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SWJED
04-29-2007, 05:56 AM
29 April NY Times - The Perfect Weapon for the Meanest Wars (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/weekinreview/29gett.html?ref=world) by Jeffrey Gettleman.


... Today, human rights groups say, there are 300,000 child soldiers worldwide. And experts say the problem is deepening as the nature of conflict itself changes ó especially in Africa.

Here, in one country after another, conflicts have morphed from idea- or cause-driven struggles to warlord-led drives whose essential goal is plunder. Because those new rebel movements are motivated and financed by crime, popular support becomes irrelevant. Those in control donít care about hearts and minds. They see the local population as prey.

The result is that few adults want to have anything to do with them, and manipulating and abducting children becomes the best way to sustain the organized banditry.

This dynamic has fueled some of the longest-running conflicts on the continent, and it could be seen this month alone in at least three countries...

Tom Odom
04-30-2007, 01:04 PM
Good article. And a problem that sustains itself as "child soldiers" grow and recruit their own replacements.

Aside from some of the White Hat Versus Black Hat protrayal in the film, Blood Diamond, it was pretty accurate in the recruitment/enslavement techniques used in brainwashing child soldiers.

The child soldiers I dealt with were in two camps, literally. The genocidal killers who swamped Goma as members of the Interahamwe and other militias had a very large component of underage murderers who were much like mad dogs. Ironically, I read a summation of a town meeting of Americans hosted by the embassy in Kigali sometime in the spring of 94 before the genocide started. One American voiced concern about the Interahamwe training near his home; an official said 'not to worry. Those are the Interahamwe. They are sort of like boy scouts for then MRND.' Some boy scouts...

The others were the "little boys in the RPA." The RPA referred to themselves as "The Boys" and as they took territory, they took in families and orphans. The latter became sort of like "bat men" in the British Army. Most did not see actual combat but some did. The dividing line between child and military age grew very gray. The RPA officer who ran the demining office in 1994 had a bat "man" who had been with him since 1990. A Hutu orphan, the young man of perhaps age 16 in 1995 had saved the RPA officer on more than one occasion. One of the RPA's priorities was to get the "little boys" back into some form of "normal" life; the government was also trying to do the same thing with young genocidal killers like Stan and I met in Goma.

Best

Tom

tequila
04-30-2007, 01:19 PM
The Making and Unmaking of a Child Soldier (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/magazine/14soldier.t.html?ei=5088&en=18db63da3854259e&ex=1326430800&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print)- Ishmael Beah. First person account by a child soldier who fought on the government side in the recent Sierra Leone civil war.

LawVol
04-30-2007, 01:40 PM
This makes me wonder whether winning hearts and minds is a valid goal anymore. In situations like that discussed in the article, the insurgents are not only not concerned with hearts and minds, they actively attack the local populous. Their weapon against the populous is fear, i.e. submit to our will or die. How can we expect to enter a situation like this and win hearts and minds? It would seem awful hard to convince a population that they should side with us when the insurgents are so ruthless. The locals will actively help or at least look the other way for fear that their children will be stolen from them, their wives and daughters raped, etc. Is it possible to defeat barbarism with a hearts and minds campaign?

tequila
04-30-2007, 01:58 PM
I think most folks acknowledge that "hearts and minds" campaigns alone are hopeless. However, most counterinsurgency is not about winning "hearts and minds" but rather "securing the population." First overt threats to the population must be eliminated and security established. Then "hearts and minds" activities can begin --- i.e. economic redevelopment, good governance, etc.

Without the first, nothing else proceeds. However, security must be won in such a way that the cure is not worse than the problem - it does no good to "secure" a village by blasting it with artillery fire upon receiving one or two sniper rounds.

Tom Odom
04-30-2007, 02:18 PM
This makes me wonder whether winning hearts and minds is a valid goal anymore. In situations like that discussed in the article, the insurgents are not only not concerned with hearts and minds, they actively attack the local populous. Their weapon against the populous is fear, i.e. submit to our will or die. How can we expect to enter a situation like this and win hearts and minds? It would seem awful hard to convince a population that they should side with us when the insurgents are so ruthless. The locals will actively help or at least look the other way for fear that their children will be stolen from them, their wives and daughters raped, etc. Is it possible to defeat barbarism with a hearts and minds campaign?

To the contrary, the adoption of scortched earth, rape, and pillage by rebels makes countering them all the easier if the government uses the proper means and as tequilla states "secures the population." Whether these forces do best are places like Sierra Leone or the Congo where the words government forces imply a level of competence that simply does not exist. The Uganda situation is a case in point; the Lord's Resistance Army has existed so long because Museveni refused to acknowledge them as a threat. That has changed over the past several years; once Museveni decided to act, the Ugandan military was effective in reducing the LRA's terror when it used the proper methods, beginning with "secure the populace." In contrast the DRC has shown little competence in its 47 years since independence, especially the last 12 years in dealing with the sitituation in the eastern part of the country. Whether called the ANC, the FAZ, or FAC the Congolese military has always been a greater problem/threat to the locals than any rebel group.

