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Jedburgh
04-23-2010, 05:41 PM
RAND, 22 Apr 10: How Insurgencies End (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2010/RAND_MG965.pdf)
Insurgencies have dominated the focus of the U.S. military for the past seven years, but they have a much longer history than that and are likely to figure prominently in future U.S. military operations. Thus, the general characteristics of insurgencies and, more important, how they end are of great interest to U.S. policymakers.

This study constitutes the unclassified portion of a two-part study that examines insurgencies in great detail. The research documented in this monograph focuses on insurgency endings generally. Its findings are based on a quantitative examination of 89 cases.....

bspeer
04-23-2010, 07:34 PM
I have just begun to review this. What I find immediately interesting is page 8 footnote #6 in their discussion of the historiography of insurgency.

Notably absent from this list are modern Islamic philosopher/practitioners, such as Osama bin laden. In an effort to separate terrorism from insurgency, we chose to omit them.

While I have only scratched the surface of this, it seems to me that since OBL and others are working, in many cases, in conjunction with insurgent groups I wonder how much of this will actually be valid in Afghanistan.

Gues I have some more reading to do!

Dayuhan
04-24-2010, 10:52 AM
What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation. The US role in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be treated as that of an "external sponsor of COIN"; in fact if I read this and didn't know better I'd get the impression that the US had entered both conflicts to defend pre-existing governments threatened by insurgency.

I'll have to read the rest of it before reaching any conclusions, but that seems a quite strikingly bizarre way to start.

Bob's World
04-24-2010, 03:44 PM
What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation. The US role in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be treated as that of an "external sponsor of COIN"; in fact if I read this and didn't know better I'd get the impression that the US had entered both conflicts to defend pre-existing governments threatened by insurgency.

I'll have to read the rest of it before reaching any conclusions, but that seems a quite strikingly bizarre way to start.

Reasonable minds differ, but to me three broad categories makes sense:

Revolutionary: Overthrow one's own government

Resistance: Throw out an occupying government

Separatist: Break a region off from one's country to form a new country.

Or some combination of the three. All three were going on in Iraq at the same time.

Dayuhan
04-25-2010, 12:12 AM
These are reasonable distinctions, but it seems odd to me that an analysis as detailed as that presented by Rand would fail to acknowledge those distinctions and and examine their impact on the success or failure of insurgency.

Looking at the list of insurgencies studied, I don't see any case analogous to the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan: an insurgency triggered by an actual invasion and replacement of government. The anti-colonial insurgencies (or wars of independence, depending on the terminology you prefer) opposed a prolonged foreign presence and actual foreign government. Even the Soviet entry into Afghanistan was at least nominally in support of a threatened allied Government. That suggests that some caution is required in applying the lessons of other insurgencies, as those lessons arise from extremely different circumstances.

One of the first things I do when reading broad-spectrum documents like this is to us the "find" function and see how they deal with the situations I'm most familiar with, which seems a quick way of assessing credibility. I note, again with some surprise, that the insurgency in the Southern Philippines is treated as concluded and listed in the "Government win" column, which might come as a surprise to anyone on the scene. That certainly doesn't invalidate the conclusions, but it's a bit of a yellow flag, for me at least.

jmm99
04-25-2010, 01:51 AM
The RAND study looks at something similar, buried in the appendices (at pp.195-199 of pdf, mixed charts and graphs):

Formulation

The outcome of any given insurgency has a lot to do with the goals sought by the insurgents. Insurgents who fought for independence or for majority rule have been almost always successful once they get going (the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya being the notable exception) (see Figure B.5 and Table B.5). They won, in no small measure, because their campaign was consistent with the postwar zeitgeist. Conversely, insurgencies fighting for secession (or autonomy) have failed more often than they have succeeded, comporting to the principle that holds today’s national borders, however arbitrarily determined, to be largely inviolable. Otherwise, the won-lost record is mixed whether the goal is establishing a Marxist or Islamic state or overthrowing the government (that is, changing the regime without necessarily changing the governing ideology).

Of note is which goals permit mixed outcomes and which do not. Such goals as independence, majority rule, Marxism, or Islamicism tend to be either-or propositions, and only four of the 34 insurgencies with such goals have resulted in a mixed outcome. Conversely, when secession/autonomy or power arrangements are at issue, the difference can often be split, and mixed outcomes have characterized 15 cases, or nearly 30 percent of such insurgencies.

The difficulties that secessionist groups have of winning against an established government are made even clearer when viewed on a case-by-case basis. Of the six insurgent losses, three were in or near the Horn of Africa, and, in two of these, Somalia and Ethiopia, a region acquired its independent (Eritrea) or quasi-independent (Somaliland) status in the wake of a multi-insurgent overthrow of the central government. [3] [3] Sudan conceded an independence referendum to its southern provinces, but whether it carries through and actually allows its oil-bearing provinces to leave remains to be determined.

The other three secessionists were clearly the beneficiaries of some major power help: Kosovo had the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on its side; Dnistria fended off Moldova because of the support of Russia (or at least Russia’s 14th Army); and Bangladesh had India to thank.[4] [4] East Timor, which was classified as a mixed outcome, was clearly helped by the international community, which was never reconciled to the 1975 absorption of Portuguese Timor into Indonesia.

Among the seven mixed outcomes, three (Bosnia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia-Abkhazia) were achieved against governments that had not yet established themselves when challenged.

Finally, except for insurgencies seeking independence/majority rule, most of which started prior to 1980, almost a fifth of all other insurgencies, irrespective of goal, are still ongoing.

The only extensive discussion is re: secessionist insurgencies (most of the paras above quoted).

The graph and table relevant to the goals are at p.198 of pdf.

Agree that distinctions have to be made between (1) resistence to colonial situations (now pretty much a dinosaur relic); (2) resistence to foreign occupier pursuant to its recent war against an indigenous incumbant government; and (3) resistence to substantial foreign presence in aid of an indigenous incumbant government.

Regards

Mike

William F. Owen
04-25-2010, 05:53 AM
What strikes me after 40 pages or so is that there's no apparent effort to distinguish between insurgency and resistance to foreign occupation.
War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:

Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?

Dayuhan
04-25-2010, 09:51 AM
War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:

Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?

Into which of those categories would you place the current conflict in Afghanistan? As you break it down above, it would seem to be regular warfare (more than one state involved) but the tactics seem those most would call "irregular". Regular warfare by irregular means?

State A invades State B; this is regular warfare by any standard. The Government of State B collapses, but organized resistance continues... is this still regular warfare, or does it become irregular?

William F. Owen
04-25-2010, 03:30 PM
Into which of those categories would you place the current conflict in Afghanistan? As you break it down above, it would seem to be regular warfare (more than one state involved) but the tactics seem those most would call "irregular". Regular warfare by irregular means?
Currently, A'Stan is classic irregular warfare. Warfare! NOT War. There is only one kind of War.
Yes, people who have never really thought about tactics do seem to differentiate between regular and irregular. I have never worked out why.

State A invades State B; this is regular warfare by any standard. The Government of State B collapses, but organized resistance continues... is this still regular warfare, or does it become irregular?
It becomes irregular and if a regular party becomes involved it will be both, like Vietnam.
The point really is that eventually the distinction can be irrelevant. WHO fights is very often HOW the fighting is done. In the end the job is still to kill capture and destroy enough to break the enemies will. That will never change.

marct
04-25-2010, 03:48 PM
Hi Wilf,

War and warfare tend to resist being fitted into neat boxes. For 3,000 years there has been basically:

Hmm, closer to 5500 years if Algaze and his crew are to be believed (there's an argument with some decent archaeological data for a very long war in ~3450 bce ranging from modern Kuwait up into eastern Turkey and covering all of Iraq).

Regular Warfare, between states, nations and societies.
Irregular Warfare, rebellions, revolts and revolutions.

so two broad categories of Big Wars and Small Wars. Does that help?

I've never much liked the terms "regular" and "irregular", as you know ;). There is an implication of some type of absolute yardstick that can be used to "measure" how "regular" a war is. I far prefer the terms "conventional" and "unconventional", since conventions are much more flexible and changeable. Besides that, it also allows one to look at situations where warfare exists between two "states" that use different conventions: Japan vs. the UN in WW II is a good example of this.

The other problem I have with the "regular / irregular" dichotomy is that it is based on a post-Westphalian ideal type of states that attempts to regularize that ideal type as the only "true" form of warfare.

William F. Owen
04-25-2010, 07:33 PM
Hmm, closer to 5500 years if Algaze and his crew are to be believed (there's an argument with some decent archaeological data for a very long war in ~3450 bce ranging from modern Kuwait up into eastern Turkey and covering all of Iraq).

Well I just deal with 3,000 years, covered by the books I own! :)
I've never much liked the terms "regular" and "irregular", as you know ;). There is an implication of some type of absolute yardstick that can be used to "measure" how "regular" a war is. I far prefer the terms "conventional" and "unconventional", since conventions are much more flexible and changeable. Besides that, it also allows one to look at situations where warfare exists between two "states" that use different conventions: Japan vs. the UN in WW II is a good example of this.

The other problem I have with the "regular / irregular" dichotomy is that it is based on a post-Westphalian ideal type of states that attempts to regularize that ideal type as the only "true" form of warfare.
You can call it "Hamsters" and "Rats." - Type 1 and Type 2. I would be very happy with Big Wars and Smalls, or Wars and Rebellions.
The issue for me is that WHO fights has implications for HOW they fight. Irregular Warfare is different from Regular Warfare. The exact distinctions are very much a product of context.

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 12:45 AM
Ok, we have some varied ways of looking at this picture. We have Bob's World's three types of insurgency, we have Wilf's regular/irregular, which seems to focus on who is fighting, and Marc's conventional/unconventional, which seems to revolve more around how the fighting is done.

Now back to the Rand study. Three excerpts from the introduction:

Insurgencies have dominated the focus of the U.S. military for the past seven years, but they have a much longer history than that and are likely to figure prominently in future U.S. military operations. Thus, the general characteristics of insurgencies and, more important, how they end are of great interest to U.S. policymakers. This study constitutes the unclassified portion of a two-part study that examines insurgencies in great detail.

“How Insurgencies End” has produced several findings, some of which reinforce or explain conventional wisdom regarding insurgency and COIN. Others present a new range of dilemmas and opportunities to policymakers and planners. We derived additional findings primarily from the quantitative research. These findings reveal some useful insights into the relative success or failure of various methods employed by each side as they apply to insurgency endings. A few of these additional findings describe the impact of existing operational and environmental factors on COIN operations, thereby informing policy decisionmaking.

Recent U.S. experience in COIN has been especially tangled. Vietnam speaks for itself, as do Iraq and Afghanistan.

What I find fascinating and a bit confusing about all this is that nowhere that I can see in the document is there any attempt to define what an insurgency is. From the excerpts above it seems clear that the authors believe that the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are insurgencies and that the conclusions of the study have relevance to those conflicts. In the body of the study, however, insurgency is treated as a conflict between a government and its populace or some part or parts of that populace, hence the categorization of "government win" or "insurgent win". I'm not sure how relevant any of this is to a situation in which some part of the populace is fighting against an occupying invader, and the government is perceived as a largely extraneous subset or representative of the occupying power.

If we're going to survey insurgencies and apply the conclusions of the survey to the conflict in Afghanistan, we have to do two things at a bare minimum. We have to define what insurgency is, because until we do any discussion of insurgency is going to be too nebulous to be useful. Then we have to decide whether the conflict in Afghanistan is in fact insurgency.

The distinction seems relevant to me because I see a trend in American discourse toward treating the conflict in Afghanistan as a case where we are defending an allied government against insurgency, hence the "are we doing COIN or doing FID" debate. This seems to me to be at best disingenuous and at worst outright self-deception, and I suspect that one part of pursuing the war effectively is to be honest with ourselves about what we are doing.

Cavguy
04-26-2010, 03:30 AM
Ok, we have some varied ways of looking at this picture. We have Bob's World's three types of insurgency, we have Wilf's regular/irregular, which seems to focus on who is fighting, and Marc's conventional/unconventional, which seems to revolve more around how the fighting is done.

Now back to the Rand study. Three excerpts from the introduction:


What I find fascinating and a bit confusing about all this is that nowhere that I can see in the document is there any attempt to define what an insurgency is. From the excerpts above it seems clear that the authors believe that the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are insurgencies and that the conclusions of the study have relevance to those conflicts. In the body of the study, however, insurgency is treated as a conflict between a government and its populace or some part or parts of that populace, hence the categorization of "government win" or "insurgent win". I'm not sure how relevant any of this is to a situation in which some part of the populace is fighting against an occupying invader, and the government is perceived as a largely extraneous subset or representative of the occupying power.

If we're going to survey insurgencies and apply the conclusions of the survey to the conflict in Afghanistan, we have to do two things at a bare minimum. We have to define what insurgency is, because until we do any discussion of insurgency is going to be too nebulous to be useful. Then we have to decide whether the conflict in Afghanistan is in fact insurgency.


I did my grad thesis using an earlier version of the dataset in their report. (I was studying impact of external support and sanctuary on insurgency outcome and duration).

Rather than throw stones at their analysis, perhaps we ought to take a harder look at what they did include.

The dataset was of insurgencies 1945-2006.

Look, it's damn near impossible to separate insurgency from civil war from terrorist groups with any precision. The best I could come up with is below.

Distinguishing Insurgency as a Subset of Civil War

The characteristics of civil wars and insurgencies overlap, but insurgency is a unique subset of conflict encompassing a wide range of political, military, social, and economic factors that distinguish it from civil wars and terrorism. The United States Military defines insurgency as an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict. This definition is perhaps overly simplistic given the diverse objectives of insurgent groups, which may include secession, independence, or regime change. The recently published US Government definition is much more comprehensive, describing insurgency as “a protracted political-military campaign conducted by an organized movement seeking to subvert or displace the government and completely or partially control the resources and/or population of a country through the use of force and alternative political organizations.” Insurgency is inherently political in nature, waged against a constituted government with an objective of regime change or secession. Insurgences often occur against the influence of a foreign occupying power or for regional/local autonomy.

From a military perspective, insurgency is guerrilla in character, generally involving small bands of partisans operating within the population against the existing regime, but occasionally resembling conventional war in later stages. It places a high value on political mobilization, drawing its fighters, supplies, intelligence, and refuge from the population of the involved state. Most insurgencies receive support from outside sources, whether nation-states or non-state organizations. Owing to conventional military weakness and lack of heavy equipment, insurgencies generally revert to tactics of “hit and run” and target regime vulnerabilities to conserve resources. Victory is often achieved through “wearing the enemy down” rather than through military conquest, or through coup-like action. Particularly popular insurgencies manage to field organized military forces in the later stages, escalating the conflict to full civil war.

Insurgency is distinct from civil war in several ways. US Army Field Manual 100-20 provides the definition of civil war accepted by the United States military. Five criteria exist for a conflict meet the standard of civil war – control of territory, functioning government, foreign recognition, regular armed forces, and capability to engage in major military operations. The standard academic definition focuses less on land control than on battle deaths, with a standard definition of 1000 battle deaths between the warring parties. Both definitions emphasize conflict internal to a state conducted largely with organized military forces. Insurgents normally organize in irregular groups without clear chains of command, key criteria for status as a civil war. Insurgents usually do not completely control the terrain they operate in, and thus operate in a fluid against the established government. Therefore, insurgencies differ from civil wars in some aspects. Most insurgencies share significant commonalities with civil war, and therefore distinguishing between civil war and insurgency is an imperfect science.

Distinguishing terrorism from insurgencies is important because many insurgencies are conflated with terrorist groups, and vice versa. Terrorism as a descriptive term should be separated from the groups employing the tactic as it confuses the nature of the dispute. The term “terrorist group” is applied broadly to characterize organizations involved in civil wars, insurgencies, and standard political violence between factions not rising to the level of insurgency or civil war. Terrorism author and expert Bruce Hoffman defines terrorism as, “… the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence the pursuit of political change.” Thus terrorism is primarily a tactic employed for political ends, and can be used in almost any dispute context.

