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Cavguy
09-18-2008, 02:54 AM
My latest article excerpt:


In Greek legend, Sisyphus was a king condemned by the gods to roll a huge rock up a hill only to have it roll down again for eternity. Students of counterinsurgency often feel like Sisyphus, as the United States Army continually resists institutionalizing counterinsurgency across the force, only to have to re-learn the lessons at a heavy price later before preparing to discard them again.

About a month ago, I was asked to deliver a short presentation to the Canadian Army on tactical counterinsurgency lessons learned over the past years in Iraq. What initially seemed like an easy task quickly became difficult as I synthesized the complex and varied experiences of US Army units into relevant and concise points transferrable to a foreign army. After a long night, I produced ten observations that reflect enduring lessons from Iraq that would resonate with military audiences. They are:

Learn from the past.
Learn to ask understanding questions.
Data is not understanding.
Mass all of your resources to achieve the objective.
Security matters.
Population control is critical for success.
Build human infrastructure alongside the physical.
Understand perceptions matter far more than truth.
Communicate effectively.

None of these are new, nor are they all inclusive, as significant areas are not covered. They do represent a start point for discussion about counterinsurgency operations at the tactical level.

The rest is on the blog here (http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/docs-temp/99-smith.pdf).

Comments welcome.

reed11b
09-18-2008, 06:07 AM
Fantastic!! Keep up the good work.
Reed
P.S. Your "quality of leadership" advice is making it to the right ears.

William F. Owen
09-18-2008, 07:30 AM
Unless we can protect the population of an unstable area continuously, they are unlikely to provide information needed by the counterinsurgent to combat the enemy.

You can't make it clearer or simpler than that! Doing this will never be wrong. You just have to do it. Let someone else worry about end-states!

jcustis
09-18-2008, 10:05 AM
Sometimes, it just boils down to the basics. This is a great piece, and a memory jogger that sometimes, you aren't as #### hot as you think you are. It takes going back to the basics in the same manner that the 28 Articles tried to bring things down to earth

I have tried to wrap my head around this business of LOO management, LOO metrics for measures of effectiveness, and the linkage of objectives and tasks/purpose, and I have come to agree with Neil's section arguing that data is not understanding. Heck, I've always argued that there is a distinct difference between knowledge and understanding...now I wonder if data is even knowledge.

Without jacking this thread too much, all this LOO stuff could easily be coordinated, recorded, and tracked using the standard Marine Corps-issue lime green log book that fits into a cargo pocket. When I asked a Regimental-level IO manager recently what to make of the massive spreadsheets, templates, methodologies and spreadsheets embedded in their sharepoint page, it took some time for him to figure out where to start...There is something wrong in that.

LOO folks are commuting to work in some AOs, and it is as fundamentally wrong to do that as it is to have your security elements commute to work. Perhaps if we made the essential services LOO dude live at the water plant project until it was finished, the POA&M might get compressed and executed more quickly.

The ice-cream cone continues to lick itself, over and over it seems.

sullygoarmy
09-18-2008, 12:52 PM
Neil, great article buddy.

Ken White
09-18-2008, 02:57 PM
Great job in concisely hitting the critical points.

Cavguy
09-18-2008, 03:02 PM
Saw this in the blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/09/clear-hold-and-hope/) today:


Hayes is unequivocal in naming the key to the 24th MEU's success in Helmand province: "It's a real simple concept -- we learned during this mission that the best way to combat this type of enemy is to mass forces and stay. We actually replaced a small British force that was spread thin trying to cover too much ground with too few troops. Instead, we flooded a town that was strategically important to the enemy with overwhelming forces. That's the way you can win this kind of fight -- with boots on the ground."

It seems to work in A-Stan too.

Ken White
09-18-2008, 03:23 PM
is adequate capability in both quantity and quality and, as always, being at the right place at the right time.

Lacking adequate capability, failure to be in time and selection of the wrong places can complicate the processes significantly. Lot of varied political inputs and impacts on those factors, many unfortunately outside military control...

Mark O'Neill
09-19-2008, 11:48 AM
hence useful piece.

best,

Mark

Eden
09-19-2008, 03:55 PM
Great article. I'm posting it to our servers here.

Let me jack up the problem to the next higher level, and ask your input. As an ISAF planner, I argued just what you were saying, that we had to flood areas to gain and maintain control. The problem was, there weren't enough infantrymen available to 'flood' all the areas we needed, ultimately, to control. In fact, there were only enough to 'flood' a handfull.

So, from an operational viewpoint, when you don't have the resources to control everything, how do you go about selecting which areas are most important?

Our discussions devolved into a three-cornered argument:

Position 1: Concentrate your forces in selected areas to properly secure them. Start with those areas that are already relatively pacified. Grow the ANA and ANP in those areas until they can take over, and then move to the next targeted area. Wash, rinse, repeat, gradually extending your influence outward until you have squeezed the enemy out entirely. This is the classic oil-spot treatment; the downside is that you let the rest of the country go to hell in a hand-basket while you are securing your selected areas.

Position 2: Basically the same, except you start off securing the 'hot spots', the most difficult areas. This is initially tougher, with higher casualties, less success at the front end, but - supposedly - will lead to greater and quicker success at the back end.

Position 3: Politically and militarily it does not make sense to abandon parts of the country. Whatever local success you may gain in your oil-spots will be more than counterbalanced by the impression that you are retreating from the countryside. Far better to maintain a presence throughout the area by spreading your infantry thin and maintaining your ability to influence events and disrupt enemy activities wherever you choose.

Interested to get your thoughts on the above. I also have a corollary question that came up: the need for an operational reserve. I argued that a reserve force of infantry was a luxury we could not afford, that maintaining an infantry reserve in COIN was like maintaining an artillery reserve in conventional warfare: a misuse of scarce assets.

Ken White
09-19-2008, 04:25 PM
in several countries, I'm totally convinced that Position 2. is the most likely to lead to success and Position 3. is the worst possible choice with one caveat -- unless a viable operational reserve is maintained and used as stated below. Even then it offers what will appear to most observers as a very tentative and excessively cautious effort that can be an incentive to the bad guys to try harder...

In any of your positions, such a reserve is not a waste it can and should be used on economy of force and presence (read; saturation patrolling in random areas) missions throughout the region while avoiding decisive engagement to enable commitment to rapid reinforcing missions -- among other things, this can preclude excessive use of less than discriminating air power or artillery.

You will accrue higher casualty rates. You'll also enhance your chances of success in a shorter period.

Steve Blair
09-19-2008, 05:28 PM
Position 2 also seems to be the most successful historically. I can think of a number of examples from the Indian Wars alone, and if one factors in the Philippines and the Marine experience in the interwar period the number grows.

You do need a reserve, although I would contend that it doesn't have to be infantry per se. Cavalry/armor can fill the reaction force role to perfection, while depending on the terrain you can use airmobility to solve some of the speed problems (the Marines became quite good at this after 1969, and the First Cav had many successes as well). Of course these factors are heavily influenced by terrain (both natural and man-made), but to not have a reserve of some sort is to surrender the initiative, and that's never a good idea.

Cavguy
09-19-2008, 07:31 PM
Eden,

Excellent question which I won't be able to answer in detail because of my day job, so here's a stab.

I submit for an operational design I'll call option 4. I also drafted a commander’s intent for Afghanistan based on what should be done based on my article. Having been to Afghanistan, you can tell me if it is feasible or not.

1) You must secure your urban centers. I agree with John McCuen that you don't uncover your semi-secure urban base to chase insurgents in the wild. The enemy wants you to do that so he can infiltrate and begin building the political and operational cells in the now-undermanned cities while you chase his bands in the bush, and then look back to find your cities on fire. I think this is what the Taliban is doing now - political organization as a prelude to military organization in Kabul and Kandahar. If your capital(s) aren't secure, then nothing is. Identify the critical symbolic and economically important points and begin to secure them fully.

2) I sometimes relate the operational design used to secure Ramadi (which I think is transferrable) to a maneuver battle. We "fixed" the enemy by building combat outposts in "hot spots" downtown - fighting an attrition battle (reducing his force) but also limiting his ability to maneuver (hence the "fix"). We then "flanked" him in the permissive areas, focusing on securing them using clear, hold, build, and gaining local auxillaries capable of providing security. Once we built enough force, the auxiliaries were able to exert influence to clear the "hot spots".

Also like a maneuver battle, you have to look for the unexpected opportunities. In maneuver battles we would designate NAI's to identify enemy decision points and/or opportunities, and position forces to react accordingly. In COIN it is no different, but instead of terrain based NAI's, you are looking for human terrain based NAI's. Just like a maneuver battle, you have to be positioned to exploit the opening when it is identified, which allows you to truly get inside the enemy's rear and really unhinge him.

3) This brings me to a reserve. I would argue that it is always good to have a reserve, given enough troops to adequately "hold". The key is that you must have some forces able to respond to developing opportunities on short notice. I hate to cop-out, but METT-TC applies to the size and composition of the reserve. However, if not employed the reserve should be employed to tasks such as building local capacity. This could be a combination Airmoble and Cavalry-like striking force.

4) Finally, you need a victory - something to give people - local and international - hope. Tal Afar and Ramadi were those examples. We have to find someplace and make an example out of it. Note also that the Iraq narrative didn’t turn until violence was arrested in *Baghdad*. As long as daylight prision breaks occur in Kabul the population won’t believe in their government’s ability to protect them.


Immediate action: Afghanistan:

Without having been there, something along the following would be my immediate operational plan for Afghanistan given limited forces.

Purpose: Coalition and Afghan forces defeat insurgent political and military networks in major population centers to deny the Taliban access to the urban population.

Key Tasks:
- Implement population control measures to prevent insurgent freedom of movement and deny logistical supply. This includes identity cards, food rationing, biometrics, vehicle licensing, census registration, and possibly rationing of key goods as appropriate.
- Develop host nation institutions to counter enemy political mobilization.
- Develop competent national security forces augmented by local auxiliaries to prevent insurgent infiltration into population centers, backed up by on call coalition force QRF backup. Focus on a neighborhood by neighborhood security zone plan.
- Conduct operations to disrupt rural insurgent forces and organizations to prevent reinforcement of urban organizations.
- Creation of competent local administration and leadership.

Endstate:

Major cities of Afghanistan secured by local forces, capably administered by local leaders, and free of major insurgent activity. Coalition and ANA forces postured to expand into smaller towns and villages, to secure economic infrastructure to expand security. Taliban forces disrupted and unable to influence major population centers.

Once this phase is complete, fight moves to the rural areas.

