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SWJED
07-17-2007, 03:52 PM
17 July Washington Post - Exit Strategies (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/16/AR2007071601680.html?hpid=topnews) by Karen DeYoung and Tom Ricks.


If U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future, three developments would be likely to unfold. Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province. Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups. And the Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there. In short, Iraq would effectively become three separate nations.

That was the conclusion reached in recent "war games" exercises conducted for the U.S. military by retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson. "I honestly don't think it will be apocalyptic," said Anderson, who has served in Iraq and now works for a major defense contractor. But "it will be ugly."

In making the case for a continued U.S. troop presence, President Bush has offered far more dire forecasts, arguing that al-Qaeda or Iran -- or both -- would take over Iraq after a "precipitous withdrawal" of U.S. forces. Al-Qaeda, he said recently, would "be able to recruit better and raise more money from which to launch their objectives" of attacking the U.S. homeland. War opponents in Congress counter that Bush's talk about al-Qaeda is overblown fear-mongering and that nothing could be worse than the present situation...

Jedburgh
07-18-2007, 12:38 PM
17 Jul 07 testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding Policy Options in Iraq:

Steven Simon, CFR (http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/110/sim071707.htm)

....Withdrawal is the strategically appropriate course of action, provided that it is systematic, orderly, and geared to a coherent diplomatic gameplan. The sooner we grasp this nettle, the better.
James Dobbins, RAND (http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/110/dob071707.pdf)

...Faced with a real prospect of American withdrawal, I believe most Iraqi leaders, and all regional governments will urge us to stay, not indefinitely and not necessarily in our current numbers, but in some strength, and for some further period. Open ended consultations about Americaís future role can thus help us forge a regional consensus about that role, and about the shape of a future Iraq that we currently lack. Knowledge that the United States will not remain indefinitely in Iraq in current numbers, or permanently in at any level can provide American diplomats some leverage in moving governments of the region to recognize their own interests in, and responsibilities for, stabilizing Iraq. I would therefore urge Congressional action that presses the President to move in this direction, without so circumscribing his discretion as to render such diplomacy ineffective....
Michael Rubin, AEI (http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov:80/110/rub071707.htm)

....Success in Iraq is possible. It is imperative that the Iraqis take the lead in their future. The U.S. mission should be to enable them to secure their own country. This requires that the surge continues. If the Iraqis do not have the opportunity to develop their own multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian security forces then their country and the wider region will descend into chaos and war. It will take hard work. We should not pull the carpet out from beneath them.

selil
07-18-2007, 01:37 PM
When dealing with an insurgency who is not attempting to win but only intersted in fighting what does an exit strategy look like? Mismatched goals of adversaries increase the risk of protracted conflict. What is the disagreement and point of contention and whatever the answer will there ever be a point exit is apropriate?

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 01:48 PM
When dealing with an insurgency who is not attempting to win but only intersted in fighting what does an exit strategy look like? Mismatched goals of adversaries increase the risk of protracted conflict. What is the disagreement and point of contention and whatever the answer will there ever be a point exit is apropriate?


I think you're on to an important point. Our traditional or "classical" way of thinking about counterinsurgency imputed a means/ends, politically-focused rationality to the insurgents. But what if what they want is not attainment of some political endstate, but simply to participate in conflict? In other words, the conflict is about psychic fulfillment for them, not political objectives. I think that undercuts much of our understanding of the phenomenon--and our doctrine.

I've come to better understand this as I've worked with people who seem to be in constant conflict with their colleagues. Eventually it dawned on me that they weren't using conflict to attain some defined end, but they actually had a psychological need to be involved in conflict. That makes for a very different solution set.

Granite_State
07-18-2007, 06:25 PM
I think you're on to an important point. Our traditional or "classical" way of thinking about counterinsurgency imputed a means/ends, politically-focused rationality to the insurgents. But what if what they want is not attainment of some political endstate, but simply to participate in conflict? In other words, the conflict is about psychic fulfillment for them, not political objectives. I think that undercuts much of our understanding of the phenomenon--and our doctrine.


John Robb would also argue that a permanently "hollowed out" state is the goal of terrorists and criminal entrepeneurs, and of broader movements like Hezbollah.

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 06:31 PM
John Robb would also argue that a permanently "hollowed out" state is the goal of terrorists and criminal entrepeneurs, and of broader movements like Hezbollah.

I haven't read that book but have a copy inbound from Amazon. The idea makes sense. I'm just hard pressed to imagine al Qaeda or Hezbollah marching triumphantly into the capital a la the Vietnamese or Cuban insurgents and becoming the national government.

What worries, me though, is that that is exactly what President Bush is using to rationalized continued involvement in Iraq.