In the post-9/11 era, this generates the unintended consequence of branding many insurgencies and civil war parties as terrorists, which may prejudice the willingness of regimes to seek political settlements in intrastate wars. No regime or regime ally wishes to be perceived as “soft on terror”. Given that terrorism is political in nature, the “war on terror” may actually increase its duration by raising domestic and foreign costs to settlement of the political grievance. Terrorist groups in many cases may be insurgencies, or simply political organizations seeking recognition of their cause. Regardless of the objective, it is clear that while not all terrorist groups are insurgencies, most insurgencies use terrorism as a tactic against either the population or the government to achieve their political goals.

O'Neill, 107-108.
Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force. FM 100-20/AFP 3-20: Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict. Washington, DC: Government Priniting Service, 1990, A-1
Department of State. "U.S. Government Interagency Counterinsurgency Guide." http://www.state.gov. January 19, 2009. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/119629.pdf (accessed May 09, 2009), 12.
Trinquier, 19.
FM 100-20, A-1.
Henderson, Errol A., and David Singer. "Civil War in the Post-Colonial World, 1946-92." Journal of Peace Research, 2000: 275-299.
Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, 3.
Ibid, 35.




At some point it becomes pedantic and just doesn't matter and clouds the issue at hand over the meaning of the word "is". It becomes like the Supreme Court's definition of porn - you know it when you see it. So you make a definition and do your best to include and exclude cases based on criteria. Unfortunately, the criteria will almost always be subjective to some degree. So is data set coding. Much information about insurgency (such as source and amount of support, precise numbers of fighters by year, size of auxiliaries and supporters, etc.) are hidden or unreliable at best. So you do your best to code. When evidence conflicts, you use your best judgment and pick a value. In a Small-N study this can have huge effects statistically, it starts to matter less on a Large-N.

Calling outcomes is similarly difficult. RAND used three - regime victory, settlement, or insurgent win. Highly subjective to code. A lot of settlement cases look more like a victory for one side or another. If insurgents achieve most of their aims in a political settlement - is it a loss for the government? You can go on and on.

BLUF, RAND has a pretty good data set. Perfect - no. Is it rigorous enough to provide insight? Yes. I looked hard before my thesis for a better one than RAND, the only alternatives are worse.

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 04:37 AM
I agree that the Rand data set is not at all bad, within obvious limitations. What I'm questioning is the applicability of conclusions drawn from that data set to a conflict that lies largely outside the parameters of that data set.

Treating insurgency as a subset of civil war muddies the issue even further, because whatever the conflict in Afghanistan is, it is definitely not civil war.

I'm not comfortable with calling this fight an insurgency or a counterinsurgency because I think that designation conditions us to see the core of the fight as the insurgents seeking to overthrow a constituted Government and the US intervening in support of that Government. I don't think that's an accurate perception at all. To me the core of the fight is our perceived need to determine who rules Afghanistan and to impose certain conditions on the way Afghanistan is ruled. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but I don't see how we can accomplish a purpose if we aren't clear with ourselves about what that purpose is.

Cavguy
04-26-2010, 04:48 AM
Treating insurgency as a subset of civil war muddies the issue even further, because whatever the conflict in Afghanistan is, it is definitely not civil war.


Okay, if a long standing conflict (centuries) for overall power between several competing factions (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pashtun groups, Taliban, etc.) isn't a version of civil war than what is? It's certainly the case 1989-2001.

You think that if ISAF withdrew the insurgency would end?

Cavguy
04-26-2010, 04:50 AM
The other interesting definition of insurgency comes from Mackinlay's recent book The Insurgent Archipelago, where he cites Phil Wilkerson's definition that the split between terrorism and insurgency is the nature of response required (police vs. military), not the group's aims or structure.

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 05:23 AM
Okay, if a long standing conflict (centuries) for overall power between several competing factions (Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pashtun groups, Taliban, etc.) isn't a version of civil war than what is? It's certainly the case 1989-2001.

You think that if ISAF withdrew the insurgency would end?

There was a civil war before 2001, and there would almost certainly be another if ISAF withdrew. Once the existing Government fell (probably not long) it would no longer be an insurgency, as an insurgency requires a government.

I don't see how ISAF vs Taliban can be called civil war, since ISAF is an external force pursuing its own objectives.

I'm not sure how useful a distinction between terrorism and insurgency is. Terrorism is a tactic; it can be used by an insurgent, by a counter-insurgent, or in pursuit of inter-state objectives that have nothing to do with insurgency.

William F. Owen
04-26-2010, 05:51 AM
The other interesting definition of insurgency comes from Mackinlay's recent book The Insurgent Archipelago, where he cites Phil Wilkerson's definition that the split between terrorism and insurgency is the nature of response required (police vs. military), not the group's aims or structure.
I have huge issues with Mackinlay's work in general, but Phil Wilkerson's differentiation is very useful, and largely, IMO , correct.

While the difference between a Civil War and an "Insurgency," is imperfect, I would note the scale and frequency of action does play its part. The Chinese Communists gained power in 1949 via conventional military action that ended the "Civil War."

BUT, the issue in A'Stan is to my mind, back the Karzai Govt against the the Taliban. We pick a side and we back it with all possible means.

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 09:42 AM
BUT, the issue in A'Stan is to my mind, back the Karzai Govt against the the Taliban. We pick a side and we back it with all possible means.

Pick a side, or create one?

May not make much difference, but I suspect that we're deceiving ourselves if we think that a "side" that we conjured up to advance our own interests is going to be perceived as anything other than an extension of our presence.

William F. Owen
04-26-2010, 10:03 AM
Pick a side, or create one?

May not make much difference, but I suspect that we're deceiving ourselves if we think that a "side" that we conjured up to advance our own interests is going to be perceived as anything other than an extension of our presence.
Maybe. That's a policy decision. Policy decisions are political.
Given the current policy - support the Karzai Government, what are the options?

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 11:11 AM
Maybe. That's a policy decision. Policy decisions are political.
Given the current policy - support the Karzai Government, what are the options?

If our policy allows us only one option of questionable desirability, it may be time to reassess the policy.

If we must support the Karzai government, then we must, but let's not deceive ourselves about what we're doing. We're not picking a side in a pre-existing conflict. We entered Afghanistan to impose certain conditions on the governance of Afghanistan (primarily the absence of AQ), and we created the Karzai government in pursuit of that objective. To the extent that the Karzai government is a "side", it's our side. The fight is not between the Karzai government and the Taliban, with us intervening in support of the Taliban, it's between us and the Taliban, with us creating and holding up the Karzai government to put a local face on our attempt to achieve our own objectives.

Bob's World
04-26-2010, 02:46 PM
From my perspective the number one goal must always be the attainment of a government that is perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the populace. This means understanding how a populace (and the populace of Afghanistan is a diverse one) sees legitimacy being bestowed.

Then "simply" enable that process taking place, and be willing to work with whatever form of government emerges.

This means working with Karzai today, but doing so in a manner so that he, his populace, and the world, clearly understand that our goal is a government viewed as legitimate and that we fully appreciate that a government as illegitimate as Mr. Karzai's (due to the Western Influence that created it)is a presumption that will be damn hard to overcome.

Too often external powers put their men in, and then commit themselves to keeping their men in, rather than committing themselves to producing legitimacy of government and developing a relationship with that government.

I stand on my point that the tried and true stratagem of installing and sustaining "friendly dictators" is obsolete in today's information age. These puppets simply cannot control their populaces anymore, and the trouble no longer confines itself to those foreign shores, but soon comes to the shores of the sponsor.

William F. Owen
04-26-2010, 02:51 PM
From my perspective the number one goal must always be the attainment of a government that is perceived as legitimate in the eyes of the populace. This means understanding how a populace (and the populace of Afghanistan is a diverse one) sees legitimacy being bestowed.


...but that is purely an issue for the Policy makers. Legitimacy is an entirely political idea. The job of the military is to destroy anyone contesting that legitimacy via violence. Military action, cannot and should not have anything to do with bestowing "legitimacy." -
In US policy terms only elected officials have any legitimacy, so the "idea" is purely political. Killing those who disagree enforces the policy!

Bob's World
04-26-2010, 03:28 PM
A sticky problem indeed...

First, of course, the only source that can "bestow legitimacy" to a government is the actual populace to be governed by the same. To reinforce, I said "enable" the establishment of a legitimate government.

I am enjoying very much working closely with MG Nick Carter, the Brit officer handpicked to lead the main effort here in the south of Afghanistan. The way "General Nick" describes the mission it is the "establishment of representative government and opportunity."

A couple hundred years ago others described it as "Government of, by and for the people" and the unalianable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Eden
04-26-2010, 05:03 PM
The thread seems to have narrowed its focus from insurgency in general to Afghanistan. I believe that Afghanistan is a bad case to study if you are seeking to construct (or argue about) a taxonomy for insurgency, because it is as close to unique as any war can be.

1. By 2002, Afghanistan was ungoverned. The occupying power (that is us) then proceeded to try and impose a central government on the population. So far, not much different than what occupying powers have done for time immemorial. But we attempted much more than just creating a national authority; we sought to construct an entire governmental structure reaching down to the district level, disenfranchising both the traditional (tribal) and organic (warlords) local power centers. Moreover, this had to be a government that could survive the withdrawal of our forces at some unspecified future date, so it had to gain a certain amount of popular support - in other words, it required 'legitimacy' beyond that afforded through the right of conquest.

2. Unfortunately, we allowed competitors to arise who were trying to fill the governance vacuum at the same time we were. The difference between 'us' and 'them' is that they have no intention of withdrawing, ever. They will be able to sustain their version of an Afghan government with their bayonets, rather than rely strictly on popular support or legitimacy.

3. Even at this late date, there are still spaces in Afghanistan that have neither insurgents nor governance. In essence, we are acting as both insurgents and counterinsurgents. In some areas, we are trying to establish cadres, recruit supporters, and extend political power into virgin territories; in others we are locked in a contest with competitors seeking to do the same; in still other areas, we are conducting classic counterinsurgency or guarding sanctuaries for a weak central government whose goals increasingly diverge from our own.

I can't think of too many historical examples paralelling what is happening to day in Afghanistan. Therefore, using it as a case study to validate or invalidate the RAND study is a bit unfair. In taxonomical terms, Afghanistan is the platypus of the insurgency world.

Steve Blair
04-26-2010, 05:08 PM
Good point, Eden. It's always worth remembering that in many ways each insurgency is different, and we need to be prepared to select techniques and tools based on those differences, not some perceived similarity to another historical situation.

For what it's worth, Afghanistan reminds me more of Arizona in the 1860s and 1870s than it does many other recent insurgency examples.

Entropy
04-26-2010, 08:26 PM
Dahuyan,

Treating insurgency as a subset of civil war muddies the issue even further, because whatever the conflict in Afghanistan is, it is definitely not civil war.

I think that really depends on one's perspective. One could reasonably argue that Afghanistan has been in a constant state of civil war since 1979. So far no "government" has been able to "seal the deal" and, depending on where one sits, these "governments" could be considered powerful factions in that civil war. Additionally, consider that every "government" since 1979 was sustained by significant foreign support, including the current government. Does foreign intervention to elevate one faction above others constitute an end to a civil war - or do these foreign interventions simply prolong it?

MikeF
04-26-2010, 09:12 PM
For what it's worth, Afghanistan reminds me more of Arizona in the 1860s and 1870s than it does many other recent insurgency examples.

Good point Steve. I was wondering if you were going to bring this up. This weekend, I was thinking pre-Westphalian. I wondered how long it took many of the states outside the original 13 to consider themselves Americans and part of the US?

We didn't exactly ask Florida to join the Union. Andrew Jackson just kinda pulled them in.

v/r

Mike

Steve Blair
04-26-2010, 09:27 PM
Good point Steve. I was wondering if you were going to bring this up. This weekend, I was thinking pre-Westphalian. I wondered how long it took many of the states outside the original 13 to consider themselves Americans and part of the US?

We didn't exactly ask Florida to join the Union. Andrew Jackson just kinda pulled them in.

v/r

Mike

For some it was quite a long time...and there were often competing issues and drives. To take the Arizona example, you had at least three or four distinct tribal groups, a recently-arrived Anglo population with divergent interests (although most were focused on mining, but there was the North-South current active along with a deep dislike for the tribal population) and a Hispanic populace that had only recently adjusted to the new arrivals. New Mexico had a similar experience, colored by the powerful presence of the Navajo peoples (prior to 1863 or 1864, at least). And as you get further north, the picture shifts to a degree.

I like to compare Arizona in some ways to Afghanistan due to the competing power centers and populations, who for some time were on an almost equal footing. The Apache and Pai peoples had been raiding and been raided by the Hispanic population for generations, and looked upon the Anglos as newcomers of uncertain disposition. The Anglos tended to view the tribal population as obstacles to the exploitation of the land's mineral resources, but they also viewed the national government (including the Army) as an obstacle to their preferred solution or unresponsive to their problem. In turn, many Army officers saw the Anglo population of Arizona as an obstacle to their preferred peaceful solutions. And to further color things, many of the Anglos were Southern sympathizers who let sectional differences color their responses to government actions or programs. Simplified picture to be sure, but I don't want to bore anyone too much with heavy details.

Dayuhan
04-26-2010, 11:15 PM
In US policy terms only elected officials have any legitimacy, so the "idea" is purely political. Killing those who disagree enforces the policy!

Possibly so, but what applicability do US definitions of legitimacy have to Afghanistan? Isn’t it the Afghans who have to decide whether or not a government is legitimate? If we decide for them and try to kill all who disagree we may find ourselves set for a whole lot of killing.

The thread seems to have narrowed its focus from insurgency in general to Afghanistan. I believe that Afghanistan is a bad case to study if you are seeking to construct (or argue about) a taxonomy for insurgency, because it is as close to unique as any war can be.

Agreed. But if you look at the first line of the Rand study:

Insurgencies have dominated the focus of the U.S. military for the past seven years, but they have a much longer history than that and are likely to figure prominently in future U.S. military operations. Thus, the general characteristics of insurgencies and, more important, how they end are of great interest to U.S. policymakers.

It seems that the authors of the study consider the conclusions applicable to the current conflict. That’s what I was questioning.

we attempted much more than just creating a national authority; we sought to construct an entire governmental structure reaching down to the district level, disenfranchising both the traditional (tribal) and organic (warlords) local power centers. Moreover, this had to be a government that could survive the withdrawal of our forces at some unspecified future date, so it had to gain a certain amount of popular support - in other words, it required 'legitimacy' beyond that afforded through the right of conquest.

Unfortunately, we allowed competitors to arise who were trying to fill the governance vacuum at the same time we were. The difference between 'us' and 'them' is that they have no intention of withdrawing, ever. They will be able to sustain their version of an Afghan government with their bayonets, rather than rely strictly on popular support or legitimacy.

Won’t a political vacuum always call up competition for the right to fill it? Maybe instead of seeing the indigenous actors that arose to try and fill that vacuum as “them” or “the competition” we could have tried to work with them… after all, as you say, they are at least indigenous and will not be withdrawing. They may well represent those local power structures that we have disenfranchised, and as such they might well enjoy as much or more popular support and legitimacy than our version of governance.

It seems that somewhere along the line our original goal in Afghanistan – drive out AQ and assure that they don’t return – was elevated to the much larger goal of constructing “an entire governmental structure reaching down to the district level”. That’s a beautiful goal, but I’m not sure that we’ve the capacity to achieve it, or that the Afghans particularly want foreigners to design and build their government.

Does foreign intervention to elevate one faction above others constitute an end to a civil war - or do these foreign interventions simply prolong it?

Did we intervene to elevate one faction above others? I don’t think so. Seems to me we intervened purely in pursuit of our own interests, to remove a “government” that we disliked and assure that the subsequent government would not provide a safe haven for AQ. The faction we ended up elevating didn’t exist prior to our intervention.