So in summary:

1) Main Effort: Focus on securing Kabul and Kandahar, and rooting out insurgent political and military cells. Establish population control to deny insurgent freedom of movement. Develop capable military and political organizations to maintain security and free coalition troops (clear, hold, build). Focused IO campaign to show improvement in the key cities.

2) Supporting Effort: Mobile strike force(s) "fix" the enemy in the rural areas, conducting targeted operations to keep them attritted and unable to mass to mobile formation status. Goal (at this point) is not to secure and win the populace, but to keep the enemy from influencing the city effort, and preventing establishment of "base areas" and sanctuary, keeping the enemy off balance and unable to expand effectively while the cities are secured. This may involve strongpoint/outpost operations to act as "fly bait" for insurgent forces. Units work to develop local and tribal security alliances as a secondary effort. (Kitson style intel driven operations)


As with all war-winning plans derived in 30 minutes or less – I stand by for the council to tell me why what I proposed is infeasible and what it is missing.

Niel

reed11b
09-21-2008, 04:05 AM
At the risk of sounding flippant, isn't that very simalier to the Soviet plan? Why would it work now?
Reed

jcustis
09-21-2008, 06:06 AM
1) Main Effort: Focus on securing Kabul and Kandahar, and rooting out insurgent political and military cells. Establish population control to deny insurgent freedom of movement. Develop capable military and political organizations to maintain security and free coalition troops (clear, hold, build). Focused IO campaign to show improvement in the key cities.

2) Supporting Effort: Mobile strike force(s) "fix" the enemy in the rural areas, conducting targeted operations to keep them attritted and unable to mass to mobile formation status. Goal (at this point) is not to secure and win the populace, but to keep the enemy from influencing the city effort, and preventing establishment of "base areas" and sanctuary, keeping the enemy off balance and unable to expand effectively while the cities are secured. This may involve strongpoint/outpost operations to act as "fly bait" for insurgent forces. Units work to develop local and tribal security alliances as a secondary effort. (Kitson style intel driven operations)

I have to agree with reed11b to some extent. Economy of force out in the bush would have a hard time being successful as a supporting effort, especially since the cities have never been the base of power in that country from what I have read and think I understand.

Folks in a Rhodesia tried something slightly similar, and they had a hard time against the guys "who had all the time".

Cavguy
09-21-2008, 05:55 PM
I have to agree with reed11b to some extent. Economy of force out in the bush would have a hard time being successful as a supporting effort, especially since the cities have never been the base of power in that country from what I have read and think I understand.

Folks in a Rhodesia tried something slightly similar, and they had a hard time against the guys "who had all the time".

Two brief responses (sorry short on time) to you and reed.

1) Reed, the Soviets were not beaten militarily, only politically due to cost and popular opinion. The Russians took many more casualties than we have and also had a different operational template. And as I understand it, Kabul and Kandahar were relatively calm until the Taleban drove in and toppled the harsh puppet government left behind.

Our imperative then is to maintain domestic and Afghani political will for the war. To do that, the capitols at a minimum need to be secure, and the government has to provide something worth being loyal to.

Recent news highlights that unlike 1989, the Taleban has created significant political networks in both Kandahar and Kabul over the last year, which are undermining the government through murder/intimidation campaigns and parallel governmental systems. These are festering while BCT's tend to chase insurgents in the wild. The Pakistani border cannot be sealed, and frankly, we can't fix the problem that allows a sanctuary there. So our only option, given we can't eliminate the sanctuary (I don't think we could if we wanted to or had access), is to defeat the Taleban politically by making it in the population's interest to reject the Taleban and support the central and/or government. Those forces must be secure/strong enough to resist Taleban infiltration.

Remember, this is a fight for political will. Reporters live in the major cities. Attacks in major cities, like they did in Baghdad, attract attention. Arresting violence in the capitol changed the all-important political narrative. Now you see articles like Dexter Filkins' NYT article today, stating how much better Baghdad is, which has changed perceptions of the US domestic populace on the war.

Cavguy
09-21-2008, 05:57 PM
I have to agree with reed11b to some extent. Economy of force out in the bush would have a hard time being successful as a supporting effort, especially since the cities have never been the base of power in that country from what I have read and think I understand.

As long as the enemy can cause chaos and fear in your capitol unabated, you are losing.

A government that cannot impose order in its own capitol is one not strong enough to stand or attract loyalty.

Look at the effect of the Marriott bombing in Pakistan today. Same principle.

Ron Humphrey
09-21-2008, 06:40 PM
First Cav, very well articulated and clear article, my favorite kind:D

Second As Cav suggested Although on the face of it much may sound familiar about the approaches Ru/Coalition the differences are the key. If we use an example of the laser. A laser is a laser but its uses vary based on how its used, where its used, to what extent its used, and if its used.

IMHO he's dead on with the need for confirmed security in the large cities. Without that it would seem anything anywhere else would amount to very little in so far as the population and the international communities grading of efforts there. Perception matters.

Second, There are not only limits to how much the coalition or the HN can offer in terms of resources and manpower, but maybe just as importantly limits to how much the outer regions can hold out against enemy intimidation campaigns without risking their own established local security and autonomy under the longstanding traditions. If that history is overcome by enemy actions then there will be major changes in the overall countries dynamics as evrything leadership wise will be going topsy-turvy.

There has got to be a tie between the larger govt and those regions which sets the ROE for interactions between the two and some way for the HN to actually be able to fulfill obligated protections within that structure. Therein is the requirement to recognize with whom and where you can create alliances which actually help to forward the larger goal.

As to AQ/TAL/ETC as Ken has mentioned before the military Wack a mole is occasionally a useful tool and in many cases may be the only one available for at least short periods of time. The key there would be to find ways to ensure these periods don't cost you or the HN more on the POL front than you are gaining on the Kinetic side

I think as Operations continue along these lines we would see what has been talked about on other threads in that each commander's intents will have to adjust and adapt to the changing tides which happen. The ultimate endstate is simply we don't give up and they have no choice but to.

Norfolk
09-21-2008, 06:44 PM
As with all war-winning plans derived in 30 minutes or less – I stand by for the council to tell me why what I proposed is infeasible and what it is missing.

Niel

Cavguy,

Yours and other's points about having to hold the cities in Afghanistan is utterly correct and utterly crucial. NATO has to clean out and then hold the cities, while the ANA and National Police are given the time to build up their own strength and to assume full control of the major cities themselves first, and then to take the fight out into the countryside. If not to decisively defeat the Taleban and -like groups, then at least to contain them, sort of. Even the best scenario I can think of will still see a campaign season out in the countryside each year for years to come. But that is at least doable. As long as Pakistan keeps treading water, that is.

Edited to Add: The ANA and National Police have no practical hope of securing anything like even a majority of the countryside by themselves; that will come down to making political deals (or more accurately, alliances) with tribal and clan leaders, etc. in return for their joining in a common effort against the Taleban. In short, the National Government has to approach and treat the the tribes as more or less equal allies, not as another outsider imposing their ways.

Ken White
09-21-2008, 06:47 PM
CavGuy:

For the ME and South Asia where cities and capitals are a recent phenomenon, the certainty is far less if it exists at all -- though there is no question that AQ, The Talib, et.al. are smart enough to use that parameter as a psyops tool even if they know better. Rural populations worldwide don't think nearly as highly of cities as urban dwellers do, nor do they care much for or have much respect for urban dwellers. That is particularly true among mountain folks.

Pakistan is indeed an example of the principle -- it has suffered such bombings in the cities since 1947. It's still there...

Added note: % of Population urban; Iraq > 70; Afghanistan ~ 24 , Pakistan ~ 34%

Cavguy
09-21-2008, 08:55 PM
CavGuy:

For the ME and South Asia where cities and capitals are a recent phenomenon, the certainty is far less if it exists at all -- though there is no question that AQ, The Talib, et.al. are smart enough to use that parameter as a psyops tool even if they know better. Rural populations worldwide don't think nearly as highly of cities as urban dwellers do, nor do they care much for or have much respect for urban dwellers. That is particularly true among mountain folks.

Pakistan is indeed an example of the principle -- it has suffered such bombings in the cities since 1947. It's still there...

Added note: % of Population urban; Iraq > 70; Afghanistan ~ 24 , Pakistan ~ 34%

No disagreement it's different, but the principle is the same - your urban centers, where the government is, have to be relatively stable. 100% security is never possible, but you have to avoid what is happening now, which is the growing roots of Taleban cells sprouting in Kabul and Kandahar.

I highly recommend John McCuen's take on this from his 1963 book, Art of Counterinsurgency War - he talks in depth about "uncovering your base" while chasing enemy into his sanctuaries, thus allowing him to destabilize your base.

Ken White
09-21-2008, 10:30 PM
Did in fact agree with him when I bought his book at the SF bookstore in 1966 -- until I tried apply that to Viet Nam and realized that a predominately rural nation with no particular concern for its cities doesn't react that way. Not at all. He is correct in this:
"...he talks in depth about "uncovering your base" while chasing enemy into his sanctuaries, thus allowing him to destabilize your base.but that presumes there is such a base in the cities; in Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, there is none. Nor was there one in Viet Nam and only when we finally realized that and worked the rural areas did we start achieving any success in the COIN fight there.

He also said this in that book:
""To protect oneself against the methodical, crushing body blows of the revolutionaries and to be able to strike them in their most vital parts, it is necessary to fight them on their own battlefields-in their own media. It is necessary to parry the revolutionary weapons, adopt them, and then turn them against the revolutionaries."" (Emphasis added / kw).

I suggest that is more germane to Afghanistan and that what worked in Iraq will have limited -- not none, just limited -- applicability in Afghanistan.
No disagreement it's different, but the principle is the same - your urban centers, where the government is, have to be relatively stable. 100% security is never possible, but you have to avoid what is happening now, which is the growing roots of Taleban cells sprouting in Kabul and Kandahar.They aren't sprouting in either city -- they never left. The Afghan intel and security guys can and will root 'em out (they're doing a pretty good job, BTW) but, unlike us, they aren't going to worry about the minor players, appearances, making a name for themselves or near term fixes; their concern is for long term stability and they'll get it in their own way. They will have to do it, we cannot (and should not even try, it'll merely set us up for failure) and they won't do it on our timetable -- nor should they.

Kabul and Kandahar have rarely been "relatively stable" over the centuries; the artificial domestic tranquility imposed by Saddam in Iraq or the Shah in Iran have never existed in Afghanistan and the cities have never had the pull they do in less harsh terrain. Add to that that mountain people would rather fight than eat and any attempt to concentrate effort on the cities in Afghanistan -- as was necessary in Iraq -- will create problems...

Ron Humphrey
09-22-2008, 01:43 AM
First Ken, reference your wisdom about the importance of the larger urban cities as far as the outer regions. I accept that what you say is true because it makes sense from a less western perspective and given the population dispersal.