Best

Tom

wm
04-30-2007, 02:48 PM
This makes me wonder whether winning hearts and minds is a valid goal anymore. In situations like that discussed in the article, the insurgents are not only not concerned with hearts and minds, they actively attack the local populous. Their weapon against the populous is fear, i.e. submit to our will or die. How can we expect to enter a situation like this and win hearts and minds? It would seem awful hard to convince a population that they should side with us when the insurgents are so ruthless. The locals will actively help or at least look the other way for fear that their children will be stolen from them, their wives and daughters raped, etc. Is it possible to defeat barbarism with a hearts and minds campaign?

One approach to WHAM is "When you have them by the short hairs, their hearts and minds will soon follow." This approach has traditionally only worked when no other alternative to the bullies was available (sort of like the case when Saddam ran Iraq). When the people are presented with what to their minds seem to be two equally bad choices--relative locals who use power drills on their village leader or outright foreigners who drop 155 mm shells on their houses--I suspect they will take the choice which produces less overall discomfort. In my example, that would be the guys with the power drills because they only threaten me with possible violence if I do not conform. The 155 shells could fall anywhere, including my house, whether I conform or not.

"Hearts and minds" campaigns must start with providing some tangibly increased (or at least preceived) level of security from the bullies that does not also bring other unacceptable costs to those who are being protected. You might consider the choice as being like what the citizens of Tombstone faced with Sheriff Johnny Behan and the Clantons versus the Earp family and Doc Holiday. Depending on which story you read, either side may have been the real bully.

LawVol
04-30-2007, 03:31 PM
I get what you guys are saying, but my train of thought right now is on the avoidance of hearts & minds, nation-building, or whatever you want to call it. I keep returning to the thought of punitive expeditions vice post-conflict stability operations. It is something I've been giving alot of thought to lately and as I see the ramifications of our attempts at building a new city upon a hill I can't help but wonder whether there is another way. Perhaps I am thinking too much like a realist, but I cannot grasp the need to export our brand of democracy everywhere. A punitive expedition, in most cases (there are always exceptions), will meet our national security goals without the problems we see now in Iraq.

I'll stop before this turns into a pure brain dump. I'm sure I am missing something here. I welcome your comments.

tequila
04-30-2007, 03:54 PM
I think there is a real difference that can be had between responsible SASO and, shall we say, "democracy promotion" as we have seen it play out in Iraq. Not all SASOs have gone as Iraq have, for a variety of reasons. My own position is that the opening round of data from first reports indicates that this particular operation has been conducted in a disastrous manner ever since the decision was made to invade in the first place. Ad hoc is a kindly way to look at it IMO. Frankly I do not think it had to be this way and when one looks at this country's record in places like South Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Germany, or even the Balkans one can find examples where it was done much better.

Now Iraq was going to be very difficult regardless because of its own particular circumstances. Indeed, it might have been beyond the institutional capacities of the U.S. at this moment especially given outstanding requirements in Afghanistan. IMO this only makes the utterly mindboggling lack of thought given to it more criminal.

wm
04-30-2007, 03:56 PM
Perhaps I am thinking too much like a realist, but I cannot grasp the need to export our brand of democracy everywhere.

I was not advocating exporting "our brand of democracy." In fact, I believe that would be diametrically opposed to winning a hearts and minds campaign. If we wish to be successful in establishing a better state of peace, we need to provide the kind of environment that allows other groups to make a free choice about how they will organize their governing structures and economic systems. Seems to me that a major source of the world's current problems is directly attributable to forcing a solution onto people that they really do not want--for example the arbitrary lumping of tribes and ethnicities together to form a state like Nigeria or the former Yugoslavia.

Tom Odom
04-30-2007, 04:17 PM
I was not advocating exporting "our brand of democracy." In fact, I believe that would be diametrically opposed to winning a hearts and minds campaign. If we wish to be successful in establishing a better state of peace, we need to provide the kind of environment that allows other groups to make a free choice about how they will organize their governing structures and economic systems. Seems to me that a major source of the world's current problems is directly attributable to forcing a solution onto people that they really do not want--for example the arbitrary lumping of tribes and ethnicities together to form a state like Nigeria or the former Yugoslavia.

Agreed 110%. COIN based on "hearts and minds" does not mean export democracy.