That leads to the thinking and writing I'm doing. "Classical" counterinsurgency conceptualized the conflict like conventional war--as one where either the regime or the insurgents were "victorious" (meaning that the other ceased to exist). If that basic conceptualization no longer holds, then our strategy and doctrine need serious revision.

I'm sitting here right now working on an essay based on the presentation I gave earlier in the week (entitled "Everything You Think You Know About Insurgency May be Wrong"). I'm thinking I'll submit this first to Foreign Affairs, then work down from there. Let's see--I've done 855 words in the past hour or so. I'm about ready to give up for the day and go home and peck away on my insurgency book.

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 06:35 PM
I'm normally not a big Al Franken fan but I did think it was a good line when, after returning from an entertain-the-troops trip to Iraq, he said, "I've had several MREs in the past week and none of them have an exit strategy."

jcustis
07-18-2007, 06:58 PM
When dealing with an insurgency who is not attempting to win but only intersted in fighting what does an exit strategy look like? Mismatched goals of adversaries increase the risk of protracted conflict. What is the disagreement and point of contention and whatever the answer will there ever be a point exit is apropriate?

I think this depends on your definition of "win", because I definitely believe the insurgent wants to win something. His definition is different than ours, but he has a desired endstate, even if it is to set conditions for future mayhem and violence (i.e. hollowing out a state).

This leads me back to an old thread about classical insurgency, and the distinction between terrorists and insurgents. Need to find that and re-read all of the excellent comments offered there...

tequila
07-18-2007, 06:59 PM
Old, old joke. I got told that one by my company gunny in boot camp. He was so salty he actually liked the MRE omelette.

"MRE = Meals Refusing to Exit."

I can't really imagine al-Qaeda holding a victory parade, but Hizbullah? Certainly. They have been the de facto government of the Lebanese south for years and already constitute something of a Shia state-within-a-state. If they were to go head up vs the Lebanese army (or rather what would remain of the Lebanese army without its Shia enlisted), I wouldn't bet against them.

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 08:11 PM
Old, old joke. I got told that one by my company gunny in boot camp. He was so salty he actually liked the MRE omelette.

"MRE = Meals Refusing to Exit."

I can't really imagine al-Qaeda holding a victory parade, but Hizbullah? Certainly. They have been the de facto government of the Lebanese south for years and already constitute something of a Shia state-within-a-state. If they were to go head up vs the Lebanese army (or rather what would remain of the Lebanese army without its Shia enlisted), I wouldn't bet against them.

But the state-within-a-state idea is the kicker. That wasn't normally what Cold War era insurgencies wanted. We kind of conceptualize the outcome as either the regime in control of the whole country or the insurgents. Should we adjust our conceptualization (and strategy and doctrine) for insurgents who only want control of part of the country? There are a lot of them, from FARC to, potentially, AQI

selil
07-18-2007, 08:44 PM
But the state-within-a-state idea is the kicker. That wasn't normally what Cold War era insurgencies wanted. We kind of conceptualize the outcome as either the regime in control of the whole country or the insurgents. Should we adjust our conceptualization (and strategy and doctrine) for insurgents who only want control of part of the country? There are a lot of them, from FARC to, potentially, AQI


What about insurgents that no longer care about the state? As in the state is not even an issue. I guess the point I'm working around is when basic services like medical, water, food, and law enforcement have broken down what are insurgents fighting for? Is it freedom of religion or desire for lack of freedom of religion as an example? People kill people all the time "just because". We project power and legitimacy onto foreign governments with expectations of the populace realizing or legitimizing the projection.

If the power of a government is actually a shadow rather than an ability to act and the insurgency isn't interested in toppling the nascent government but in destabilizing the society what are we fighting? I'm trying to grapple with the ideas of insurgency and terrorism in a stateless society.

We talk about terrorists and insurgents as if they are different or motivated differently. The answer may be that insurgency and terrorism are tactics or strategies and the actors employ the destabilization method of choice at that time. The GWOT has been co-opted as a political euphemism and as such perhaps misdirected the discussion from the reality of the conflict.

I'll be honest I'm still moping and thinking on the topic. Since it isn't my area of expertise I figure I'll get whacked, but then again that's half the fun.

Steve Blair
07-18-2007, 08:51 PM
I actually do think there is a difference between insurgents and terrorists in terms of motivations and goals, and went into some detail in another thread.

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 08:58 PM
What about insurgents that no longer care about the state? As in the state is not even an issue. I guess the point I'm working around is when basic services like medical, water, food, and law enforcement have broken down what are insurgents fighting for? Is it freedom of religion or desire for lack of freedom of religion as an example? People kill people all the time "just because". We project power and legitimacy onto foreign governments with expectations of the populace realizing or legitimizing the projection.