That said, if we go with that then more efforts should be made to help establish stability in outer regions and of course the enemy should be kept on the defensive. In order to do this it would seem we would have to work towards greater development of infrastructure within those regions and thus hopefully bring them to at least more closely reflect the larger urban cities. Along with that comes the need for political and military ties between the parts in order to facilitate greater unity of effort and a stronger overall HN presence throughout the country.

If this all goes well wouldn't we still come back to the need for more stability in the largest centers since That is where the HN must project its power from. Also considering that the more the coalition does the less the ANA is actually doing so that would seem somewhat counter-productive.

Long and short-
Would it not be more effective in the end to use coalition forces to assist in securing the urban areas and select outer areas from which the ANA with the capabilities assistance we can offer go out and take the fight to those who oppose them. In the end if AQ and others get to fight us then we easily become the problem if on the other hand we work to make sure they lose to Afghans then the picture might change all together.

Thought's

Ken White
09-22-2008, 03:40 AM
...In order to do this it would seem we would have to work towards greater development of infrastructure within those regions and thus hopefully bring them to at least more closely reflect the larger urban cities. Along with that comes the need for political and military ties between the parts in order to facilitate greater unity of effort and a stronger overall HN presence throughout the country.Note I am not suggesting the cities be ignored, simply that they should not be a priority item. Cities in such nations are, at this stage, primarily a market location (thus the importance of roads -- to both the good and bad guys...), they do not serve as a base for much of anything.
If this all goes well wouldn't we still come back to the need for more stability in the largest centers since That is where the HN must project its power from...True; not more stability, just stability. I question the statement "that's where the host nation must project its power from." I don't think that's necessarily correct -- or desirable.
Also considering that the more the coalition does the less the ANA is actually doing so that would seem somewhat counter-productive.That does not track with what I'm hearing on one level yet I can acknowledge the logic -- and thus we need to be careful not to overdo our effort...
Would it not be more effective in the end to use coalition forces to assist in securing the urban areas and select outer areas from which the ANA with the capabilities assistance we can offer go out and take the fight to those who oppose them. In the end if AQ and others get to fight us then we easily become the problem if on the other hand we work to make sure they lose to Afghans then the picture might change all together.(emphasis added / kw)

I thought that's what we were doing? Though I doubt the picture will change much...

AmericanPride
09-22-2008, 04:31 AM
This raises a myriad of thoughts in my head regarding the relationship between COIN and demographic geography. Basically, what is the extent of the relationship between the security of the population and the dismantlement of the insurgency? There is some dissonance between the two because the logical extreme of asserting that the population itself is the decisive object suggests that we ought to build a McDonald's and Wal-Mart in every neighborhood and hope that somehow the provision of material needs will somehow deflate the political will of the insurgency. I'm not certain that bridge between population security and an insurgency is that steady to cross in full faith. I'm not a historical expert on COIN, so I must ask if there's any example of successful COIN that relied on or emphasized nation-building missions? The successful examples that come to mind immediately (Philliphines, Kenya, and South Africa) all include rough treatment of the locals, which seems to contradict the popular notion that the general population should be treated nicely. That seems to be the case, and please feel free to correct me if my observations are absurd, because those campaigns targeted the specific power structures of the insurgency rather than attempt to appeal to the broader base of the general population So, my thoughts:

The demographics of the insurgency itself -- not simply ideology, but also its ethic, religious, tribal/clan, racial, cultural make-up and what political, economic, and geographic features of the region augment its strength.

1. The combination of these features that shape the insurgent identity (or identities) more or less ensures that it does not represent the population-at-large. If it did, I would question why the insurgency exists in the first place if, in a democratic environment, the state represents the general will of the people (why aren't the insurgents themselves in power?). It suggests in my mind that the democratization of the indigenous state would be an ineffective, perhaps even counter-productive, process, if not irrelevant. To me, it seems not so much a question of human security but of power. The former originates from the latter in my opinion.

2. The insurgent demographics indicate the sources of the movement's strength. As Ken suggested, that strength may not be in locations we would initially assume. In what ways could an agrarian, radical religious, anti-modern insurgency (i.e. the Taliban) find sympathy among the demographics of a major urban center? If there's not much in the way of a power base in the cities, why devote extensive valuable resources to patrolling those cities? Which brings me to point three....

3. How does a military, other than by coercion, establish, generate, and project power? How does a military maneuver through the "demographic terrain" and place an insurgency in a position of most disadvantage? Should, for example, the military promote a favorable version of the indigenous religion in order to counteract the radicalism of the insurgency? Alternatively, should the military adopt a similar version to the insurgency's religion IOT to co-opt their beliefs (much like campaigning politicians do to draw support away from their opponent)? How do we go about shaping the demographic battlefield, if as it's commonly accepted, the people themselves are a part of the terrain, and how do we leverage demographics to our advantage?

Cavguy
09-22-2008, 04:44 AM
Basically, what is the extent of the relationship between the security of the population and the dismantlement of the insurgency? There is some dissonance between the two because the logical extreme of asserting that the population itself is the decisive object suggests that we ought to build a McDonald's and Wal-Mart in every neighborhood and hope that somehow the provision of material needs will somehow deflate the political will of the insurgency.

Nice long post I will respond more later ... but I wanted to catch you on this point.

Building "things" for the population does not usually work. We have conflated economic projects and stability too often. Quite simply, there is not enough money in our treasury to make Afghanistan's infrastructure like ours - nor should it.

Re-read point #7 in the article - human infrastructure is key. Physical infrastructure matters so the government can provide basic needs for its people, but if the human ability is lacking, it really doesn't matter how many power lines you string or jobs you provide.

COIN, and "hearts and minds", is all about self-interest. Dr. Kilcullen would argue most people try and sit on the fence. Both sides work to push people off the fence. Therefore, your actions must focus on motivating the populace to get off the fence and take a clear side. This can be done through bribery, loyalty, coercion, patriotism, threats, and force. Winning "Hearts and Minds" doesn't mean they necessarily like you - just that you have made it in their interest to support your side. Their "mind" is the practical reason (money, job, etc), the "heart" is the emotional component (political, safety, religious, etc.) that goes with it.

AmericanPride
09-22-2008, 04:58 AM
Nice long post I will respond to more later

I need to re-read Army effective writing. :P

I'll wait for your larger response before I release my next barrage of questions.

reed11b
09-22-2008, 07:08 AM
Cavguy,
I think you are partially right, but the cities is where I disagree. I think Ken has it right on this account. :eek: The tribal make-up of the cities make them unlikely strongholds for the Taliban anyway and the majority of the ANA and ANP are going to focus on the two main cities. Yes provide them some support, but holing up in the cities in this case and bombing or sending out battalion plus size units to smash the rural tribal areas where the Taliban and AQ get most of there recruits will only provide more recruits. The concentration of force should be to isolate the region where the Taliban and AQ are stronger. From there practice COIN to reduce there support network, and be ready to use conventional tactics whenever they chose to consolidate there forces. Building an effective human infrastructure in the Afghan government is really a state department job, but if the DOD is the only one around to do it, that takes knowledge and skill sets, not manpower.
Reed

Ron Humphrey
09-23-2008, 01:02 AM
Did not mean to infer that ANA is slacking in their efforts at all but rather was referring to possible issues of giving too much help so as to actually keep them from growing and gaining experience in the way they should.

From what I know they are getting it right. Just commenting in the overall approach context.

As to projection of power, although I think I understand the concern with this approach I question if it's not required given that even in countries where most of the outer areas are almost autonomous the central governing authority has to be able to tie in somehow be it through physical, military, political, or social.
So Power in the most general of definitions not necessarily kinetic;)

Cavguy
11-15-2008, 03:55 AM
Seems like Dr. Kilcullen agrees with my idea of protecting the cities first:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2008/11/kilcullen-on-af.html


Let’s take these one at a time. Has there been too much emphasis on offensive operations, especially air strikes? We read a lot recently about civilian deaths and growing Afghan anger. Should we cut back on the use of air power and put in more ground troops, as Obama has said he will? Or is this not a matter of managing numbers and assets so much as changing the focus of our tactics?

It’s both. There has been an emphasis on fighting the Taliban, which has led us into operations (both air and ground-based) that do a lot of damage but do not make people feel safer. Similarly, we have a lot of troops in rural areas—small outposts—positioned there because it’s easier to bring firepower to bear on the enemy out in these areas. Meanwhile, the population in major towns and villages is vulnerable because we are off elsewhere chasing the enemy main-force guerrillas, allowing terrorist and insurgent cells based in the populated areas to intimidate people where they live. As an example, eighty per cent of people in the southern half of Afghanistan live in one of two places: Kandahar city, or Lashkar Gah city. If we were to focus on living amongst these people and protecting them, on an intimate basis 24/7, just in those two areas, we would not need markedly more ground troops than we have now (in fact, we could probably do it with current force levels). We could use Afghan National Army and police, with mentors and support from us, as well as Special Forces teams, to secure the other major population centers. That, rather than chasing the enemy, is the key.

The underlying reason as I mentioned before is here - the real threat is the political organization developing in the cities while we chase units in the mountains:


It sounds like you’re proposing classic counterinsurgency strategy: a combination of offensive and defensive military operations, political and economic development, and diplomacy. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing these past seven years? Have we just not been doing enough of all these? Or do we need to change strategy to something fundamentally new?

Well, we need to be more effective in what we are doing, but we also need to do some different things, as well, with the focus on security and governance. The classical counterinsurgency theorist Bernard Fall wrote, in 1965, that a government which is losing to an insurgency isn’t being out-fought, it’s being out-governed. In our case, we are being both out-fought and out-governed for four basic reasons:

(1) We have failed to secure the Afghan people. That is, we have failed to deliver them a well-founded feeling of security. Our failing lies as much in providing human security—economic and social wellbeing, law and order, trust in institutions and hope for the future—as in protection from the Taliban, narco-traffickers, and terrorists. In particular, we have spent too much effort chasing and attacking an elusive enemy who has nothing he needs to defend—and so can always run away to fight another day—and too little effort in securing the people where they sleep. (And doing this would not take nearly as many extra troops as some people think, but rather a different focus of operations).

(2) We have failed to deal with the Pakistani sanctuary that forms the political base and operational support system for the Taliban, and which creates a protective cocoon (abetted by the fecklessness or complicity of some elements in Pakistan) around senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

(3) The Afghan government has not delivered legitimate, good governance to Afghans at the local level—with the emphasis on good governance. In some areas, we have left a vacuum that the Taliban has filled, in other areas some of the Afghan government’s own representatives have been seen as inefficient, corrupt, or exploitative.

