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SWJED
11-20-2008, 12:54 AM
ISAF Campaign Plan Summary (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/11/isaf-campaign-plan-summary/) - John Nagl, Small Wars Journal Blog


I was struck during my recent visit to Afghanistan by an impressive understanding of counterinsurgency principles in the International Security Assistance Force (http://www.nato.int/ISAF/index.html) and at subordinate headquarters (See In Afghanistan, 'New Spirit' To Confront The Taliban (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97170621) at NPR).

At the request of the small group of think-tankers I was travelling with, General David McKiernan's headquarters has agreed to release an unclassified version of the ISAF Campaign plan (http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/isafcampaignplansummary.pdf) specifically for posting on Small Wars Journal. Things I find particularly interesting in this plan include the upfront acknowledgement that this is a counterinsurgency (vice peacekeeping) campaign (obvious to us, but hugely important in the NATO context); the addition of "Shaping Operations" to the classic "Clear, Hold, Build" COIN methodology; an acknowledgment that in this still critically under-resourced theater, ISAF cannot be strong everywhere and must therefore prioritize areas to clear and hold (a point Dave Kilcullen made well on Sunday (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/11/17/fz.fix.afghanistan.cnn?iref=videosearch) with Fareed Zakaria); and the overt emphasis on buildling Afghan governance capability and capacity as the objective of all of our operations.

William F. Owen
11-20-2008, 11:13 AM
Shape, in order to clear in order to hold and build.

Can anyone explain to me what this actually means. Particularly why the word "Shape" is used.

Ski
11-20-2008, 12:32 PM
You know, shape.

Like a square, triangle, pentagon, octagon.

:)

Anthony Hoh
11-20-2008, 12:49 PM
Can anyone explain to me what this actually means. Particularly why the word "Shape" is used.

Wilfo,
Shape in my mind is doing things like reforming the local police, and holding shuras to inform the populace of our intent before we go in searching houses and ticking people off. I submit that shaping (I would prefer "condition setting") up front pays dividends in the long run. Lining up the PRT, NGO's (a mission in and of itself) identifying issues through ASCOPE (particularly through SWEAT-MS), selecting short term projects that quickly make security gains or good will projects pays big during the clear, hold and build. I hate to sound like a jargon monkey but that is the quickest way I can explain what it means to me.Although you can clearly argue that reforming local officials, conducting projects can/should be done during hold/build. I think shaping the envirmoent through a competent police force or estasblishing good relations with the populace first is best. Use build for long term capacity type stuff. My only complaint with this current campaign plan is a lack of mechanisms to ensure we are synched with the ANSF. We have been here for a few minutes, I truly see nothing new in our approach to how we will synchronize efforts with the ANA/ANP.:(

Ken White
11-20-2008, 04:32 PM
Tons of definitions as a noun and as a verb; since its use, militarily ( ? :rolleyes: ) is as a verb, here's the one I think most appropriate:

"To embody in a definite form: shaped a folk legend into a full-scale opera."

I particularly liked the example... :D

William F. Owen
11-20-2008, 04:55 PM
Wilfo,
Shape in my mind is doing things like reforming the local police, and holding shuras to inform the populace of our intent before we go in searching houses and ticking people off. I submit that shaping (I would prefer "condition setting") up front pays dividends in the long run. Lining up the PRT, NGO's (a mission in and of itself) identifying issues through ASCOPE (particularly through SWEAT-MS), selecting short term projects that quickly make security gains or good will projects pays big during the clear, hold and build.

Many thanks.

So if I said "Preparatory activity to help achieve the campaign objectives" it would mean the same thing?

Entropy
11-20-2008, 05:50 PM
Can't say I'm too impressed with the campaign plan, but it is rather sparse on anything but vague generalities. It doesn't look much different what what's be tried at various points in the past. I see from Kilcullen's recent statments and this that governance is back in vogue. I hope the authors and the folks at ISAF have closely examined all the earlier failed efforts at improving governance and learned from the experience.

wm
11-20-2008, 06:04 PM
Can anyone explain to me what this actually means. Particularly why the word "Shape" is used.

We used to talk about shaping the battlefield and meant by that what we could do to force our opponent to operate in certain ways that were beneficial to what we planned to do--for example, use a barrier plan to direct enemy movement along a certain avenue of approach, perhaps use MILDEC to get the enemy to think that he needed to position his reserve in one place when if fact that was exactly the wrong point to counter our intended main effort.

