for the gunner in the same exercise will lead to a performance increase of 34 percentage points. These results are consistent with the arguments that AFQT score is an effective indicator of personnel quality and that having a force made up of personnel with higher AFQT scores contributes to more effective and accurate team performance.

A study by Winkler, Fernandez, and Polich (1992) offers additional support and evidence for this finding. The authors examine the relationship between AFQT score and the performance of two communication activities. The sample included 84 groups from active-duty signal battalions and 240 teams recently graduated from the Signal Center’s advanced individual training (AIT) course. In the first task, the three-person teams were asked to make a communication system operational. In the second, the teams were expected to identify and repair a number of faults in the communication system.

The model predicts that for active-duty units with an average AFQT at the midpoint of category IIIA, there is a 63 percent chance that the unit will successfully operate the system in the allowed time. However, if the average AFQT is lowered to the midpoint of category IIIB, the probability of successful completion falls to 47 percent

The authors also note that the addition of another high- scoring member to the team improved the probability of success by about 8 percent. This suggests that the effect of AFQT on group performance is additive. This finding is significant for an assessment of the optimal force mix because it implies that AFQT continues to make a difference in team performance even when considering the contribution of a second or third team member.

Orvis, Childress, and Polich (1992)used controlled trials to assess how AFQT score was related to various aspects of air defense and Patriot air defense system operation. The study included several types of air defense situations: point defense, asset defense, missile conservation, area defense, and a mixed defense scenario (Table 4.3).

Service members were also tested on their tactical kills/success in air-to-air combat and their overall battlefield survival.

The authors argue that their results show a significant relationship between AFQT score and the outcomes of air battles or defense scenarios, both in terms of knowledge assessed by written tests and performance in simulations. The authors compared the effects of several explanatory variables, including AFQT score, years of operator experience, unit member, and simulation training each ten days. They found that AFQT demonstrated more significant relationships with simulation outcomes than did any of the other variables. In an effort to quantify the effect of AFQT on performance in their model, the authors note that the effect of a one-level change in AFQT category appeared to equal or surpass the effect of an additional year of operator experience as well as the performance effect of additional simulation training.

Note that intelligence counts for a bit more than an additional year of experience. Clearly, recruiting brighter soldiers speeds up the creation of a successful army. Having many recruits who cannot learn how to use the technology may mean that the army can never function properly.

In their summary, the author points out that armies are now smaller, and more reliant on technology. I think that this is relevant to Afghanistan. The US tried to train an army, but found that it could not operate and maintain complicated weaponry. When the US specialists left some weeks ago (reportedly without giving sufficient warning) the regime’s Afghan army found itself unable or unwilling to fight without the air cover on which they had relied. The Taliban, on the other hand, had weapons which were effective because they were simple and reliable. The political error was to assume that training would be enough to make Afghans capable of waging a technological war.

The larger political issue was to ignore the local way of doing business, which was to bribe and be bribed.

So, the Afghan Army took wages while the US offered them, and when it was clear that their officer class were not passing on their wages, accepted a lower but more believable long-term offer from their Taliban cousins, which had the added advantage of them not having to die in combat.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Afghanistan, IQ 
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  1. anonymous[367] • Disclaimer says:

    Another magnum opus from the stimming spergs at RAND. If RAND could get smarter people, somebody there might be able to get their head around the categorical imperative. Armed with that insight, they might start thinking about all the people who are too smart to join the army and gets their nuts blown off. Because people like that are able to comprehend Article 2§4. They are smart enough not to piss away \$6.4 trillion blowing up guys without socks.

    • LOL: notbe
    • Replies: @notbe
    , @Realist
    , @Max Payne
  2. I’m not sure having a 100-IQ Afghan Army would have made much difference.

    So, the Afghan Army took wages while the US offered them, and when it was clear that their officer class were not passing on their wages, accepted a lower but more believable long-term offer from their Taliban cousins, which had the added advantage of them not having to die in combat.

    If the wages HAD been passed on, would it have made any odds? I like fact my employer pays me, but I wouldn’t want to fight (and potentially be killed) for them.

    • Agree: Sean
  3. Someone far smarter than anyone currently working at Rand once said “War is a continuation of politics by other means”.