If the power of a government is actually a shadow rather than an ability to act and the insurgency isn't interested in toppling the nascent government but in destabilizing the society what are we fighting? I'm trying to grapple with the ideas of insurgency and terrorism in a stateless society.

We talk about terrorists and insurgents as if they are different or motivated differently. The answer may be that insurgency and terrorism are tactics or strategies and the actors employ the destabilization method of choice at that time. The GWOT has been co-opted as a political euphemism and as such perhaps misdirected the discussion from the reality of the conflict.

I'll be honest I'm still moping and thinking on the topic. Since it isn't my area of expertise I figure I'll get whacked, but then again that's half the fun.

In my own scribblings, I don't even bother to categorize movements as "terrorists" or "insurgents." I view insurgency as a strategy and terrorism as a tactic or technique.

Jedburgh
07-18-2007, 09:09 PM
I actually do think there is a difference between insurgents and terrorists in terms of motivations and goals, and went into some detail in another thread.
In my own scribblings, I don't even bother to categorize movements as "terrorists" or "insurgents." I view insurgency as a strategy and terrorism as a tactic or technique.
Here's the older thread that has been referred to a couple of times in this thread: Insurgents vs Terrorists -- Is there a difference? (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=1800)

selil
07-18-2007, 09:37 PM
Here's the older thread that has been referred to a couple of times in this thread: Insurgents vs Terrorists -- Is there a difference? (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=1800)

So from that thread we agreed to disagree on the similarity and disparity between insurgents and terrorists? Other than "ThePartisan" (who i'd love to know if his IP address was at a US University) the discussion devolved to semantics.

SteveMetz
07-18-2007, 09:48 PM
So from that thread we agreed to disagree on the similarity and disparity between insurgents and terrorists? Other than "ThePartisan" (who i'd love to know if his IP address was at a US University) the discussion devolved to semantics.

That's what I didn't participate: I'm anti-semantic

T. Jefferson
07-19-2007, 08:12 AM
I'm just hard pressed to imagine al Qaeda or Hezbollah marching triumphantly into the capital a la the Vietnamese or Cuban insurgents and becoming the national government.
Isnít that what Hamas has just accomplished in the Gaza strip?

I would believe that for some jihadists the fight and own death is a goal in and of itself in order to attain heaven. However I think these people are only cannon fodder for those groups seeking to accomplish some discernable political goal here on earth.

tequila
07-19-2007, 10:05 AM
T. Jefferson - Amen. It's important not to confuse what motivates some of the cannon fodder (especially the human torpedos) vs. what motivates the leadership/core fighters.

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 10:42 AM
Isn’t that what Hamas has just accomplished in the Gaza strip?

I would believe that for some jihadists the fight and own death is a goal in and of itself in order to attain heaven. However I think these people are only cannon fodder for those groups seeking to accomplish some discernable political goal here on earth.


That's an interesting case since it doesn't involve an outright insurgent victory over the regime--Hamas hasn't marched into Jerusalem. In fact, I think that kind of illustrates my point. Our doctrine identifies strategic success in counterinsurgency as eradication of the insurgents and full government control. I think that's unrealistic and by making that an element of our strategy and doctrine, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

What I'm trying to suggest is that outcomes that are something less that a full victory for either side are actually the norm. I believe we ought to change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government as the objective.

Your point on diverse motivations is also important. I'm wrestling with it now in the book I'm writing, but let me throw out some half baked ideas.

First, the notion of different motivations doesn't just apply to insurgents. In World War II, the motivates of Franklin Roosevelt were not the same as those of Sgt Kilroy. But I think the more important point is that our doctrine conceptualizes insurgencies as driven strictly by political objectives. That would suggest that if you address the political grievances, you fix the problem.

But, as you point out, many insurgents are fighting more for psychological reasons than political ones--they seek fulfillment, empowerment, paradise, or something like that.

So, the question becomes: Should we or can we adjust our counterinsurgency doctrine to account for the psychological motives of insurgents? I think we can and kind of took a stab at that in the presentation I gave this week. If you haven't seen it, I'd be happy to send a copy. And anyone I sent it to early in the week may want the update--I've added a few slides, changed a few, and augmented the narrative based, in large part, on the excellent discussions in here.

tequila
07-19-2007, 10:55 AM
What I'm trying to suggest is that outcomes that are something less that a full victory for either side are actually the norm. I believe we ought to change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government as the objective.
__________________

I agree with you, but with FM 3-24 isn't that now government doctrine as well? Isn't that what all the rhetoric about "political, not military solutions" and all the pressure for reform of de-Baathification and a more equitable oil law in Iraq are all about?