Originally Posted by tequilla: ...Now Iraq was going to be very difficult regardless because of its own particular circumstances. Indeed, it might have been beyond the institutional capacities of the U.S. at this moment especially given outstanding requirements in Afghanistan.

We assumed away all the problems that we face today. We of course being the U.S. because we foot the bill, a bill made much larger by those very assumptions.

Tom

Sarajevo071
04-30-2007, 05:05 PM
Yugoslavia worked fine for almost 50 years for all involved offering territorial and national protection from neighbor countries and wishes of super powers (NATO and Warsaw Pact)Ö A problem was not people but right wing extremists and power hungry communists who jump from communists train and joined radicals soon they figure that they are loosing power.

LawVol
04-30-2007, 06:05 PM
wm - I didn't think you were advocating that position. However, it seems as if exporting democracy and hearts and minds are one in the same with the crowd calling the shots right now. I wholeheartedly agree that forcing our brand of democracy (or any kind for that matter) on a particular population can sometimes be counterproductive.

It just seems that we've fallen into this pattern of attempting to rebuild societies and craft them in our image. While one can certainly point to successes, we've also seen some magnificant failures (the jury is out on Iraq). If our current commanders and politicians cannot grasp the COIN concept (I do not claim to be an expert), why should we not adhere to a policy that avoids this type of fight? We continually gear up for the conventional fight, but fail to see that the enemy will not fight us on those terms. If we cannot adapt our strategy without forgetting that a peer competitor may someday emerge, why can't we simply institute a policy of punitive expeditions?

wm
04-30-2007, 06:36 PM
We continually gear up for the conventional fight, but fail to see that the enemy will not fight us on those terms. If we cannot adapt our strategy without forgetting that a peer competitor may someday emerge, why can't we simply institute a policy of punitive expeditions?

I suggest that you be very careful what you wish for here. I suspect that some, maybe most, of our opponents view what they do not as terrorism but as "punitive expeditions." Since they do not have the same level of conventional power as we do, their "punishments" for the misdeeds of the "Crusaders" run to efforts like flying airplanes into skyscrapers, blowing up small boats next to destroyers, or setting off man-packed explosive charges in the cafeterias of government buildings. Were we to start engaging in punitive expeditions as you suggest, the result just might be an escalation of punishment attempts by the other side.

LawVol
04-30-2007, 07:05 PM
Were we to start engaging in punitive expeditions as you suggest, the result just might be an escalation of punishment attempts by the other side.

I began a response to this quote and then it occured to me that perhaps we are using two seperate definitions of punitive expeditions. I use the term to mean a military response to avenge some wrong suffered. We have enaged in this type of action before from the Barbary Pirates expedition to Operation El Dorado Canyon. I do not use this term to mean some sort of military response in a COIN environemnt akin to burning huts and killing livestock.

That being said, I can only hope that you are using the later definition. We cannot base any response to terrorism on what the enemy might do. I do not fear an escalation of violence from terrorists as a response to US actions. They will escalate when they have the means to do so regardless of what we do.

wm
05-01-2007, 12:49 PM
I use the term to mean a military response to avenge some wrong suffered. We have enaged in this type of action before from the Barbary Pirates expedition to Operation El Dorado Canyon. That being said, I can only hope that you are using the later definition. We cannot base any response to terrorism on what the enemy might do. I do not fear an escalation of violence from terrorists as a response to US actions. They will escalate when they have the means to do so regardless of what we do.

I share your understanding of a punitive expedition. However, I think you need to consider that both of your cited examples of punitive expeditions were operations against clearly defined political entities. El Dorado Canyon targeted Libya while the Barbary Wars were actions against the various Deys and Beys of Tunisia, Cyrenacia and Tripolitania (ostensibly, subgovernors of regions of the Ottoman Empire), the same basic area struck by El Dorado Canyon. I am interested in understanding how you would identify an appropriate target for a punitive expedition against a non-state agent that has its base or bases in a number of sovereign states. Would you count the cruise missile strikes against the Sudanese and Afghani sites ordered by then President Clinton in August of 1998? If so, I submit that they had no real efficacy as a punishment, especially in light of what happened three years later. I would further contend, as I noted in my earlier post about the possibility of "punitive strike escalation," that the 1998 strikes may have been directly related to the magnitude of the 2001 incidents.

LawVol
05-01-2007, 03:00 PM
I do not share your concern about an escalation of strikes against us. I firmly believe that terrorists will strike us whenever the oppoturnity arises and to the maximum extent possible regardless of our actions against them. They will continue to attack us until we leave the Middle East and I don't think we're willing to do that.

Basing our responses on the fact that a terrorist might increase the magnitude of an attack against us is taken straight from the liberal playbook. Some believe that if we simply hide our head in the sand, we'll be left alone. I do not believe that is the case. They will attack until we are defeated.