In the context of "shape in order to clear in order to hold in order to build", shape here seems to follow that usage. Along the barrier plan motif, we might seek to isolate an area prior to starting to clear its insurgent population (and keep others from coming in to reinforce the existing insurgents) or establish certain "exit" points through which our clearing ops would allow the insurgents to escape--perhaps only to be rounded up and imprisoned. We might also have an LN Security/LE force prepositioned and ready to insert into a geographic location to maintain security after our force does the initial clearing. We might have a development team (again preferrably LN heavy) to do the hold and build work rather than try to grow it locally after clearing has occurred. We might even do Psypos work in aneffort to get the populace in the intended AO ready to "play nice" with our clearing force once it crosses the LD. Many other possibilities exist, but they all seem to relate to actions one would take prior to starting operations in an area that facilitate the likelihood of suceeding in those operations.

Hacksaw
11-20-2008, 06:13 PM
Entropy I would have to agree since all that I got was a one page summary after clicking the link....

I think, in all fairness, that the plan/strategy itself has far more detail... This is nothing more than boiler plate planner pixie dust...:rolleyes:

I remember characterizing (a long time ago) that neither Afghanistant nor Iraq had to smell like a bed of roses, it just couldn't smell like a a steaming pile left by the horses after a parade...:eek:

Not sure why it matters that ISAF included COIN... that implies that EU governments would feel compelled to act in accord with the stated military strategy... I see no evidence of that in Europe or N. America...

It would be great to actually get a crack at the plan itself, as Ulyses S. McGill once said, "A third of a gopher (OPLAN Summary) would only serve to arouse my appetite without bedding it back down.":D

Less taste and less filling:(

Eden
11-20-2008, 06:20 PM
I was in ISAF 2006-2007, and a planner for the NATO corps that took over ISAF under McKiernan's predecessor LTG David Richards. Nothing is new in the referenced document beyond the acknowledgement that this is a counterinsurgency operation and the call for "greater effort on the narcotics-insurgency nexus." Note the latter is carefully phrased so as not to commit NATO to counter-narcotic operations.

Just a couple of further observations:

1. The NATO mission was a peacekeeping operation intially. It didn't exactly fail, but it expanded to take over regions where the US had allowed an insurgency to establish itself.
2. ISAF is not a strategic headquarters, it is an operational headquarters. While they have every right to design campaign plans, it is not in McKiernan's power (as ISAF commander) to alter strategy.
3. I would be curious to know if the document (or the concepts contained therein) was approved by ISAF's higher headquarters.
4. Familiarity with counterinsurgency doctrine has never been a problem with the NATO officers. My planners (Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, German, and English) were at least as current as the Americans I worked with in Bagram and typically had as much or more practical experience.

William F. Owen
11-20-2008, 06:31 PM
We used to talk about shaping the battlefield and meant by that what we could do to force our opponent to operate in certain ways that were beneficial to what we planned to do--for example, use a barrier plan to direct enemy movement along a certain avenue of approach, perhaps use MILDEC to get the enemy to think that he needed to position his reserve in one place when if fact that was exactly the wrong point to counter our intended main effort.


OK, but that is FIXING the enemy to allow you to more effectively STRIKE him.

To me "Shaping Fires" were a strange way of saying "Interdiction" or "Suppression", so I assumed there may be some other/yet another meaning.

Ken White
11-20-2008, 06:59 PM
Re: the one pager, there's no 'there' there. I always get worried after I read "the latest revelation" and know less than before reading it... :eek:

Europe doesn't care what we say and the strategy comes from the politicians and CentCom (but only to the extent the former allows the latter to dictate a bit :wry: ).

I'm totally unsure what purpose that Unclas document serves other than to mystify an already ignorant media. :confused:

Mark O'Neill
11-20-2008, 11:50 PM
They really must have changed what they teach at SAMS and the Advanced Warfighting course if that is what now passes as a Campaign Plan summary.

I would like to think that it is really a case of some Escort Officer or PAO had a good idea and thought that they could impress JN and or his travelling companion(s) with an 'exclusive'. One would imagine that the actual, classified, plan would need to be substantively different IOT be of any practical use.

The document begs the 'so what' questions about the various generalities and motherhood statements offered about matters 'governance' and the like WRT 'ways' and 'means' . Such as how exactly does a multinational military corps build civil governance in a culturally fractious developing nation with no significant history or culture of the same? If governance is truly the answer (and it is probably part of it) then ISAF is surely the wrong tool for the right job.

Another concern was the lack of an obvious, compelling central theme that can be used in narratives within theatre - and regionally and internationally. The 'idea' that this is worth doing simply because we think we can or should is highly unlikely to become a dominant counter -narrative against the rebellious elements and amongst the populations they use and target. Why an IO type line of operations given a degree of centrality and greater specifity? Major error.