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 11:16 AM
I agree with you, but with FM 3-24 isn't that now government doctrine as well? Isn't that what all the rhetoric about "political, not military solutions" and all the pressure for reform of de-Baathification and a more equitable oil law in Iraq are all about?


There's a subtle but, I think, important difference: what 3-24 codifies is the idea of undertaking political reforms to undercut the mobilizing narrative of the insurgents and wean supporters away from them. In other words, political reform is a technique for "victory," not an element of compromise. The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such.

Mark O'Neill
07-19-2007, 11:38 AM
There's a subtle but, I think, important difference: what 3-24 codifies is the idea of undertaking political reforms to undercut the mobilizing narrative of the insurgents and wean supporters away from them. In other words, political reform is a technique for "victory," not an element of compromise. The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such.

I will have to check my copy when back in the office tomorrow morning, but I do not recall the FM being that proscriptive (that is, ruling things in or out) regarding what form 'political reform' could take. This is not surprising - after all, it is doctrine, not an operational or strategic plan. I think that there is ample scope to interpret that some form of acceptable compromise can be a valid tool in the counterinsurgent government's responses.

The fact that " The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such" surely does not preclude its adoption as a strategy. There is a large difference between the recognition and acknowledgement of various / alternate forms of leadership within a society, and capitulation to insurgent demands. The peace process in Ulster is just one example of this.

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 11:56 AM
I will have to check my copy when back in the office tomorrow morning, but I do not recall the FM being that proscriptive (that is, ruling things in or out) regarding what form 'political reform' could take. This is not surprising - after all, it is doctrine, not an operational or strategic plan. I think that there is ample scope to interpret that some form of acceptable compromise can be a valid tool in the counterinsurgent government's responses.

The fact that " The doctrine does not open the possibility of recognizing the insurgents as legitimate leaders of a segment of the population and treating them as such" surely does not preclude its adoption as a strategy. There is a large difference between the recognition and acknowledgement of various / alternate forms of leadership within a society, and capitulation to insurgent demands. The peace process in Ulster is just one example of this.


Well, the manual says, "Insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN) are complex subsets of warfare" (p. 1-1) and "The purpose of America’s ground forces is to fight and win the Nation’s wars" (p. 1-19, emphasis added). We don't normally "play for a tie" in war. We may settle for it to stave off defeat, but we don't aim for it. What I'm suggesting is that a "tie" is the normal and most realistic outcome in insurgency, so we have dissonance between our doctrine and reality.

Mark O'Neill
07-19-2007, 12:30 PM
Well, the manual says, "Insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN) are complex subsets of warfare" (p. 1-1) and "The purpose of Americaís ground forces is to fight and win the Nationís wars" (p. 1-19, emphasis added). We don't normally "play for a tie" in war. We may settle for it to stave off defeat, but we don't aim for it. What I'm suggesting is that a "tie" is the normal and most realistic outcome in insurgency, so we have dissonance between our doctrine and reality.

I can see your point, but after years of 'interpreting' doctrinal guidance (I have never seen the 'perfect' doctrinal pamphlet), I am not 100% concerned about strictly literal interpretations of what are often 'default' or obligatory lines of text that often occur across series of publications. I suspect that the line you have cited from p. 1-19 occurs in a number of FM. It would seem to me , within the context of insurgency, and the content of the rest of the textual philosophy of the FM 3-24, that this line is one of those. With a sub-editors hat on one might rewrite the line to read something like " "The purpose of Americaís ground forces is to provide the landforce combat element of the interagency [in Australia we would say 'whole of government'] effort to win the Nationís counterinsurgency wars"

I do not for a minute believe that Crane, Nagl et al believe, at any level, that America's ground forces alone can defeat an insurgency. That is clear from any holistic reading of the FM. Furthermore, if we are true to the views that we espouse on SWJ, surely the idea of any military pamphlet being able to provide a 'blueprint' for COIN victory (that is a 'strategic victory' as opposed to tactical or operational success) is a nonsense.

Any half decent military pam on COIN that I have read has words to the effect that 'victory' cannot be solely achieved by military means. Since other government agencies, NGO and political leaders (that is, the other critical bits of any successful COIN response) probably do not read a great deal of military doctrine, and if they do are not obliged to heed it anyway, at one level it becomes a somewhat moot point whatever military doctrine proscribes regarding 'victory'. The only value in it doing so would appear to be so that Mil advisers, where they are listened to, can be aware as to what they might seek from other agencies in giving their advice.