    To win a war you need the political will to win or die trying. These type of foreign overseas conflicts do not require that kind of total commitment from our “leaders”.

    That’s why we don’t win these little wars. They’re not worth it.

  4. songbird says:

    I suspect that higher IQ moves or changes the form of corruption, rather than eliminates it. More lawyers, and the corruption becomes more institutional or sophisticated. I.e. the patient does not bribe a doctor. The drug companies do, and the doctors bribe the politicians, so they can be more extractive.

    If IQ tests for general employment were officially sanctioned, then I guess that would probably drop IQ in the army.

    • Thanks: Escher
  5. res says:

    Thanks for posting that. This short document has a mapping of AFQT mental categories (does not break III down into IIIA and IIIB though, I think that breakpoint is percentile 50 and IQ 100, see below) to percentiles and IQ scores.
    https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/MG265/images/webG1471.pdf

    They first note correlations between the AFQT and WAIS of 0.80 and 0.77 for white and black airmen respectively (see paper below).

    Next they give an AFQT/WAIS correlation of about 0.8 from an army document along with this mapping.

    Mental Categories | Percentiles | Stanford-Binet IQ | Wechsler IQ
    I | 93-99 | 124+ | 122+
    II | 65-92 | 108-123 | 106-121
    III | 31-64 | 92-107 | 93-105
    IV | 10-30 | 72-91 | 81-92
    V | 01-09 | 71- | 80-

    That document references this more detailed 17 page 1974 paper.
    Relationships Among an Individual Intelligence Test and Two Air Force Screening and Selection Tests
    https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/AD0781033

    Of particular interest is Table 3 which has sample distributions broken down by race. This includes AFQT, WAIS (and all of the subtests), age, and education (they even include t tests for differences between the races and a discussion of those differences in the text). For example:

    Performance IQ Black M/SD 97.41/9.65 White M/SD 109.30/10.57 t 8.26

    Tables 6 and 7 give correlation matrices for each race.

    I was unable to find the army fact sheet mentioned. I think it would be found here, but the full text link is broken (FY 1965 is accessible both there and at Google Books, but September 1965 falls in FY 1966).
    ABSTRACTS OF U. S. APRO RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS — FY 1966.
    https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/AD0641909

    This page gives percentile breakdowns for the AFQT subcategories (they are not even splits!). I think it is reasonable to infer that the III a/b split is at IQ 100 given the 50th percentile.
    http://www.militaryaptitudetests.com/asvab

    Category I – 93-99
    Category II – 65-92
    Category IIIa – 50-64
    Category IIIb – 31-49
    Category IVa – 21-30
    Category IVb – 16-20
    Category IVc – 10-15
    Category V – 0-9

    This page has some more detail about the post-1976 version of the AFQT (derived from ASVAB results).
    https://www.thebalancecareers.com/abcs-of-the-asvab-the-afqt-score-3353969

    This page has (very interesting) 1997 data for each service branch divided into AFQT I/II/IIIA/IIIB/IV/V categories. They also have a civilian group for comparison, but I would take that with a grain of salt given the zeroes quoted for category V.
    https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/2017/appendixa/a_04.html

    One thing I found especially interesting is that in category I males are represented at double the percentage of females. While for civilians they are almost the same.

    The full reports are available from 2000-2018 at
    https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/2018/download/download.html

    The appendices are full of interesting information about US military personnel. For one, in addition to the breakdowns by sex above they have similar tables by race (I only checked 2000 and 2017). Sadly they do not give civilian comparisons for those.

    The contents page serves as a good overview.
    https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/2018/contents/contents.html

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  6. notbe says:

    When analysing the collapse of the ANA the emphasis is on various Afghan cultural and genetic factors like this article

    Equal to this, we should look at NATO and American military doctrine and ability-basically the West had TWENTY years and estimated funding from anywhere from a large trillion to a small hundred billion to set up a functional Afghan army-that that army collapsed is certainly due to cultural and genetic factors but nonetheless blame has to be put on the doorstep of western military doctrine and western military ability

    Look the point is that in TWENTY years and for a hundred billion dollars anybody MUST be able to train a functioning army-it need not be an efficient army but it should be able to withstand negative situations and able to fight in a combined arms matter The fact the ANA did not do so has to be blamed only and solely on NATO