Of the many other questions that arise, these three are perhaps worth considering in some detail:

- 'Development' to what level, and for what specific purpose?
- Given the need for prioritisation of 'pacification', what are the risk treatments envisaged for the areas unattended to ?
- What 'governance' and for whom? - The 'central' and 'sovereign' government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the current diffuse regional and provincial seats of power (aka war lordism). These would appear to be mutually exclusive and equally problematic politically, socially and culturally.

The campaign plan must provide guidance on these sort of issues rather than platitudes.

Mark O'Neill
11-21-2008, 03:54 AM
The line about the IO / Narrative campaign LLO should read 'Why isn't there one?'

Anthony Hoh
11-21-2008, 09:13 AM
Many thanks.

So if I said "Preparatory activity to help achieve the campaign objectives" it would mean the same thing?

Yes, But other Council members are correct, I gave examples of shape as it will more than likely be used in the context of this campaign plan. But as you know we can use Fires, IO, Checkpoints, etc, to shape the battlefield of the terrain or populaceÖ

Also as I have read the Campaign Plan, I do not disagree with Eden that most of these guys know their stuff (they are not on the staff at ISAF by accident)
I feel Mark's comment about platitudes is dead on. I realize that you dont hammer out details at the theater level inside of a campaign plan. However I dont see subordinate staff's in the regions as even having a jump off point for refinement, to make the dream come true.


Tony

Alex Alderson
11-21-2008, 12:50 PM
I am not sure how much real insight anyone expected to get from a 5-line mission statement and 13 bullet points that summarizes a joint and combined operational level campaign plan. I for one was rather heartened by Johnís post and the tiny insight it offered, so my hyper-tension is under control. I am not sure how many of have seen a summary of the OIF Joint Campaign Plan. It would not say a great deal more than we have been offereded in the ISAF summary: lines of operation (political (Main Effort), security, diplomatic, and economic) and the supporting activities (information, intelligence, engagement and logistics). Linda Robinson provides a really good open source summary in Tell Me How This Ends[/I.

The interesting omission from the ISAF summary is any mention of diplomatic activity to support the plan. Arenít the regional context and the role neighbours can play to support or undermine the plan pretty important considerations when it comes to developing a theater plan? While the summary mentions [I]Interdict and disrupt insurgent movement to and from sanctuaries in the border region, shaping the diplomatic environment in a wider sense than the effects strike operations have is a crucial, but as yet unstated task that has to be met.

Ken White
11-21-2008, 04:08 PM
I am not sure how much real insight anyone expected to get from a 5-line mission statement and 13 bullet points that summarizes a joint and combined operational level campaign plan.It doesn't pass the "so what" test. That's to say it serves no useful purpose, so why bother -- except as a platitude for the media and punditocracy / civilian strategist crowd.

Ron Humphrey
11-22-2008, 01:31 AM
It doesn't pass the "so what" test. That's to say it serves no useful purpose, so why bother -- except as a platitude for the media and punditocracy / civilian strategist crowd.

For once again bursting the bubble for those of us who like to at least pretend someone actually might care what we have to say

Ken White
11-22-2008, 02:24 AM
that several Commanders who have said things like "You could rain on a Medal of Honor ceremony" were not correct. I'm good but I'm not that good...

(Your comment also applies to my deathless prose. ;) )

Alex Alderson
11-22-2008, 06:34 PM
While the sketchy ISAF campaign plan summary has created more itches than it scratched, it's interesting that at least a glimpse of what may be in store has been offered. And who knows, the authors might be avid readers of Small Wars Journal and might take account of some of the concerns raised. For me, the interesting thing is to compare this vorspeisen with the way the 280 page Petraeus/Crocker Joint Campaign Plan (and all its 14 annexes) was kept on a very tight hold for a long time. True, plenty of visitors to Baghdad were briefed on the plan and the method, but very little was said publicly. Indeed, a rather amusing game of cat and mouse developed between those in Baghdad and the GAO (see http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081021t.pdf) over the very issue of public statements of intent.

Ken justified to ask 'What's the point?' If it is to stimulate a bit of discussion among those who are interested and care, and to get a different take, beyond tell us more, John's post has worked.

Ken White
11-22-2008, 07:34 PM
Indeed, a rather amusing game of cat and mouse developed between those in Baghdad and the GAO (see http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081021t.pdf) over the very issue of public statements of intent.GAO get involved, I mean. Why should they? (I know their answer; I'm looking for a real and sensible answer...)

