View Full Version : COIN in a Tribal Society

07-21-2007, 11:20 PM
SWJ Blog - COIN in a Tribal Society (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/coin-in-a-tribal-society-1/)

During a recent e-mail discussion concerning Iraq's tribal society William (Mac) McCallister provided several insights as well as a briefing presentation on his methodology for tribal structure analysis (http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/engagementmodel.pdf) and a reading list for executing counterinsurgency in a tribal society. The reading list follows his e-mail.

I have been studying and working with various tribes in Iraq for the last four years plus and am currently serving as the "tribal" advisor for II MEF in Anbar. Concerning recent commentary on US forces as a "tribe" - it is old news as far as I am concerned.

We are and have been a major if not the major "tribe" for the last four years. Paul Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, was referred to by Iraqi Sheikhs seeking an audience to pledge their loyalty and seeking patronage as the "Sheikh of Sheikhs" when they came to the palace in search of a meeting. I personally participated in coordinating a meeting with 400 Sheikhs and CPA officials for a traditional "tribal meeting" in Hillah four years ago.

We are engaged in a counterinsurgency in a tribal society. It has taken us four years to realize that we must execute operations within the existing cultural frame of reference. To quote T.E . Lawrence - Irregular warfare is more intellectual than a bayonet charge.

I've attached a reading list for executing counterinsurgency in a tribal society. Also attached is a PowerPoint brief that describes a methodology I developed on structure analysis to assist in gaining an appreciation for the operational environment.

The methodology is now in use in Anbar province and in the process of being "socialized" among the incoming MEF staff and commanders scheduled to replace the units currently serving in Anbar...

Go to the link for the reading list...

07-22-2007, 01:32 PM
I think that if I ever teach a course in the Anthropology of Insurgency / COIN, I'll use this as the basis of the reading list.


07-24-2007, 09:15 AM
The MEF Engagement Model and Al Qaeda (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/the-mef-engagement-model-and-a/) by William S. McCallister.

The London Times story “Al-Qaeda faces rebellion from the ranks (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2121006.ece)” provides me an opportunity to further explain the usefulness of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) engagement model (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/coin-in-a-tribal-society-1/) (briefing here (http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/engagementmodel.pdf)) and its application not only when conducting counterinsurgency in a tribal society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_tribes_in_Iraq) but in the fight against al-Qaeda. It is also a tool that may explain (in social system terms) the dynamics of the alleged power-struggle within al-Qaeda and its motivating factors (in terms of cultural operating codes and coordinating messages)...

More at the first link.

09-13-2007, 12:36 PM
Military Review, Sep-Oct 07: Iraq: Tribal Engagement Lessons Learned (http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/SepOct07/eisenstadtengseptoct07.pdf)
Engagement activities—overt interactions between coalition military and foreign civilian personnel for the purpose of obtaining information, influencing behavior, or building an indigenous base of support for coalition objectives—have played a central role in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). They have involved efforts to reach out to village headmen (mukhtars), tribal sheikhs, Muslim clerics, elected officials and representatives, urban professionals, businessmen, retired military officers, and women.

Tribal engagement has played a particularly prominent role in OIF. This reflects the enduring strength of the tribes in many of Iraq’s rural areas and some of its urban neighborhoods. And tribal engagement has been key to recent efforts to drive a wedge between tribally based Sunni Arab insurgents and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in Anbar province and elsewhere, as well as efforts to undermine popular support for the Mahdi Army in largely Shi’ite neighborhoods and regions of the country.

Because of the growing importance of tribal engagement for coalition strategy in Iraq, its potential role in future contingency operations, and its potential contribution to future phases of the War on Terrorism, it is vitally important for Army leaders at all levels to understand what history and the social sciences suggest, and what coalition forces in Iraq have learned, about how to engage and leverage tribes and tribal networks....
Complete 16 page article at the link.

Tom Odom
09-13-2007, 01:31 PM
I think that if I ever teach a course in the Anthropology of Insurgency / COIN, I'll use this as the basis of the reading list.



They should take this model and tatoo it on every Neocon's forehead so that when they start talking exporting democracy they can read reality on each others' faces.

"Mac" earned his pay with this one.