    Surely in an hypothetical case if the SS was tasked with the creation of a Jewish army meant to fight for the Nazis the task would be seemingly well nigh impossible but if the SS were given TWENTY years and a HUNDRED BILLION dollars to do it certainly an adequate if not great army would be created

    Genetic and cultural factors do come into play but NATO had TWENTY years and HUNDRED BILLION to get it right-and they didnt get it right

    This is a sign of absolute group INCOMPETENCE that up to now has largely been hidden since a situation like the last two weeks had not been experienced before

    The fact that Afghan soldiers havent been payed in months, that Afghans are into back room deal making, that the Aghan army defended a spread out territory instead of concentrating on Kabul are all well and good and key points in their loss…

    …but…but those points were in the hands of the Americans and NATO-they should have developed an efficient pay system, they should have weeded out recruits…

    AND they should have been aware that splitting their forces was a path to disaster

    …seriously the plan to defend everywhere was surely not the creation of the Afghans but was a CONTINGENCY PLAN developed by western military advisors-splitting of your force is bad vs massing of your force is good is elementary military knowledge emphasized in staff colleges…and in children games…yet NATO split up the Afghan army-INCREDIBLE!

    Further evidence of western military anthropy is displayed in the evacuation of the Kabul airport-

    -the Americans and NATO hurriedly returned to the airport…the result is that NATO military forces are absolute targets for Taliban artillery and mortars NEGATING western air dominance-the force at the airport is basically at the mercy of the Taliban-it can call on air support but if it does it will receive a hailstorm of rounds without the ability to manouver out of it…such a situation has not been seen in the twenty years of the war in Afghanistan-

    -and Afghan genetics dont factor at all in this debacle, the airport deployment was purely a western tactical plan

    A more dramatic evidence of western military incompetence cannot be displayed than that of the above Thankfully, the Taliban, up to now, have been gracious in their victory

    Stop blaming EVERYTHING on the ANA-the west had had TWENTY years to develop something and the result was a catastrophe

    Now we know that with the development of hypersonic weapons, Russia is ahead in military technology but combined with this fact, although it was not evident up to two weeks ago, NATO and the US seem to be only virtual giants…seemingly giants but with feet of brittle clay

  7. Clearly, recruiting brighter soldiers speeds up the creation of a successful army. Having many recruits who cannot learn how to use the technology may mean that the army can never function properly.

    Certainly true. And bad news for the US military. https://www.unz.com/akarlin/woke-mil/

  8. notbe says:
    @anonymous

    yeah right on

    RAND has to one of the weirdest products of mid twentieth century american culture-their reports are either straight forward ok or just-way-out-looney-nuts-what-the-fuck-you-thinking

    Reading the really weird, no common sense reports makes you think “im reading their unclassified work, the vast majority of their work is classified and thats probably their stupider work because they are too embarrased to make it public!”

    Then again what do you expect from an organization that was headed by a 400lb fatso who thought he was a military genius He called his work “Mans work”-hey moron do you know what mans work really is and how you become a military expert? Take a shovel and dig a trench-thats mans work and thats how you become an experienced military expert

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  9. The Prussian state did rather well by being the first to apply free universal education from 6-16. The UK didn’t catch up until 1947. The Prussian system produced soldiers, even of modest IQ, who could read, write and do arithmetic (and conform and obey orders). Sergeants were selected from those with better exam results. Officers were recruited only from certain classes but had to meet minimum examination standards. All officers went to military college. Up to the rank of major, promotion was progressive withing the regiment. Those with good exam results then went to higher military college.

    Whatever the IQs involved, a selection system like this might have improved the Afghan National Army. One suspects that they went for quantity not quality. An army a quarter the size selected for the top quartile might have done a lot bettter. But then cousin marriage and the accompanying clannishness and Islamic tendency to bribery can subvert all the above.

  10. @notbe

    RANDs big civilian focus is on obesity. At least that is what is in the shop window.

  11. @res

    Extraordinary documents. Everything seems quaint: the typing, the terse style, and the assumption that the services need to find capable soldiers, above all else.

    The racial differences, even after prior selection, are considerable. I was wrong to aver that the use of testing allowed intelligence to disappear from military settings.

    Thanks for all this. Will keep reading.