GAO is always amusing, very much so. They're also tedious, eminently predictable and mostly a waste of money. That tends to happen when you approach your job with foreknowledge of what your 'audit' will produce...

Still, I can visualize the haggling across the table and -- has anyone invented an automatic word parser yet? ;) -- the general ignorance of most auditors on the topic du jour. :wry:

I too have had a lot of fun with them. You get a sharp, knoweldgeable one who's done his or her homework occasionally but it's regrettably rare.
Ken (is) justified to ask 'What's the point?' If it is to stimulate a bit of discussion among those who are interested and care, and to get a different take, beyond tell us more, John's post has worked.Could be and if so, you're correct that it has worked. Though I have noticed over the last 20 years or so an Army tendency to produce and publish too many such papers that really say little if anything in an attempt to defer scrutiny -- and what those sorts of papers really do is virtually beg Auditors and worse to come calling... :eek:

Congress and the GAO may not be very bright but they are incredibly sensitive to tap dancing and Army attempts to plant angels on the heads of pins generally fail as Tom Odom pointed out elsewhere. CALL ought to do a paper on the futility of that...

wm
06-18-2009, 01:53 PM
Received this via other means this AM.


Commander
Headquarters
International Security Assistance Force
Kabul Afghanistan
APO AE 09356

Commander's Initial Guidance As of: 13 June 09


To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Civilians of ISAF,

The situation in Afghanistan is serious. The outcome is important--and not yet decided. Our actions this year will be critical. We must, and will, succeed.

Success will be defined by the Afghan people's freedom to choose their future--freedom from coercion, extremists, malign foreign influence, or abusive government actions.

The outcome will be determined by our ability to understand and act with precision, the values we display, our unity of purpose, and our resolve.

The challenges to Afghanistan are complex and interrelated. Solutions will not be simple. The ongoing insurgency must be met with a counterinsurgency campaign adapted to the unique conditions in each area that:

- Protects the Afghan people--allowing them to choose a future they can be proud of
- Provides a secure environment allowing good government and economic development to undercut the causes and advocates of insurgency

This effort will be long and difficult--there is no single secret for success. As imperatives we must:

1. Protect and Partner with the People. We are fighting for the Afghan people--not against them. Our focus on their welfare will build the trust and support necessary for success.

2. Conduct a comprehensive Counterinsurgency Campaign. Insurgencies fail when root causes disappear. Security is essential; but I believe our ultimate success lies in partnering with the Afghan Government, partner nations, NGO's, and other to build the foundations of good government and economic development.

3. Understand the Environment. We must understand in detail the situation, however complex, and be able to explain it to others. Our ability to act effectively demands a real appreciation for the positive and negative impact of everything we do--or fail to do. Understanding is a prerequisite for success.

4. Ensure Values Underpin our Effort. We must demonstrate thru our words and actions our commitment to fair play, our respect and sensitivity for the cultures and traditions of others, and an understanding that rule of law and humanity don't end when fighting starts. Both our goals and conduct must be admired.

5. Listen Closely--Speak Clearly. We must listen to understand--and speak clearly to be understood. Communicating our intentions and accurately reflecting our actions to all audiences is a critical responsibility--and necessity.

6. Act as One Team. We are an alliance of nations with different histories, cultures, and national objectives--united in our support for Afghanistan. We must be unified in purpose, forthright in communication, and committed to each other.

7. Constantly Adapt. This war is unique, and our ability to respond to even subtle changes in conditions will be decisive. I ask you to challenge conventional wisdom and abandon practices that are ingrained into many military cultures. And I ask you to push me to do the same.

8. Act with Courage and Resolve. Hard fighting, difficult decisions, and inevitable losses will mark the days ahead. Each of us, from our most junior personnel to our senior leaders, must display physical, mental, and moral courage. Our partners must trust our commitment; enemies must not question our resolve.

You have my thanks for all that you have done, and will do. I promise to be the best partner I am able to be.

//Original Signed//
STANLY A. McCHRYSTAL
General, U.S. Army
Commander,
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan /
International Security Assistance
Force, Afghanistan

William F. Owen
06-18-2009, 03:12 PM
2. Conduct a comprehensive Counterinsurgency Campaign. Insurgencies fail when root causes disappear. Security is essential; but I believe our ultimate success lies in partnering with the Afghan Government, partner nations, NGO's, and other to build the foundations of good government and economic development.

