Haven't--and won't--be posting regularly. Am sitting in the MWR computer room, catching up on e-mails etc and trying to read the back-log on the usual blogs. One thought occurred to me as I read through two posts on Starbuck's blog; I don't think they were meant to be mutually supporting, but his post on technology's contribution to micromanagement and on force protection and risk aversion both tweaked at a thought I've been having for a while now:
Why aren't we doing more long range patrols?
Even the guys that are (or, more aptly, were) in small COPs and JSS' seem to punch a time clock. You go out, you do your patrol or day's mission, and you roll back in. Granted, these smaller posts don't have the amenities that the super FOBs do, but still, every troop knows that after a hard day's work (which is usually substantially longer than the eight-hour work day, granted), he's going back to his rack, to his iPod, to his latest edition of black belt magazine.
How many troops now in Iraq (and Afghanistan) actually spend the night in what one would classically call a "patrol base?" Not surrounded with concrete T-walls and Hesco barriers, not in a known location from which the insurgents (et al) know that one will exit and return to daily?
With our technology (and, now that most Coalition have been given the boot out of urban areas) small patrols could move all day through non-urban terrain, stop after dark in a pre-mission reconned area that is defensible, and move out after a couple of hours to continue patrolling.
I'm wondering if this is being done in Afghanistan, and whether it is twined with the ISR and Fires capability that our air gives us. Long range patrols, that employ significant, dedicated air power to bolster lethality, may well be a way to decrease troop levels without increasing troop vulnerability and casualties. Plus, it would allow us to cover more area, have more exposure with the local populace, and reduce the predictability of Coalition comings and goings. MTF on this recommendation--this isn't a fully formed tactical theory so much as me jumping on my first chance to post in a couple days...