- Reaction score
I think that there is a caveat there. In 2002 the Taliban did have formed formations and the use of the air resources by the ODAs and others that went in to work with the Northern Alliance was inspired if not outright brilliant. With time the US Army and the Brits were replacing its mortars only concept with some light artillery. Effectively they continued to default to air power. Canada's M777s were certainly appreciated by both the Brits and the US SOF when deployed in support of them on several occasions. Our FOOs were very fond of the Predators followed in no particular order by the M777s and A10s. Our guns had to frequently leave the FOBs for austere desert gun positions for specific ops simply because of the vastness of the country and range issues.Let’s be honest the Air Force in Afghanistan was operating as Artillery. They didn’t have a real job and thus made one for themselves.
COIN operations can’t be used as a template for conventional operations or planning. The Taliban didn’t have higher formations and strategic depth (in the sense of actual formed units). So deep strike missions didn’t occur (albeit we should have blasted a lot of Pakistan).
The question here is how we use the term "generalist". Divisions really aren't generalists hence armoured, infantry, airborne, airmobile and now penetration and heavy divisions. On one level, divisions can be quite specialized while admittedly they are aggregates of various combat and sustainment entities. If one uses aggregation as the trigger for specialization then and infantry battalion with rifles, recce, mortars, anti-armour and CSS is a generalist organization too. But it isn't. Just like a division a battalion has effectors - companies while divisions have BCTs - and enablers - combat support and combat service support companies while divisions have cavalry, artillery engineers and CSS battalions and brigades.The Division has to be a generalist organization and it has to have an array of tools available to it. Even if it only employs its elements as Companies and Battalions.
I think that your problem starts with this.
Firstly, there were no divisions in Afghanistan, they were Task Forces staffed by elements from various divisional headquarters which were specifically organized to meet certain tasks. Secondly, they did not grant "autonomy" to the subordinate brigades and units. Giving a subordinate element responsibility and authority for an AO does not equate to granting autonomy. Senior TF HQs stayed very involved in their subordinates operations as well as resource management. They were much more than mere Administrative entities.In the Sandbox Divisional Areas of Operation were vast. It was necessary to disperse assets. That required freeing up subordinate units and granting then responsibility and authority (autonomy) to act independently. It also required granting them budget (people, kit and consummables) to be able to act on their own recognizance.
The Division was more of an Administrative entity as it focus on operations in support of strategic objectives.
We should not confuse "Sandbox" TFs with what is happening in the US with the refocus on specialized divisions.
You're right that there will be different scenarios in a peer-to-peer conflict that will require a different way of fighting them. This is why there are different types of divisions and a theatre or corps headquarters which will position and task the appropriate division to meet the various challenges.
As Canadians we have a natural inclination to want to form all-singing and all-dancing groupings. That gets us back to the 'Jack of all trades, master of none analogy'. Probably the best Swiss Army knife division will be the US Waypoint 2028 Standard Heavy which mixes two ABCTs with one SBCT and, assuming for the moment Canada might actually move towards a deployable division concept, its LAV based CMBGs could probably equate to a lighter version of a Standard Heavy.