That's just not true. It's bad history. Maybe there is something I am not getting here.
a.) According to Kilcullen, only about 4% of the Afghan people support the Taliban. Is their any evidence that the Taliban do enjoy popular support? If there is no popular support, then what are the root causes?
b.) FACT: Not all insurgencies require popular support! History is quite clear on this. Insurgencies are military forces and popularity is just a plus. I can think of about 5 major insurgencies that treated the population pretty badly and still flourished.
c.) The Taliban does not need popular support to win. They just have to be there when NATO's gives up. Regardless of popular support, if NATO goes, without inflicting military defeat on the Taliban, the Taliban(s) will take over unless the Afghan Govt. can resist them militarily - because they don't need popular support to win.

jmm99
06-18-2009, 07:06 PM
This is not totally thought out, so excuse me for thinking out loud - with thoughts based on CvC Book 8 (see quotes at this post (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=74594&postcount=59)).

Let us posit a situation where the People are split 5% for the insurgents (Taliban if you like); 5% for the incumbant (Astan govt if you like); and the other 90% are elsewhere.

Would this not resemble the pre-French Revolution situation in Europe, where the objective set by Politik (damn Germans have the same word for politics and policy ;) ) is necessarily limited and the plan of the war is also necessarily limited ?

If so, should we not see something that is quite different from CvC's "ideal war" (the theoretical construct where the passions of the People are indeed aroused, etc.) ?

And, one might ask, is not this more limited construct applicable to most armed conflicts that we call insurgencies ?

In short, are we in fact unlikely to see an "ideal war"; remembering that is not what CvC endorsed as the best way to wage war, but only as the theoretical construct which is approached when (from link to Book 8 above):


Thus, therefore, the element of war, freed from all conventional restrictions, broke loose, with all its natural force. The cause was the participation of the people in this great affair of State, and this participation arose partly from the effects of the French Revolution on the internal affairs of countries, partly from the threatening attitude of the French towards all nations.

As a matter of political theory, I suppose that involving the People as active participants (even if only moral supporters) in an insurgency would be a great plus for whichever side could capture their unqualified support. However, if that were the case (that the People would participate en masse), there probably would not be an insurgency in the first place - or, if started, would not last long.

-------------------------
The objective set by Politik for Astan (based the 13 Jun Guidance) is:


Success will be defined by the Afghan people's freedom to choose their future--freedom from coercion, extremists, malign foreign influence, or abusive government actions.

These "Four Freedoms", leading to the ultimate freedom ("to choose their future"), certainly relate directly to the People and are certanly political enough (Rove and Carville would be at home in that environment).

However, looking to strategy as here defined (http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/BK3ch01.html):


Strategy is the employment of the battle to gain the end of the war; it must therefore give an aim to the whole military action, which must be in accordance with the object of the war; in other words, strategy forms the plan of the war, and to the said aim it links the series of acts which are to lead to the same, that is to say, it makes the plans for the separate campaigns, and regulates the combats to be fought in each.

I find it hard to visualize the "series of acts" (military) which would lead to the penultimate objects (the "Four Freedoms") and the ultimate objective - allowing the Astan People (if that posited entity exists as a real entity) the freedom to choose their future.

The Command Guidance does present what seems a localized plan:


The ongoing insurgency must be met with a counterinsurgency campaign adapted to the unique conditions in each area that:

- Protects the Afghan people--allowing them to choose a future they can be proud of

- Provides a secure environment allowing good government and economic development to undercut the causes and advocates of insurgency

but, if (repeat "if") it works "in each area", how will it then proceed from what local Afghans want to the much higher level of what the "Afghan People" want ?

In short, can the "Afghan People" be treated as a monolith; or, in fact, is there such a thing as the "Afghan People" in reality, as opposed to an international legalism ?

Eden
06-18-2009, 07:26 PM
Keep in mind that McChrystal is not the strategic commander here. In both roles (as ISAF commander and commander of US forces - most of them anyway - in Afghanistan) he is an operational commander responsible for designing and carrying out a campaign that will reach strategic goals set by others. This means that he is constrained and restrained in what he can do. Yes, he has quite a bit of influence on what will happen, but the strategy is formulated in various American and European capitols, Brussels, and Tampa.

slapout9
06-18-2009, 07:30 PM
According to this Afghan official who lives in a country run by the Mafia and Drug Dealers. This is a smart guy he not only knows Afghanistan but also Ecocnomics......Money is never the limiting factor! Need to throw Kharzid(kant spel) out put his drug dealing brother in jail and make this guy King! Then he can come fix America. Especially his talk about all the ASSUMPTIONS made about Capitalism and how good it is that are not true!




http://www.ted.com/talks/ashraf_ghani_on_rebuilding_broken_states.html

jmm99
06-18-2009, 08:06 PM
I'm well aware of this:


Operations, not strategy

Keep in mind that McChrystal is not the strategic commander here. In both roles (as ISAF commander and commander of US forces - most of them anyway - in Afghanistan) he is an operational commander responsible for designing and carrying out a campaign that will reach strategic goals set by others.