(4) Neither we nor the Afghans are organized, staffed, or resourced to do these three things (secure the people, deal with the safe haven, and govern legitimately and well at the local level)—partly because of poor coalition management, partly because of the strategic distraction and resource scarcity caused by Iraq, and partly because, to date, we have given only episodic attention to the war.

So, bottom line—we need to do better, but we also need a rethink in some key areas starting with security and governance.

Ken White
11-15-2008, 04:26 AM
Problem is that you do that; most of the bad guys in the cities just lay low and chill and chat with your patrols, smiling broadly and improving their English, while some of them move to the boonies -- and not as reluctantly or in as small numbers as in Iraq; the crowds in cities are a recent phenomenon in Afghanistan, they're basically country boys. They can climb those hills like mountain goats and a guy in armor isn't going to catch them.

When they get out of town, they'll join up with new hires from Pakistan and start rolling up the hinterlands; then you've got a full scale war on your hands. I'll guarantee you they will move faster than we do under current conditions...

The key to that is more Aviation; the key to more aviation is longer tours for the airplane units.

No easy solutions there... :(

I agree with him re: Pakistan but I think he's being a little unfair to a lot of people. Pakistan is trying, it's just devilishly difficult for them and it will take some years yet. We all can wish that weren't so but I suspect it will remain troublesome for another couple of years at least.

Understand, I'm not disagreeing with you or him, merely playing devil's advocate and pointing out minor things he elides.

He does make two very important points:
"(And doing this would not take nearly as many extra troops as some people think, but rather a different focus of operations)."Totally true but problematic due to this:
"...partly because of poor coalition management, partly because of the strategic distraction and resource scarcity caused by Iraq, and partly because, to date, we have given only episodic attention to the war.While the last two items are true, the first is the major problem and will remain so. Something about the "U" in MOOSEMUSS, I think. That, most unfortunately, is unlikely to improve. As I said, no easy solutions...

slapout9
11-15-2008, 11:44 AM
Seems like Dr. Kilcullen agrees with my idea of protecting the cities first:

The underlying reason as I mentioned before is here - the real threat is the political organization developing in the cities while we chase units in the mountains:

Cavguy, I just read that yesterday. 80% in the cities WOW! Physical security of the people is somehting that the military can do well and will have to be done, but you can only do it for so long. The bigger problem is long term economic security. In your article Retaking Sa'ad at the end under lessons learned you talk about this and it was one of the most important parts of the article. Iraq has oil so their future is pretty well determined, Astan has......drugs:eek: wicked problem!

Bill Moore
11-15-2008, 06:23 PM
My biggest beef with Kilcullin's proposal is that he is proposing that "we" have to protect the population. That isn't a counterinsurgency, that is an occupation and again I beat my drum "armed nation building".

I assume the analysis exists (well maybe not), but is it a fact that the people are turning to the Taliban because they're being coerced because we're not protecting them, or do they simply prefer Taliban leadership? It sounds to me like we're making some wild assumptions here based on our Western bias of what good government should look like. Does you're average Afghan really want to live under a Western Style government with radically different values? Are they fighting us because the Taliban is standing behind them with bayonets to their backs, or are they fighting us because well...... we're us?

I don't necessarily disagree with starting in the cities first, I don't see how you could it any other way, but two notes of caution. One we're not starting, we been there seven years now. Ideally you would have a strategy before you start fighting, but we weren't afforded that luxuary in Afghanistan. Two, you better have a plan to expand out from the cities without losing the cities, otherwise the cities become isolated outposts, which leads to economic isolation and ruin. The bad guys will eventually hurl a few diseased carcasses into the city and....., you know the deal.

Beyond that, begin with the end in mind, and that requires answering what type of government do the Afghan people want? Acceptance and evolutionary change at a glacial pace is generally more effective than revolutionary change imposed by an outside power. Revolutions succeed because they are the will of the people, not a foreign power.

Once we determine what type of government they want, how do we empower that government, how do we put their face in the lead on all operations, how do we empower them to control their population? That needs to be our long term exit strategy, and if we have to keep that in mind at all times. We can provide security to some degree (unless we pass the tipping point and turn the populace against us, which we may be doing if you believe the media reports), but before we commit to these major security operations (it terribly late in the game to start implementing step one of a basic COIN strategy), why are we doing it? Security of the populace is critical because it creates a window of opportunity for something to happen (a political settlement), and we should have that something in mind in mind before we act. Protectng the population is essential, and that is beyond debate, forget the myth of network targeting and focus on changing the environment. Just remember that protecting the population in itself doesn't win the conflict. How do we win? Strategy before tactics.

Entropy
11-15-2008, 06:55 PM
Hmm, I wonder where Dr. Kilcullen is getting his population data. Reliable date is admittedly hard to come by (the last census was in the 1970's). There was supposed to be a census this summer, but it was cancelled because of poor security.

However, Dr. Kilcullen's 80/20 figure is completely inconsistent with any of the many population guestimates I've seen. Estimates from Afghanistan's central statistics office (as good as any) put the combined population of both Helmand and Kandahar provinces at about 1.6 million (a conservative figure - other estimates put it over 2 million). 80% of that is about 1.3 million. None of the figures I've seen put Kandahar city above 400k in population and Lashkar Gah above 60k. I expect wide margin of error when talking population stats for Afghanistan, but for Dr. Killcullen to be correct the actual populations for these two cities would have to be at least 2-3 times any of the estimates. And that's assuming he only means Helmand and Kandahar provinces when he says "the southern half of Afghanistan" which seems unlikely. The six southern-most provinces have an estimated population of just over 3 million. 80% of this number would give Kandahar and Lashkar Gah cities almost 2.5 million people combined and make Kandahar as populous as Kabul and Lashkar Gah almost as big as Herat. That is simply wrong.

It's not an 80% urban insurgency in the south or anywhere else. On this point he could not be more wrong, and this faulty premise completely undermines the entire strategy laid out in the interview. Most of southern Afghanistan is rural - small towns and villages. Regardless, both Kandahar and Lashkar Gah are comparatively secure (and have been), though the situation is worsening. One might argue that worsening is not from the failure to protect the cities, but failure to protect the surrounding districts and provinces. Putting more resources into the those two southern cities will therefore not accomplish much (and quite possibly be counter-productive) except cede vitally important small towns, villages and district centers to the enemy.

I'm frankly quite shocked Dr. Kilcullen would make such a huge error.

Ken White
11-15-2008, 07:35 PM
catching that, I called a neighbor who's a USAR CA guy who returned from Kandahar less than a year ago. He says that if The good Doctor is correct, the population of K-town has more than tripled in a year. He, too is dubious. I have another contact with fairly recent experience and current acquaintances there. I'll try to get hold of him this weekend.

This comment:
"I'm frankly quite shocked Dr. Kilcullen would make such a huge error."made me smile as I recalled making a similar comment years ago (when I was new to BIG staffs in high places) about a sharp young Action Officer's strange boo-boo to an old Colonel who smiled and pointed out that you can assign a guy a project he absolutely hates and after 90 days of working on it he'll defend it to the death; they, he said "...marry their programs and lose sight of how ugly the Bride was..."

ADDED: Sunday, 16 Nov 08. Around 2015 local, talked to the one who had also been to Kandahar on his last tour. He too is highly skeptical and really doubts that percentage of urban dwellers but will ask some who are there during the coming week for a current assessment.

Cavguy
12-07-2008, 04:34 PM
It seems like the city strategy wins ...

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/topNews/~3/zYoecBN-EC4/idUSTRE4B601U20081207


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most of the additional U.S. troops heading to Afghanistan early next year will be deployed near Kabul, reflecting worries about the capital's vulnerability, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

Citing U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan, the Times said the plans for incoming brigades would result in fewer or no reinforcements being available, at least for the time being, for areas of Afghanistan where the insurgency is most acute.

The focus on the capital also meant most of the new troops would not be deployed with the main goal of containing the cross-border insurgent flow from their rear bases in Pakistan -- something U.S. commanders would like and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also recommended, the Times said.

Rex Brynen
12-07-2008, 04:55 PM
Regarding the security situation around Kandahar, a couple of interesting graphics from the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:


control of districts (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081205.wafghangraph1206/PhotoGallery01?slot=1)

geographic location of all Canadian deaths in Afghanistan (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=102106828727418616965.00043d54f9abaa5cfa82f&ll=32.944149,67.049561&spn=4.609148,5.932617&z=7&source=embed)

A few of the latter seem to be slightly misplaced, but it nonetheless gives a good sense of how much the fighting has clustered relatively close to Kandahar city.

Ken White
12-07-2008, 05:22 PM
It seems like the city strategy wins ...in the long run, I suspect.

As I said on the SWJ Blog:

"Have to side with Gian on that one. Dave is correct in that most are in fact saying that the two theaters are dissimilar and that most acknowledge different approaches will be required.

However, while I read what is said, I also see what is happening. We need to be quite cautious in what we do in Afghanistan. The inadvertent human tendency to do what worked before confronted with a different situation is difficult to overcome and it appears to me that Gian is correct. We are about to apply, intentionally or not, an Iraqi template in a totally different situation. This, in my view is unwise."

Surferbeetle
12-07-2008, 06:54 PM
From the current issue of Foreign Affairs (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20081001faessay87603-p10/barnett-r-rubin-ahmed-rashid/from-great-game-to-grand-bargain.html)


Afghanistan needs larger and more effective security forces, but it also needs to be able to sustain those security forces. A decree signed by President Karzai in December 2002 would have capped the Afghan National Army at 70,000 troops (it had reached 66,000 by mid-2008). U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has since announced a plan to increase that number to 122,000, as well as add 82,000 police, for a total of 204,000 in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Such increases, however, would require additional international trainers and mentors -- which are, quite simply, not available in the foreseeable future -- and maintaining such a force would far exceed the means of such a destitute country. Current estimates of the annual cost are around $2.5 billion for the army and $1 billion for the police. Last year, the Afghan government collected about 7 percent of a licit GDP estimated at $9.6 billion in revenue -- about $670 million. Thus, even if Afghanistan's economy experienced uninterrupted real growth of 9 percent per year, and if revenue extraction nearly doubled, to 12 percent (both unrealistic forecasts), in ten years the total domestic revenue of the Afghan government would be about $2.5 billion a year. Projected pipelines and mines might add $500 million toward the end of this period. In short, the army and the police alone would cost significantly more than Afghanistan's total revenue.

