by histan » 25 Oct 2021 18:43
I thought this thread might have died but here it is again.
I have done some thinking about why I find it somehow unsatisfactory and have decided that it's probably because of what appears to be the misuse of the term effectiveness and the use of output measures (such as casualties), which are measures of performance, as measuring effectiveness. I guess as a professional operational analyst who has spent the last 20+ years understanding the difference between outcomes and outputs and explaining how measures of effectiveness relate to outcomes and how measures of performance relate to outputs, this mixing of terms offends my professional sensibilities. It also shows a lack of understanding of current military doctrine, the planning of military operations, the combining of military activities in time and space and the integration of physical and psychological (or cognitive) effects.
This also applied in the second world war. In 1942, General Paget stated that a landing in France with the sole intention of killing lots of Germans would be a waste of time and British resources. A landing that resulted in the diversion of resources from the Russian front might be worth considering but intelligence suggested that any resources so diverted would make no difference to the outcome of military activities in Russia.
A couple of examples will make the difference very clear.
Inputs > military activity > outputs > outcomes
Psyops. Inputs (men, paper, printing presses, distribution vehicles > military activity (printing and distributing leaflets) > output (number of leaflets distributed, number of people that read a leaflet) > outcome (number of people whose behaviour changes in the desired manner)
Air Operations to Interdict the Ho Chi Minh trail
Inputs (aircraft, air crew, bombs, rockets) > military activity (fly sorties and bomb targets) > outputs (bridges dropped, trucks destroyed, roads cut) > outcome (reduction in the number of men, ammunition,etc that North Vietnam). However, in the words of the CIA after hearing a long presentation about the number of bridges dropped, etc - I don't doubt you numbers but what I can say is that North Vietnam has more soldiers, more ammunition, and more trucks in the South now than before you started.
So, how it improve things.
1) Stop using an out of date name and call it combat performance if you are going to measure it by the outputs of military activity - such as casualties, tanks destroyed, etc.
2) Define the military activity you are talking about, such as deliberate attack, deliberate, defence, or meeting engagement. Each of these has defined outcomes if you want to talk about effectiveness or just use the same output measures if you want to talk performance.
3) Define whether what you are wanting to assess is an actual input or a "performance indicator" of the actual input - is height an indicator of general fitness or of IQ or a parameter in its own right.
4) produce a chain of cause and effect to explain how the parameter in question results in changes to the outputs of the military activity. It changes the skill of the individual soldier, it changes the collective performance of the sub-unit or unit, etc.
As a final point on the importance of logistics.
Field Marshal Wavell said - "When amateurs get together they discuss tactics, when professionals get together they discuss logistics"
These forums are largely populated by amateurs, hence the strong focus on tactics.