I guess what I am saying is that where a military COIN publication strays from advice regarding suitable military actions or thought within the permits, processes and capabilities of the military, it becomes 'advisory only'.

Surely it is only State strategy, not military doctrine, that can reasonably direct the path to COIN 'victory' as that is the only thing that all the required players are compelled to address or follow.

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 12:33 PM
I do not for a minute believe that Crane, Nagl et al believe, at any level, that America's ground forces alone can defeat an insurgency.


Now, I didn't say that. I simply said that the way the United States conceptualizes insurgencies is as a variant of war, hence "victory" defined as the defeat of the insurgents is the end state. That's not just a military/doctrinal thing.

Mark O'Neill
07-19-2007, 12:42 PM
Now, I didn't say that. I simply said that the way the United States conceptualizes insurgencies is as a variant of war, hence "victory" defined as the defeat of the insurgents is the end state. That's not just a military/doctrinal thing.

Steve,

I know, I was just making the point that the line cited was , for want of better term, a 'rote' line as opposed to a considered view that required 'defeat' of the insurgents as the end state. I would not like to rely on that line alone to justify your point.

At one level, I think it is possible to view a compromise that is suitable or acceptable to the state as 'defeat' for the insurgents. This is because of the fact that several conditions favourable to the State have been met:

1. The insurgency, and its implicit threat, has gone.
2. The state has survived and the 'elite' have made a deal that they can live with.
3. The societal ill that lead to the insurgency has been mitigated against to some acceptable degree to all parties, thus having a normative effect on stability.

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 01:02 PM
Steve,

I know, I was just making the point that the line cited was , for want of better term, a 'rote' line as opposed to a considered view that required 'defeat' of the insurgents as the end state. I would not like to rely on that line alone to justify your point.

At one level, I think it is possible to view a compromise that is suitable or acceptable to the state as 'defeat' for the insurgents. This is because of the fact that several conditions favourable to the State have been met:

1. The insurgency, and its implicit threat, has gone.
2. The state has survived and the 'elite' have made a deal that they can live with.
3. The societal ill that lead to the insurgency has been mitigated against to some acceptable degree to all parties, thus having a normative effect on stability.


This suggests one of the big strategic dilemmas the US faces in counterinsurgency: in order to mobilize and sustain public and congressional support, we have to demonize the insurgents. Then if our partner government turns around and cuts a deal with them, it causes an uproar and leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Imagine, for instance, if the Iraqi government works out a deal that brings AQI into the government and the conflict subsides. Is that strategic success for the US? I would argue "yes" but I think our current conceptualization, which seeks victory rather than resolution, would not.

And, by the way, I can't thank all of you on the board enough for helping me improve and refine my "Rethinking Insurgency" briefing. I'm literally cutting and pasting comments from here into the text.

tequila
07-19-2007, 01:20 PM
But what if the U.S. cut a deal that brought former Ba'athists and Sunni insurgents into the government that alleviated the insurgency?

Already we see U.S. troops fighting alongside former Ba'athists and Sunni insurgents in Baghdad, Ramadi, Diyala, etc. This has been greeted in the U.S. not with horror at the sight of American troops shaking the hands of men who probably have a lot of American and innocent Iraqi blood on them, but with cheers and relief, especially on the prowar side.

I think our current conceptualization of victory has come a long way since the triumphalist days of 2003.

Tom Odom
07-19-2007, 01:20 PM
What I'm trying to suggest is that outcomes that are something less that a full victory for either side are actually the norm. I believe we ought to change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government as the objective.

Steve,

Returning to this comment for a moment, let's go back in time a bit and broaden it because I think you made a key point that I have dealt with for decades. First of all I would say this applies in general wars not just insurgencies. It is quite common to see the Cold War bipolar structure as a limiting structure for general conflicts--the view that war between two countries or camps was too dangerous unless controlled and manipulated for gain by either or both of the major players. While I believe this was true in that Cold War parameters did tend to put brackets around conflicts, certain conflicts used those brackets to set goals that were less than "victory," ones that could be achieved before Cold War patrons forced some sort of settlement. Because it was my back yard, I look at the Arab-Israeli Wars as fitting this model. Indeed the very essence of IDF force structure, mobilization, and strategy is built around the idea that wars must be short and exported, adding terrain and creating facts as rapidly as possible. Where Anwar Sadat distinguished himself as a strategist was his adoption and adaptation of this model in the "73 War.