The core conflict at the moment is us vs the Taliban, and I don’t see how you can call that a civil war. If we were intervening in support of a pre-existing government, yes, that would be civil war with foreign participation. That's not what we're doing. We're an occupying power trying to install a government that suits us, and our enemies not unreasonably perceive us to be their primary antagonist. If the dominant party to a conflict is a foreign occupying power, I can't see that conflict as a civil war.

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 04:28 AM
Possibly so, but what applicability do US definitions of legitimacy have to Afghanistan? Isn’t it the Afghans who have to decide whether or not a government is legitimate? If we decide for them and try to kill all who disagree we may find ourselves set for a whole lot of killing.
All true. This is why wars happen. It's the US Policy that created the current conflict.

Dayuhan
04-27-2010, 04:55 AM
All true. This is why wars happen. It's the US Policy that created the current conflict.

Which brings back my original question: if a conflict is initiated and sustained by an outside power pursuing objectives unrelated to any pre-existing conflict in the area in question, is it really reasonable to treat that conflict as an insurgency?

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 05:30 AM
... is it really reasonable to treat that conflict as an insurgency?

THAT is the problem! Why are "Insurgencies" any different from any other form of conflict? It's moronic to assume that there is some distinct form of conflict, called an "insurgency" that some how is "different" from other forms of conflict.

Welcome to the wooly thinking that created FM3-24 and all the other "Insurgency" fiascos.

Dayuhan
04-27-2010, 06:19 AM
THAT is the problem! Why are "Insurgencies" any different from any other form of conflict? It's moronic to assume that there is some distinct form of conflict, called an "insurgency" that some how is "different" from other forms of conflict.

Welcome to the wooly thinking that created FM3-24 and all the other "Insurgency" fiascos.

Part of the problem is that we seem to lack a functioning definition of what an insurgency is. If, for example, we define an insurgency as a populace or portion thereof fighting against is own government, we can point out some distinct features and some distinct possibilities, as such:

- People who fight their own government generally do so for reasons

- Sometimes those reasons are valid and understandable

- If the government can be convinced or compelled to resolve those reasons, it may be possible to end the insurgency without the need to go out and kill, destroy, and maim until the will of the insurgents is broken.

In short, insurgencies often happen because a government sucks, and in these case the easiest way to resolve the insurgency is not to kill all the insurgents but to improve the government.

I think these conclusions are perfectly valid. I know they can work, because I've seen them work. Unfortunately, I don't think they apply to Afghanistan, because that fight isn't about a populace or portion thereof fighting against is own government, it's about a portion of a populace fighting against an occupying foreign power.

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 06:37 AM
Part of the problem is that we seem to lack a functioning definition of what an insurgency is.
I do not agree. The whole problem is that we seek a definition of insurgency, to save anyone actually having to to think.
The root cause of the all the problems is a desire to believe that there is something called "insurgency" that is distinct and definable.

As we now the equally nonsensical idea of "Hybrid threats" it seems that there is no thinking behind any of this.

Dayuhan
04-27-2010, 06:55 AM
If we're going to use the term we need to define it. The term seems pretty well entrenched, so something approaching a consensus definition might be useful.

Whatever we choose to call them, intra-state conflicts where a portion of a populace fights its own government seem distinct enough to warrant special study of the problems and opportunities associated with them, which are not necessarily shared with inter-state conflicts.

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 12:42 PM
If we're going to use the term we need to define it. The term seems pretty well entrenched, so something approaching a consensus definition might be useful.
Agreed
Whatever we choose to call them, intra-state conflicts where a portion of a populace fights its own government seem distinct enough to warrant special study of the problems and opportunities associated with them, which are not necessarily shared with inter-state conflicts.
Call them "Small Wars" or "Irregular Warfare." I'm very happy with Revolts and Rebellions. There have been at least as many revolts and rebellions as Wars between nations, peoples, and/or societies, so none of this is new except for the silly language.

Dayuhan
04-27-2010, 02:04 PM
Call them "Small Wars" or "Irregular Warfare." I'm very happy with Revolts and Rebellions. There have been at least as many revolts and rebellions as Wars between nations, peoples, and/or societies, so none of this is new except for the silly language.

Revolts and Rebellions are excellent terms for what they describe. "Small War" or "Irregular Warfare" are a bit broader... the conflict in Afghanistan, for example, could be called "Irregular Warfare" (given the number of troops currently committed I'm not sure it deserves to be called "small"), but it is certainly not a revolt or a rebellion.

To some extent the issues are semantic, but not entirely: when you call a thing something it's not, that conditions perception and response.

As far as the Rand study goes, it's interesting and I'm sure useful in many ways, but I'm not sure its conclusions can be easily applied to Afghanistan. I also do not quite understand how anyone can produce a 270 page academic monograph analyzing insurgencies that does not present a definition of insurgency right up front.

Bob's World
04-27-2010, 02:24 PM
I will offer to this thread on "how insurgencies end" that if it erupts into violence again within 20 years in that same popualce, that the previous insurgency was merely suppressed, most likely through brute force, but that the underlying causal factors.

Too often militaries and governments slap themselves on the back and chalk a "W" up in the history book, when in fact all they did was beat the populace into submission.

So, in my book, the end of violence is not the end of insurgency, it is the resolution of the failures of governance that is causing the populace to revolt, along with the end of violence that ends an insurgency.

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 02:39 PM
Too often militaries and governments slap themselves on the back and chalk a "W" up in the history book, when in fact all they did was beat the populace into submission.
If the violence is ended or reduced, it is a WIN. The military has ensured that the transfer of power did not take place using armed force. That is success by any measure.
If the locals vote in the party that got beaten in the insurgency, then OK. They didn't get there using force.
So, in my book, the end of violence is not the end of insurgency, it is the resolution of the failures of governance that is causing the populace to revolt, along with the end of violence that ends an insurgency.
Bob, you are a soldier, NOT a policy maker. Your job is killing. An "insurgency" is the us of violence. No violence, no insurgency! Without violence Folks are back to politics and the insurgency has been defeated.

The sole job of the US Forces (and UK and NATO) is to defeat the opposing armed force. IT IS NOT to create governance, or democracy or do "nation building!"

Bob's World
04-27-2010, 05:08 PM
WILF,

My profession has little impact on the nature of insurgency, its causes and its cures.

So, be I a soldier, a minister, or a pole dancer, the fact remains, that when the military rolls in and simply crushes that segement of the populace that dares to stand up to the failures of governance, it is not a "Win" no matter how many generals say so in their Memoirs.

So, while the military is not in the role or setting policy, we are quite likely to be the ones looked to to have a sophisticated understanding of insurgency, and if ones understanding is that it can be resolved solely through violence, I would argue that they lack the requisite sophistication required of them as a military professional.

20 years ago perhaps one could get away with an "all violence is war, and the suppression of any violence is peace" approach, but I believe that such cavalier approaches are simply no longer viable.

William F. Owen
04-27-2010, 06:35 PM
So, be I a soldier, a minister, or a pole dancer, the fact remains, that when the military rolls in and simply crushes that segement of the populace that dares to stand up to the failures of governance, it is not a "Win" no matter how many generals say so in their Memoirs.
As long as I never pushed $20 into your underwear....:D
So, while the military is not in the role or setting policy, we are quite likely to be the ones looked to to have a sophisticated understanding of insurgency, and if ones understanding is that it can be resolved solely through violence, I would argue that they lack the requisite sophistication required of them as a military professional.
So let me get this right. Are there any non-violent insurgencies, and if so, is military action required?
20 years ago perhaps one could get away with an "all violence is war, and the suppression of any violence is peace" approach, but I believe that such cavalier approaches are simply no longer viable.
You use armed force against armed force. An insurgency is the use of armed force. Destroy or defeat that armed force and you have solved to problem in terms of the problem being an insurgency. Anything else is simply none of your problem.
It makes about as much sense as asking a Car mechanic to paint your house.

Dayuhan
04-27-2010, 11:24 PM
You use armed force against armed force. An insurgency is the use of armed force. Destroy or defeat that armed force and you have solved to problem in terms of the problem being an insurgency. Anything else is simply none of your problem.

Or, if you're dealing with a revolt or rebellion, you could resolve the issues that started and sustain the revolt or rebellion and end it without the need to destroy and defeat.

This may not necessarily be a military function, but it should certainly be considered in any broad discussion of revolt and rebellion or in discussion of any specific revolt or rebellion. I wouldn't see anything wrong, for example, with a military leadership that was summoned to suppress a revolt pointing out that the revolt had reasonable and understandable causes and that resolving the causes might be easier and less destructive that wading in with killing and destruction.

I think BW has a point about "winning" vs transient suppression. Mindanao is a good example of a fight that has been repeatedly "won" without ever being resolved. If the issues that started the fight remain unsettled, a day, week, month, or year without violence is no more a "win" than a half-time lead is a victory in a football match. Of course military action alone can't achieve resolution, it can only open a space to permit political resolution... but that doesn't make political resolution any less necessary for achieving a permanent conclusion.

We do have to be careful about assuming that conclusions drawn from a broad study of insurgency can be applied to any given insurgency, since every fight is different. This is why I'd like to see the terms defined more clearly and used less casually. An "insurgency" that consists of a populace or portion thereof fighting its own government is a very different thing from an "insurgency" primarily driven by opposition to a foreign occupier; both are very different in turn from the (IMO absurd) construct of a "global insurgency".

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 05:28 AM
Or, if you're dealing with a revolt or rebellion, you could resolve the issues that started and sustain the revolt or rebellion and end it without the need to destroy and defeat.
You could, but that is not the job of the Army
I wouldn't see anything wrong, for example, with a military leadership that was summoned to suppress a revolt pointing out that the revolt had reasonable and understandable causes and that resolving the causes might be easier and less destructive that wading in with killing and destruction.
Maybe - but folks revolt against ideas or actions other folks believe reasonable.
I think BW has a point about "winning" vs transient suppression. Mindanao is a good example of a fight that has been repeatedly "won" without ever being resolved. If the issues that started the fight remain unsettled, a day, week, month, or year without violence is no more a "win" than a half-time lead is a victory in a football match.

I agree. ALL war is "80%" political, but the Armed force is not there to solve the problem. It's there to defeat the other armed force, so as the political solution is made a reality.

Dayuhan
04-28-2010, 05:50 AM
You could, but that is not the job of the Army


True, but I'm not in the army, nor do I see any particular reason to confine discussion to what can or cannot be accomplished by the army.

I do think that part of the role of the military is providing honest advice to the civilian leadership on what they can and cannot accomplish with armed force.

jmm99
04-28-2010, 06:02 AM
Politik by other means, how do you derive this:

from Wilf
ALL war is "80%" political....

It would seem that ALL war is "100%" political following that CvC logic.

Now, if one accepts the concept that each war has some effort made toward the "political struggle" and other effort made toward the "military struggle", then one could assign percentages of effort to each struggle. But, do you, Wilf, accept the concept of a "political struggle" as a part of war ?

Regards

Mike

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 06:57 AM
But, do you, Wilf, accept the concept of a "political struggle" as a part of war ?

Absolutely! All War is a political struggle, but the Armed Force can only be part of the Armed struggle. Armed force can only be instrumental. Armed force is never The Policy.

a.) If there is no use violence, it is not war
b.) War is political violence.
c.) Armed Forces are purely instruments of actual or threatened violence for what ever policy they are required to set forth
d.) The cause of all conflict is political.

Dayuhan
04-28-2010, 07:13 AM
Absolutely! All War is a political struggle, but the Armed Force can only be part of the Armed struggle. Armed force can only be instrumental. Armed force is never The Policy.

a.) If there is no use violence, it is not war
b.) War is political violence.
c.) Armed Forces are purely instruments of actual or threatened violence for what ever policy they are required to set forth
d.) The cause of all conflict is political.

This is true. That's why discussion of war, small or large, must also involve discussion of policy, and why a discussion such as this one invariably involves policy aspects. no need or reason to shy away from it, no?

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 07:53 AM
This is true. That's why discussion of war, small or large, must also involve discussion of policy, and why a discussion such as this one invariably involves policy aspects. no need or reason to shy away from it, no?
Dam straight! It may be that your policy aim cannot be set forth via violence, or is not effective in doing so. Military force is a tool to be applied very selectively. It cannot set forth every policy, and using military force changes the policy being set forth!

The error in the US Military way of thinking is to say "our policy should be X, so we can employ military power", as opposed to "We can destroy the enemies armed force using military power," and leave it to the policy makers to answer the exam question. It also largely ignores that policy does not stay static and is almost never based on a deep understanding of military power.

Bob's World
04-28-2010, 08:54 AM
To throw another monkey wrench into the gears, I don't think Insurgency should be classified as "war" at all.

It's kind of like a tomatoe. All your life you think its a vegetable, becuase everyone has always told you it was a vegetable, you've always treated it like a vegetable, you always mix it with other vegetables; and then one day some horticulturist comes along and tells you its really a fruit.

I won't take that any farther, but I think we gain clearer insights as how to approach insurgency and the relative roles of the Host nation government, its military and that of any outside governments and their militaries that intervene to assist by looking at insurgency not as war, but as a civil emergency. Not to apply the rules of war, but to apply the rules of military support to civil authorities. Not to supplant the civil leadership, but to supplement the same, holding them to task.

We've been treating insurgency like war for too long. Its violent like war, it has an "enemy" like war, it will kill you and drain your national blood, treasure, and influence like war. But it isn't war. If I eat tomatoes all my life and refuse to recognize they are a fruit it really doesn't matter much. But if I mischaracterize a major event like an insurgency, I could inadvertantly harm, or even destroy my nation.

Ohh yeah. And Wilf asked a few posts back about "non-violent insurgencies." Here is where I largely agree with Kitson. He saw this as a spectrum along a scale of violence. The causal factors being the same, but what begins as "subversion" at some point becomes "insurgency", not because the events somehow changed in nature, but merely becuase it had become more violent. So, Kitson would call non-violent insurgency "subversion." Same event, just different stages. Sometimes the subversives win without having to employ violence, as with Ghandi or King. Or sometimes an insurgency is suppressed back down into a subversive phase for a number of years before it goes "insurgent" again, as in Mindanao. You solve it when you address the root causes, and level of violence is only one of many metrics to measure success with, and certainly not the decisive measure.

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 10:34 AM
And Wilf asked a few posts back about "non-violent insurgencies." Here is where I largely agree with Kitson. He saw this as a spectrum along a scale of violence. The causal factors being the same, but what begins as "subversion" at some point becomes "insurgency", not because the events somehow changed in nature, but merely becuase it had become more violent.
I'd see "subversion" as entirely political. Does subversion include violence? It can, but it is not primarily violent - it is "subversive."
What Kitson better contributes is how the military can go after the insurgents, which is what the military should focus on doing.

Dayuhan
04-28-2010, 11:16 AM
To throw another monkey wrench into the gears, I don't think Insurgency should be classified as "war" at all.

Again, I think one of the problems with these discussions is that we, like the Rand monograph, lack a consensus definition of insurgency. It's all very well to take the the "I know it when I see it" approach, but it makes discussion difficult, because while we all know it when we see it, we may be seeing it in different places.

I think we gain clearer insights as how to approach insurgency and the relative roles of the Host nation government, its military and that of any outside governments and their militaries that intervene to assist by looking at insurgency not as war, but as a civil emergency. Not to apply the rules of war, but to apply the rules of military support to civil authorities. Not to supplant the civil leadership, but to supplement the same, holding them to task.

Agreed, but I'd point out that these formulations have little or no applicability to our current engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, because in neither of these cases did we "intervene to assist".