  12. Realist says:
    @anonymous

    As I said in the previous article…Generally, intelligent people do not Join the military.

  13. Wokechoke says:

    So reading between the lines the US should have equipped the Afghans with simpler gear. Simpler communications devices simpler tasks. Simple to maintain things easy to repair and handle and not try to train them to western standards. So you are saying create a kind of Taliban that’s friendly to the US? Also all the Taliban appear to have advanced degrees. They are all the equivalent of vicars and magistrates in the CofE only they pack rifles AND a Koran.

    • Replies: @raga10
    , @Lurker
  14. raga10 says:
    @Wokechoke

    So reading between the lines the US should have equipped the Afghans with simpler gear. Simpler communications devices simpler tasks. Simple to maintain things easy to repair and handle and not try to train them to western standards.

    It’s been noted that Afghani forces were able to keep their Russian helicopters operational independently, while still had trouble doing the same with American Blackhawks. Why twenty years was not sufficient to train their technicians to maintain Blackhawks – machines that actually have been around since the 80’s, so hardly on the cutting edge of technology by now – is beyond me. But in any case I would bet that a year from now all of their Blackhawks will be grounded, and their Mils will still be flying.

    This is something I really admire about Russian equipment: simplicity and ability to be maintained with little training or resources is always, always at the core of their designs. Their gear might not be as “sexy” as their Western counterparts, and it might not perform as well – but it will keep on going, and in real-life war scenarios inferior equipment that works beats superior equipment sitting in the workshop every time.

    As for Afghan forces, some pundits identified a reason for their defeat: once Americans pulled out and given their inability to keep their air force operational, “they were deprived of air cover”, thus unable to fight effectively. What a lot of BS! Air cover is surely nice to have, but it isn’t required to win and for evidence of that you only need to look at Taliban who won easily despite having no air power whatsoever!
    What you need to win is the exact opposite of air power – you need to be willing to get dirty fighting on the ground, and that was one thing that Afghan army didn’t have.

  15. @raga10

    Simpler gear costs less to design and manufacture, resulting in lower MIC profits.

    Simpler doesn’t require expensive spare parts and high priced technicians, same result, lower profits.

    USA MIC doesn’t care about the battlefield, as much it does about the bottom line in the boardroom.

  16. The more tranny and queer and weird the American military the better. If every night is Saturday night aboard US ships and army and air force units, the weaker they’ll be. They won’t be thinking and working towards quality, they’ll only be thinking about how to take care of “muh dick”, especially the niggers. And no one dares interfere with THAT. In due time the jews will have figured out they ruined everything. Hence, no point in starting new wars the gay faggot, tranny military can never win. We’re almost there. And maybe the world can finally relax for the first time in 100 years. Unbelievable the jews let it come to this, to the point of interrupting their wartime income streams. Bolsheviks, go figure. They’re supposed to be so fucking smart. No different from niggers to me. No different at all.

    • Agree: Bert
  17. Max Payne says:
    @anonymous

    They don’t even teach electrical engineering to radiomen anymore. Just put it in the box and ship it off to the manufacturer where higher IQ civilians wll repair it. Tanks? Multi-million dollar jets? Submarines? Electronic warfare platforms? Thats why they’re called civilian engineer contractors. Even peeling potatoes is too difficult it has to be outsourced. True story.

    Remember the cry babies on the USS Donald Cook complaining their lock-on radar couldn’t home in on a belligerent Su-24 in the Black Sea (2016)? A ship of high IQ officers and no one could troubleshoot the problem. Because if they could they’d be working in Silicon Valley.

    The age of analog is long dead. Its all digital. And you can be assured no one is opening up a debugger and analyzing memeory leak dumps on an sensor module in the middle of combat operations. You think they are calling in an E6 when a Patriot battery fails to fire or Raytheons support hotline?

    Its what happens when you recruit from a generation that was born with ‘search by image’. Don’t think about what you are looking at, just look it up.

    Troubleshooting in the military is just another fancy word for teamwork.
    ‘the bulldozer ceases to function, what do you do?’
    ‘grab shovels’
    OR
    ‘the system is not operating correctly, what do you do?’
    ‘turn it off and on again’
    Score: 159 IQ
    It is that bad and has been since Vietnam.

    The bell curve. You gotta work with what you have.