As for small wars, LIC, COIN, or whatever we call them, this less than total victory also played out in the Cold War framework. Conflicts in Africa were not necessarily about total victory. Regional secession was often de facto and not de jure. Katanga began as a Western interests-sponsored secession that was fought actively by governments of the same Western interests, the Soviets (at least rhetorically), and the United Nations. But over time and subsequent Shaba wars, the region became a de facto separate political entity. In late 1993, the governor of Shaba renamed Shaba, Katanga. Standing besiade him at the time was Nguz Karl I Bond who Mobutu had convicted of treason after the Shaba II War. The governor and Bond drove to the ceremony in Moise Tshombe's old car. That victory required 33 years to achieve and it was for regional goals, not total independence.

What changed somewhat as the Cold War ended was the likelihood of Cold War pressures moving to shut down or control the outcomes of such conflicts. Even without that control valve, very few have escalated to full blown conflicts resulting in clear cut victory for one side. The major exception was the RPF victory in 94 but that victory set the stage for an even greater conflict in the Congo and that one is not over.

Finally in closing this long-winded comment, I believe what you are saying we should do--change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government-- is already happening in the case of Iraq through sectarian pressures.

Best

Tom

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 01:26 PM
Steve,

Returning to this comment for a moment, let's go back in time a bit and broaden it because I think you made a key point that I have dealt with for decades. First of all I would say this applies in general wars not just insurgencies. It is quite common to see the Cold War bipolar structure as a limiting structure for general conflicts--the view that war between two countries or camps was too dangerous unless controlled and manipulated for gain by either or both of the major players. While I believe this was true in that Cold War parameters did tend to put brackets around conflicts, certain conflicts used those brackets to set goals that were less than "victory," ones that could be achieved before Cold War patrons forced some sort of settlement. Because it was my back yard, I look at the Arab-Israeli Wars as fitting this model. Indeed the very essence of IDF force structure, mobilization, and strategy is built around the idea that wars must be short and exported, adding terrain and creating facts as rapidly as possible. Where Anwar Sadat distinguished himself as a strategist was his adoption and adaptation of this model in the "73 War.

As for small wars, LIC, COIN, or whatever we call them, this less than total victory also played out in the Cold War framework. Conflicts in Africa were not necessarily about total victory. Regional secession was often de facto and not de jure. Katanga began as a Western interests-sponsored secession that was fought actively by governments of the same Western interests, the Soviets (at least rhetorically), and the United Nations. But over time and subsequent Shaba wars, the region became a de facto separate political entity. In late 1993, the governor of Shaba renamed Shaba, Katanga. Standing besiade him at the time was Nguz Karl I Bond who Mobutu had convicted of treason after the Shaba II War. The governor and Bond drove to the ceremony in Moise Tshombe's old car. That victory required 33 years to achieve and it was for regional goals, not total independence.

What changed somewhat as the Cold War ended was the likelihood of Cold War pressures moving to shut down or control the outcomes of such conflicts. Even without that control valve, very few have escalated to full blown conflicts resulting in clear cut victory for one side. The major exception was the RPF victory in 94 but that victory set the stage for an even greater conflict in the Congo and that one is not over.

Finally in closing this long-winded comment, I believe what you are saying we should do--change our strategy and doctrine to identify finding a resolution that both sides can live with rather than total victory by the government-- is already happening in the case of Iraq through sectarian pressures.

Best

Tom


That may be the outcome in Iraq but I think it's going to cause Vietnam-like political turmoil in the U.S. Because we see counterinsurgency as war and the American way of war is to win, not a cut a deal which allows the enemy to attain his objectives, there will be widespread discontent over such a deal. That's kind of what I'm getting at: that the way we conceptualize counterinsurgency creates unrealistic expectations. Then when those expectations aren't met, we just reject counterinsurgency for a period of time. Then we start the whole cycle over.

Tom Odom
07-19-2007, 01:58 PM
That may be the outcome in Iraq but I think it's going to cause Vietnam-like political turmoil in the U.S. Because we see counterinsurgency as war and the American way of war is to win, not a cut a deal which allows the enemy to attain his objectives, there will be widespread discontent over such a deal. That's kind of what I'm getting at: that the way we conceptualize counterinsurgency creates unrealistic expectations. Then when those expectations aren't met, we just reject counterinsurgency for a period of time. Then we start the whole cycle over.

Again, I believe you are correct but I would say as Ken White has said that the problem is not just in COIN. It is in war in general as we use words like "victory" to describe expectations that often are not met. We have repeatedly marched off to war in expectations of victory and even when we "won" emerged at least partially disillusioned from the experience.

Best

Tom

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 02:42 PM
Again, I believe you are correct but I would say as Ken White has said that the problem is not just in COIN. It is in war in general as we use words like "victory" to describe expectations that often are not met. We have repeatedly marched off to war in expectations of victory and even when we "won" emerged at least partially disillusioned from the experience.