I am simply looking for a method that plays to our strengths rather than our weaknesses. While we certainly have a long history of COIN and have people that are very skilled in it, our leadership does not seem to implement it properly. Using punitive expeditions may be a method worth exploring. To answer your question, yes I would consider the attacks in the Sudan and Afghanistan to fall within my definition. Certainly, there effects could have been grater, but they still fall within the definition.

But it is much more than that. OIF I would also be an example. Recognizing the threat that Saddam's Iraq presented (not arguing the point just assuming for the moment), we attacked. If we had overthrown the government and then simply left shortly after April 9, this would have been a punitive expedition. Certainly we would have faced some negative consequences as a result of simply "butchering and bolting" to borrow a term, but I'm not sure the negative consequences of that would outweigh what we're seeing now.

Tom Odom
05-01-2007, 03:09 PM
I do not share your concern about an escalation of strikes against us. I firmly believe that terrorists will strike us whenever the oppoturnity arises and to the maximum extent possible regardless of our actions against them. They will continue to attack us until we leave the Middle East and I don't think we're willing to do that.

Here is where you should look at the Israelis. They have used your model for 59 years. Israel remains intact and militarily strong but with daunting strategic issues relating to security, demographics, and economics.


Tom

wm
05-01-2007, 04:34 PM
Here is where you should look at the Israelis. They have used your model for 59 years. Israel remains intact and militarily strong but with daunting strategic issues relating to security, demographics, and economics.


Tom

You beat me to the punch with your response, Tom. I was going to use Israel as an example to point to the fact that punitive strikes only work as a short term solution. Without a workable alternative for replacing the desire to be a martyr for a cause, punitive raids will simply create more martyrs for others to emulate in the next round of violence.

The deterrent value of punishment is greatly overrated. One need only look at the rising number of inmates in American prisons (and, although I do not have hard numbers, I suspect that the percentage of those incarcerated is also increasing) and recidivism rates of American criminals to see that.

LawVol
05-01-2007, 05:00 PM
Then I must ask: when do punitive operations make sense? If we determine that military action is an appropriate response to a given scenario, must we always rebuild the country?

I would think that the Israeli scenario is somewhat different than ours however. Israel's threats are only a rocket launch away since their enemies live among and beside them. We have not faced an enemy capable of sustained attacks on our country. We always take the fight to them. Does this make a difference?

wm
05-01-2007, 07:25 PM
Then I must ask: when do punitive operations make sense? If we determine that military action is an appropriate response to a given scenario, must we always rebuild the country?

I would think that the Israeli scenario is somewhat different than ours however. Israel's threats are only a rocket launch away since their enemies live among and beside them. We have not faced an enemy capable of sustained attacks on our country. We always take the fight to them. Does this make a difference?

Some punitive actions are responses to unwarranted aggression; their goal is to reverse the affects of that aggression. I would consider Desert Storm to have been a punitive action that did not require rebuilding of the aggressor. We did not do enough damage to the aggressor's infrastructure to warrant rebuilding. Additionally any cost that Iraq incurred to rebuild damage to itself as a result of its invasion of and subsequent ouster from Kuwait should be considered punishment for the aggression.

In World War II, our two primary opponents were capable of conducting sustained attacks against. The Japanese successfully invaded two American islands (Kiska and Attu), were defeated in their effort to occupy Midway, and inflicted a real hurt on our capabilities across the Hawaiian Islands. German submarines operated within our coastal waters and the Germans developed aircraft ostensibly capable of completing a trans-Atlantic bombing run (Me 264,
Ju 390). During the Cold War,and even today, America was only a rocket launch away from a potential enemy.

Tom Odom
05-01-2007, 07:41 PM
I would think that the Israeli scenario is somewhat different than ours however. Israel's threats are only a rocket launch away since their enemies live among and beside them. We have not faced an enemy capable of sustained attacks on our country. We always take the fight to them. Does this make a difference?

Echoing WM somewhat I would add that in looking at threats to the US (especially pre-missile age and to a certain degree pre-strategic airpower) those threats were often naval. We were and still are in many ways a clone of our British heritage (my Black Irish ancestors just flopped like a frog leg in a skillet over that one); we were/are a maritime power. Even as we broadened the reach of our airpower with the B17 we sold it to Congress as an extension of our martime defense (the flying fortress was a metaphor for extending "fortress America"). During WWII one could swim at the beach on the Gulf by the light of the burning tankers. And as a kid I remember doing the crouch and cover in the elementary school hall way over missiles in Cuba. Strategic reach of the Soviets was quite a reality.

I would also agree with WM that Desert Shield/Storm was very much a strategic coalition-based punitive action.

Best

Tom