Many have therefore proposed long-term international financing of the ANSF; after all, even $5 billion a year is much less than the cost of an international force deployment. But sustaining, as opposed to training or equipping, security forces through foreign grants would pose political problems. It would be impossible to build Afghan institutions on the basis of U.S. supplemental appropriations, which is how the training and equipping of the ANSF are mostly funded. Sustaining a national army or national police force requires multiyear planning, impossible without a recurrent appropriation -- which would mean integrating ANSF planning into that of the United States' and other NATO members' budgets, even if the funds were disbursed through a single trust fund. And an ANSF funded from those budgets would have to meet international or other national, rather than Afghan, legal requirements. Decisions on funding would be taken by the U.S. Congress and other foreign bodies, not the Afghan National Assembly. The ANSF would take actions that foreign taxpayers might be reluctant to fund. Such long-term international involvement is simply not tenable.

Ken White
12-07-2008, 07:34 PM
From your link:
"...And an ANSF funded from those budgets would have to meet international or other national, rather than Afghan, legal requirements. Decisions on funding would be taken by the U.S. Congress and other foreign bodies, not the Afghan National Assembly. The ANSF would take actions that foreign taxpayers might be reluctant to fund. Such long-term international involvement is simply not tenable."That's only one problem...

I keep hearing folks saying we'll be there for years, America needs to support this effort, it's a long war and such. My perception is that everyone used to fighting off Alligators is saying that and just sucking it up to get on with it; "we 'won' in Iraq, we can do it in Afghanistan." Maybe.

I'm dubious. I still see absolutely no evidence that anyone has really thought this through and has an achievable and sensible goal for a very different country and people.

Keep doing what we've been doing while such a goal is developed and agreed to by all concerned? Sure. Keep doing what we've been doing and add to it while changing nothing? Not too smart IMO.

Surferbeetle
12-07-2008, 08:05 PM
Ken,

I fully agree that a well articulated strategy can be a beautiful and team building thing.

Colorado has some heavy duty terrain that impressed upon me the importance of terrain's vote upon operations (DIME, PMESII, ASCOPE, SWEAT-MS, TLP, METT-TC take your pick). Iraq taught me about what the lack of functional infrastructure will do to a population. From my reading Afghanistan is a much woollier and wilder version than either Colorado or Iraq.

I vote for the historians here on SWJ to share some recommended reading about past campaigns in Afghanistan so that we can identify some reoccurring problem sets and solutions...:wry:

Regards,

Steve

Entropy
12-08-2008, 12:44 AM
It doesn't surprise me in the least some of the troops will get deployed south of Kabul. The reports don't seem to make it into the media (most of the reporters seem to be in Helmand or the east), but the situation around Kabul, particularly in Lohgar, has been deteriorating since the spring.

Bill Moore
12-08-2008, 03:46 AM
Current estimates of the annual cost are around $2.5 billion for the army and $1 billion for the police. Last year, the Afghan government collected about 7 percent of a licit GDP estimated at $9.6 billion in revenue -- about $670 million. Thus, even if Afghanistan's economy experienced uninterrupted real growth of 9 percent per year, and if revenue extraction nearly doubled, to 12 percent (both unrealistic forecasts), in ten years the total domestic revenue of the Afghan government would be about $2.5 billion a year. Projected pipelines and mines might add $500 million toward the end of this period. In short, the army and the police alone would cost significantly more than Afghanistan's total revenue.

Surferbettle, thanks for this post, I find this fasinating, and it really gets to Ken's point,


I'm dubious. I still see absolutely no evidence that anyone has really thought this through and has an achievable and sensible goal for a very different country and people.

When we went into Afghanistan in 2001 we had a clear enough objective to neutralize AQ, but somehow that seems to have become a distant priority. Now it seems we're expermenting with various COIN TTPs and calling that a strategy, but to accomplish what? Deny safehaven to AQ? They already have safehaven in Pakistan and Somalia and I'm confident in other locations. Are we going to apply this strategy (surging more troops and building capable governments) worldwide? I'm finding myself leaning more and more towards some of Gian's opinions. It seems we're becoming a missionary Army of sorts, but we're not bringing Christianity, instead we're bringing dreams of (and in some cases hope) capitialism, free markets, and democracy, which will supposedly equate to security and prosperity for all. If we don't achieve a condition that looks like that, then it will look something like a loss, and we all know what type of baggage that brings.

As Ken stated, a lot of folks are saying they don't mind it if it takes several years if that what we'll have to do. My question is how thin are we going to spread our Army (and our limited Whole of Government assets) over the coming decades if this is our focus? Gian's points shouldn't be dismissed lightly. Ideology drives most of us, but we still have to operate in the real world.

One case in point, during the Vietnam War the U.S. government became somewhat myoptic (not the military leaders), and at the end of it we learned that the Soviets surpassed us in capacity by greatly increasing their general purpose forces and nuclear arsenal. We had limited ability to execute Kennedy's flexible response options, which was the strategy intended to keep conflict below the nuclear level, until Reagan rebuilt our forces in 80s.

Admittedly there is no longer a USSR, but we don't really know what threats are in our immediate or distant future. I still think the primary role of the military should be to defend the U.S., not reform other nations. We should continue to focus on letting Special Forces, Civil Affairs, USAID, etc. take he lead on these types of missions for several reasons, but primarily it is a minimal footprint in country, thus the onus is on that country to fix their problems. If they can't, then we can withdraw with honor. It really doesn't make big news if a handful of advisors withdraw because the HN government failed to transform.

By all means, GPF need more training on how to function in a FID/COIN/IW environment (they sure has heck didn't understand it 2001-2005). When we need to commit GPF individuals and units to serve in an advisory role, then there should be an established mechanism for training those individuals and units. COIN doctrine is theory, not science, and historically "no one" has been very effective (a few cases do not equate to a trend) of intervening in and transforming another country's government and society.

Failed states have a way of emerging into the world once again, somehow Europe managed to after the Middle Ages. Maybe we just need to learn to do our nation-state business with Kingdoms, city-states, and tribes.

reed11b
12-08-2008, 04:22 AM
Iraq taught me about what the lack of functional infrastructure will do to a population. From my reading Afghanistan is a much woollier and wilder version than either Colorado or Iraq.

Steve, I think you have some great insight, but I want to add one caveat. Infrastructure does not in itself have much to do with insurgency other then how it is fought. What we saw in Iraq (I get to say we, I was there as well) was the lack of a previously existing infrastructure. That infrastructure has never existed in Afghanistan. Working on creating it is good because it is the right thing to do, not because it will win the "heart and minds". Defeating an insurgency is like defeating any enemy, restrict there freedom of movement, find there lines of communication and destroy them. This is why I prefer Wilf's principles of warfare to the Army ones, they apply across warfare spectrums. I hope my ramble makes sense.
Reed

Surferbeetle
12-08-2008, 05:40 AM
Bill,

I am glad to see that you let your inner bean-counter off of the leash now and then :wry:. These financial metrics (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=61621&postcount=23) that might be of interest to you as well.

Of late I have been spending some time considering Americas strengths: My thesis is that we are an idea, one which speaks to all of the inhabitants of the world, funded by the worlds strongest business community (13 trillion dollar USD at our peak), and protected by the best trained (real world ops baby) military in the world. Heady stuff to be a member of that team, but as we all know pride goeth before a fall.

We certainly have lost our way when it comes to humility however, and as a result of this our idea has been carelessly dropped in the mud, much of our business community is busy getting kicked in the head, and parts of our military are way overstretched. Fortunately, collectively, we are one tough sob and there is no doubt in my military mind that we will get back up and prevail. In the meantime its time to fight and we need to focus on the 25- meter target with everything (DIME) that we have.



When we went into Afghanistan in 2001 we had a clear enough objective to neutralize AQ, but somehow that seems to have become a distant priority. Now it seems we're expermenting with various COIN TTPs and calling that a strategy, but to accomplish what? Deny safehaven to AQ? They already have safehaven in Pakistan and Somalia and I'm confident in other locations. Are we going to apply this strategy (surging more troops and building capable governments) worldwide? I'm finding myself leaning more and more towards some of Gian's opinions. It seems we're becoming a missionary Army of sorts, but we're not bringing Christianity, instead we're bringing dreams of (and in some cases hope) capitialism, free markets, and democracy, which will supposedly equate to security and prosperity for all.

Your military questions, if I may paraphrase, are: Is Afghanistan part of that 25-meter target and is COIN the method?

Short answer: I dont know and yes.

Focusing exclusively upon Afghanistan, it has a high cost and in all of my reading I have yet to come across a compelling argument as to the benefit(s) that will offset this cost. Being a brother soldier however, I will salute the flag and move out smartly because America has never let me down.

When it comes to the TTPs of accomplishing the Afghanistan mission, COIN is certainly raw and ugly (and some GPFs would say its new and its not cricket baby (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118655/quotes)) but it works most of the time. MDMP and EBO are planning/management answers born of the direct/indirect environment that we have/currently face and they will continue to evolve as our enemy evolves. On the flip side this endorsement of COIN does not mean that MCO TTPs are dead. Like it or not we have to be prepared to win using more than one method (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=60975&postcount=112).

GPF are the high dollar/high visibility military answer and SOF are the low dollar/low visibility military answer to different problem sets. When GPF are covering down on SOF mission sets and vice versa we need to take a hard look at what it is that we want, how we have resourced and allocated things, what our timelines are, and how applicable our solutions are to the problems we are facing.

Regards,

Steve

Ken White
12-08-2008, 05:54 AM
...Like it or not we have to be prepared to win using more than one method (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=60975&postcount=112).Yes it was... ;)

However, I'm not at all sure I understand what this means:
GPF are the high dollar/high visibility military answer and SOF are the low dollar/low visibility military answer to different problem sets. When GPF are covering down on SOF mission sets and vice versa we need to take a hard look at what it is that we want, how we have resourced and allocated things, what our timelines are, and how applicable our solutions are to the problems we are facing. ??? :confused: ???

Surferbeetle
12-08-2008, 06:37 AM
Infrastructure does not in itself have much to do with insurgency other then how it is fought. What we saw in Iraq (I get to say we, I was there as well) was the lack of a previously existing infrastructure. That infrastructure has never existed in Afghanistan. Working on creating it is good because it is the right thing to do, not because it will win the "heart and minds". Defeating an insurgency is like defeating any enemy, restrict there freedom of movement, find there lines of communication and destroy them. This is why I prefer Wilf's principles of warfare to the Army ones, they apply across warfare spectrums. I hope my ramble makes sense.
Reed

Reed,

Iraq was like nothing that I have ever experienced and I am glad that you made it through as well. Some of my family raves about Alaska and one of these days I hope to make the trip. In the meantime I suspect that Wilf has some historical recommendations on Afghanistan that we can all learn and benefit from and hopefully he will share some.