    Western military has become entirely plug-and-play because the recruits, even those scoring high on aptitude tests, are dumb as a sack of doorknobs. More complex over-engineered systems and technology to compensate for a lack of motivation, intelligence, and skill (after all the military now is ‘just a job’).

    You know whats a sign of low IQ, being a disgusting fat body. To the degree that military branches in almost all of NATO need to have alternative fitness tests:

    https://taskandpurpose.com/news/air-force-walk-fitness-pt-test/

    And thats the USAF. The Navy in 2019 reported 22% of its ranks are obese. I guess obesity is the new high IQ likes its the new beautiful.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
    , @Realist
    , @res
  18. raga10 says:
    @raga10

    twenty years was not sufficient to train their technicians to maintain Blackhawks

    … to be fair they didn’t have twenty years – after I posted this I looked it up and they actually started receiving them only 4 years ago. But that still should be enough time to train mechanics, shouldn’t it?

  19. Thomas says:
    @raga10

    As for Afghan forces, some pundits identified a reason for their defeat: once Americans pulled out and given their inability to keep their air force operational, “they were deprived of air cover”, thus unable to fight effectively. What a lot of BS! Air cover is surely nice to have, but it isn’t required to win and for evidence of that you only need to look at Taliban who won easily despite having no air power whatsoever!

    Air power for a US-trained and backed army isn’t all, or even primarily, about air cover. Mobility and resupply are the bigger and more important components there. The US trained its Afghan auxiliaries to fight with similar expectations that US troops, who haven’t fought without air superiority since 1942, have: that there will be a constant lifeline back to the rear via helicopter. When that lifeline started to fail, the ANA knew its time was up.

    • Replies: @mikeInThe716
    , @raga10
  20. AKAHorace says:
    @Max Payne

    Western military has become entirely plug-and-play because the recruits, even those scoring high on aptitude tests, are dumb as a sack of doorknobs. More complex over-engineered systems and technology to compensate for a lack of motivation, intelligence, and skill (after all the military now is ‘just a job’).

    I have heard from Canadian soldiers that in the US military no one is in a technical position for very long. There is a policy that soldiers have to be promoted or get fired. So there are no technical people who have had their job for more than five years. You don’t get good long term mechanics. The ones that you have are extremely specialised, can do one or two simple jobs but are don’t have much general knowledge of problems.

    • Replies: @dearieme
    , @res
  21. Lurker says:
    @Wokechoke

    I’m pretty sure that soon after the invasion we would see Northern Alliance guys on TV kitted out in new uniforms, with new trucks etc. All paid for by the US. But they were Russian uniforms and trucks.

  22. Reminds me of the US efforts to breakout into France after the D day landings.
    The damn bocage ( or French hedgerows).
    This was serious. These hedges were slowing down a whole army.
    Thankfully, a US ( Sargent ?) came up with the idea to wield 2 huge prongs to a Sherman. Then drive tank at base of hedge. 2 deep holes. Place explosives in holes. Bang. Big gap in bloody hedge. Forward !

    • Replies: @dearieme
  23. Realist says:
    @Max Payne

    A ship of high IQ officers and no one could troubleshoot the problem.

    I take it this comment is tongue in cheek? There are no high IQ officers in the U. S. military.

    • Replies: @fasteddiez
  24. dearieme says:
    @AKAHorace

    Canadian naval joke:

    Q: When there’s a NATO exercise how do you recognise the USN ships?

    A: They’re the ones with the dents.

  25. dearieme says:
    @animalogic

    The bocage: the British army had offered the Americans their specialist tanks for that sort of thing and the Americans declined the offer. In fact the Americans declined the offer of various British specialist tanks, except the modification that allowed tanks to “swim” ashore. They took up that offer.

    Unfortunately at Omaha beach the USN launched the tanks at 5,000 yards and they almost all sank in the choppy seas so the infantry on the beach had virtually no armour in support.

    On the British and Canadian beaches the RN launched the tanks at 1,000 yards and they almost all got ashore.

    It’s the poor bloody infantry who play the price for those sorts of stupidity. Or cowardice. Or whatever it was.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  26. res says:
    @Max Payne

    And thats the USAF. The Navy in 2019 reported 22% of its ranks are obese. I guess obesity is the new high IQ likes its the new beautiful.