The objective (what is termed "success" in the Guidance) is set by Politik. Lets say we are at Point A and want to get to Point B (the objective set by Politik). CvC would call the plan to get from A to B, a part of what he called strategy. We call the plan from A to B, operations. I'm not hung on semantics.

Thus, one of my questions is whether the objective set by policy (which has the "Afghan People" participating as a collective people) is even possible as the culmination of a military plan ?

This has nothing to do with Stan McChrystal's competence. I can see where he can get from point a to point b on a local basis.

The question is whether those local pieces can add up to a whole (that is, to get from Point A to Point B), or whether Politik is tasking him to fight a war of a different nature than its reality ?

IntelTrooper
06-18-2009, 08:33 PM
This has nothing to do with Stan McChrystal's competence. I can see where he can get from point a to point b on a local basis.

The question is whether those local pieces can add up to a whole (that is, to get from Point A to Point B), or whether Politik is tasking him to fight a war of a different nature than its reality ?

Absolutely agree -- the effort is going to be made or broken at the district level. Incompetent or misguided battalion and company level leadership will equal failure or extended stays. Also, if brigade leadership tries to micromanage it will fail, because with the current structure they are too far removed from the ground truth to make good decisions at that level. The brigade should simply support the battalions with the needed assets, nothing more.

Ken White
06-18-2009, 09:27 PM
The brigade should simply support the battalions with the needed assets, nothing more.I've read in in years.

Should apply generally and not just in Afghanistan... ;)

IntelTrooper
06-18-2009, 10:12 PM
I've read in in years.

Should apply generally and not just in Afghanistan... ;)
I'm flattered, sir!

Coldstreamer
06-18-2009, 10:21 PM
That's just not true. It's bad history. Maybe there is something I am not getting here.
a.) According to Kilcullen, only about 4% of the Afghan people support the Taliban. Is their any evidence that the Taliban do enjoy popular support? If there is no popular support, then what are the root causes?
b.) FACT: Not all insurgencies require popular support! History is quite clear on this. Insurgencies are military forces and popularity is just a plus. I can think of about 5 major insurgencies that treated the population pretty badly and still flourished.
c.) The Taliban does not need popular support to win. They just have to be there when NATO's gives up. Regardless of popular support, if NATO goes, without inflicting military defeat on the Taliban, the Taliban(s) will take over unless the Afghan Govt. can resist them militarily - because they don't need popular support to win.

I'm with Wilf here. I remember getting into a prolonged argument with a spook about why the Taleban had a viable stake in the future of their country, and hence the reason for reconciliation. Horses***. The Taleban receive support at the end of a gun, and from local leaders who are supporting the dominant local power with whom they best personally survive or thrive. Moreover, they're a largely Pakistani/ISI artificial constuct. No 'home grown' noble tribal insurgency here, thought they do get lots of Tier 3 pushtun badmashes for the reasons above. The reason for reconciliation is to give them a political option to behave like adults when they tire of us slaughtering them...I mean they embrace a political solution...like PIRA/Sinn Fein.

And ultimately unfair to criticise ISAF when the NAC/EU/International Community remain unable to forge a coherent line on the Afghan issue. We are but the pawns of politicians...

Ken White
06-19-2009, 12:43 AM
Intel Trooper: Brigades were once tactical headquarters with no sustainment or support capability, all that came from Division or Corps. The Combat Command and RCT structures of WW II continued that and the Division still provided the support. Interesting thing is that the only Division battles in the last century were either on the vast plains of Russia, the North African desert and in Kuwait for Desert Storm. Everyplace else, it's been a Brigade fight so we've morphed a bit and put more support at the Brigade level. The theory is we're organized to fight on the basis of Brigades and they're self sustaining but there are two flaws with that. The first is that we have not adequately evolved the support and sustainment process so that Divisions or something like them are not necessary; the second is that some THINK we need jobs for Major Generals (the Personnel community knows we need them; that helps justify their existence.

What everyone needs to recall is that Division adds nothing to any fight other than in rare circumstances and ideal terrain for their employment -- at all other times, they effectively become a bureaucratic impediment. For the US in the Battle of the Bulge, every Hq above Battalion became an impediment. That was true most of the time in Korea and too often in Viet Nam...