Best

Tom


True that the same thing applies to conventional warfighting but, I think, it's exacerbated by the "intimate" nature of counterinsurgency. We were able to make at least a reasonable case that we attained victory over Saddam Hussein in 1991. If the outcome of the current conflict in Iraq is a coalition government that includes AQI or other former insurgent leaders, it will be harder to convince the American public that it was a win.

Ken White
07-19-2007, 03:34 PM
And that's one over my limit for one day... :)

1. The misuse of words by us and our political masters lead to false expectations. I for one used to get somewhat irate when anyone called me a Warrior -- I contend that a warrior is an undisciplined fighter who may be quite competent personally but in unable to impose his will on anyone other than by presence and direct action. Simplistic, yes but essentially correct. I was a soldier, not a warrior. Dumb term IMO. Same thing goes with the word 'victory.' Note that even you couch victory in Desert Storm as a "reasonable case." That implies that you have questions. Joe and Mary Ann Sixpack may not question that connection. I'd submit it was not a victory but we gave away the farm (that's another topic). Point is that in any COIN op, an acceptable outcome is all that is likely to be achieved. The political trend since WW II is to accept partial 'victories' and draws. The word may need to be buried (along with 'shock and awe' a real loser...). Mellifluous verbosity is unmilitary, he bloviated...:o

2. The Army has adopted the spin techniques of politicians. They don't work. We need to be more blunt, honest and cautious in pronouncements and should not let the politicians bulldoze us into spinning -- and we certainly shouldn't let ourselves fall into the coverup trap.

Both those above fit into the expectations and public confidence arenas, both absolutely as important in a democratic society to the pursuit of any military goal as the basic strategy and operational plan. To paraphrase Clemenceau with respect to the rationale and expectations issues; War is much too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. :wry:

3. The US Army needs to adapt its thought processes to the fact that warfighting is more than firepower, mass and force protection. Seems to be all that's considered. Planning, equipping and training emphasizing those factors has led us down a bad road. Demonstrations and deterrence can sometimes work; stealth, surprise, sensible audacity, agility and innovation most always will...

5. Re: FM 3-24. Interesting read. Way, way too long and way too much philosophizing. Soldier scholars will love it, soldiers who are not scholars will not. Most soldiers are not soldier scholars. Leaves out some things but it'll broadly work. As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded." :D

SteveMetz
07-19-2007, 03:58 PM
And that's one over my limit for one day... :)

1. The misuse of words by us and our political masters lead to false expectations. I for one used to get somewhat irate when anyone called me a Warrior -- I contend that a warrior is an undisciplined fighter who may be quite competent personally but in unable to impose his will on anyone other than by presence and direct action. Simplistic, yes but essentially correct. I was a soldier, not a warrior. Dumb term IMO. Same thing goes with the word 'victory.' Note that even you couch victory in Desert Storm as a "reasonable case." That implies that you have questions. Joe and Mary Ann Sixpack may not question that connection. I'd submit it was not a victory but we gave away the farm (that's another topic). Point is that in any COIN op, an acceptable outcome is all that is likely to be achieved. The political trend since WW II is to accept partial 'victories' and draws. The word may need to be buried (along with 'shock and awe' a real loser...). Mellifluous verbosity is unmilitary, he bloviated...:o

2. The Army has adopted the spin techniques of politicians. They don't work. We need to be more blunt, honest and cautious in pronouncements and should not let the politicians bulldoze us into spinning -- and we certainly shouldn't let ourselves fall into the coverup trap.

Both those above fit into the expectations and public confidence arenas, both absolutely as important in a democratic society to the pursuit of any military goal as the basic strategy and operational plan. To paraphrase Clemenceau with respect to the rationale and expectations issues; War is much too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. :wry:

3. The US Army needs to adapt its thought processes to the fact that warfighting is more than firepower, mass and force protection. Seems to be all that's considered. Planning, equipping and training emphasizing those factors has led us down a bad road. Demonstrations and deterrence can sometimes work; stealth, surprise, sensible audacity, agility and innovation most always will...

5. Re: FM 3-24. Interesting read. Way, way too long and way too much philosophizing. Soldier scholars will love it, soldiers who are not scholars will not. Most soldiers are not soldier scholars. Leaves out some things but it'll broadly work. As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded." :D


Well, having provided a bit of the philosophy in 3-24 myself, *I* like it. But, have you seen the exchange between Petraeus and Peters on "soldier scholars" in the July/August issue of The American Interest? My copy just came yesterday so I haven't read the articles yet.

SWJED
07-19-2007, 04:05 PM
Beyond the Cloister (http://www.the-american-interest.com/ai2/article.cfm?Id=290&MId=14) - David Petraeus

Learning to Lose (http://www.the-american-interest.com/ai2/article.cfm?Id=291&MId=14) - Ralph Peters

Merv Benson
07-19-2007, 04:19 PM
Al Qaeda is basically a parasitic entity that does not aspire to control countries so much as it aspires to have people in control of countries that will let them operate and plan and practice for attacking others. In Iraq it is basically using a chaos strategy in the hopes that an entity favorable to it will take over.

This is basically what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban came in to control the chaos. You saw a similar attempt in Somalia where the Islamic Courts were perceived as someone who could control the chaos that al Qaeda helped to create.

That is why the "sectarian civil war" which they have created in Iraq fits so well into their chaos strategy for Iraq. I think they are helped when we get bogged down in semantics and Steve is right to be against those arguments.

The parasite analogy would also cover much of their logistics and their day to day operations. I have compared them to cockroaches in the past where they hope to make such a mess that you will want to leave rather than eradicate them.

The recent revelation that they created a phony group with which to ally themselves with Iraq is probably a reflection of how much they have alienated everyone in Iraq.

Steve Blair
07-19-2007, 04:32 PM
As to its pro- or pre - scriptiveness, I am reminded of the immortals words of Bull Halsey; "Regulations were meant to be intelligently disregarded." :D

Halsey also came from the Navy, which has a singular disinterest in actually publishing doctrine or certain formal procedures. One of the many interesting service cultural differences.

Tom Odom
07-19-2007, 04:37 PM
Halsey also came from the Navy, which has a singular disinterest in actually publishing doctrine or certain formal procedures. One of the many interesting service cultural differences.

Steve,

Yes for the surface warriors, the SOF guys, and aviators.

No for the submariners for whom if it is not written, it cannot be done. Then again they do live in a different world.

Best

Tom

selil
07-19-2007, 04:53 PM
I think looking at the insurgency as fighting state versus stateless is also a limiting factor in the equation of war and total war which hampers the understanding of motivation and solution. The insurgents are interested in "harming" corporations like Shell Oil, Halliburton, and others. The concept of "harming" versus winning I think (a rare occurrence) is endemic of the difference of expected outcome in the current conflicts of Iraq. Winning isn't the end goal state that the insurgents are looking to reach. They want to strike out and have us expend our resources without an expectation of winning anything of strategic or state value. That value may be the simple act of revenge in a "Hatfield and McCoy" response in perceived injustice.

Ken White
07-19-2007, 06:13 PM
Well, having provided a bit of the philosophy in 3-24 myself, *I* like it. But, have you seen the exchange between Petraeus and Peters on "soldier scholars" in the July/August issue of The American Interest? My copy just came yesterday so I haven't read the articles yet.

I agree with almost all of it; what I'm questioning is where it is being stated. Questioning is not correct; what I'm suggesting is a look at what's where.

Let me caveat what follows with the fact that I know 3-24 was produced to fulfill a need that the senior leadership of the Army had wrongfully neglected. As such it is good and it needed to incorporate all that it does. I also understand it is to be an overarching document to quickly address a need. It does that well.

What I think is now required is to selectively incorporate the 'what' and 'how' with a minimum of why into a CI chapter in the next editions of FMs 3-21.10/11. More detail and more why should be in the new 3-21.20 and even more why in the next 3-90.6 (and 3-0). IMO a Field Manual should be designed for the ease and utility of the designed end user. Who is the end user for 3-24? A Company Commander or Platoon Leader. He needs the 'how' and 'what' the 'why' should be available to him elsewhere. Folks at Battalion have more need for the why and so on up the chain.

I have now read the articles SWJEd linked. I agree with both of them! :D

Seriously. I strongly agree with both and I'll explain that by pointing out that while we can certainly insist on or desire advanced degrees for all Officers or all Field Grades, everyone does not truly need -- and some would gleefully not obtain one if they had the option and could remain competitive -- an advanced degree. Do we really need all officers to possess one?

I see a need for a healthy percentage of Officers with varied degrees but I do not see that it is necessary for all. I think that a part of why we do what we do today is for ease of the personnel managers, it is easier to manage a single class of people than it is to manage two classes.

I'll also note that the younger generation of Officers may be more inclined to want advanced degrees and that can be a great incentive and I certainly don't object to that -- but I still think some without advanced degrees (or even a bachelors degree...) are or should be perfectly acceptable.

Both authors have good points; I think graduate education for officers should be encouraged but not mandated (other than for specific positions where a need is identified) and I do not doubt that we need many with advanced degrees. I do not think it necessary or even desirable that all officers obtain at least one. Having said that, if I just had to choose one or the other, I'd reluctantly go with Petraeus.