    Article from then on obesity in the services.
    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/03/navy-fattest-obesity-rates-across-services.html

    Note that they use BMI. Which means very fit muscular people can be flagged as obese.

  27. res says:
    @AKAHorace

    There is a policy that soldiers have to be promoted or get fired.

    I hadn’t really thought through before the multiplier effect that would have with promotion by diversity status on reducing competence.

    Here is RAND on up-or-out.
    https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB7569.html

    • Replies: @mikeInThe716
  28. @Thomas

    Air power for a US-trained and backed army isn’t all, or even primarily, about air cover.

    Well stated.

    Another benefit of air superiority – tactical intel. An unarmed drone or small aircraft able to observe and communicate during small arms engagements is a big advantage.

    And I’m sure just the possibility of an artillery, hellfire, or air strike kept the Taliban from moving in the open when they would have liked. Which is another reason things fell apart so quickly.

    • Agree: Thomas
    • Replies: @Thomas
  29. Thomas says:
    @mikeInThe716

    The Taliban was supposedly heavily targeting Afghan Air Force pilots for assassination. They recognized a decisive pressure point of a US-type army: reliance on air and the trained specialists it requires to function. Brilliant employment of asymmetric tactics.

  30. @res

    Here is RAND on up-or-out.

    Nice paper. From 2005.

    Up or out IS kinda dumb. But it’s slowly getting phased out – although maybe not as much in the enlisted ranks.

    https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2018/07/25/how-officers-are-promoted-will-get-its-biggest-overhaul-in-decades-heres-what-that-means-for-the-military/

    • Replies: @independent_thinker
  31. raga10 says:
    @Thomas

    The US trained its Afghan auxiliaries to fight with similar expectations that US troops, who haven’t fought without air superiority since 1942, have

    Which brings the question: was that an appropriate choice of tactics for Afghan army? Clearly, it wasn’t. But adapting their thinking to local conditions was never a strong point of American military, or American politicians for that matter.

    Regardless, Afghan army still outnumbered Taliban by more than 3:1 at least on paper, and was better equipped overall. I am sure that given the will, they would’ve quickly adapted, ditched American doctrine and put up a fierce and ultimately successful fight – if only they *wanted* to. It all comes back to the same problem: lack of motivation. Skills, equipment, intelligence even – they are secondary issues.

    (even if Afghanis tend to be less intelligent than average that would affect both sides equally, so it’s no factor here)

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  32. @raga10

    I think the observation regarding low-ability troops waging wars is that keeping it simple is very effective. The Afghan Army not only had a motivational problem, but had become dependent on complicated systems they could not manage themselves. More was less.

    • Replies: @independent_thinker
  33. @mikeInThe716

    Up or out IS kinda dumb. But it’s slowly getting phased out – although maybe not as much in the enlisted ranks.

    Enlisted ranks are where it is far more important not to have it. I got out at E6, but I saw a lot of guys in every rank that were great there and should stay where they are at. One size fits all is moronic.

    It doesn’t matter, though. I don’t know if we can entirely get away from standing armies, but the one we have could use at least a 90% haircut. A defensive force is sufficient. A militia is also sufficient as a reserve force. Examining those possibilities exposes just how unstable the USSA is.

  34. @James Thompson

    Our unit did a lot of cooperation with Iraqis. If they are anything alike, then a western military structure is alien to them and they only do it for the pay. They think it is all stupid to have artificial loyalties. It is.

    Their militias were a lot more formidable. US troops usually avoided serious confrontation with them for the entire war. They had a similar policy. If there needed to be a political victory, State would coordinate with the militia to stage a show invasion by the Iraqi army, where they would go in and pretend to sweep and clear an area. Mission Accomplished.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  35. @dearieme

    Hobart’s “funnies” I think they were called….

  36. @Realist

    Why is AFQT addressed? I was a USMC recruiter (for enlisted personnel candidates 1983-1986), and I know how it works and what it measures.

    All of the below are multiple choices A,B,C, or D, which is in and of itself an indication of abject ignorance, brought to you by a sizeable cohort of educational entities, not just the military. This is not a bug, it’s a feature. As an aside, where I went to school, grade school, and high school, there were no multiple-choice questions on exams.