With respect to Afghanistan I hope that our collective aim is true. A focus upon Population Security, Good Governance, and Government Services seems to be the West's answer in this fight. Iraq and Afghanistan are very different however, as you correctly note.

It seemed to me that a non-lethal infrastructure focus upon Electricity in Iraq would have paid dividends for a population centric strategy. A non-lethal infrastructure focus upon Water (http://earthtrends.wri.org/pdf_library/country_profiles/wat_cou_004.pdf) may be worth considering for a population centric strategy in Afghanistan. I'd like to throw out three brief late night thoughts and references:

In Rome (and Iraq from my observations) people were motivated to support the State by clean water and agricultural water connections (Renaissance Quarterly, LXI, 4, Winter 2008 - Hydraulic Engineering and the Study of Antiquity: Rome 1557-70, by Pamela O. Long). I suspect that this will apply in Afghanistan.

Effective use of Hydrology and Hydraulics Teams can help Commanders in accessing Water for their AO's (Hydrological Sciences Journal, Volume 53, Issue 6, December 2008 - Performance of MARS in Predicting Runoff in Mid-Himalayan Micro-Watersheds with Limited Data, by V.N. Sharda, et. al) This could be a tool used to influence the populace.

A USAID case study (http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.29.aspx) speaks to this idea.

Regards,

Steve

Bill Moore
12-08-2008, 07:20 AM
Infrastructure does not in itself have much to do with insurgency other then how it is fought. posted by Reed

Infrastruture is a vague term, but assuming you're talking about economic infrastructure, it sure as heck matters, because perceptions matter. Iraq was a basket case in 2003, much worse than many of us thought. We allegedly promised to make it better, but failed to do for many years, thus we lost credibility with the populace we were trying to influence. It matters because expectation management matters. We're promising a better standard of living, but we're not delivering. People get angry, then they are more susceptable to insurgent propaganda.

Going back to Iraqi infrastructure, the educated Iraqis blamed their infrastructure problems on the sanctions the UN applied. One of the doctors I frequently spoke with said the sanctions had severe effects on the populace, but they impact Saddam at all (his opinion, but opinions matter). This doctor and his friends were hoping we would invade sooner, so we could fix the problems (expectations). The insurgents knew we were promising various carrots, one of which was fixing the electric grid, but that is a hard target set to defend and an easy one to attack. We think the Iraqis should get mad at the insurgents for the set backs, but instead they get angry at us, does it matter? Darn right it does.

reed11b
12-08-2008, 07:21 AM
It seemed to me that a non-lethal infrastructure focus upon Electricity in Iraq would have paid dividends for a population centric strategy. A non-lethal infrastructure focus upon
Regards,

Steve
Keen observation on Iraq and I had the same one when I was there in the summer of '03.
While providing a water infrastructure will not win the cross border insurgency we face in A-stan, I am intrigued that it might provide positive benefit. I still feel the focus is to be military and law enforcement solutions, but water infrastructure is a thought that I am going to be chewing on for awhile.
Reed

reed11b
12-08-2008, 07:31 AM
posted by Reed

Infrastruture is a vague term, but assuming you're talking about economic infrastructure, it sure as heck matters, because perceptions matter. Iraq was a basket case in 2003, much worse than many of us thought. We allegedly promised to make it better, but failed to do for many years, thus we lost credibility with the populace we were trying to influence. It matters because expectation management matters. We're promising a better standard of living, but we're not delivering. People get angry, then they are more susceptable to insurgent propaganda.

Going back to Iraqi infrastructure, the educated Iraqis blamed their infrastructure problems on the sanctions the UN applied. One of the doctors I frequently spoke with said the sanctions had severe effects on the populace, but they impact Saddam at all (his opinion, but opinions matter). This doctor and his friends were hoping we would invade sooner, so we could fix the problems (expectations). The insurgents knew we were promising various carrots, one of which was fixing the electric grid, but that is a hard target set to defend and an easy one to attack. We think the Iraqis should get mad at the insurgents for the set backs, but instead they get angry at us, does it matter? Darn right it does.

Bill, I disagree. Even in '03, the violence that the insurgents caused was unwelcome by populace in Iraq, but they were more afraid of them then us. This has only escalated. Yes, it had some influence, but an immediate and full fledged effort to rebuild the infastructure would not have defeated the insurgency. We should have realized the importance of elictricity and worked to get it back on-line because it was the right thing to do, not because it would have defeated the insurgency. Your intelectual friends sound like they were rationalizing to me.
Reed

Bill Moore
12-08-2008, 07:59 AM
Bill, I disagree. Even in '03, the violence that the insurgents caused was unwelcome by populace in Iraq, but they were more afraid of them then us. This has only escalated. Yes, it had some influence, but an immediate and full fledged effort to rebuild the infastructure would not have defeated the insurgency. We should have realized the importance of elictricity and worked to get it back on-line because it was the right thing to do, not because it would have defeated the insurgency. Your intelectual friends sound like they were rationalizing to me.
Reed

Last post, then I'm going to bed. We may be in violent agreement if you consider what I meant. First, my intellectual friends were presenting the history they witnessed in the narrative that the Iraqi people understood it. Much of what they shared has been backed up by various studies I read, and unfortunately AQ used the sanctions and the suffering it caused has a rallying call with its propaganda also long before the war started. Sanctions in any situation rarely hurt the leader we're intending to undermine, rather they tend to strengthen his position because he now has control of the few resources available to distribute, and of course Saddam was a master of rewarding those loyal to him and crushing those he saw as threats.

I have argued previously you can't fix electric power infrastructure until you have established security, which in this case would have meant suppressing or defeating the insurgents so we could fix it, and show the benefits of the U.S. and transition government winning. Some folks were going to fight us anyway, no dobut about it. However, others who were sitting on the fence may not have if we improved their standard of living.

I agree with you that in 2003 the infrastructure expectations didn't contribute much to fueling the insurgency, because there was a long window of uncertainity before the flames of rebellion were fanned by a number of issues, but I think the lack of electric power and other issues was one of the many insurgent propaganda themes that contributed to recruitment and overall subversion efforts circa 2005.

It definitely was not the only factor, nor the most important factor, but I do think it was a contributing factor. Expectation management is important if you are believer in population centric engagement. We failed to manage expectations in this case. Think about for a while, if you still disagree let me know. I receptive to new ideas, as long as you don't incorporate EBO into them :D

Surferbeetle
12-09-2008, 04:32 PM
Yes it was... ;)

However, I'm not at all sure I understand what this means: ??? :confused: ???

Ken,

Over a cup of coffee in a place far from the sound of any battle let’s see if we can make a small collaborative dent into TTP’s, Troops to Task, & GWOT which was the point of my paragraph that you cite.

My assumptions:

1) Afghanistan/Pakistan is the next 25-meter target. (a)
2) Limited US resources require a favorable cost/benefit solution to our problems. (b)
3) National & International will to apply the necessary resources to the problem is in short supply. (c)

The problem defined:

There are continuing strikes against US Interests led by adequately trained, resourced, and decentralized movements which are currently massed in and around Afghanistan and amenable to a multifaceted/multiagency response (DIME).

A proposed solution:

Precisely apply a long duration, small footprint, and highly trained and motivated DIME force in order to develop a solution amenable to US Interests.

Historical Precedents’:

SOF in El Salvador
Jesuits in India, Asia, etc.
Ottoman Janissaries


(a) WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122766140111858667.html?mod=googlenews_wsj)


Senior U.S. military and civilian officials have grown increasingly pessimistic about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told lawmakers he was planning to develop a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan that would for the first time focus on both countries, which he said were "inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them."

(b) Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt)


As of November 19, 2008, the total U.S. federal debt was $10.6 trillion.[2], with about $37,316 per capita (that is, per U.S. resident). The October 3rd, 2008 bailout bill (H.R.1424), section 122, raised the U.S. debt ceiling from $10 trillion to $11.3 trillion. Of this amount, debt held by the public was roughly $6.3 trillion.[3] In 2007, the public debt was 36.9 percent of GDP [4], with a total debt of 65.5 percent of GDP.[5] The CIA ranked the total percentage as 27th in the world.[6]

(c) Zogby (http://www.zogby.com/features/zogbytables3.cfm)


Do you believe the country is heading in the right direction or are things off on the wrong track?

Regards,

Steve

Ken White
12-09-2008, 06:52 PM
and the response -- we are, as they say, in total agreement. ;)

Bob's World
12-09-2008, 06:54 PM
One of the basic tenants of insurgency (and therefore COIN), is that seizing and holding physical terrain means nothing. The terrain being contested is that of the support of the populace.

Now, the counterinsurgent has the added risk/burden of the negative strategic communications effect of not being able to hold or secure key cities, LOCs, etc, and the wise insurgent will exploit this while at the same time committing to holding nothing.

The bigger issue is not one of city vs country; but rather one of a Afghan governance overly shaped and formed by Americans vice an Afghan governance truly shaped and designed by Afghans for Afghans.

In a land of militias, and weak central governance, we demanded they stand down militias and build a strong central governance and army to enforce its will. One has to ask, do the people of Afghanistan see this as their government representing them, or do they see it as one that is a puppet of the U.S? (Note, not asking how do we see it, nor what it is, but how does their own populace perceive it).

Excluding Taliban from the government is probably similar to excluding Nazi's from a post WWII government in Germany. Many Afghans support the Taliban position, and for them to not have representation is a problem that is sure to fester, and it appears that it has.

Then there is the catch-22 of our own presence. We need to be there to help this government build adequate capacity to stand alone, yet our very presence breeds a resistance insurgency that is not against the government so much as being against having a foreign power so prominent in their country. This is not insurmountable, but it is that very real baggage everytime you conduct FID; but particularly when you transition from UW to topple the government to FID to support the new government that replaced the old one. Can you say "conflict of interest"?

My thought is, that before we can move forward in Afghanistan, we must first step back. At the end of the day; the U.S. is far better served by an Afghan government that has the support of its own populace; than it is by an Afghan government that supports our government. Ideally we should strive for both, but if it can be only one, we want to be "blamed" for facilitating the former over the latter.

Surferbeetle
12-09-2008, 07:29 PM
My thought is, that before we can move forward in Afghanistan, we must first step back. At the end of the day; the U.S. is far better served by an Afghan government that has the support of its own populace; than it is by an Afghan government that supports our government. Ideally we should strive for both, but if it can be only one, we want to be "blamed" for facilitating the former over the latter.

Here is a small concrete step in that direction:

Language company first in Army (http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/10/22/13503-language-company-first-in-army/)


The company, which officially unfurls its flag Oct. 23, provides uniform-wearing interpreters and translators to units deploying to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. While not yet fully manned, the unit will eventually include more than 140 native speakers of languages like Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu, Kurdish and Dari.