He saw this as a spectrum along a scale of violence. The causal factors being the same, but what begins as "subversion" at some point becomes "insurgency", not because the events somehow changed in nature, but merely becuase it had become more violent. So, Kitson would call non-violent insurgency "subversion." Same event, just different stages. Sometimes the subversives win without having to employ violence, as with Ghandi or King. Or sometimes an insurgency is suppressed back down into a subversive phase for a number of years before it goes "insurgent" again, as in Mindanao. You solve it when you address the root causes, and level of violence is only one of many metrics to measure success with, and certainly not the decisive measure.

I'm not sure that the level of violence is the only distinguishing factor. Certainly we could imagine a continuum moving from dissidence to subversion to insurgency. But where, then, would we place someone like Timothy McVeigh? Based purely on the level of violence, we'd call it insurgency, but I'm not convinced that's appropriate. I'd think that a certain level of organization and scope is necessary to distinguish an insurgency from the work of a small number of very angry dissidents.

In similar vein, we often assume that dissidents embrace violence because no peaceful avenue for change is available to them. In some cases that's true, in some it's not. Sometimes people embrace violence because they are unable to generate enough popular support to make use of conventional vehicles for change... again, such as McVeigh, or the Baader-Meinhof, or other violent but extremely restricted fringe groups. Certainly this is violent dissidence, but can it be called "insurgency"?

Possibly a load of unnecessary semantic detail, but given the extent to which insurgency is discussed here it might be useful to define the term.

MikeF
04-28-2010, 01:57 PM
Again, I think one of the problems with these discussions is that we, like the Rand monograph, lack a consensus definition of insurgency. It's all very well to take the the "I know it when I see it" approach, but it makes discussion difficult, because while we all know it when we see it, we may be seeing it in different places.

Agree.

Agreed, but I'd point out that these formulations have little or no applicability to our current engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, because in neither of these cases did we "intervene to assist".

Partially agree. We intevened to force arbitration on non-cooperative actors in the hopes that we could force a better solution (governance).


I'm not sure that the level of violence is the only distinguishing factor. Certainly we could imagine a continuum moving from dissidence to subversion to insurgency. But where, then, would we place someone like Timothy McVeigh? Based purely on the level of violence, we'd call it insurgency, but I'm not convinced that's appropriate. I'd think that a certain level of organization and scope is necessary to distinguish an insurgency from the work of a small number of very angry dissidents.

I was going to make a similar reply. The problem with BW's tomato analogy is that oftentimes, the root causes or ideas or grievances behind the rebellion or secession is deeply ingrained in the community. For example, if we look at other areas in the Phillipines where the communist continue to mobilize, the root causes seem to be land reform and reparations issues that pre-date back before the christians and the United States were ever introduced. How do you resolve that? But BW has a point, every 20 years the insurgency vanishes, the gov't chalks up a win in the COIN category, and then they rise again in perpetual cycle.

Dayuhan
04-28-2010, 02:41 PM
We intevened to force arbitration on non-cooperative actors in the hopes that we could force a better solution (governance).

I thought we intervened to throw out governments we didn't like.


I was going to make a similar reply. The problem with BW's tomato analogy is that oftentimes, the root causes or ideas or grievances behind the rebellion or secession is deeply ingrained in the community.


That's true, and it's also true that different sectors of a populace may have irreconcilably different demands. Still, it makes sense to start looking at an insurgency by asking why the insurgents are fighting and whether there's a possibility that those issues could be addressed without having to fight a war over them.


if we look at other areas in the Phillipines where the communist continue to mobilize, the root causes seem to be land reform and reparations issues that pre-date back before the christians and the United States were ever introduced. How do you resolve that?


The areas of the Philippines where communist influence remains significant are generally fairly remote, and are generally ruled under what are effectively feudal dynasties. Land reform or reparation are less the issues than the corrupt and abusive character of local governance, and the immunity from legal process enjoyed by the politically influential families. I actually think this could be resolved in most of the affected areas, with sufficient political will, and that the impact on the insurgency would be substantial.


But BW has a point, every 20 years the insurgency vanishes, the gov't chalks up a win in the COIN category, and then they rise again in perpetual cycle.

In Mindanao the Philippine government has at several points gained enough military ascendancy to introduce real political reform, but there's never been any real effort in that direction. Instead the focus has been on coopting key leaders, often by offering them lucrative positions on the government side of the fence. The underlying issues are not addressed and soon enough new leaders emerge, often more radical than their predecessors.

Bob's World
04-28-2010, 02:42 PM
Definitions are a problem because we make them one. Particularly in the military where a focus on doctrine, and the poduction and employment of precise "terms of art" within the profession, promotes endless arguments when no firm, agreed-to-by-all definition exists. Look to the recent input here at SWJ by Daves Maxwell and Witty on UW. You'll never make everybody happy in defining such broad concepts as UW, COIN, Insurgency, etc.

I used to get right in there and argue with everyone else; but I realized one day just how silly it was to argue about fine nuances of concepts that are completely subjective and undefined.

So I think the best you can do is to state up front what definition you are applying, and then make your case based upon that definition. Then, for those receiving that input, to resist the urge to simply argue with the definition that the other party used, and to instead focus on the points that he is attempting to make in relation to the definition he based them on.

"Insurgency" is not some neat, precise operational task, like "screen" vs "guard"; or "block" vs "fix". To try to make it such is probably extremely counterproductive to achieving the understanding that one is seeking in the first place. Like I was telling the metrics guys the other day at a staff meeting. Too often we confuse "Precise" with "accurate"; and when you seek a set of metrics that you can measure very objectively and precisely to determine how well you are doing on something as fuzzy and messy as COIN, you probably are not going to be very accurate.

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 02:59 PM
Definitions are a problem because we make them one. Particularly in the military where a focus on doctrine, and the poduction and employment of precise "terms of art" within the profession, promotes endless arguments when no firm, agreed-to-by-all definition exists.

Hmmmm..... Sorry, but the real problem is that soldiers of today use language carelessly and without rigour.

This probably did not really exist until about the 1930s, when people like JFC Fuller tried to create "Military Science" - and after which we see a plethora of nonsensical terms.

You cannot have "Doctrine" without usefully precise meaning, because Doctrine is what is taught - that is what "Doctrine" means. You cannot have "practice" unless you have sound theory that explains it.

Unless you have a common language with common coherent meanings, you will soon have a pseudo-science like "COIN Theory" or "Operational Level of War."

Yes, the military does create problems for itself, basically by not studying it's own profession.

MikeF
04-28-2010, 03:03 PM
I thought we intervened to throw out governments we didn't like.

That's another way to say forced arbitration on non-cooperative actors. It is a values call by the US to say their behavior was unacceptable.

The areas of the Philippines where communist influence remains significant are generally fairly remote, and are generally ruled under what are effectively feudal dynasties. Land reform or reparation are less the issues than the corrupt and abusive character of local governance, and the immunity from legal process enjoyed by the politically influential families. I actually think this could be resolved in most of the affected areas, with sufficient political will, and that the impact on the insurgency would be substantial.

And if you are correct, then you have to determine how to win and build consensus within the Philippine gov't to enact your plan. That seems to be the crux of the dillemma.

From BW,

"I realized one day just how silly it was to argue about fine nuances of concepts that are completely subjective and undefined."

Sir, couldn't agree more with the exception of when we reach the point where the definitions affect law, policy, resources, and mission. And, BTW, I like your tomato analogy.

From Wilf,

Unless you have a common language with common coherent meanings, you will soon have a pseudo-science like "COIN Theory" or "Operational Level of War."

There's definitely some truth in that.

Steve Blair
04-28-2010, 04:02 PM
This probably did not really exist until about the 1930s, when people like JFC Fuller tried to create "Military Science" - and after which we see a plethora of nonsensical terms.

This is an unnecessary simplification, IMO. Obviously there were (many) soldiers out there who failed to use language and concepts with rigor prior to the 1930s. Militaries prior to the 1930s certainly did study their own history, and many came away with amazingly wrong conclusions about that history. The root of all good and all evil did not come from the 1930s, and much of the thinking during that period was in direct reaction to World War I.

Most armies have some sort of defining period for their self-images. These obviously shift over time (with the most extreme example being the French with their shifts from [to over-simplify] "all offense" to "all defense" in the aftermath of World War I), but they tend to shape thinking (or lack thereof) within the army in question. The U.S. has had a couple of these (the Civil War and World War II), and both had a major warping effect on our thinking. The British may have found one of their more recent ones in the 1920s and 1930s. And in just about every case these periods came from the army in question studying its own profession and coming away with lessons that may not have been especially helpful or accurate. Armies (like other large institutions) have shown a great ability to shed those lessons that they don't like or don't fit into their own self-image or visualization.

Sorry to divert the thread, but it's important to understand that history is a continuum of sorts, and that any event has things that led up to it and will have consequences that we cannot accurately predict based on those leading events and the reaction to them by each individual involved.

William F. Owen
04-28-2010, 05:53 PM
This is an unnecessary simplification, IMO. Obviously there were (many) soldiers out there who failed to use language and concepts with rigor prior to the 1930s.
....and allow me to reply! :D

Yes, there failures of thought prior to the 1930s, but based on the evidence to hand in terms of the written record, the language was generally simple, coherent and useful. They were far from perfect BUT they were much better than today's.

Some of what was written in the UK's 1909 Field Service Regulations, was utter rubbish, but it was simply and clearly written rubbish. It was not the arch-twaddle you find in "FM3 Design" for example.

Ken White
04-28-2010, 08:24 PM
I agree with Steve Blair's post, particularly with his last paragraph. However, Wilf has a very valid point IMO in respect to military writing. After the 17th Centuryt it consistentlv became more concisely and directly oriented. Mellifluous prose gradually disappeared. Most writing during and immediately after WW I was an indicator of a trend reversal. Since WW II, it has gotten far worse each decade and now we;'re producing 300 page FIELD manuals that say little. Illustrations which can help, are part of that. So are arcane charts and 'matrices' that are not helpful. :rolleyes:

So, IMO, you're both right (send checks to P,O Box 479... ;)).

Steve Blair
04-28-2010, 08:43 PM
One thing I would point out, at least with respect to U.S. military writing, is that much of what was done officially between 1800 and 1900 was concerned with what was then called "tactics" but what we would now most likely call drill. There wasn't much official writing concerning military theory (aside from fortification theory, which could get pretty bloody exotic), and you really didn't see much of that until the expansions that took place in the build-up to World War I.

Why the change? There are, I think, a number of reasons. One may lie in the breakup of more or less static regiments and the increased reliance on a conscript army in time of war. It was then that you saw the confusing and jumbled field manuals (which oddly enough resemble some of the privately-published products pushed on unsuspecting State Volunteer units during the Civil War). And a great deal of the older stuff could be considered "arch-twaddle." Theory wasn't in vogue, and there was often some suspicion attached to an officer who wrote (again, I'm talking about the U.S. here in the period before World War I).

I would as an aside wonder how much the influence of the "business school" movement in the 1950s had to do with the twaddle that shows up in our manuals?

And now back to your regularly-scheduled thread....

jmm99
04-28-2010, 09:13 PM
Looking back to the ancients is not a fruitless endeavor. Take Callwell's Small Wars: Their principles and practice (the 1903 edition is available from Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=callwell%20%22small%20war%22%20definition&sig=G0xJNqk-l0_vSk6-g0PX1U1iQMk&ei=v3bYS4nXOsOqlAfXg5ygBA&ct=result&id=GonbAAAAMAAJ&ots=IJPXLf1tIy&output=text) as a pdf download), chap 1, p.1:

Small war is a term which has come largely into use of late years, and which it is somewhat difficult to define. Practically it may be said to include all campaigns other than those where both the opposing sides consist of regular troops. It comprises the expeditions against savages and semi-civilised races by disciplined soldiers, campaigns undertaken to suppress rebellious and guerilla warfare in all parts of the world where organized armies are struggling against opponents who will not meet them in the open field. It thus obviously covers operations very varying in their scope and in their conditions.

The expression " small war " has in reality no particular connection with the scale on which any campaign may be carried out; it is simply used to denote, in default of a better, operations of regular armies against irregular, or comparatively speaking irregular, forces.
....
[JMM note: In the text, a brief digression where Callwell suggests that the 1894 Sino-Japanese War might "almost be described as a small war" since the Japanese were a "highly trained, armed, organized, and disciplined army" and the Chinese forces "could not possibly be described as regular troops in the proper sense of the word".]
....
Small wars include the partisan warfare which usually arises when trained soldiers are employed in the quelling of sedition and of insurrections in civilized countries; they include campaigns of conquest when a Great Power adds the territory of barbarous races to its possessions; and they include punitive expeditions against tribes bordering upon distant colonies.

Both small wars and "big wars", are conflicts (violence between armed forces) which still fall into the broad category of "armed conflicts" legally. Another continuing legal concept viable from Callwell's time to our own is the distinction between regular forces (read generally as the armed forces of a nation-state) and irregular forces (read generally as the armed forces of a non-state actor) in legal terms.

Callwell does not deal with the "political struggle" (read that generally as civil affairs, but it goes well beyond that as viewed by Mao and Giap, including low intensity violence). Presumbly, he relied on British colonial administrators to handle that in cases where it was needed.

A few years back, John Sulllivan wrote a thesis with the long winded title, The Marine Corps’ Small Wars Manual and Colonel C.E. Callwell’s Small Wars - Relevant to the Twenty-First Century or Irrelevant Anachronisms (http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/swjmag/v6/sullivan%20w%20bib.pdf)? (in SWC library), where he summed several definitions (I've switched the order to put Callwell, the oldest of the four, first):

Appendix C – Small Wars & Other Associated Definitions

small wars

Small Wars – Small wars include all campaigns other than those where both the opposing sides consist of regular troops. Small wars cover operations varying in their scope and in their conditions. Small wars denote operations of regular armies against irregular, or comparatively speaking irregular, forces.[99][99] Callwell, Small Wars, 21.

Small Wars Manual - Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation.[98][98] U.S. Marine Corps, Small Wars Manual, 1940, 1-1.

military operations other than war (MOOTW)

DOD Dictionary of Military Terms - Operations that encompass the use of military capabilities across the range of military operations short of war. These military actions can be applied to complement any combination of the other instruments of national power and occur before, during, and after war.[100][100] http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/m/index.html [JMM: no longer among the definitions "in force"]

low intensity conflict (LIC)

U.S. Army Field Manual 100-20 - a political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. Low-intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of the armed forces. It is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low-intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications.[101][101] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_intensity_conflict [JMM: definition in 1990]

The trend in these definitions emphasize the shift away from a purely military definition (in Callwell's Small Wars), to inclusion of diplomatic concerns and the military in support thereof (in the 1940 USMC Small Wars Manual), to military operations short of war ("to complement any combination of the other instruments of national power"), and to LIC where the conflict is expressly defined in terms of a "a political-military confrontation", which "is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments."

Those examples illustrate no shocking changes in military doctrine qua the "military struggle", but they do present an illustration of the progressive inclusion of aspects of the "political struggle" in US military doctrine.

Dayuhan presented an example of the "political struggle"; timely because of an article in Foreign Affairs, And Justice for All (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66210/gary-haugen-and-victor-boutros/and-justice-for-all), citing a UN estimate that 4 billion people are ruled under corrupt crimiinal and civil justice systems:

The areas of the Philippines where communist influence remains significant are generally fairly remote, and are generally ruled under what are effectively feudal dynasties. Land reform or reparation are less the issues than the corrupt and abusive character of local governance, and the immunity from legal process enjoyed by the politically influential families. I actually think this could be resolved in most of the affected areas, with sufficient political will, and that the impact on the insurgency would be substantial.

Obviously Steve presents a problem that can only be solved via the "political struggle". So, who is tasked to come up with the solution on the counter-revolutionary side - military or civilians ? The insurgents, if good ole Coms, will present Peoples Courts as the answer (the Taliban, Taliban Courts).

Thus, What is to be done; and who should do it ?

Part of the answer to those questions depends on whether a pollitical solution is needed to end the insurgency. A political solution could be a negotiated settlement, but it could also be the political solution of the dominant party being forced down the other party's throat.