    Word Knowledge – You either know a word and its’ meaning or you don’t

    Mathematical reasoning – 3rd, 4th, or 5th-grade level in a mediocre school. In a multi-culti environment where there are no wrong answers, Harvard masters program candidates fit right in.
    Holywood Henderson, you should not have linked your little joke to the quarterback you picked, so payback was a bitch. But, in that spirit, in the very near future, STEM graduates will not be able to spell STEM if you spot them the S, the T, and the E. Those who pick AI will not be able to spell AI, if you spot them the A, and the I.

    Paragraph comprehension – If you don’t know the words in the example, you’ll have a harder time with this one, so just guess, since the examples given are not in Ebonics, “Quelle Horreur, is there no justice.”

    Math speed tests – 5o examples of math for instance: 2X12; 7+9; 14-6; 16 divided by 4. you have either two or three minutes.

    In days of yore, passing the AFQT would allow one to join the Marines, given a score of 31 which equals a Cat IIIB status. It does not, however, qualify you for a particular military occupation. The Army accepted Cat IVs in the past. During the height of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, these scores might have dropped further. Again, the Army would have had to go lower since they need more personnel.
    And again, as an aside, the criminal backgrounds of the enlistees’ acceptability went up dramatically, or so I’ve read.

    For MOS (military occupational specialties) qualifications, the services use the GT General/Technical score. The GT score uses the four above tests, and adds the rest:

    Arithmetic Reasoning (AR)
    Word Knowledge (WK)
    Paragraph Comprehension (PC)
    Mathematics Knowledge (MK)
    And
    General Science (GS)
    Electronics Information (EI)
    Auto Information (AI)
    Shop Information (SI)
    Mechanical Comprehension (MC)
    Assembling Objects (AO)

    Here is a website:
    https://www.test-guide.com/asvab-scores.html

    Max Payne, you are wrong and you’re a suit-wearing cubicle rat by your response.

    • Replies: @Realist
  37. Realist says:
    @fasteddiez

    Max Payne, you are wrong and you’re a suit-wearing cubicle rat by your response.

    I agree, but You addressed the comment to me…not Max Payne.

  38. @independent_thinker

    Thanks for your observations. What years were you there? Did things develop in different ways? You suggest a modus vivendi established itself.

  39. The best way to ‘win’ wars is to follow Sun Zi-don’t start them. As that is quintessentially ‘anti-American’, I don’t see it catching on. He that lives by the sword….

    • Agree: Philip Owen
  40. dearieme says:

    I repeat my suggestion made elsewhere that since WWII the USA has won only two wars (I ignore skirmishes) and each lasted just one battle: the first Gulf War, and the bombing of Serbia.

    Have I overlooked anything?

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  41. TG says:

    An interesting article, but:

    “So, the Afghan Army took wages while the US offered them, and when it was clear that their officer class were not passing on their wages, accepted a lower but more believable long-term offer from their Taliban cousins, which had the added advantage of them not having to die in combat.”

    So much for intelligence!!!!!

    I’d rather have a stupid army fighting for me, than a brilliant army wasting it’s time chasing its tail in the desert only enriching defense contractors while my own country is being invaded unopposed.

  42. @dearieme

    I could be wrong, but there were 2 battles in the Gulf War – don’t forget the first attack by extremely brave Iraqi troops in the first hours, who invaded Saudi Arabia (Battle of Khafji). They began to lose the battle in a matter of minutes, and lost the battle in a matter of 2 days at most, but they did put up a fight.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  43. dearieme says:
    @very old statistician

    Thank you for that suggestion. The account in WKPD is none too clear. I suppose – but could be wrong – that reference to American troops is explicit but reference to “coalition” or “allied” forces means that the troops weren’t American.

    A quick scan of the article suggests that the relief of the city was accomplished by Arab soldiers (Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti) with American support and, crucially presumably, American air power. “During the battle, Coalition forces incurred 43 fatalities and 52 injured casualties. This included 25 Americans killed, 11 of them by friendly fire along with 14 airmen killed when their AC-130 was shot down by Iraqi SAMs. The U.S. also had two soldiers wounded and another two soldiers were captured in Khafji.” …
    “Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti casualties totalled 18 killed and 50 wounded”.

    If I read that aright, the US lost 25 dead, 11 being killed by Americans and 14 by a single Iraqi SAM. Is that a battle or a skirmish? If the ground troops who succeeded were Arab, does it count as an American victory? I dare say views may legitimately differ. I’m not persuaded that this is enough to overthrow my original contention but maybe I’m wrong.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
  44. dearieme says:

    How to win wars? Probably avoid having a Commander in Chief who falls asleep live on the telly.
    https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/sleepy-joe-just-fell-asleep-on-live-television/

  45. dearieme says:

    The ability to win wars?

    NYT: 10 civilians reportedly killed in U.S. strike, including seven children.

    ‘Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby added that … “no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the U.S. military.”’

    That ain’t their reputation. I’ll grant that it must be hard to avoid killing civilians if you fire missiles into cities. Probably it’s best to plan an evacuation in a way that minimises the need for such action.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  46. @dearieme

    I have direct experience of the attack’s effect on CENTCOM HQ, where I was an intel/logistics officer. (I tried to get out of HQ and closer to the front lines but I failed). One of my few clear memories from my very overwhelmed days at HQ is this: we were very very impressed with the bravery of those Iraqi troops. From their point of view, it was just as much a battle as the Pearl Harbor attack (to compare the loser Iraqis under Hussein to their loser soulmates under Hirohito) was a battle. From our point of view, we knew it was just a suicide mission, but Iraq is a big country, and when lots and lots of your fellow citizens, in a fair fight, try and attack a heavily defended foreign target, well, posterity is rightly going to call that a battle, even if it really wasn’t. We were impressed, but we did not expect any American casualties. And to answer your question, none of us thought for a second it was an American victory when those brave Iraqi troops were repulsed by – mostly – our brave coalition partners.

    By the way your original contention seemed to me fairly reasonable, I was just trying to add some detail.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  47. dearieme says:
    @very old statistician

    @vos: thank you for your further remarks. I have no military experience at all and judging by my father’s few remarks about The War I’m pretty glad of that.

    Perhaps my favourite military remark was one I came across in a history of the Dark Ages in Britain.

    If you were attacked by a few men they were robbers, if by more than seven they were a band, if by more than thirty they were an army.

  48. dearieme says:

    If I wanted to win a war and were President of China, I would build a fleet of minelaying submarines. I’d then mine the ports of Taiwan and win a bloodless victory.

    I’d also take the precaution of mining the USN’s bases so that that navy could not sally forth to get itself sunk. Thus a nasty case of escalation would be averted.

  49. dearieme says:

    It might help to have an ability to recognise your own troops.

    http://www.stationgossip.com/2021/09/our-incompetent-woke-military-three.html

    • Agree: R.G. Camara
    • Replies: @James Thompson
  50. @dearieme

    The heat of battle? Even I thought they looked British. Worrying signs.

  51. So, in other words, diversity is not a strength, since it promotes lower-IQ minorities, who are less capable and do worse.

  52. Chinaman says:

    The US tried to train an army, but found that it could not operate and maintain complicated weaponry.

    White people should take heed of this fact in the coming war with China.

    Chinaman are, on average, a full 1 standard deviation above whites in Math. We have about an additional 100cc of brain mass.

    All that British pomp and that American inflated sense of ego will deflated like a ballon when face with overwhelming genetic IQ advantage that the Chinaman have in the next war which is based on AI, robotics and hypersonic missiles.

    Come fight us when you guys finally manage to build your own mobile phone.

    IQ aside, history have proven that the Brits are feeble minded and cowards, only good at hiding behind Indians and blacks when the bullets start flying.

    They have no sense of honour or shame. Probably a consequence of too much individualism, too much “freedom”, too much masturbation, both physical and mental….generations of inbreeding, incest and gay pride have drained all the vigour out of the people.

    Brits are wont to surrender even when they have a military advantage…not to mentioned when they are faced with a superior army. IQ have nothing to do with it, I guess it is not surprising white people’s whole personality collapse and people lose their marbles when the facade of white superiority crumbles when shit hits the fan.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Singapore

  53. dearieme says:
    @dearieme

    A report in the NYT reveals that none of the ten killed were terrorists. The US based their decision on, essentially, guesswork – and lousy guesswork at that.

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