Brigades today exist to point Battalions at a mission and to support them but otherwise to stay out of the way. They need to be able to tell a Battalion to do 'X' and then rest assured that Battalion will do that or report that it cannot and ask for other instructions. Only then does the Bde need to be active in the C2 role.

If that is not the case in actuality, we're doing something wrong...

Agree with Coldstreamer and Wilf. We Americans are spouting 'COIN doctrinal precepts' as if they were truth. They are not. Every war is different. Mao didn't know it all nor did Galula -- orJohn Boyd. McChrystal's supposed to be a smart guy; so is Petreaus. Hopefully as both of them gain more Afghan experience they'll discover that they cannot just shift their Iraq experience and continue the march. Afghanistan is whole different mess and the people and the terrain are very different. Then maybe all the talking heads and unthinking tanks will get on board and realize the same thing. Smart people do a lot of dumb stuff because of the herd effect. :rolleyes:

Hopefully, we will learn that there is no one size fits all for any war. The cookie cutter approach is easy to teach and spout (mostly spout...) but it is fatally flawed as doctrine.
We are but the pawns of politicians...That's entirely too true -- and in large measure, we ask for it by being too subservient and too willing to say "I'll try, sir." (w/apologies to Calvin Titus). As one of my pet Generals was fond of saying, "We 'Can-do' ourselves to death. Literally."

That and our stupid egos... :mad:

IntelTrooper
06-19-2009, 01:40 AM
Intel Trooper: The theory is we're organized to fight on the basis of Brigades and they're self sustaining but there are two flaws with that. The first is that we have not adequately evolved the support and sustainment process so that Divisions or something like them are not necessary; the second is that some THINK we need jobs for Major Generals (the Personnel community knows we need them; that helps justify their existence.

Awesome history lesson, thanks Ken! (now I get to be righteously indignant every time I hear something was overriden by Division!)

Ken White
06-19-2009, 02:09 AM
(now I get to be righteously indignant every time I hear something was overriden by Division!)above you. That helps everybody!!! :D

Really.

William F. Owen
06-19-2009, 05:07 AM
.We Americans are spouting 'COIN doctrinal precepts' as if they were truth. They are not. Every war is different. Mao didn't know it all nor did Galula -- or John Boyd.
I can only agree, and we have 2,000 years of history to show that. Unfortunately new-COIN is built on a very selective reading of history, to make the problem appear to be the one folks want to solve.


I'm with Wilf here. I remember getting into a prolonged argument with a spook about why the Taleban had a viable stake in the future of their country, and hence the reason for reconciliation. Horses***.
OK, A Guards officer is in agreement with something I said... scary! :D
...but yes. I think you are right. Talking to UK guys just back off Ops, they all seem to think that the COIN stuff is pretty much nonsense, in terms of how the New-COIN-Fashion wants to invent the problem.

Very obviously, not all Irregular Forces are fighting as insurgencies. Unfortunately the US has backed itself into a corner, by essentially declaring they are.

wm
06-19-2009, 02:52 PM
If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them. That is the value of the section from the new CGs guidance about taking a regional approach. Too bad folks on top don't seem to have noticed that Afghanistan is about as much a single nation as Yugoslavia was (or the Congo and Somilia are for that matter). BTW, the comment from Coldstreamer about the lack of unity in the ISAF/NAC/EU/International Community is also reflective of the fact that each side in a conflict has a trinity, or many trinities, to deal with. This is not a simple "my tribe V. your tribe conflict," the ideal case of CvC's model for war. Nor is it a simple case of "We monarchies united against you stinking, regicide populist French revolutionaries to maintain/restore the status quo"--the recent environment which framed "On War." CvC has lessons that apply. Folks just need to make sure that they get applied in the right contexts and at the right levels.

William F. Owen
06-19-2009, 03:14 PM
If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them.
Exactly, and having trying to compete for the support of one aspect (population) of those trinities may be entirely pointless.

BTW, the comment from Coldstreamer about the lack of unity in the ISAF/NAC/EU/International Community is also reflective of the fact that each side in a conflict has a trinity, or many trinities, to deal with.
Exactly, so why do we keep getting the subtext that "Oooh! A'Stan is so complex! Complex insurgency!" When was it in history that all war was not unutterably complex. War is complex. Wow.... who saw that coming :rolleyes:

slapout9
06-19-2009, 03:29 PM
If we accept that the "trinity" of the people, the political leadership, and the armed forces is an appropriate construct (and I think it is ), then I think what we may be missing in the whole AF AOR is that there is not one Afghan trinity and one Taleban trinity--there's a bunch of them. That is the value of the section from the new CGs guidance about taking a regional approach.