Once upon a time the US direct commissioned people with rare and necessary skills, and one could argue that language and cultural skills are in fact just that. If done with an eye for the strategic and pragmatic issues, I would suggest that a 'unconventional' solution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janissary) can found to the problems that we all share...

reed11b
12-09-2008, 07:32 PM
One of the basic tenants of insurgency (and therefore COIN), is that seizing and holding physical terrain means nothing. The terrain being contested is that of the support of the populace.
I agree and disagree, if holding terrain denies freedom of movement or access to the population (i.e. cities) then it has benefit, I still argue that COIN is 66% military (though often by unconventional means, more on that later) 33% Law Enforcement and 1% Social Service/Infrastructure. To state that physical terrain is meaningless in COIN is counter-productive.



In a land of militias, and weak central governance, we demanded they stand down militias and build a strong central governance and army to enforce its will. One has to ask, do the people of Afghanistan see this as their government representing them, or do they see it as one that is a puppet of the U.S? (Note, not asking how do we see it, nor what it is, but how does their own populace perceive it).

Good points, and ones I will comment on at a later time.


Excluding Taliban from the government is probably similar to excluding Nazi's from a post WWII government in Germany. Many Afghans support the Taliban position, and for them to not have representation is a problem that is sure to fester, and it appears that it has.

I would argue that this is not true; they had support w/i a limited tribal framework and terrorized the rest of the country into deferring to them. They still do not have true popular support w/i the country, hence their base of operations in Pakistan.


Then there is the catch-22 of our own presence. We need to be there to help this government build adequate capacity to stand alone, yet our very presence breeds a resistance insurgency that is not against the government so much as being against having a foreign power so prominent in their country. This is not insurmountable, but it is that very real baggage everytime you conduct FID; but particularly when you transition from UW to topple the government to FID to support the new government that replaced the old one. Can you say "conflict of interest"?

Again, I disagree strongly. If we had removed the Taliban from power and left after Karzai had been elected, The Taliban would have attacked all the same w/ exactly the same base of support, which is limited and ruled through fear again. Our presence does little to attract support to the Taliban except when we choose to act poorly (i.e. Air Strikes). If it was a popular uprising then I would say your points had more merit.


My thought is, that before we can move forward in Afghanistan, we must first step back. At the end of the day; the U.S. is far better served by an Afghan government that has the support of its own populace; than it is by an Afghan government that supports our government. Ideally we should strive for both, but if it can be only one, we want to be "blamed" for facilitating the former over the latter.

I agree only in that by stepping back we can examine what the LOC that the Taliban and AQ use, as well as there support base and formulate an effective strategy based on this knowledge, instead of our current tendency to "act" even when we are not sure what exactly it is that we are doing. The Taliban could care less about the support of the populace, fear will work just as well for their purposes.
Reed
P.S. Sir, I do want to make clear that I feel that you are a fantastic addition to this forum and that I agree more often then disagree with what you have to say.

Bob's World
12-09-2008, 08:59 PM
Don't appologise for disagreeing. If I wanted to find a group of people who agreed with everything I said I would just adopt the party line and go talk to my peers. I put ideas out here not to bend people to my perspective, but because I believe the majority position that is being put out by "experts" has serious flaws to it, and that by putting out a new perspective it allows people like your self to challenge yourself, and to challenge me; and also allows me a broad perspective of feedback to sort out where perhaps I am off base, or where I just need to tighten up my argument. You all make me think, and that helps me give my boss better product.

Many people think of COIN as a military operation; though most of the guys whose work on COIN has stood the test of time (note, anything published in the last 8 years has not stood that test yet), concur that COIN is civil business and must remain under civil lead to ensure that operations do not become too military (i.e., counterinsurgent vice counterinsurgency) in nature as they are likely to do if the military is in charge.

An insurgency and the military is best thought of in the same way we respond to natural disasters. An event occurs and it is incumbent upon the local governance to handle the situation, to include local militia (local guard commanders can respond without approval or authorization to save lives, property, etc). When it is beyond their capacity, they ask the governor for a declaration of disaster and the state applies its resouces to the problem as well, to include the national guard on state orders. As the event continues to exceed capacity a federal declaration is sought bringing in federal resources and the active military. If the event exceeds even that, international support from NGOs and states come in, to include foreign military. As the situation calms down, these resources come off in the same order they went in. Military at every level is last in and first out. The Mayor remains in charge of his city, the Governor his state, etc. Military always answers to civil authority. This is how COIN should work as well. The whole goal is to simply get the situation back down within the capacity of the local government.

Rex Brynen
12-09-2008, 11:31 PM
If we had removed the Taliban from power and left after Karzai had been elected, The Taliban would have attacked all the same w/ exactly the same base of support, which is limited and ruled through fear again. Our presence does little to attract support to the Taliban except when we choose to act poorly (i.e. Air Strikes). If it was a popular uprising then I would say your points had more merit.

While I agree that the Taliban would have attacked the Karzai government with or without a coalition presence, I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which the presence of foreign troops both undermines Karzai's legitimacy (especially in the south) and generates popular resentment (thereby facilitating Taliban recruitment). The Taliban's base of support does not wholly rest on fear.

This isn't to say that the Afghan government would be more stable or successful without a coalition presence. The positives, for now, outweigh the negatives.

It is to say, however, that the local political and ideological consequences of a foreign military presence are far from inconsequential, and need to recognized and addressed.

reed11b
12-10-2008, 12:39 AM
While I agree that the Taliban would have attacked the Karzai government with or without a coalition presence, I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which the presence of foreign troops both undermines Karzai's legitimacy (especially in the south) and generates popular resentment (thereby facilitating Taliban recruitment). The Taliban's base of support does not wholly rest on fear.
This isn't to say that the Afghan government would be more stable or successful without a coalition presence. The positives, for now, outweigh the negatives.

It is to say, however, that the local political and ideological consequences of a foreign military presence are far from inconsequential, and need to recognized and addressed.

I agree that the base of support is not wholly out of fear, most of it is tribal in nature with a few ideologue converts, but it's expansion capacity is limited as is our ability to recruit there support to our side. The numbers are not fixed, but there is a fairly fixed range, if that makes sense. Of course I am on the outside looking in, and dependent on open source information, so I could be very wrong.
Reed

Entropy
12-10-2008, 02:34 PM
Interesting discussion here. A couple of points.

It's important to remember (since the media and our chattering class have forgotten) that after the Taliban defeat in 2002 the priority in Afghanistan was DDR. While I would agree that more effort should have been made at preventing a Taliban resurgence, the problem of large, heavily armed militias was a serious one that had to be addressed. After all, it was warlordism that provided the space and popular support for the original rise of the Taliban in the 1990's.

Bob's world said:


The bigger issue is not one of city vs country; but rather one of a Afghan governance overly shaped and formed by Americans vice an Afghan governance truly shaped and designed by Afghans for Afghans.

In a land of militias, and weak central governance, we demanded they stand down militias and build a strong central governance and army to enforce its will. One has to ask, do the people of Afghanistan see this as their government representing them, or do they see it as one that is a puppet of the U.S? (Note, not asking how do we see it, nor what it is, but how does their own populace perceive it).

This is a very important point. I've been meaning to write something on governance for a while now - maybe I'll find the time. Anyway, I would argue that there are many in Afghanistan who do not want central "governance" no matter it's character. "Governance" is all the rage these days and is the policy that naturally flows from the view that a stable, functioning and legitimate government is a universally desirable end goal. And it's easy to argue that point of view because certainly from our perspective, dealing with legitimate governments is preferable to alternatives.

So what happens with societies who have no interest in governance - societies that have long existed under different notions of stability and legitimacy? Are we going to show them the way to the benefits of governance and globalization (whether they like it or not)? What happens when they refuse?

If and when they refuse (as is likely and already happening) then we will be set on a course of conflict with these societies as we try to implement our idealistic notions of how societies should be ordered. We are already seeing a lot of that in Afghanistan and its neighbors. We are trying to "sell" governance and key players are not buying. These players see benefits flowing from a central government as, at best, a prelude to the disruption of their societies and local power structures and the imposition of unwanted central authority and dependence on outsiders.

The point in all this is to suggest that policies designed to bring governance in any time-frame shorter than generational are likely to be counterproductive in these areas and will bring more conflict, not less, as the "ungoverned" resist our efforts.

Sometimes more isn't better. I would therefore argue that in many parts of Afghanistan we need to quit pursuing our paternalistic notions of governance and work with the local power structures to ensure their independence from all outsiders - Kabul and Taliban alike. The irony here is that in order to save a central government in Kabul, we may have to undermine its authority in some parts of Afghanistan - at least until it grows in capability and legitimacy enough to overcome the very real and long-standing hostility to central authority among many populations in Afghanistan. In trying to control the entire country, the coalition and Afghan government are overreaching. Better, IMO, to work on governance and legitimacy in those areas where that goal is realistically achievable over the short-to-medium term. In those areas where it is not, try to strike deals that guarantee local independence in exchange denying sanctuary and support to the Taliban and their allies.

Anyway, that's my theory.

Bob's World
12-10-2008, 04:04 PM
One question worth pondering is:

If militia forces in Afghanistan were able to outright defeat or frustrate the two greatest modern conventional militaries; how would the creation of a 3rd rate conventional military better secure Afghanistan against that same threat?

Or, said another way: What is the proper mix of security forces that the nation of Afghanistan needs for the threats they face?

One would think that a confederacy of militia forces, oriented more toward law enforcement vice attacking each other, with an added capability to deal with those external elements that come into the country conduct UW to incite and support insurgnecy would be most appropriate.

Often "mini-me" is probably not what is needed.

Old Eagle
12-10-2008, 04:38 PM
The trick is in your next to the last paragraph -- not fighting each other.

So far, history is NOT in our favor on that one.

The strengths of the ANA, as planned anyway:
Multi-ethnic, multi-tribal, merit-based entity
Subject to and comfortable with Rule of Law

There are many Afghans dedicated to "making it work this time".

But there are still many who are trying to wait us out so they can revert to the old ways.

Not sure anything but time will tell.

Ken White
12-10-2008, 04:54 PM
My perception is that a part of the problem in Afghanistan is that the US and possibly NATO, certainly the UN all want a strong central government due to their own experience and the ease of dealing with such an entity versus having to cope with 20 or so fiefdoms in a loose confederation. Old Eagle's post seems to confirm this. I'm dubious such a state is obtainable and sustainable at this time -- possibly after 20 years or so of relative peace...

I think too many in positions of power or influence tend to subscribe to this view LINK (http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/2008/12/and-now-for-a-world-government/) which I see as beyond deluded and almost literally living in a dream world -- he obviously missed the Tamil Tigers, various scuffles in Africa, the demise of Yugoslavia -- much less Kosovo -- the Scottish Parliament and a veritable host of other things over the last few years. Nationalism (and to an extent, tribalism) is on the increase except among the chattering classes who foolishly see an implausible if not impossible world government as a panacea for all our ills and who are very fortunately outnumbered by an extremely large number of people with a great deal more sense who understand smaller is better...

My belief is that the future of the world will tend to lean toward the the far more anarchic model described in "Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War" by Thomas M. Nichols; LINK (http://www.amazon.com/Eve-Destruction-Coming-Age-Preventive/dp/0812240669/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228926793&sr=1-3). Nichols makes a case for preventive and preemptive war but more iimportantly, he describes the demise of the Westphalian model of state relationships -- the world has changed and too many are trying to live in the past...

We -- the US, NATO and even the UN -- need to determine a sensible and ACHIEVABLE end state for involvement in Afghanistan and head that way.

Bob's World
12-10-2008, 06:06 PM
This summer I drove through the Black Hills, and picked a copy of Stephen Ambrose's "Crazy Horse and Custer" at the bookstore at the base of Mt Rushmore.

This book was not written as an analogy for the current war on terrorism, and yet as one gets into the efforts of the US Government, with the Army in the lead; to democratize the Souix Indians on one hand, forcing them to among many things, pick one central leader; while simultaneously conducting capture/kill CT operations against those rogue bands, such as the one led by Crazy Horse.

The parallels to what we are doing today were both frightening and insightful. Well worth the read. Bonus if you enjoy military and indian history, and biographies of these two great characters of their times.

Steve Blair
12-10-2008, 06:16 PM
You might want to look at some of the studies of the problems the Army faced in Arizona during the same period. The situation there is also deeply instructive given the factionalized nature of the Apache, difficult terrain, and actions of outside parties (read: local white settlers) in stirring up some of the issues.

Ken White
12-10-2008, 07:23 PM
Crook's techniques and rejection of the 'strategy' Bob's World cites are also instructive for current problems...

jmm99
12-10-2008, 08:45 PM
When I first saw "Crazy Horse" in Bob's post, I thought of a different book - I imagine Ambrose's book is less biased than the one that flashed in my mind.

I thought of Peter Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, which is here (http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Crazy-Horse-Peter-Matthiessen/dp/0140144560/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228939054&sr=1-1).

Spirit tells the story of the Lakota insurgency of 1975 and one of its leaders Leonard Peltier (a Mti, who is presently serving life - and, for purposes of disclosure, is some sort of half-assed distant Pelletier cousin to me and my wife - don't know him or his family). It is not a pleasant book, but seems very relevant to the issues of how a low-level insurgency develops and is handled (or mishandled).

------------------------
Back to the lead of this post. I think it might be informative to compare two contrasting "national strategies" in North America:

1. The American Indian campaigns, rez policies, etc. which made up the expansion westward (really from the 1600's), and reflected a policy of total control and colonization.

2. The CFM-Canada (that's my little avatar guy's unit) and its application of a far different strategy in the period 1610-1760 (when the little guy got his clock cleaned). Basically, these Canadian Marines moved as fish in a sea, which they did not seek to control; but did seek to influence - more by practical diplomacy than by military force - although they were not adverse to that.

Unfortunately, comprehensive books on item #2 are lacking. Francis Parkman, France and England in North America (2 vols) is good, but is very dated:


From The Washington Post

The greatest history ever written by an American. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Description

This is the first of two volumes presenting all seven parts of Francis Parkman's monumental narrative history of the struggle for control of the American continent. Thirty years in the writing, Parkman's "history of the American forest" is an accomplishment hardly less awesome than the adventures he describes. This volume begins with the tragic settlement of French Huguenots in Florida, then shifts north as explorers like Samuel de Champlain map the wilderness and wage savage forest warfare against the Iroquois; resolute Jesuits attempt to convert the Indians and suffer captivity, torture, and martyrdom in the wilderness; conflict rages in French Canada between religious extremists and fur traders. Dominating all is the fiercely indomitable La Salle, whose obsession with colonizing the Mississippi Valley leads to vast treks across the western prairie and assassination in a lonely Texas swamp. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Francis-Parkman-Frontenac-Half-Century-Conflict/dp/0940450119/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228940801&sr=1-1) - picked up an unused hardcover set at a used book store for peanuts.

Ken White
12-10-2008, 09:41 PM
(Canada under the French) and one perhaps over funded (us). Excess money and goodies will let you do dumb stuff.

Some things don't change much...

Surferbeetle
12-11-2008, 12:07 AM
Sometimes more isn't better. I would therefore argue that in many parts of Afghanistan we need to quit pursuing our paternalistic notions of governance and work with the local power structures to ensure their independence from all outsiders - Kabul and Taliban alike. The irony here is that in order to save a central government in Kabul, we may have to undermine its authority in some parts of Afghanistan - at least until it grows in capability and legitimacy enough to overcome the very real and long-standing hostility to central authority among many populations in Afghanistan. In trying to control the entire country, the coalition and Afghan government are overreaching. Better, IMO, to work on governance and legitimacy in those areas where that goal is realistically achievable over the short-to-medium term. In those areas where it is not, try to strike deals that guarantee local independence in exchange denying sanctuary and support to the Taliban and their allies.

Anyway, that's my theory.

Entropy,

Is the City-State Model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City-state) applicable for Kabul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabul)? Could it be a new Samarkand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarkand)?


Samarkand was founded by the Persians in the late 6th century BCE and it was one of the main centers of Persian civilization in the ancient times. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and Europe (Silk Road). At times Samarkand has been one of the greatest cities of Central Asia. Founded circa 700 BC it was already the capital of the Sogdian satrapy under the Achaemenid dynasty of Persia when Alexander the Great conquered it in 329 BC (see Afrasiab, Sogdiana).

For the independent areas outside Kabul what would the model be? From a western view point are we interested in self-sustainable autonomous areas which are able to prevent some of the organizations that we are concerned about from taking root?

Regards,

Steve

Entropy
12-11-2008, 02:32 PM
Steve,

That's an interesting suggestion. I don't know much about the city-state model, but I suspect that it may not work in a multiethnic/religious society as diverse as Afghanistan.

Tom Odom
12-11-2008, 04:43 PM
Entropy,

Is the City-State Model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City-state) applicable for Kabul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabul)? Could it be a new Samarkand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samarkand)?



For the independent areas outside Kabul what would the model be? From a western view point are we interested in self-sustainable autonomous areas which are able to prevent some of the organizations that we are concerned about from taking root?

Regards,

Steve

Steve

That is the model I had in mind when discussing Somalia and the Congo simply as a way to move forward versus continuing to flail around with the concept of nations when discussing "failed nations" that have never really been nations in the first place.

best

Tom

reed11b
12-11-2008, 05:45 PM
Crook's techniques and rejection of the 'strategy' Bob's World cites are also instructive for current problems...
Interesting, what I picked up from that history was not Crook's refusal to negotiate (in the end he did negotiate w/ Geronimo, and he was actually a step up from the previous General in the human relations department) but his use of Forts to geographically isolate his enemy. That would be the lesson that I would key in on.
Reed

Bob's World
12-11-2008, 06:21 PM
reed11b,

Your instincts are sound, but I believe you are too "threat-centric" (see the paper I posted that everyone dogpiled on...) in your thinking.

If you are willing to kill all of the indians, ie, remove that problemsome segment of the populace from the environment, it will work. We've demonstrated that. If, however, you determine that the entire populace will remain in this environment, one must shift their focus to how to achieve an enduring effect by engaging and modifying the underlying conditions giving rise to the conflict. Neither side is either wholly right or wrong, and all need to learn to co-exist (which requires new structures, policies, laws etc designed to protect the rights of all, while recognizing the rule of the majority; etc). The concept is simple, the execution is complex. Far easier to just kill all the indians and call it victory.

Like I said, the parallels of our current GWOT strategy to our old Indian strategies are disturbing. We need to evolve. We can't just make everyone confrom to act like us and kill the ones who refuse.

Ken White
12-11-2008, 07:06 PM
Interesting, what I picked up from that history was not Crook's refusal to negotiate (in the end he did negotiate w/ Geronimo, and he was actually a step up from the previous General in the human relations department) but his use of Forts to geographically isolate his enemy. That would be the lesson that I would key in on.
ReedWhat you should key upon is his dumping of large wagon supported forays and large numbers of troops to instead use small columns with mule trains for logistic support, better selection and training of small units that could move as fast as the opponent and the co-opting of members of the pursued tribe, band or group to serve as indigenous trackers in large numbers.

The Forts were not to 'geographically isolate the enemy,' they were simply to provide bases for his light columns and were to shape the area of operations, not isolate. Pretty hard to isolate a crew in their native habitat if they don't want to be isolated with a small fixed installation.

"Refusal to negotiate" and later negotiation are political considerations. Crook's success was in his tactical concepts which created the possibility of negotiation.

reed11b
12-11-2008, 07:31 PM
What you should key upon is his dumping of large wagon supported forays and large numbers of troops to instead use small columns with mule trains for logistic support, better selection and training of small units that could move as fast as the opponent and the co-opting of members of the pursued tribe, band or group to serve as indigenous trackers in large numbers.

The Forts were not to 'geographically isolate the enemy,' they were simply to provide bases for his light columns and were to shape the area of operations, not isolate. Pretty hard to isolate a crew in their native habitat if they don't want to be isolated with a small fixed installation.

"Refusal to negotiate" and later negotiation are political considerations. Crook's success was in his tactical concepts which created the possibility of negotiation.
Darn it! I did notice that as well since it directly relates to my own concepts and perceptions on how to best train and organize forces (particularly infantry), but the startegic uses of bases was also important, even if my choice of verbage was poor. (read what I mean, not what I write!! :D )
Reed

Ken White
12-11-2008, 07:56 PM
(read what I mean, not what I write!! :D )
Reed ;)

Seriously:
"... but the startegic uses of bases was also important...I don't think so and i'd also argue it was tactical, not strategic. The Forts in no way compromised the Indians. Whichever batch Crook was after at the time -- the Apaches were not his only opponents. They were too mobile and too knowledgeable of the local terrain to allow the Forts to have much if any impact. The value of the Forts and their placement was that they allowed rapid and frequent resupply of his mule trains which while much faster and more mobile, could not carry as much as wagons. They were a tactical benefit.

He pushed his troops and those trains into rapid movement over a large swath of very inhospitable terrain and they could never know where pursuit of the bands might lead, hence the number of small forts versus a few large posts. The only thing remotely strategic was the site selection; the military benefit was purely tactical or, more pointedly, logistical...