Regards

Mike

GI Zhou
04-28-2010, 09:30 PM
Back to the original idea of the thread, I will hopefully discuss this with the leaders of an insurgent group that had a negotiated settlement with their government, some more broad questions other than at the tactical and operational level.

The RAND study was interesting because of what it left out, as much as what it used as examples. The early post-war period presumerably as many of the the participants are either dead or unable to be contacted. Interestingly what wasn't mentioned about the Viet Minh was the HUGE amount of assistance they got from the People's Republic of China including sanctuaries and the Chinese artillery division that ringed Dien Bien Phu.

I believed the study over looked certain issues especially about the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation. The book, in my opinion, tried to look at too many insurgencies, and should ahve concentrated on more geographical area and see the links between groups emanating from these countries whether they be political, tribal or external.

My thoughts anyway. Of course, political sensitive issues may be in the classified version.

Dayuhan
04-29-2010, 12:06 AM
Definitions are a problem because we make them one. Particularly in the military where a focus on doctrine, and the poduction and employment of precise "terms of art" within the profession, promotes endless arguments when no firm, agreed-to-by-all definition exists. Look to the recent input here at SWJ by Daves Maxwell and Witty on UW. You'll never make everybody happy in defining such broad concepts as UW, COIN, Insurgency, etc.

I’ve no special interest in making everyone happy, I just wonder if we’re all talking about the same thing. Specifically (and in a vain attempt to get back on topic) I’m wondering how applicable the conclusions drawn by Rand from study of conflicts that are almost entirely intra-state, between a government and a portion of its populace, are to an inter-state conflict where one state seeks to impose conditions on the governance of another.

That's another way to say forced arbitration on non-cooperative actors. It is a values call by the US to say their behavior was unacceptable.

I suppose you could have called Saddam and the Taliban “non-cooperative actors”, though of course they had no special obligation to cooperate with us. How does “arbitration” come into it? We wanted them out, we tossed them out. All well and good, I won’t be shedding any tears for either, though I thought then and think now that Iraq was peripheral to the core goal and represented an unnecessary dilution of resources and attention. Justifiable, yes; desirable, I’m less sure. Either way, my point is simply that these are not intra-state conflicts and should not be treated as such.

And if you are correct, then you have to determine how to win and build consensus within the Philippine gov't to enact your plan. That seems to be the crux of the dillemma.

That is the crux of the dilemma, and the short answer is that we cannot win and build consensus within the Philippine gov’t. They’ll have to come ‘round to it on their own. I’m not holding my breath. Fortunately the NPA are as inept as the local feudal rulers and are unlikely to effectively exploit their opportunities.


Obviously Steve presents a problem that can only be solved via the "political struggle". So, who is tasked to come up with the solution on the counter-revolutionary side - military or civilians ? The insurgents, if good ole Coms, will present Peoples Courts as the answer (the Taliban, Taliban Courts).

Thus, What is to be done; and who should do it ?

The short version of the answer is that the law needs to be enforced and the Government needs to do it. An even shorter version might be to simply say that the government needs to govern.

My long version of the answer to that question is here:

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_democracy/v015/15.4rogers.html

Don't think full text is available online; in the unlikely event that anyone wants to see it, I can e-mail a pdf. PM me...

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 04:52 AM
The expression " small war " has in reality no particular connection with the scale on which any campaign may be carried out; it is simply used to denote, in default of a better, operations of regular armies against irregular, or comparatively speaking irregular, forces.

I do so love the old words..... Proper British Officer writing like a proper chap should. I submit this holds good, in terms of usefulness, even today.

Bob's World
04-29-2010, 05:05 AM
To understand how insurgencies truly end, one must first understand how they truly begin.


My position is that that they are rooted in failures of governance to nurture real and perceived high-level human needs among their populace; which I call "Poor Governance" and define as follows:

“Poor Governance” is defined here as some combination of the following four causal perceptions among significant segments of the governed populace:

Illegitimacy – the current governance does not draw its legitimacy from a recognized source.

Injustice – the rule of law applied is not viewed as just.

Disrespect – certain individuals or groups are treated with less respect than others as a matter of status.

Hopelessness – the lack of a trusted and certain means for the governed to shape their governance.

Furthermore, I believe there are such diverse debate and positions as to the cause of Insurgency because of the equally primal human urge to blame one's shortcomings on someone else.

Once one stops blaming their neighbors and their populace for their problems, and starts looking real hard at themselves, one can begin to attain a clarity that is truly helpful to developing courses that are apt to lead to truly ending (vice merely suppressing) an insurgency.

Certainly your neighbors will take advantage of your shortcomings to advance their own agendas. Certainly members of your populace will take advantage of your shortcomings to advance their own agendas as well. But, if you had looked to and avoided those shortcoming , there would be little true opportunity among your populace to exploit to begin with.

We struggle with COIN, because good COIN requires governmental responsibility. And that, is a scarce commodity in every culture.

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 05:16 AM
To understand how insurgencies truly end, one must first understand how they truly begin.


My position is that that they are rooted in failures of governance to nurture real and perceived high-level human needs among their populace; which I call "Poor Governance" and define as follows:

Bob, I envy your idealism, but "Poor Governance" is one possible cause of an insurgency/rebellion, and its irrelevant to the application of military force to serve policy.

It could be that the folks in the "rebel held" areas are better off with a higher standard of living. So what? You still go in there and kill and capture the rebels regardless. You then re-assert Government authority by being the ONLY authority, as in the only men with guns walking about with guns.

Yes, the people may or may not have a legitimate beef. Go vote in some other guys. That is there only legitimate recourse.

Bob's World
04-29-2010, 05:37 AM
Bob, I envy your idealism, but "Poor Governance" is one possible cause of an insurgency/rebellion, and its irrelevant to the application of military force to serve policy.

It could be that the folks in the "rebel held" areas are better off with a higher standard of living. So what? You still go in there and kill and capture the rebels regardless. You then re-assert Government authority by being the ONLY authority, as in the only men with guns walking about with guns.

Yes, the people may or may not have a legitimate beef. Go vote in some other guys. That is there only legitimate recourse.


I know it comes across as idealism, but the real goal of this work is to get down to the bare elemental factors at work in these situations.

So, turning to your example:

A portion of my country is now "rebel held" or in other words, the "offical governance" from the capital has been at least supplemented, and perhaps totally supplanted by a new "legitimate" government (recognized by the populace, who bestow legitimacy, but outside the law, so therefore unofficial)

What to do? Are the rebels the problem, or are they merely a symptom of the problem? The easy answer is blame the symptom and the populace, and go in as you recommend and punish the populace for daring to support alternative governance; and eradicate the rebel force and its leadership. Ignore any failures of governance, and get on with your old ways. I have merely reset the conditions of failure with such an approach.

I probably will need to go in and deal with the symptoms, often quite harshly. My point is that you must also go in and engage your populace, understand their perceptions, and address those concerns as well if you want to have any hope of an enduring solution.


In Afghanistan most of the populace would prefer not to be under Taliban rule. That is a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of that same populace believes that they receive greater JUSTICE from the shadow Taliban legal system than they do from the Offical GIROA legal system. To disempower the Taliban GIROA must address the perceptions of poor governance; and that has very little to do with the multi-Billion dollar programs of services that the west is providing. You cannot buy your way out of an insurgency. Sometimes you must fight, but alway you must address the four causal perceptions I lay out above.

We are being led down a path of "Development-based COIN" by what Mr. Einstein would likely label "Intelligent fools." A separate group fitting that same description would have us go down a "War-based COIN" path.

I simply believe that an alternative path is more likely to produce the effects we seek.

Steve the Planner
04-29-2010, 06:14 AM
Sorry for catching up late.

I was busy doing my regular civilian role unraveling local governance failures and financial misdeeds, and unlawful conduct----in US local governments.

The current project just involves millions of dollars of taxes "misspent." Much better than one project I worked on in the mid-80s where I had to move my family into a doorman apartment building.

Governmental responsibility, and good governance is not an end-state, but a continuous conceptual goal, always a work in progress. No project I ever worked on deceived me into the delusional thought that just this one will bring world peace and perfect government, never did, never will. Serious belief in democracy means an understanding of the importance to continue to pursue the goal (Chasing the flame), but doesn't mean you are every going to actually achieve it.

What Bob is talking about is whether one has faith that extreme grievances can be addressed through some venue. Right now, in many areas, the alternative is not the national, provincial structure, and many Afghans do not have faith that that government is either legitimate or responsive to their concerns.

In many areas, too, voting and elections, are not a legitimate path to acceptance or consensus (Duh!). So what is to be done? (by them)

Tom Ricks has been very judicious about Iraq's current election imbroglio, and I really appreciate it. Iraq has had some level of regional and inter-regional conflicts for hundreds of years, and will always have them. If "voting" and provincial governance was a great path to Nirvana, Iraqis would have attained enlightenment centuries ago.

Instead, good governance and stability there was, and probably always will be, hard to establish and harder to maintain. Our passing through did not change that fundamental in Iraq. They will always have a tough row to how. Facts of life. And it will be so 50 and 100 years from now, whether we have any engagement or not.

Can we improve their row? Sure, and in lots of ways, especially technical assistance and quiet and persistent efforts. Strategic patience, as Amb. Crocker says.

Afghanistan is more so. What Kool Aid creates instant, enduring governance in Afghanistan? Some things are just hard.

After WWII, my Dad was part of the Brits' "Great White Fleet" cruise, and wanted to go through the Khyber Pass during a layover, but could go because it was too dangerous. Every couple of years, he would think about it (especially when he was traveling in the region), but never found a "sweet spot"----in 60 years.

Let's not delude ourselves that because someone can make a Powerpoint, the boxes shown can actually be accomplished.

Public policy types, planners, and organizational analysts started working on systems dynamics models a long time ago, but only as guides and analytical devices. They are not "manuals" and construction diagrams. Life doesn't work like that.

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 06:43 AM
A portion of my country is now "rebel held" or in other words, the "offical governance" from the capital has been at least supplemented, and perhaps totally supplanted by a new "legitimate" government (recognized by the populace, who bestow legitimacy, but outside the law, so therefore unofficial)

What to do?
Kill off the competing Government. That is your job.
The easy answer is blame the symptom and the populace, and go in as you recommend and punish the populace for daring to support alternative governance; and eradicate the rebel force and its leadership. Ignore any failures of governance, and get on with your old ways. I have merely reset the conditions of failure with such an approach.
You DO NOT punish the populace. You used armed force against armed force. You kill and capture the enemy's armed force and leave the populace alone. You then re-establish control and authority, and IF YOU WANT, seek to resolve the political issues at the heart of the conflict.
In Afghanistan most of the populace would prefer not to be under Taliban rule. That is a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of that same populace believes that they receive greater JUSTICE from the shadow Taliban legal system than they do from the Offical GIROA legal system.
Sorry, but if folks believe they get greater justice from th Taliban, they they ARE UNDER TALIBAN rule as they defer to the Taliban as the arbiters of justice. That is how they become the de-facto power.
A separate group fitting that same description would have us go down a "War-based COIN" path.
I concur. That is why I subscribe to the "Kill the enemy - and only the enemy" approach to Irregular Warfare.

Bob's World
04-29-2010, 08:19 AM
Ahhh, but this is Insurgency, not warfare. The "Armed Force" is your own damn populace. There is no way to attack the insurgent without inturn attacking the populace anymore than you can attack a cancer without attacking body it is growing within.

As to "greater justice" it is relative. They receive NO justice from the non-existent GIROA system. But remember, the applicaiton of Rule of Law that is not perceived as just is best called "Tyranny."

Taliban justice is harsh, but it is equally harsh and more readily available. So as I said, it is widely perceived as more just than what GIROA offers.

So, WILF, next time your foot acts up, kill your foot, and only your foot, and see how the rest of your body feels about that. :-)

Dayuhan
04-29-2010, 09:22 AM
A portion of my country is now "rebel held" or in other words, the "offical governance" from the capital has been at least supplemented, and perhaps totally supplanted by a new "legitimate" government (recognized by the populace, who bestow legitimacy, but outside the law, so therefore unofficial)

Just because an area is "rebel held" doesn't mean the populace recognizes or approves of rebel control. They might just be more afraid of the rebels than of the government. More likely than not the populace is divided, with some supporting the Government but afraid to say so, others supporting the rebels, and others (likely a majority) just trying to keep their heads down and avoid getting messed up.

In Afghanistan most of the populace would prefer not to be under Taliban rule. That is a fact. It is also a fact that the majority of that same populace believes that they receive greater JUSTICE from the shadow Taliban legal system than they do from the Offical GIROA legal system. To disempower the Taliban GIROA must address the perceptions of poor governance; and that has very little to do with the multi-Billion dollar programs of services that the west is providing. You cannot buy your way out of an insurgency. Sometimes you must fight, but alway you must address the four causal perceptions I lay out above.

I have to wonder who's the "you" in that picture. Also, as in so much of the discourse I read on Afghansitan, if I didn't know better I would walk away with the impression that the GIROA was a pre-existing entity and that we intervened to help it manage an insurgency. That's not the case, something we forget at our peril. I doubt very much that the failings of the GIROA are the core issue in this fight: the core issue is us, our presence, our attempt to impose conditions on Afghhan governance, and the reality that the GIROA is, for better or worse, our creation.

It was recently said somewhere on SWJ (I think on this thread, not sure) that the days when we can simply install a dictator and be done with it are done. I agree, those days are gone and well gone. I suspect that we're in the process of discovering that we can't "install" a democracy either, and that our problems with installing dictators didn't happen only because we were installing dictators, but because it's not always possible for one state to install a government of any sort for another.

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 09:25 AM
Ahhh, but this is Insurgency, not warfare.
Huh?? So it's not War or warfare? It's not the re-distribution of political power or the setting forth of policy by other means? Mao, Bin Laden, Che, Yasser Arafat, Lenin and Trotsky ( and me) all strongly disagree.
Insurgency is most definitely warfare, and gets won the same way.

The "Armed Force" is your own damn populace. There is no way to attack the insurgent without inturn attacking the populace anymore than you can attack a cancer without attacking body it is growing within.
Huh?? That's just not true.
If they reject your authority, by use of arms, they are "fair game" - and not "your" population. It's been done successfully, and it works.
Very happy to use surgery on cancer.

It's "The trinity". Armed Force, People and Leadership. IRA supporters were not the IRA Armed Wing. While occasionally they were the same people, they became subject to military force when carrying arms. Same as of almost every Irregular Force I can think of.

So, WILF, next time your foot acts up, kill your foot, and only your foot, and see how the rest of your body feels about that. :-)
If it had gangrene or cancer, I would, and my body doesn't do politics - well mostly....

Bob's World
04-29-2010, 10:23 AM
Yes, there is indeed a time when one must act inextremeis to brutally attack one's own political body. A gangrene foot. The American Civil War.

But every single case of insurgency does not rise to this level. In fact, very few do. Usually it is a relatively small band of militants supported by a much larger segement of the populace that is experiencing conditions of poor governance, so is susceptible to the insurgent's message and supportive to some degree of their cause.

Before you go to the scalpel and bone saw as your first COA (or your political equivalent, the military) I simply suggest that 8-9 times out of 10 the situaiton can best be resolved by making one's main effort addressing the conditions of poor governance; and the supporting effort either reconciling or rounding up those who refuse to submit to good governance.

As an American we recognize it as both a Duty and a Right for the populace to rise up in insurgency when confronted with poor governance. But I see this as an inextremis COA for the populace as well. So did Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. He did not mean if your mail is slow, or your taxes high, or your electrical power is sketchy. He meant big, human dynamic issues like Legitimacy, Justice, Respect and Hope.

And for Dayuhan, yes, we get it. The US conducted UW and threw out the illegitimate government the Pakistanis installed and installed the illegitimate Karzai government. That is history. It also creates a presumption of Illegitimacy for the Karzai government that is VERY difficult to overcome. Voting has not made a dent in overcoming that presumption.

Mr. K is pushing for a big "Peace Jirga" and making all kinds of public statements and positions to try to create a perception of legitimacy. I wish him well in that endeavor, because it, more than any military action by the coalition, is the key to strategic success in Afghanistan.

Dayuhan
04-29-2010, 10:32 AM
If they reject your authority, by use of arms, they are "fair game" - and not "your" population. It's been done successfully, and it works.


Are you suggesting that all citizens, everywhere, have an absolute obligation to submit to authority at all times, no matter how capricious and abusive that authority may be?

If people are rejecting authority through the use of arms, they probably have some reason for doing so: it's not the sort of thing one does casually or on a whim. Isn't it at least worth looking into the possibility of removing that reason, thereby resolving the conflict without the need to declare anyone fair game?

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 01:12 PM
Are you suggesting that all citizens, everywhere, have an absolute obligation to submit to authority at all times, no matter how capricious and abusive that authority may be?
No. I never said anything like that.
a.) Violence is instrumental, not moral or ethical.
b.) Almost no one ever sets forth policy they do not believe to be moral or ethical. Politics is what folks think is right.
If people are rejecting authority through the use of arms, they probably have some reason for doing so: it's not the sort of thing one does casually or on a whim.
Depends on the policy and the specifics. If my policy maker tells me to force defeat on them, then the destruction of their armed force - in line with policy - is my objective. I'll let the policy maker negotiate the peace.

MikeF
04-29-2010, 01:50 PM
SGovernmental responsibility, and good governance is not an end-state, but a continuous conceptual goal, always a work in progress.

Bingo. Even the United States is merely an idea, a great practical experiment in government and self-determination. My own definition of insurgency is equally as relaxed and broad whereas I don't believe the insurgency ever actually ends, they just fade away for a bit back to a phase zero. Using the example of the US Civil War, I believe those grievances began the day we first introduced slaves onto the continent, and those ideas persist today. A perpetual ebb and flow that sometimes rises in armed conflict.

From BW

Once one stops blaming their neighbors and their populace for their problems, and starts looking real hard at themselves, one can begin to attain a clarity that is truly helpful to developing courses that are apt to lead to truly ending (vice merely suppressing) an insurgency.

This holds true for the government AND the rebel. It is not a one-sided issue. MLK put it another way,

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.

Let's take the case of a disfunctional marraige. In this example, the husband (gov't) is a man of high moral conviction and good standing in the community. He loves his family and lives a good life. Conversely, his wife (rebel) is prone to infidelity, careless with the family savings, and perpetually drunk. In holding to his religious beliefs, the man seeks counsel at his mosque from Imam BW. The strict imam tells him to seek purification of his own sins. Allah must be punishing him for a reason. The Good Book is clear that once a man and woman join in union, they are one body. The man persists for ten years loving his broken wife and seeking purification in the eyes of Allah. Eventually, the imam concedes that there are times, when all else has failed, that Allah allows for divorce. The point is it is not always bad governance to blame.

A justified insurgency could be when the roles are reversed.

Steve the Planner
04-29-2010, 02:35 PM
I think there is a disproportionate tendency to oversimplify a critical factor---mobility.

Voting with feet is how we fled those tyrants in Europe. If you are an Afghan, whether fleeing corruption, local internal issues, genuine and justifiable fear of both opponents playing war games in their ancestral family plot, or just to commune with allies and supporters, there simply is no defined us v. them, nor any constraint on voting by feed.

OK. You are the baddest tribe at the moment. And during and after you, I have to deal with the other guys. What if I just step next door (Iran, 1 million IDPs; Pakistan, 1.5 - 2 million IDPs), and come back to fight now and again, or another day. Just like Iraqis did to avoid, but continue to oppose Sadaam, and Khomeni did to oppose the Shah.

That's what you are really dealing with here, and not some defined 1860's rebel miscreant pushed to the shores of the Mississippi Delta to be "mopped up" at the end of conflict.

This is the 21st Century and even poor destitute Afghans can just go next door, or contact cousins in London, Paris, Frankfurt or Baltimore (Karzai family's Helmand Restaurant on Charles Street).

Putting real life into play, and the reality that folks are not bounded in these places (either friend or foe), why apply anachronistic assumptions that we know just don't fit.

Insurgents, like IDPs, seldom get their passports stamped. The world is a big slippery place. In that real world, was strategy will effectively bring conflict back to stage zero?

Don't get me wrong. I love all the boy toys (from my old tank to MRAPs and Blackhawks), they just don't seem to be getting the job done. They do make a big bang, though.

In Iraq, SF, especially during the surge, was surgical and EFFECTIVE. The evidence and the circumstance appears to be different in Afghanistan.

William F. Owen
04-29-2010, 02:44 PM
I think there is a disproportionate tendency to oversimplify a critical factor---mobility.

........


Sorry Steve, you've lost me. What am I missing here?

Outlaw 7
04-29-2010, 05:22 PM
This is actually a very interesting question for the simply reason if one asks the question when does an insurgency end one must equally ask--what is the exact ecosystem of the insurgency look like and or what is even the ecology of an insurgency.

All of the current intel analysis focuses on people, places, and things---not on how does the ecosystem function, hows does it communicate, what happens when it splits or a top leader is killed, how does it respond to the local population it survives in---all extremely valid questions.

This blog has totally ignored the the ecological based research released in Dec 2009 in Nature which actually would answer the question-when will it end as it would tell you how it even began and describe it's actual ecosystem.

Out of the article "How will it end?

From 'How Insurgencies End'

Government victories often cause the insurgency to splinter, leaving behind
small elements of irredeemables that may or may not represent an ongoing
threat. Tracking these splinter groups can provide tremendous
insight into the nature of the insurgency ending. We noted that, when the
government is winning and the insurgency is in its "tail" phase, often a
small group of insurgents splinters away from the cadre or leader-

In some cases, this splinter element is an irredeemable fringe unwilling to
negotiate or enter into an amnesty program. In others, the splinter is
formed from an irredeemable core leadership element. In both cases, the
splinter groups are intent on continuing the struggle against the government
in one form or another. They may
try to sustain or reignite the insurgency immediately, or they may be
willing to hibernate until they see an opportunity to reemerge.
Counterinsurgents should be able to tell a great deal about their long-term
prospects by observing how the general populace perceives this splinter
group.

This statement above begs the question from an ecology perspective, how do you track 'splinter groups' - are these a sign of weakening insurgency, or as a sign of evolution?

This was answered in the research:
Redistribute: When a group is broken the components are redistributed amongst the other groups in the system. The redistribution is biased towards the most successful remaining groups.

To understand the concept of ecology based research the following must be understood:
Ecology of an Insurgency:

The scientific study of the way that living “organisms” in this case “organism” is defined as an insurgency cell, group, or organization interact with their environment and predators (the counter insurgent).


Ecosystem of an Insurgency:

An insurgent ecosystem is a system whose members (members defined as being either an insurgent group or groups) benefit from each other's participation via symbiotic (mutually beneficial and self-sustaining) relationships.

The main goal of an insurgency ecosystem is to generate common ventures. It forms when many small and potentially diverse (origin, tribe, religious belief, etc.) insurgent groups join together to fight a common predator (the counter-insurgent or state).

Insurgent ecosystems attract and retain members (groups) due to network effects:

• The benefits of the ecosystem (shared ventures) are so great that groups won’t leave it (although temporary departures to avoid targeted pressure from counter-insurgents are possible).
• The ecosystem’s features (i.e. immediate access to shared resources) make it easy for new groups to form and participate.
• The growth of the ecosystem results in an exponential increase in benefits (i.e. more segmentation and specialization) for all of the member groups. IE Attacks by one group creates opportunities for other groups. The buying of resources (ie small arms, explosives) creates a market for groups to sell into and makes it easier for other groups to get access to the resources.
• An ecosystem can have groups directly fighting each other through direct battles - but it can also have indirect fighting (or competition) between groups for access to resources (people, money, strategy etc).


Once an ecosystem is established in a particular region/area, it becomes very difficult for the counter insurgent to eliminate it. The presence of multiple groups means that the counter insurgent must divide its efforts. Operationally, a focus on one group leaves other groups to operate freely and success against one group yields very little overall benefit. Removing leadership does not mean that the group will cease to exist. The leadership may be replaced by other parts from the same group or other groups. Or a new group will move into the space left open by old group. Strategically, the diversity of the groups in the ecosystem (different reasons for fighting) means that it isn’t possible to address a single set of issues or grievances at the national level that would reverse the insurgency (via negotiated settlement, repatriation, etc.).

So the answer to the question "when will it end" ---it will end WHEN the insurgent wants it to end based on his view of his own ecosystem.

It is up to the counter-insurgent to "shape that ecosystem" to the degree that the group in that ecosystem has no other option than to disengage.

MikeF
04-29-2010, 05:40 PM
This blog has totally ignored the the ecological based research released in Dec 2009 in Nature which actually would answer the question-when will it end as it would tell you how it even began and describe it's actual ecosystem.

Outlaw7,

SWJ and SWC have discussed the conflict ecosystem throughout many threads and articles over the last couple of years. Specifically, one can look at Dr. David Kilcullen's Conflict Ecosystem as one that many of us can agree or at least relate to.

I haven't read or seen the Nature article that you are referencing. If you have a chance, please include a link so that I can check it out.

Thanks,

Mike

Rex Brynen
04-29-2010, 06:07 PM
Outlaw7,

SWJ and SWC have discussed the conflict ecosystem throughout many threads and articles over the last couple of years. Specifically, one can look at Dr. David Kilcullen's Conflict Ecosystem as one that many of us can agree or at least relate to.

I haven't read or seen the Nature article that you are referencing. If you have a chance, please include a link so that I can check it out.

Thanks,

Mike


This is the article: Juan Camilo Bohorquez, Sean Gourley, Alexander R. Dixon, Michael Spagat, & Neil F. Johnson, "Common ecology quantifies human insurgency," Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7275/full/nature08631.html) 462, 911-914 (17 December 2009). (subscriptions required)


You'll find Gourley's TED talk based on some of the findings here (http://www.ted.com/talks/sean_gourley_on_the_mathematics_of_war.html).

You'll find a strong methodological critique of the work by Drew Conway, Thomas Zeitzoff, and Joshua Fouston at Registan.net here (http://www.registan.net/index.php/2010/01/27/a-comment-on-common-ecology-quantifies-human-insurgency/).


Frankly, I find the research both methodologically flawed and unimpressive, especially in that it imputes a measure of insurgent fragmentation from a mathematical formula based on the nature of attacks, rather than from any actual measure of insurgent fragmentation. From a policy or intel point of view, I don't think it's that useful at all.

Outlaw 7
04-29-2010, 09:04 PM
Rex:
your response is interesting in that while you named four or five individuals who differed with the research-- outside of Drew Conway absolutely none are quantum physics types. What is interesting outside of the initial coverage with their research release being mentioned in about 10-15 articles, magazines, blogs in the various Social Sciences --outside of the 4 or 5 who differed there was a surprising lack of critique from others-in fact a number of Harvard types were impressed with the research and indicated that it opened new areas of research. Lately in one major Sociology blog the 15 characteristics of an insurgency have been relisted and there was indications of renewed interest in those characteristics.

You failed to mention that as far as I and probably you know there has been no other research project in this area that went over six years in length, covering 56,000 inputs on 11 different insurgencies---and even Drew had to admit that it was time to move in the direction the research was moving in and he in some aspects was debating the math not the direction being taken. So while some have differed with the results no one seems willing to explain the results themselves.

If one looks at the history of intelligence-- we started initially with hand jammed link analysis and matrixes, then with the computer age we moved to the link analysis tools-Analyst Notebook, Palantir, and Axis Pro, then when that was not providing answers we moved on to the Carnegie Mellon tool ORA for now the "hot buzz word-social network analysis". So do you honestly think the progressive development/evolution of new ideas/tool has stopped with the ORA tool---I beg to differ.

What you fail to mention is that social network analysis is really only a 1D slice of an ecosystem. So what does one want to use to see the rest of the ecosystem? The next logical progression is in empirically based ecology focused research of the insurgency---but where are the tools as I see nothing out there or do you know of any? How is in fact SNA going to tell you what the communication paths are, how the communications are flowing internally, how are IO/rumors impacting the individual/group, just what are the results of particluar cause and effect scenarios, what is the third degree level of impact going to be, etc.

I also challenge you that the definitions I use in ecology of and ecosystem of an insurgency are in fact not the same as the authors you mention are using as I doubt that any of the authors you mention are in fact using the 15 characteristics as defined in the released research. If in fact they are using the same definition and are referring to the 15 characteristics then I stand corrected, but I will not stand corrected as they are not using them---to use them would to a degree accept the premise of "open source warfare". Which we all know has been "cussed, discussed and found wanting" in comments in this blog a number of years ago, but stangely more and more of the terms are finding their way back into comments by senior leadship and in recent articles ie DoDBUZZ.

AND you seem to avoid answering the initial paragraphs I provided from the RAND article concerning splitter groups and how they will react---using the research the answers are clear--when using a SNA tool I am not sure what you answer would be.

Again this is all about intelligence and to argue my comments concerning the research were not begs the question of just how much did you understand the recent Gen. Flynn article which requires some reading between the lines.

Just a side comment--when looking at the ecosystem of an insurgency what strikes one as the most active element in that system?---the attacks--it has been always about the attacks---the attack if empirically analyzed provides some of the deepest info on the actual organization--but hey who wants to do that as there are not many tools for the intel analyst to use to reverse engineer the attack right? Think about it.

By your initial remarks on the methodology/math I am assuming that you have a degree in quantum physics and have a long number of years in the field?

Steve the Planner
04-29-2010, 10:50 PM
In outlaw speak, conflicts are not closed systems.

The so-called "splinter groups" may, in fact, be the main opposition. They just no longer reside in the battlespace, but substantially drive and direct it.

Where do you begin and end measuring a system, let alone determine how it really ends?

The big tribe chief puts its big ass on the chair and everybody else scatters waiting for him to choke on a hot dog, and they are back in the chair in 24 hours.

Not any different from the old crows at Nightwatch realize. There is not even a measurement, for example, of what comprises "corruption" in many places in Afghanistan. If "business as usual is: we get in charge, we keep the spoils, corruption is: we get in charge, and don't keep the spoils.

What is the framework for all this whiz band quant analysis that has no actual quant foundation?

Outlaw 7
04-29-2010, 11:15 PM
Steve:

Check this link from today:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-fg-0429-us-afghan-20100429,0,2848935.story?page=1

What I was indicating is can social network analysis give troops on the ground the necessary answers on the items identified below taken out of this article---my answer is no---so if the standard military wide link analysis tools, and social network analysis tools cannot do it as well then maybe it is time to really look at quantum analysis ecology focused approach especially research that can provide answers to understand a way forward with this particular sentence taken from the article.

The assessment also reported "fissures" among insurgent groups, particularly at the local level. As a result, insurgents often have difficulty coordinating their operations. Soc if ial network analysis cannot tell you how to exploit the fissues---for that matter it cannot even tell you the fissures--and social network analysis can not defintiely tell you engage with a plan what will be the outcome of that plan.

1. The insurgency has easy access to fighters, small arms and explosives for roadside bombs, the report notes, giving fighters a "robust means" to sustain military operations.

2. "A ready supply of recruits is drawn from the frustrated population, where insurgents exploit poverty, tribal friction, and lack of governance to grow their ranks," the report said.

3. The report also notes that insurgents' tactics are increasing in sophistication and the militants have also become more able to achieve broader strategic effects with successful attacks. The Taliban continue to use threats and targeted killings to intimidate the Afghan population.

4. At the same time, Taliban shadow governments, which can include courts and basic social services, have strengthened, undermining the authority of the Afghan government, according to the report.

5. Taliban leaders also have undermined the credibility of the central Afghan government by leveling accusations of corruption -- many of them accurate -- against local and regional officials, the report said. Information operations and media campaigns are a particular strength, the report said.

These previous sentences go to the heart of my definition of ecology of and ecosystem of an insurgency--which from my previous blog response are not being used by any current author.

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 02:00 AM
If my policy maker tells me to force defeat on them, then the destruction of their armed force - in line with policy - is my objective. I'll let the policy maker negotiate the peace.

Development of effective policy requires input from a variety of sources, including those who will be responsible for implementing the policy… and given the importance of developing effective, reasonable, and achievable policies in pursuit of political goals, why should we confine discussion purely to the military aspects of insurgency? How is a discussion of insurgency generically, or of any specific insurgency, complete without assessments of the policies adopted and of possible alternatives?

yes, we get it. The US conducted UW and threw out the illegitimate government the Pakistanis installed and installed the illegitimate Karzai government. That is history. It also creates a presumption of Illegitimacy for the Karzai government that is VERY difficult to overcome. Voting has not made a dent in overcoming that presumption.

Saying the Pakistanis installed the Taliban might be an oversimplification, but if we take it at face value it raises some interesting questions. The Taliban, for all their deficiencies, did manage to establish effective control over a significant portion of Afghanistan despite minimal resources and very limited external support. Even with far greater resources and much more foreign assistance, the Karzai government has been unable to do the same. Are the Pakistanis that much better than we are at installing governments? Or possibly they were backing a faction that already had substantial local support, rather than trying to create a new faction from scratch? Or possibly our very visible intervention and our very visible presence has worked against the effort to build perceived legitimacy, reinforcing the perception that the GIROA is a creation of and a representative of an occupying foreign power? Possibly none of the above, but if the Taliban were in fact installed by the Pakistanis it's worth asking how they largely succeeded where we have not.

I suspect that voting, and many other aspects of the system we installed in Afghanistan, were intended less to establish legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghans than to establish legitimacy in the eyes of Americans. Our habit of building systems that conform to our preferences instead of building from existing local systems may be part of our problem

Mr. K is pushing for a big "Peace Jirga" and making all kinds of public statements and positions to try to create a perception of legitimacy. I wish him well in that endeavor, because it, more than any military action by the coalition, is the key to strategic success in Afghanistan.

How would you define “strategic success” in Afghanistan? I ask because I feel that there’s been a substantial level of goal escalation in Afghanistan. We didn’t go there because the government was “illegitimate”, which is hardly for us to determine. We didn’t go there to build liberal democracy or establish representative government. We went there to deny refuge to AQ. The other goals emerged later. They are admirable goals, but I’m not sure we’ve the capacity to achieve them and I can’t help wondering if we’d have been better off staying focused on the original purpose.

MikeF
04-30-2010, 02:36 AM
Outlaw and others,

I would suggest that we take this most interesting debate on the open, organic nature of insurgency as a system to a new thread IOT allow the continuation of the meaningful discussion between Bob's World, Wilf, and Dayahun in this thread.

In outlaw speak, conflicts are not closed systems.

In the small wars community, this truth was confirmed some forty years ago after RAND's Leites and Wolfe (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=AD705020&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf) closed system of an insurgency modeled after the observations of Vietnam. Dr. Gordon McCormick built off this model opening it up to a model of counter-insurgency which he labeled the Mystic Diamond (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCormick_Magic_Diamond). Dr. David Kilcullen expanded on these ideas to create his conflict eco-system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KilcullenEcosystem.png).

In truth, all human interactions are open, poruous systems...In other words, no man is an island, and he is constantly constrained or encouraged by his culture, history, family, ethnicity, religion, etc...

And no, Outlaw7, I have no experience in quantum physics although I excelled in discrete dynamical systems prior to venturing into Economics with an emphasis in econometrics for whatever that's worth. I heart math I suppose :).

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 03:28 AM
Surveys of insurgencies and models derived from the study of insurgencies (whether derived from quantitative or more subjective study) can be useful and interesting: they keep us alert to patterns and give an idea of what we might need to look for in any given case. If we assume that any given model or the conclusions of any given study will necessarily apply to any specific case, though, we set ourselves up for a world of misery. Every case is unique, and at the end of the day we need to study all that's available to study and then base decisions on the actual characteristics of the situation at hand. Using models and studies is smart. Relying on them to do our thinking for us is perhaps less so.

William F. Owen
04-30-2010, 04:01 AM
Development of effective policy requires input from a variety of sources, including those who will be responsible for implementing the policy… and given the importance of developing effective, reasonable, and achievable policies in pursuit of political goals, why should we confine discussion purely to the military aspects of insurgency? How is a discussion of insurgency generically, or of any specific insurgency, complete without assessments of the policies adopted and of possible alternatives?
Strategy is the use of all instruments of power. However, without military power, the rest are generally useless. If you do not get the military bit right, you can do nothing else. Solving an insurgency means getting the military bit right, before anything else. Do some armies do it badly? Yes. That does not alter the reality.

There is a common fallacy that development helps end insurgencies. It simply is not true. Let's stop using the silly word insurgency.

Is there any coherent historical evidence that building public amenities has ever defeat an irregular force conducting a rebellion or revolt?

In Oman the strategy was quite clear. Destroy the rebellion, then do the development. Development was essentially a reward for backing the government.

In Northern Ireland, the UK spent billions on social development. The housing standards of the Catholic community improved dramatically, yet this made no actual difference to the IRA's armed struggle, or its stated objectives.

Bob's World
04-30-2010, 05:12 AM
This thread is a pretty good "ecosystem" for why insurgencies tend to simmer along for years....

You have a dozen smart people all talking past each other. And while this is occuring, the insurgent out working among the populace; targeting manifestations of the squabbling COIN force (the HN government at all levels, civil and security; their puppet master external FID forces, civil and military, et. al.) wherever they are most easily and visibly affected; cajoling and coercing support from the populace as necessary; all the while working to build perceptions of their own legitimacy, to provide justice, to provide respect to the disrespected (your tribe is excluded from success under this government? Join the Taliban and be somebody!); addressing feelings of hopelessness (you don't have a vote that counts? here, take this IED, or this ICOM radio, or this AK and "vote" with it and be heard!).

No, insurgencies don't end when the insurgent wants them to Outlaw, they end when the populace in the main feels that governance is good. The new insurgent's spark falls on wet tender, and the old flame of insurgency sputters and dies.

Security is a critical enabler, and development is nice as well; but neither will end an insurgency; in fact, if they are applied without justice and respect by a government perceived to be illegitimate they will actually make the insurgency worse.

Securtiy without Justice is Tyranny.

Development without equity is Apartheid.

Governance without Legitimacy is Despotism.

And a populace experincing the above without a voice is Hopeless.

THIS is what causes insurgency. Apply the facts and cultures of your many various case studies to this Devil's brew and test them for yourself.

Legitimacy, Justice, Respect, Hope. This is what's in Bob's kitbag for COIN.

Bring your large foreign armies only if you want to control the outcome of some foreign insurgency; but when you do that understand that THAT isn't COIN. That is a decision that the Foreign Poliy of your nation as manifested in some country is more important than the will and good governance of the populace of that same nation. Not saying don't ever do that. I'm just saying call it what it is, or you might just wind up buying into your own spin.

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 05:17 AM
Strategy is the use of all instruments of power. However, without military power, the rest are generally useless. If you do not get the military bit right, you can do nothing else. Solving an insurgency means getting the military bit right, before anything else. Do some armies do it badly? Yes. That does not alter the reality.

There is a common fallacy that development helps end insurgencies. It simply is not true. Let's stop using the silly word insurgency.

Is there any coherent historical evidence that building public amenities has ever defeat an irregular force conducting a rebellion or revolt?

I agree that underdevelopment is overrated as a cause of insurgency, and development overrated as a remedy. Poor design or implementation of "development" projects, in fact, have often provoked or exacerbated anti-government violence.

It is hard not to notice that insurgencies do most frequently emerge in underdeveloped environments. That does not necessarily mean that underdevelopment causes insurgency. It seems to me more likely to suggest that many of the same factors that produce underdevelopment - including but not limited to weak or absent justice systems, unaccountable and abusive elites, and persistent use of state power for personal gain - also drive insurgency.

People don't take up arms against a government for no reason, and the reasons tend to be fairly direct and fairly personal. A farmer might grumble and complain that an irrigation system no longer works or the road he uses to get his crop to market is impassable, but he's not likely to start ambushing soldiers. Throw him off his farm, that changes.

People fight their government because they're angry or scared, often both. If you can determine why they are angry or scared and remove the cause of the anger and fear, you may not need to get the military bit right because you may not need to employ it in the first place.

To break it down to the level of the individual insurgent (ultimately what it's all about), suppose a clan takes up arms against the government because the provincial police chief's son raped one of their daughters and the justice system proved inoperative. Do you send in the military to shoot the whole clan, or do issue a contrite apology, fire the police chief, and haul his son off to the local dungeon?

Before you think of sending troops in to suppress an insurgency, why wouldn't you ask why these people are fighting (not the leaders, but the people actually doing the fighting), and whether that cause can be removed without having to send in troops?

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 05:38 AM
And while this is occuring, the insurgent out working among the populace; targeting manifestations of the squabbling COIN force (the HN government at all levels, civil and security; their puppet master external FID forces, civil and military, et. al.) wherever they are most easily and visibly affected; cajoling and coercing support from the populace as necessary; all the while working to build perceptions of their own legitimacy, to provide justice, to provide respect to the disrespected (your tribe is excluded from success under this government? Join the Taliban and be somebody!); addressing feelings of hopelessness (you don't have a vote that counts? here, take this IED, or this ICOM radio, or this AK and "vote" with it and be heard!).

One of our weaknesses in these fights is often our tendency to focus on the insurgent organization, their driving ideology and their command structure. The insurgents, on the other hand, are acutely aware of and able to gain leverage from local grievances that we often overlook.

In my neck of the woods, when the new People's Army wants to move into an area, they don't come in preaching Communism - that would be pretty pointless. They focus on local grievances and local issues, which generally proliferate in poorly governed countries, and use those as a lever to gain the local support and recruit the troops that they need.

Resolving those local issues will not convert the core ideologues. It can, however, isolate them from their sources of support, remove their recruitment leverage, and whittle them down to a force that is either manageable or will simply die off for want of influence. The local grievances may not be the ideological core of the insurgency, but they are what allows the insurgency to spread and survive.

No, insurgencies don't end when the insurgent wants them to Outlaw, they end when the populace in the main feels that governance is good.

Agreed, but I'd substitute "adequate" for "good". People are actually fairly tolerant of mediocre governance (otherwise the whole world would be rebelling) and generally have to be pushed pretty hard before they take up arms and rebel. A bit of hope, a possibility for improvement, any sign that there's a chance things will work out without a fight, people can manage. Push their back up to and through the wall, they will fight back. As long as people feel that governance is theirs, not someone else's, is not a direct threat to them, and that there's some hope for improvement, they aren't that likely to engage in armed resistance.

In many areas ownership of governance is as or more important than quality: people's tolerance for bad governance is a lot higher when they feel that the government in question is theirs. That's something intervening powers often overlook.

Surferbeetle
04-30-2010, 06:59 AM
Dayuhan-Steve,

Thanks for the article/case study; still working my way through it but it's well written and there is much to think about.

For the math & ecosystems crowd:

The SWJ thread Mathematics of War (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=7250&highlight=mathematics) might be of interest.

Thermodynamics is an interesting subject which has spawned many ideas and mathematical descriptions outside of it's typical application. Following that pathway the definitions of closed and open systems are instructive to consider:

Closed System (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_system) from wikipedia

In thermodynamics, a closed system can exchange heat and work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(thermodynamics)) (for example, energy), but not matter, with its surroundings.

...while an open system can exchange all of heat, work and matter

I find it to be of greater use to consider the concept of Control Volumes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_volume) when considering the flow or ponding of water through pipes or channels or the flow or ponding of insurgents through a village or province. A control volume is just an imaginary cube in which one can slow time and reduce the number of variables moving through it in order to think about what is occuring in the space. When using this concept it is important to state assumptions concerning which variables are being examined and how they interact. Just because one assumes that only a few variables can predict how the system responds to inputs does not mean that this simplification accurately models reality.

For my money, Governance is but one variable in the open system that is conflict. I use the heuristic that all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Ecosystem models (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem_models) from wikipedia

William F. Owen
04-30-2010, 08:57 AM
I
People fight their government because they're angry or scared, often both. If you can determine why they are angry or scared and remove the cause of the anger and fear, you may not need to get the military bit right because you may not need to employ it in the first place.
People fight to alter the political power that effects their lives.
If you can solve the problem with politics, then great.
To break it down to the level of the individual insurgent (ultimately what it's all about), suppose a clan takes up arms against the government because the provincial police chief's son raped one of their daughters and the justice system proved inoperative. Do you send in the military to shoot the whole clan, or do issue a contrite apology, fire the police chief, and haul his son off to the local dungeon?

Huh? Sorry, is that a question?
OK, so what's the political danger of prosecuting the Police chief? What tribe or clan does he belong to? Solving that problem is entirely political. It's not a military problem. What would you do in New York City?

....but if the clan comes through the jungle carrying weapons, then you inflict harm upon them, until they surrender.
What is so hard to understand about the simple dynamic of using armed force against armed force that threatens the state or "your" control of the state?

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 09:29 AM
What is so hard to understand about the simple dynamic of using armed force against armed force that threatens the state or "your" control of the state?

What I don't understand is why we should assume that the only possible response to armed force is the use of armed force, rather than starting with an attempt to determine whether the problem can be resolved through political measures short of armed force.

Sometimes people resort to violence because they have real grievances and have been given no recourse other than armed force. When that is the case, why escalate an armed confrontation into what can become a prolonged and destructive conflict if you can resolve the issue by addressing the grievance? And if we look at it from our usual position of assisting foreign power, shouldn't we be reluctant to provide military assistance to assist a government in the suppression of armed resistance that it has provoked through its own conduct?

William F. Owen
04-30-2010, 09:48 AM
What I don't understand is why we should assume that the only possible response to armed force is the use of armed force, rather than starting with an attempt to determine whether the problem can be resolved through political measures short of armed force.
Why should I reward the use of political violence? Would you let a murder go unpunished?
If they haven't given them what they wanted when they didn't have guns, why would you when they did?
If someone assembles an armed force to be used to extract political concessions, the first demand you make is for them put down their arms or else. It's good housekeeping.
Sometimes people resort to violence because they have real grievances and have been given no recourse other than armed force.
Sometimes and maybe....and if the Government thought their grievance legitimate, then they should have dealt with it. It's almost always political suicide to reward violence.

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 10:09 AM
Sometimes and maybe....and if the Government thought their grievance legitimate, then they should have dealt with it. It's almost always political suicide to reward violence.

Sometimes a Government doesn't recognize that a grievance exists until somebody gets up and says so with a gun. A lot of the Governments we deal with in these cases aren't exactly notorious for their responsiveness in dealing with the concerns of the public.

There are plenty of countries out there where filing a court case against an influential person, or going to the press with a grievance, or leading a peaceful demonstration, or any number of things that Westerners take for granted can get you killed. Not surprisingly, such places often produce insurgencies.

It can also be political suicide to refuse to accept that the violence you face was provoked by your own actions, something any number of ex-dictators - many of them once our "allies - could attest to. From the perspective of a nation that doesn't face an insurgency but often meddles in those of others, that just means we need to be more careful than we sometimes have been about who we support.

Steve the Planner
04-30-2010, 01:21 PM
From KGS Nightwatch: (Re: the Pentagon report)

"Comment: NightWatch has studied Afghanistan for more than 30 years and based on that body of experience it challenges the assertions of the study as jejune, as reported. First of all, no baseline study of Afghan attitudes towards corruption has ever been performed. We do not know how Afghans define corruption, even. Further, it is remarkable that any analyst or agency would pretend to assert that there is some kind of homogeneity in the attitudes of the residents of any district in Afghanistan without reference to tribal leadership.

Louis Dupree came as close as anyone to defining corruption in Afghanistan. It does not mean honest government, as understood in the west. The meaning is closer to overreaching for personal advantage without spreading the benefits to the tribe. The idea of "fighting" corruption is American political cant, not anything related to Afghanistan.

The idea of supporting the central government is an alien import. Legal and institutional reforms? are pretty meaningless in a country that is illiterate. Again, there is no baseline for measuring support for the government, whatever that means. If the dominant tribal elder in a district benefits from Karzai's cronies, the district will support the government. It is astonishing that someone in Washington could conclude that 29 of 400 districts support anything.

This kind of sophistry, as reported, is symptomatic of the problems about which the US intelligence chief complained in January. Bold assertions are meaningless and lack context without definitions and baselines.

For example, in 1996 more than 100 mortar, rocket and direct fire attacks occurred daily in Kabul when Hekmatyar was prime minister. That is a baseline datum for how bad security can get in Kabul during a civil war. The Taliban and all other anti-government forces have never come close to achieving that level of insecurity in ten years.

The arrival of Americans did not reset the baseline for violence or political loyalty in Afghanistan. The insurgency is not a function of the American definition of corruption. Such a suggestion misleads policy makers. It is much more about foreign soldiers occupying Afghan tribal lands. In other words, there would be fighting and insurgency to drive out the invaders even if the government in Kabul were as clean as a hound's tooth, to quote CIA Director Casey. It is ignorant to suggest otherwise."

My take:

Beetle's comment about control volumes suggests you identify some variables that, if managed, could have a result of lessening the detrimental impacts and undesired externalities.

The stream modeling analogy which he and I are familiar with goes like this: in natural conditions, rain falls in the watershed, trickles through the trees and soil to meander through gentle stream. Cut down the trees, channelize the drainage, and any rain event become a force---gushing down the stream, tearing out embankments, and carrying away a lot of soil to build up in choke points somewhere else.

Two obvious choices: recreate the natural pre-development circumstance (not desirable) or mitigate and or manage the peaks and surges into the stream and/or their detrimental consequences.

In Afghanistan, with few exceptions, there never was a bucolic prior period to recreate, and no guidepost to a steady state. Just detrimental peaks and externalities to be limited and managed.

Translate that to Afghanistan and the questions are: Where is the watershed? Afghanistan itself, and areas surrounding in many directions. What variables are controllable? Here, the answer seems to be corruption, governance, and development? How, if controlled, can these variables be employed where to alter what? What are the limits and capabilities of these variables to the detrimental impacts and externalities you are trying to effect? What are the costs, resources, trade-offs and consequences of applying them?

The real question, since resources and resource commitments are highly constrained for the Afghanistan problem, is: If only limited efforts are going to be applied, can they have much positive effect?

It seems to me that, for Afghanistan, the limited questions and answers always drive both the choices and the results. Given that I can only control a piece of the watershed, and only have a few resources that can actually be employed, what if I just do one or two of these things in an area? Can it make a significant and sustain able difference?

In Iraq, the shear volume of resources and commitments often overwhelmed a problem, especially where Iraqis themselves (as in development) were a resource that was seldom even tapped, and they were also (for better or for worse) an active and malign "stabilizing" force (ethnic cleansing).

Certainly an empowered Non-Pashtun military force, like Shias, would have scores to settle, but there is no significant internal dynamic in Afghanistan today driving activity except the Taliban and corruption; the "voice" of peace, stability, good governance and prosperity is, at best, a quiet one with, as yet, little influence.

On the other hand, the RAND study, by excluding Iraq, Iran, misses two prime examples where the "watershed" was, in fact, in the immediate and adjacent countries, as in Afghanistan. It is not just that there are influences from Pakistan, or India or Iran or Tajikistan. Ten to twenty percent of the population of Afghanistan (and many of the active and influential ones) are next door.

It is that all of these are part of the problem set---Afghans are in those countries too, and a part of influencing the system: Stomp the bugs on the floor all you like, the bugs are in the wall.

Having said that, when Ireland was crushed by oppression, disastrous land and agricultural management and famine, it's best and brightest left. You are dealing with an equivalent "remnant population" of the mostly the weakest and most unempowered, seeded with a most predatory survivor "leadership," and yet, influenced, like Irish in America, from afar.

Study the four (paper) walls of Afghanistan all you want; the solutions are really in the whole watershed, and cannot be found in just the remnant population.

It "ends" when conflict and instability are moderated to a tolerable range.

William F. Owen
04-30-2010, 04:15 PM
From the perspective of a nation that doesn't face an insurgency but often meddles in those of others, that just means we need to be more careful than we sometimes have been about who we support.
Dam Straight!
All I am saying (endlessly it seems) is that military force is an instrument of Policy. You can "what if" that statement to death, but it does not change the instrumental nature of military force, when it comes to defeating an armed insurrection, rebellion or revolt.

- and yes, as Clausewitz so wisely teaches, when you apply violence in support of an objective, that may alter the objective.

Dayuhan
04-30-2010, 10:56 PM
All I am saying (endlessly it seems) is that military force is an instrument of Policy.

That's why a discussion of insurgency (or revolt, rebellion, whatever) that focuses exclusively on the military aspect and neglects policy is incomplete to the point of being irrelevant.

Outlaw 7
04-30-2010, 11:44 PM
Robert:

To go back to you comments on the ending of an insurgency. I would actually challenge everyone to think out of the box and look at open source warfare in a far deeper way in that with the insurgency evolutions in Iraq and now in what we are seeing for the evolution of the Taliban and related groups we might in fact be entering the area of 5GW.

Into 5GW
Lind: Whoever is first to recognize, understand, and implement a generational change can gain a decisive advantage. Conversely, a nation that is slow to adapt to generational change opens itself to catastrophic defeat.
Things would be bad enough with just fourth generation opponents but as the research on global guerrillas has borne out, a new more dangerous generation is forming: potentially a 5th generation of warfare. Much of this new generation was derived and accelerated in the cauldron of Iraq, just as the basis for 3rd generation of warfare was proved out in the Spanish Civil war.

What we see is jarring:
• Open source warfare. An ability to decentralize beyond the limits of a single group (way beyond cell structures) using new development and coordination methodologies. This new structure doesn't only radically expand the number of potential participants, it shrinks the group size well below any normal measures of viability. This organizational structure creates a dynamic whereby new entrants can appear anywhere. In London, Madrid, Berlin, and New York.
• Systems disruption. A method of sabotage that goes beyond the simple destruction of physical infrastructure. This method of warfare, which can burst onto the scene as a black swan, uses network dynamics (a new form of leveraged maneuver) to undermine and reorder global systems. It is through this Schumpeterian "creative destruction" that new environments favorable to opposition forces are built (often due to a descent into primary loyalties and pressure from global markets).
• Virtual states (ala Philip Bobbitt). Unlike the guerrilla movements of the past, many of the 4GW forces we are fighting today have found a way to integrate their activities with global "crime." No longer are guerrilla movements or terrorists aimed at taking control of the reigns of the state or merely proxies for states. A new form of economic sustenance has been found. This black globalization is already vast (a GDP of trillions per year), and gains momentum through weakening and disruption of states. This military/economic integration creates a virtuous feedback loop that allows groups to gain greater degrees of independence and financial wealth through the warfare they conduct.

NOTE: Whether you call these developments 4GW on steroids or the start of a 5th generation, it just doesn't matter. Whichever way you cut it, things are developing quickly and in the wrong direction.

Think about it--are we not already seeing this development? Definitely does not fit the COIN or social network analysis models.

Dayuhan
05-01-2010, 04:19 AM
Open source warfare. An ability to decentralize beyond the limits of a single group (way beyond cell structures) using new development and coordination methodologies. This new structure doesn't only radically expand the number of potential participants, it shrinks the group size well below any normal measures of viability. This organizational structure creates a dynamic whereby new entrants can appear anywhere. In London, Madrid, Berlin, and New York.

How new is this, really? Didn't we see much the same phenomenon in the cold war? Then, as now, weren't most of these disaggregated groups rendered relatively ineffective by their own lack of training, coordination, and general competence?

I'm not sure I know what buzzwords like 3G, 4G, 5G, open source, etc actually mean, when applied to warfare, and I'm not convinced that I need to care. Circumstances change, as they always have; we need to keep adapting, as always. I'm not convinced that "global guerillas" or a "global insurgency" truly exist, neither am I convinced that developments in technology and globalization necessarily favor the forces of chaos and disorder.

Evolution, yes... as always, but not necessarily revolution.

Bob's World
05-01-2010, 06:14 AM
Even TX has gone on record lamenting that he decided to use this "generational" construct in his book.

War has always been about maximizing the tools at hand to win, and certainly the progressive development of informational tools is playing a major part in how warfare is waged for those who do so on behalf of a state, and also for those with less formal organizations.

I hold that at the fundamental, principle level, nothing has changed at all; but new tools do indeed allow for new TTPs and levels of effect for those outside the state system that simply were not possible before.

William F. Owen
05-01-2010, 06:54 AM
That's why a discussion of insurgency (or revolt, rebellion, whatever) that focuses exclusively on the military aspect and neglects policy is incomplete to the point of being irrelevant.
NO War or conflict can exclusively focus on the military aspect. It's got nothing to do with anything about "insurgencies."

William F. Owen
05-01-2010, 07:09 AM
NOTE: Whether you call these developments 4GW on steroids or the start of a 5th generation, it just doesn't matter. Whichever way you cut it, things are developing quickly and in the wrong direction.

Think about it--are we not already seeing this development? Definitely does not fit the COIN or social network analysis models.
Sorry, this is - with respect - rubbish.

War is not changing. Warfare is not changing as fast as you think or in any way we cannot comprehend. All the things cited are basically without evidence.
• Systems disruption. A method of sabotage that goes beyond the simple destruction of physical infrastructure. This method of warfare, which can burst onto the scene as a black swan, uses network dynamics (a new form of leveraged maneuver) to undermine and reorder global systems. It is through this Schumpeterian "creative destruction" that new environments favorable to opposition forces are built (often due to a descent into primary loyalties and pressure from global markets).
What does this actually mean, in plain English? Please give me a specific example.

The question I constantly pose to the 4GW crowd (and have done to both Lind and Hammes when I met them) is "What is it you guys don't get? Why are you confused?"

Sorry by anyone buying into 4/5GW just seems not to understand the basics.

Dayuhan
05-01-2010, 07:22 AM
NO War or conflict can exclusively focus on the military aspect. It's got nothing to do with anything about "insurgencies."

Agreed. Insurgency came into the picture because this particular discussion concerns insurgency. I don't think it's sensible to exclude the policy aspects of managing insurgency from this discussion, or to avoid issues because they are the concern of policymakers rather than that of the military personnel involved.

William F. Owen
05-01-2010, 08:47 AM
NO War or conflict can exclusively focus on the military aspect. It's got nothing to do with anything about "insurgencies."

....but the military instrument should be "exclusively" applied to destroying the enemy. - if that is what the policy demands.

Dayuhan
05-01-2010, 09:41 AM
....but the military instrument should be "exclusively" applied to destroying the enemy. - if that is what the policy demands.

Ideally yes. US policy-makers have fallen into the habit of assigning their military instrument all sorts of other tasks, generally lumped under the rather hideous term "nation-building". I suppose they feel the tasks need to be done and they've no other instrument to use. Not an ideal situation by any means, but the people to whom the task is assigned can only get on with it as well as they can.

I personally think we shouldn't take on a task that we don't have the appropriate tools to complete, but I'm not the one making the decisions!

Bob's World
05-01-2010, 01:41 PM
The military will always be the "capacity reserve" for government.

Have a flood? Call the military

Have a riot? Call the military

Have a forest fire? Call the military

Have a hurricane? Call the military

Have a poorly crafted concept that you can "Develop" and "Secure" your way to victory? Call the military.

The problem is not so much that the military is being used improperly, it is that we have crafted the improper solution to the problem. The end result will remain, "call the military."

MikeF
05-01-2010, 02:23 PM
The military will always be the "capacity reserve" for government.

Have a flood? Call the military

Have a riot? Call the military

Have a forest fire? Call the military

Have a hurricane? Call the military

Have a poorly crafted concept that you can "Develop" and "Secure" your way to victory? Call the military.

The problem is not so much that the military is being used improperly, it is that we have crafted the improper solution to the problem. The end result will remain, "call the military."

One trend that is observed in developing countries with protracted insurgencies is the standardized use of the military to police. In those cases, the military is not the "capacity reserve," but the main effort.

As some of the lessons of Colombia show us, maybe we should start increasing our efforts to assist and advice towards mentoring police and judicial reform instead of further strengthening the military apparatus.

This notion goes against the current belief that we should secure and stabilize first through the military.

William F. Owen
05-01-2010, 04:10 PM
The issue is not the things the military can do by virtue of being organised manpower. The issue is their contribution to strategy. Their contribution to strategy is the destruction of the enemies armed force, either actual or threatened.

Yes, you can use all the organised manpower to build schools, but that is not what militaries do in terms of setting conditions for political solutions.

Ken White
05-01-2010, 05:45 PM
One trend that is observed in developing countries with protracted insurgencies is the standardized use of the military to police. In those cases, the military is not the "capacity reserve," but the main effort.

As some of the lessons of Colombia show us, maybe we should start increasing our efforts to assist and advice towards mentoring police and judicial reform instead of further strengthening the military apparatus.

This notion goes against the current belief that we should secure and stabilize first through the military.It is a primarily US (but secondarily most major or former major powers) approach engendered not by logic but by arcane and inappropriate budget processes which equate jobs/tasks/missions with money and thus encourage the rather more organized armed forces to seek all missions to the detriment of those who should be tasked...

It's sort of like the Schools -- do not build the capacity of your students by developing capability and insisting upon performance; rather, throw more money at the Administrators, Teachers and Facilities. Mostly because the former receive power and emoluments through enhancing the latter two... :(

Dayuhan
05-02-2010, 02:06 AM
As some of the lessons of Colombia show us, maybe we should start increasing our efforts to assist and advice towards mentoring police and judicial reform instead of further strengthening the military apparatus.


Not speaking of Colombia specifically, as I don't know much about it, but...

In many areas police and judicial reform can provide an effective tool against early stage or lower intensity insurgency, and can also address some of the root causes of insurgency. Unfortunately, in many insurgency-plagued areas local elites see control of the police and judiciary, and the ability to use those institutions for personal gain, as essential to maintaining their own control. In these cases governing elites may not openly oppose efforts at reform, especially if those efforts are a condition for external support, but they are likely to derail and dilute reforms as much as they can.

This underscores a key problem in assisting COIN efforts in other countries. In many cases the governing elites oppose insurgency because it threatens their personal position, power, and prerogatives. If our proposed solution to the insurgency problem also threatens their personal position, power, and prerogatives, that solution is from their perspective completely pointless, and while they may make a show of going along with our ideas, they will be pursuing their own agendas with a lot more vigor at the same time.

Jedburgh
06-20-2011, 09:04 PM
SSI, 20 Jun 11: Resolving Insurgencies (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=1072)
nderstanding how insurgencies may be brought to a successful conclusion is vital to military strategists and policymakers. This study examines how past insurgencies have ended and how current ones may be resolved. Four ways in which insurgencies have ended are identified. Clear-cut victories for either the government or the insurgents occurred during the era of decolonization, but they seldom happen today. Recent insurgencies have often degenerated into criminal organizations that become committed to making money rather than fighting a revolution, or they evolve into terrorist groups capable of nothing more than sporadic violence. In a few cases, the threatened government has resolved the conflict by co-opting the insurgents. After achieving a strategic stalemate and persuading the belligerents that they have nothing to gain from continued fighting, these governments have drawn the insurgents into the legitimate political process through reform and concessions. The author concludes that such a co-option strategy offers the best hope of U.S. success in Afghanistan and in future counterinsurgency campaigns.