Yes,Yes, in one of the first versions of the 5 rings analysis The leadership ring is so critical that the AF suggested that a seprate analysis be done of EVERY political group that may oppose or support us. That is why I say it is a lot like police work we operate in the middle of multiple gangs not just one.

Ken White
06-19-2009, 04:14 PM
Quoth Wilf:
"Unfortunately the US has backed itself into a corner, by essentially declaring they are." It's what we do best...:D

That way, all the various pomposities get their 15 minutes of fame by spouting great truths. :rolleyes:

Slap said:
"The leadership ring is so critical that the AF suggested that a seprate analysis be done of EVERY political group that may oppose or support us..." The problem with that in any FID or COIN effort is that there are too many leadership rings to engage and that they also are almost invariably able to replicate themselves like the proverbial arm of the Starfish -- or tails on Geckos. The five rings bit has some applicability in conventional war, not so much in the messy muddle that is typical in FID and IW. That IMO is due to the fact that accurate intel is hard to gather and that, even if you do get accuracy in that, the number of nodes and the flexibility to attack them effectively will generally not exist.
"... That is why I say it is a lot like police work we operate in the middle of multiple gangs not just one.True -- and beat cops, even most Departments are flexible enough to work with that. So are some SF units. Unfortunately, the more bureaucratic, larger and unwieldy conventional units (land, sea or air) are generally not capable of the flexibility to do that. A few with enlightened commanders are but they're pretty rare...

wm
06-19-2009, 04:54 PM
Exactly, and having trying to compete for the support of one aspect (population) of those trinities may be entirely pointless.
It's pointless only if that aspect is the only aspect being contested. Caution: sports analogy coming: In football (or soccer as we call it in the USA), one must win in all three thirds of the field (defense, midfield, offense) to be victorious in a match.


Exactly, so why do we keep getting the subtext that "Oooh! A'Stan is so complex! Complex insurgency!" When was it in history that all war was not unutterably complex. War is complex. Wow.... who saw that coming :rolleyes:
It's an apology for not being able to "sound bite" a solution to the problem, unlike the following:
WWII--Stop Nazi/Japanese aggression
Korea--Stop Commie aggression
Urgent Futry/Grenada--Save the med students
DS/DS--Stop Iraqi aggression (or Keep the oil flowing)
OIF 1--The madman has nukes.

Tougher to justify:
Viet Nam--maybe "Save Vietnam or lose Australia" (Doesn't quite roll off the tongue now does it?)
Just Cause--That Noriega's not playing by our rules
OEF 1--Nobody flies planes into our buildings and gets away with it. (Again it doesn't quite roll off the tongue)

Oldpilot
08-03-2009, 05:06 PM
Every war is different. Mao didn't know it all nor did Galula -- or John Boyd.

Actually, Boyd did know it all, in the sense that he knew very well that every war is different. He believed in policy, but not in doctrine, or at least not in a single doctrine: 'If you got one doctrine, you’re a dinosaur. Period.'

That was in 1992. Seemingly it is a lesson that we are given in every generation, and that is subsequently ignored. Bernard Fall in 1965: 'I would like to close with one last thought, which applies, of course, to everything that is done in the armed forces, but particularly to revolutionary war: If it works, it is obsolete.' (Italics his.) Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Ken White
08-03-2009, 06:23 PM
Actually, Boyd did know it all, in the sense that he knew very well that every war is different.I think that's along way from 'all.' No one knows it all; not Old Pilots like thee or Old grunts like me. We may be good but we aren't that good. Boyd was good but he wasn't that good. :wry:
He believed in policy, but not in doctrine, or at least not in a single doctrine: 'If you got one doctrine, youíre a dinosaur. Period.'I think that's true of anyone with any sense. Problem is getting people who know better to stop being lazy and relying on saurian principle because it's easy. :mad:
That was in 1992. Seemingly it is a lesson that we are given in every generation, and that is subsequently ignored.I don't think it takes nearly that long -- my guess would be two changes of command or job, max. :rolleyes:
Bernard Fall in 1965: 'I would like to close with one last thought, which applies, of course, to everything that is done in the armed forces, but particularly to revolutionary war: If it works, it is obsolete.' (Italics his.)Bernie didn't know it all either; Not even in my purchased at the time first Edition -- nor did Galula (same note). One has to synthesize the thoughts of many to get anywhere near decent knowledge. No one will ever have all the answers. :cool: